Tag Archives: holiday

Mama Thembu’s getting married today

2007 - At a 'P Party'

2007 – At a ‘P Party’

A decade is a really long time. In a decade:

  • Legwarmers went from über-cool to oh-my-God-I-can’t-believe-I-wore those.
  • Billy Ray Cyrus went from rocking to ‘Who’s that?’.
  • Fondues went from the height of chic to let’s-just-hide-it-under-the-stairs.
  • Hummers were so hot, and then so not, before a decade was out.
  • Lazer disks crashed and burned.
  • Cell phones went from brick-sized to pebble-sized.
  • I stayed married.
2008 - A 21st at Albisini Dam

2008 – A 21st at Albisini Dam

Yes, this month is my 10-year wedding anniversary. My Mister and I have been married since 2003 – I was just a little 23-year old chicken and he was just a little 30-year boy. What did we know? Well, apparently we know enough to stay married for 10 years! Yes, I know that sounds really arrogant, but I believe this is a milestone to be proud of, so I’ll ride the wave while I can. And, while it’s ‘just’ our 10-year anniversary, we’ve been together for 16 years. So I am very proud of us.

Let me tell you a little bit about our wedding. I don’t think I’ve ever been a conventional type of person. Sometimes I’ve even gone out of me way to do just the opposite because I felt like being otherwise. So, for the big day, I researched different wedding ceremony traditions and either completely excluded those I didn’t like, or changed them in a way that suited our personalities a little better. My poor mother was mortified. But I think I do that regularly – mortify her.

Here are some of the traditions I discovered and didn’t like (they may or may not be true, but the interweb said they were true):

Bachelor’s and bachelorette parties

I told my Mister-to-be how I felt about the message these parties sent. They’re a celebration, or rather a mourning, of the end of an old life and the beginning of a new, less exciting life. By the time we were married we had been together for six years – nothing was changing; there WAS no old and new life. Also, I felt it was offensive that one would want a party that says, ‘Ooh, my life was fun. Now’s it’s going to be crap. Let me get drunk’. Don’t you find that just a little insulting?

The wearing of veils

Women wore veils in the days where arranged marriages were far more commonplace. The veils were there to hide the bride’s face until the ‘I dos’ had been said and the groom couldn’t back out. This little tit-bit of info offended my sensibilities, so I refused to wear a veil.

Father giving away the bride

This one was a really simple decision to make:  I do not, have never and will never BELONG to anyone. Therefore, I was no-one’s to give away in the first place. I asked my brother to ‘escort’ me down the aisle in case I tripped on my train and so I wouldn’t get lonely.

Seeing each other before the wedding

I don’t know what this is all about – I think it’s similar to the wearing a veil story – but I needed to see my Mister before the ceremony. I was so overwhelmed and freaked out and no one could calm me down, so I insisted someone fetch him to come and chat with me as I got ready.

2013 - A wedding in Cape Town

2013 – A wedding in Cape Town

Despite these potential wedding pitfalls, and me breaking tradition, and Mister seeing my face, we made it through the ceremony, the reception (just barely), the morning after (when South Africa was playing Australia in the Rugby World Cup), the honeymoon, the anti-climax after the honeymoon and the subsequent 9 years and 48 weeks that included the birth of a gorgeous little girl. Well done, Mister. I love you and thanks for putting up with mortifying me.

2013 - with our amazing baba

2013 – with our amazing baba

If you’re celebrating something this month, grab a copy of the October issue of Essentials magazine and read our feature on the top road-trip routes in South Africa – what a fab way to celebrate with loved ones!


Party like a rockstar, Mister

My Mister’s 40th birthday is on Saturday. We’ve racked our brains over how to celebrate it. We’ve debated whether it’ll be destination party, if we’ll go out for lunch or have it catered. I’m all for all of those options because it means I don’t have to clean up and can spend my time concentrating on paying close attention to my crispy cold Sauvignon Blanc.

Hogsback Inn. Photo: heritageportal.co.za

Hogsback Inn. Photo: heritageportal.co.za

Mister always said he’d like to have his 40th birthday party in Hogsback, a quaint bohemian village in the mountains of the Eastern Cape. And, while we would have loved to have gone back (we spent a few nights of our honeymoon there and it was beautiful and strange), it was just too difficult to organise family and friends to all meet up in such a remote location for a night (it’s like herding cats just trying to get the friends into one car). Hogsback has a labyrinth and many quirky little cafes. It’s high up in the mountains and very misty and pretty. I believe it to be South Africa’s very own Hobitan.

Photo: telegraph.co.uk

Photo: telegraph.co.uk

Little furry footed creatures aside, we decided to have family and friends over to our house to celebrate there. So, come Saturday afternoon, my beautiful new house will see an influx of excitable children ranging from 15 months to 16 years, a host of happy grannies who’ll be spoiling their grandchildren with sneaky bites of Eton Mess, a bevy of boisterous boys telling their big loud man-jokes in deep voices, and a clutch of pretty, patient wives gulping their wine.

Photo: thereaux.net

Photo: thereaux.net

I want to make the day really special so I’ll be doing the food myself (*lowers eyes and shakes head at self*). And I’ve bought a lovely gift. Mister asked for a skateboard (I’m serious – you can’t make that up) but, since our medical aid savings is depleted (their word not mine), that can wait until January 1. He also asked for a fancy watch but, according to my last payslip, my salary is not the equivalent of South Africa’s ministerial vehicle allowance. So, in the end, I decided to compromise (read: buy something I could also enjoy) and bought him a Nespresso machine.

So on Saturday I’ll be alternating between my wine and cups of coffee while I slave away in the kitchen doing everything I can