3

Mother and Daughter Trip – A Stunning Day in Stiges

28 August 2018

We were up and showered fairly early this morning. Lolz had some hand cream and I had a lipstick so we did our best to cleanse, tone and moisturize and use the lippie for a bit of colour before heading out to shop for a few essentials. Then we got on the train to Stiges and had a wonderful visit with my niece Martine who lives there with her hubby and kids.

Martine and Olivia met us at the train station and before going to the house we went shopping for shoes for Lolz and me. Olivia helped me choose but was a little disappointed that I didn’t take the more expensive Havana’s! She agreed though that the ones I chose were just fine,

The gifts I’d bought the boys were in the lost luggage but I still needed to get something for Olivia. I told her she could choose two toys for herself and 1 for each of her brothers as they would eventually get the awol ones, She immediately lead me to the the toy shop and we sent Lolz and Martine to the supermarket while we took our time browsing. And time was limited as it was almost Siesta time when everything closes during the hottest part of the day. In Rome I’d wanted to get a cute Plush stuffed animal with big googly eyes but Lolz wasn’t sure that Olivia would be into them. Well she was and after careful deliberation chose the two she wanted.

It was lovely to see Martine and Craig’s home and to spend time with them and their delightful children, We were served a superb Spanish lunch and then we frolicked in the pool.

Lovely views from every room

Lunch on the shady patio

Fun in the pool

Martine and Thomas

Sebastian taking a leap

Thomas insisted that Lolz wear his hat

But it suits him best

Stiges beach

All too soon it was time to get the train back. Martine drove us around Stiges and then dropped us at the station. What a great day! Looking forward to seeing them all in SA for Christmas.

Later that night Lolz’s suitcase was delivered to the hotel. Mine, however, didn’t seem to want to reunite with me😳

To be continued……

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2

Mother and Daughter Trip – Expat Explore Eastern Europe Adventure – Day 11 – Rome and The Vatican

23 August Rome and The Vatican

We are staying in a hotel called Club Roma which is situated in a suburb called Cornelia. It is close to the Metro so getting to the centre of Rome is quite easy. This morning Lolz and I took the train to Spagna and started exploring from The Spanish Steps.

The steps were built in order to link the the Trinità dei Monti church that was under the patronage of the king of France, with the Spanish square below. The long, triangular Spanish square is named after the Spanish Embassy to the Holy See.

The church still has French priests and the Mass is said in French.

It was very hot in the city so after trying to sort out a SIM card for me to use on Lolz’s old phone and/or my IPad we tried to get into the Pantheon but the queues were ridiculous and I’d seen it on the orientation walk so we gave it a miss. Will post photos after we do it on another day.

We had a salad lunch at a restaurant and then I went to meet the Expats doing the Vatican and Lolz went to the Colosseum

Our guide Danielle was excellent – full of fun as she shared her knowledge with us.

Italian sculptor Arnaldo Pomodoro constructed the huge golden orb that stands as the centerpiece of the Courtyard of the Pinecone at the Vatican Museum. The structure is a sphere within a sphere. It is bronze but appears golden as the sun shines down on it. It represents the form of the earth. It gives the impression that it is reflecting the complexity of our world and how easily it can be torn apart.

It took a long time to get to complete the tour. There was so much to see and so much to take in. The history was fascinating and to think we still have the amazing creations and genius works of Michelangelo is mind blowing. I love that Michelangelo would only paint his frescos if The Pope would let him paint what he wanted to paint. And, wow, how well those pictures tell the biblical stories. No photography is allowed in the Sistine Chapel, you have to be appropriately dressed – no knees or shoulders showing – and no noise allowed. The officials called for silence every time the noise level rose.

Photos do not do justice to what we experience so I am posting just a few of the amazing sculptures, tapestries, mosaics and paintings that we saw.

Hercules in bronze

One of the stunning tapestries

We were all quite blown away by the superbness and extravagance of the exhibits. It was worth enduring the heat, the crowds and all the walking. It was then back on the Metro to the hotel. Later in the evening sixteen of us met at the hotel bar for drinks which we enjoyed outside and then we walked to a nearby restaurant for dinner. Don’t you just love the decor?

The Millennials of the group

Eating The Italian Way

Fab food, wonderful company, a great time was had by all

4

Mother and Daughter Trip – Expat Eastern Europe Adventure Day 4 Berlin

Thursday 16 August 2018

After breakfast the bus took us to the Brandenburg Gate where we met our guide, Jared, for a walking tour of Berlin.

Lolz and me in front of The Brandenburg Gate

Jared, our young American guide was very knowledgeable about the history of Berlin, World War Two and The Holocaust. He gave us a fresh insight as to how it all happened. It is frightening that even the nicest people can be brainwashed to do the most horrific things.

Most of the Berlin Wall has been torn down but bits of it remain.

The course of history could have changed had Georg Elster succeeded in his attempt to blow up Hitler during one of his beer hall speeches. Below is the bent column memorial to him.

We were shown the site of Hitlers bunker which is now a car park with only an information board to mark it. The Germans do not want it to become a shrine to a man who caused such devastation in his lifetime.

An unusual memorial to all those who died in the Holocaust is on a site covering 19000 square meters. The blocks are of varying heights and the space seems to bring home the reality of what happened not only to the six million Jews but others like the handicapped and homosexuals who were similarly persecuted.

After our walk Lolz and I negotiated the U-bahn and got a train to Alexanderplatz where we met up with Lolz’s friend Melissa. Another friend, Sasha who was visiting from London also joined us. I popped into CCC bag and shoe shop who were having a sale and was delighted to find a suitable pair of sandals for €15

We did a short walk with Melissa before lunch, saw the Berliner Dom and visited the University where Einstein studied and worked.

It as hot and we were hungry and thirsty so were delighted to find a lovely pavement cafe with lots of shade. Yes I know we should have gone for German but my companions wanted pizza – I had pork, veggies and potato bake so it was almost local🤪 And our charming waitron was Greek which gave us something in common😉 We thanked him in Greek and he was impressed that I could at least count in Greek😄. We have been bothered by bees and wasps in the heat but today our waiter lit some coffee beans in a tinfoil holder and the smoke helped chase them away.

Thanks Sasha for treating me to a glass of wine❤️

After lunch we wondered around the market place – much like our Green Market Square in Cape Town and then Mel had to get home to kids and hubs while Lolz, Sasha and I caught a tram to the latter’s hotel. Lolz used his laptop to (successfully) sort out a banking issue that for some reason didn’t work on her tablet.

My princess waiting for the tram

Sasha then took us for drinks and walked us home to our hotel. Thanks again Sasha – you are a friend and a gentleman. ⭐️❤️⭐️

Lolz and I had a quiet evening watching BBC News the only English Channel on TV. We were amused to see Rachel, Ross, Monica, Chandler, Phoebe and Joey speaking German on Friends😂

So what did I think of Berlin? I have read so much on the Holocaust and can remember watching Escape From East Berlin in 1962 although the details are blurry so being in the city was certainly a moving experience. I would like to return one day but so far Amsterdam remains my favourite.

14

Wine, Whales and Music at De Hoop Nature Reserve

Saturday, 28 July 2018

Our friends Perci and Ray invited us to help celebrate their five years of wedded bliss at  De Hoop Nature Reserve.  There was a Wine, Whale and Music special on so we accepted with alacrity.

The weather was beautiful for this time of the year and it was great to get away for this special weekend.

On Saturday morning we arrived just in time to join a cruise on the vlei.

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The Happy Couple

Our guide was excellent. What a great surprise to see hundreds of black-crowned night herons roosting on the bank with other herons and egrets.   We would never have seen them from the shore.  It was a fabulous start to our cruise.

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Black-crowned night heron

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Sacred Ibis and Little Egrets

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Hundreds of flying ibis, herons and egrets

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Adult and juvenile black-crowned night herons

The rest of the cruise did not disappoint.  We kept seeing more and more species but the moving boat made photography difficult.  Highlights were greater crested grebes,  lesser and greater flamingos, Caspian Terns, yellow-billed ducks, Cape Teal and black-winged stilts.

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A tree full of African Darters

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African Darter

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Greater Flamingos

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Rock Dassie (hyrax)

It was really a most enjoyable trip and it ended with another super surprise – spoonbills waiting to greet us at the jetty.

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Beautiful spoonbills with a little egret

From there  we went to the restaurant and  did some wine tasting, bought some specialty cheeses and then enjoyed a mussel chowder for lunch.

As we were leaving the restaurant somebody came and threw her arms around me.  It was my ex-colleague Taryn who was there with her hubby, Craig and daughter Ella.   What an amazing surprise.  We keep up on Facebook but I haven’t seen Taryn for many years!

After checking into our chalet, Earl had a nap, I read my book and Perci and Ray took a walk to the restaurant to enjoy the high tea.   Later in the afternoon we went for a short game drive.

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Bontebok

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Blacksmith Lapwing taking a bath

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Rhebok

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Male Ostrich

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Scrub Hare

The evening dinner was fantastic.  A quintet of a flutist, three violinists and a cellist entertained us with their beautiful music.  For dinner we had courgette soup for starters then Pork belly with mash and veggies for mains and a tiramisu for dessert.

Sunday, 29 July 2018

This morning we were up early and at breakfast by 8.   There was a lovely selection of continental goodies and then scrambled eggs, sausage and bacon.

Our morning activity involved a drive to Koppie Alleen where we would meet Lauren de Vos for a whale-watching and rock pool activities

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Black-winged stilt seen on our drive

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Grass bird at Koppie Alleen

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Southern Right Whales in the bay – on the left is an albino calf.

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Life in the rock pools

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Star fish

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Cape Robin

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Whale Tail

What a great weekend.   We are so impressed with everything that De Hoop has to offer.   The accommodation is well maintained, the restaurant serves excellent food, the guides are exceptional and there is a lot to see and do in the park.

Check out their website

4

Hermanus Weekend

Friday, 08 June 2018

The Earl drove me to Hermanus this morning.  The plan was for me to spend a girls’ weekend with Meghan while he and Tommy would have a boys’ weekend in Struisbaai.  Tom and Earl are old friends who need to catch up from time to time!

Once I was settled into the lovely holiday home we girls had for the weekend, the guys hit the road back to Struisbaai.   After they left, Meg and I went to have her car washed, do a bit of shopping and have a coffee at The Running Rabbit.

A little later another of Meg’s friend’s Sandy arrived with two German exchange students, Lici and Lina. Meg is hosting Lici and she’d brought her friend along with her.

Lici is 15 and is in Grade 10 at Bergvliet High School. Lina is 17 and in Grade 11. Lina is from Berlin and Lici from Munich.   It was so interesting chatting to them about their impressions of a South African High School.

Lina is the product of a Montessori school and has a happy relationship with her teachers.  The approach to learning is more relaxed there than it is here. The emphasis is on teaching the child rather than the curriculum. There is a close relationship between learner and teacher and they are allowed to progress at their own pace.  Lici on the other hand finds school here less strict than the private school she attends back home. They both find it really strange and annoying to have to wear a school uniform! Back home they can wear make-up and any clothing they like to school.  But in spite of the differences they are both very happy at Bergvliet.

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Meg’s Holiday Home in Hermanus

Before dinner Meg and I went with Sandy to walk her beautiful black lab. We laughed when he poohed on command.

 

We went as far as a lookout place where we could see the sea then walked back.

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Meg had a goulash ready for heating and we served it with pasta, spinach that I’d made and green beans.

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Lici, Lina, Meg and Sandy

Saturday, 09 June 2018

The girls were up early and went for a walk. Sandy went to Stanton to meet an old friend. Meg and I had brekkie together and shared our superior wisdom of how to solve the problems of all our friends and family – LOL

Later the girls made the most delicious carrot cake muffins which Meg iced with cream cheese frosting.

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The muffins in the foreground – Sandy cooking chicken curry for dinner while Meg cheers her on

It rained hard in the afternoon so after indulging in my spinach quiche for lunch we all sat in front of the fire and played Rummikub. The girls were Ace at it but we soon caught on.  It was great fun.

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Lici gets a massage from Lina before we start the game

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Rummikub in front of the fire

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Lina has a good hand

 

Sunday, 10 June 2018

Meg made her delicious fruity oats for breakfast, Sandy supplied croissants and we all sat down to enjoy it.    The men arrived around 11 and had some too.

Meg had to go off to meet a friend for lunch so the rest of us piled into the Everest and went exploring Hermanus.

Our first stop was Hoy’s Koppie. It is an isolated hill rising approximately 75 metres above sea-level. In the mid-19th century, the early inhabitants of the town called it Klip Kop (stone hill).

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The steep steps up to the top of Hoy Koppie

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Tom and The Earl 

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The View

Tom had researched the story of Hoy Koppie and shared his knowledge with us.

Sir William Hoy, who was born in Scotland, was head of the Cape and SA Railways in the early 1900s. He spent frequent holidays in Hermanus and loved the relaxed lifestyle. He frequently climbed the koppie to admire the views across Walker’s Bay.

In 1912, he vetoed the building of a rail line to Hermanus. Sir Hoy died at the age of 62 in 1930. It was his wish to be buried at the summit of his favourite hill. A contour path was constructed and his fishermen friends carried his coffin up for burial in a hollow that was blasted out of the rock for this purpose.

Five years later Lady Gertrude Hoy died in England.  Her body was placed in a lead coffin and shipped back to South Africa.  Twenty fisherman carried the heavy coffin up the koppie and buried her beside her husband.  The Hermanus Historical Society takes care of the graves today.

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After climbing the koppie we went down to the waterfront.   There were dolphins in the bay and the girls also enjoyed watching the dassies.

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There were interesting sculptures to be seen too.

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Sitting on the Whale Tail Bench

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The old harbour is also fascinating. As part of the art festival there was a display of sculptures made of the plastic, hooks, fishing line and netting  from our polluted ocean. Hermien welcomed us into the tiny museum.  She is passionate about saving the Sea.   We were given a glass of water and told to drink a toast to the sea.  We were then invited to take a sprig of fynbos and place it on the sea’s coffin.   She then gave a brief explanation of what was happening to our oceans and how it was up to humankind to change their habits to protect them.  It was a very moving experience.

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A Wreath made from sea polution

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An old whaling harpoon

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The Coffin

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Sculptures from sea polution

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The Old Harbour was proclaimed ‘a Museum’ in 1972. Old fishing boats were collected and repaired for outdoor display.

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We then went to have a drink at one of the local restaurants before making our way back to the house.  We stopped at the new harbour and spotted a whale in the bay.

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You can see a barnacle on this Southern Right Whale

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We saw him quite well – but photography was difficult

Earl and I left at 4:15.  We took Lina with us to Cape Town as she has an exam tomorrow.   The others stayed another night.

Monday 11 June 2018

We were in Cape Town to celebrate The Earl’s sister’s 75th birthday.  We took her and her hubby to The Black Marlin for dinner.  It was really lovely.

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Just after Sunset – view across the bay from Carrol and Vere’s home at Castle Rock

 

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Happy Birthday, Carrol.

 

 

4

Catching Up With The Family

On Friday after enjoying a delicious breakfast at our favourite coffee shop, The Earl said, “I feel like going off somewhere for the weekend.”

“Where do you want to go?” I asked.  It was cold and I didn’t relish a caravan excursion.

“To the kids in Plettenberg Bay!” came his reply.  Well – why not!  It’s a whole six weeks since we saw them last.  And the novelty of having them only five hours away hasn’t yet worn off!

So we rushed home, phoned our son-in-law, packed a bag and hit the road at 10:30 am!

The drive from Struisbaai to Plett is an easy one.   There is very little traffic and the roads are in good condition.  But when we passed through George there was a congestion.  What could be wrong?  The Earl began to get anxious as the traffic police were not handling the situation very well. The road was blocked and the two officers didn’t seem to know what to do.  They were letting a few cars through and only when we got close to them were we told that if we were going further than Victoria Bay we wouldn’t be able to get through. A truck had lost it’s load of beer on the pass.   Sooo we had to turn around and take the narrow, windy Seven Passes Road.   At one point there was a single lane bridge to cross and this caused a huge congestion.  It took us two extra hours to get to our kids.   But such is life and it was all part of the adventure.  Imagine if we’d been in a hurry!   We still made it to Jubilee Farm by just after five pm.

Lauren was teaching when we called our son-in-law so she and Simon only found out we were coming at the end of the school day.  Allan cooked us a delicious lamb curry and had a fire going.   It was, to say the least, a happy reunion.

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A warming curry for supper

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Grandpa and Si in front of the fire – Gramps has the extra warmth of Roger  round his neck

Saturday was a much warmer day.  The sun shone, the sky was blue and there was not a breath of wind.  I was delighted to find that yellow-billed ducks now visit the pond in front of the house.

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This duck called out his joy with gleeful quacks

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Cheddar the cat likes hunting in the long grass and reeds next to the dam

We took the family to town for lunch.  The Table is a lovely Italian restaurant with seating outdoors.

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The Dolphin Statue in Plettenberg Bay

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Lauren and Allan at The Table

Lauren and Allan had delicious pizza, The Earl and I chicken and avo salad and Simon a Blue cheese salad.  Desserts were Creme Brulet and Fruit on sticks dipped in dark Belgium Chocolate.  Yum!

Our granddaughter, Shannon, who attends Glenwood House in George, was not home for the weekend as she had choir rehearsal all Friday afternoon and Saturday morning.  So on Sunday we had a leisurely late breakfast  and enjoyed the morning with the family before setting off to George. Shan was with family friends for the day and we visited her there before taking her back to school.   It was lovely catching up with her and The Bakers.   It was also lovely to see Shan’s school and to meet her roommate.  I am so proud of my well-adjusted granddaughter.   It wasn’t easy leaving her much loved St John’s in Pietermaritzburg at the end of last term.  But after only five weeks she is fitting in so well at Glenwood.  You go Shan, Girl!

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Shan and her roommate, Onika

After dropping Shan we went to Great Brak to see more family – Diane and Carey who live on a small holding in the mountains called Rondomooi.  For my overseas readers Rondomooi means All Around Beautiful.

And all around where they live is truly beautiful!

Carey has a workshop on the property where he builds Motor Homes.  They also grow veggies and keep chickens.  Diane is going to start an orchid nursery.

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Eggs from the Free-Range Hens

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Diane collecting eggs

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Kitty keeping an eye on things

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Lettuce growing like trees!

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Carey showing me the garden

We spent a lovely evening and morning with Carey and Diane and at 11 this morning headed back to Struisbaai.  We stopped in Swellendam to refuel with diesel and coffee!

It was a lovely sunny day and we even stopped to snap this lovely rock kestrel

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What a lovely little get-away that was.  When you retire you can do these spur of the moment things!  How lucky we are!

1

A Week in Cape Town

I have not posted for a week as I have been away from home – not that this usually stops me – but I had a full program of activities to attend to so my usual blogging took a back seat!

I avoid returning to The City as much as possible but when you have to apply for travel documents to Cape Town you must go!  Although that was the main reason for going we also used the opportunity to catch up with friends and family.  As luck would have it there were a few things that I could attend that I otherwise would have missed!  And as much as we love living away from The City we really miss our friends and family.  Leaving the place that was home all of your life is like emigrating to another country so catching up with everybody was awesome.  I got to bond with Chantal and Jeremy, Tony and Sharon, Aunt Violetta and Aunt Dottie, Mary, Hanny, Pat and Tony, Heather and Peter, my brother Michael and his wife, Moira, Earl’ s sister Carol and her hubby, Vere as well as his nephew Greg and of course our daughters and grandsons.

Our grandsons, Jay and Josh, really love sashimi so on the evening we slept over at their house we purchased some fresh yellow-tail,  Earl prepared it and I made their favourite salad.  It was a beautiful evening so Josh set the table outdoors and we had a very special evening with our boys.

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Beautifully set table by Josh

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Sashimi with our boys – Jay, The Earl, Josh

Bonding with friends is always special.   On Friday we went to see where one of my very dearest friends has settled after many years of house hopping.  I love her new location at West Beach.  After enjoying our visit with her she took us to lunch where we enjoyed the views of our beautiful bay and mountain.

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Hanny’s Deck

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Hanny’s flair for decor shows.

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Our stunning Table Mountain on a bad day!

Our lovely friends, Pat and Tony, accommodated us in their spare room for most of our week in Cape Town and treated us to Sushi on Friday night.

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Yummy Sushi with the friends with whom we have so many common interests

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Pat and Tony cooked us Mother’s Day Breakfast too!

Many years ago some friends and I formed a breakfast club which met more or less monthly to ensure we did not lose touch.  What a stunning group it turned out to be.  It’s probably the thing I miss most about not living in Cape Town. I was touched that when I communicated that I would be in town for the weekend everybody made the effort to attend breakfast club in my honour.  I had my youngest daughter join us and we had an amazing catch up.

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Anti-clockwise – Sandy, Margie, Lorraine, Cheryl, Chris, Me, Melody, Dot

As luck would have it the The Cape Town branch of the  Old Girls’ Guild of my college, Grahamstown Training College, met on for tea on Saturday afternoon.   Even though the college was closed down in 1975 (I graduated in 1973) the OGG continues.   GTC was the best teaching training institution in the country, founded by Mother Cecil and run by the St Peter’s Community for many years.   Teachers from this college were the very best and whenever any of us meet another no matter from which year there is an instant bond!   We now range in age from 63 to well in the nineties.  It was therefore not surprising to have a pretty good turnout to the tea at Veronica’s house on Saturday.

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Heather and Beryl – from the fifties

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Our whole group  

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The Seventies Gang

Sunday was Mother’s Day!   We all met at The Earl’s sister for a lunch time braai.  My daughters and grandsons spoiled me with lovey gifts and we invited Jeff and Annaline, the girls’ god parents and boys’ extra set of grandparents to join us.

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The Earl enjoying a beer

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Josh bonding with his great-uncle Vere

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Looking like a rock star with his new hair cut

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Jay – No dress sense but lots of charm and personality

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Our nephew – Greg doing the braai

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Slender Mongoose hoping for get a titbit

And so after a wonderful Cape Town catch-up we left on Sunday afternoon and arrived back in Struisbaai at around 6 o’ clock.  It was good to be home!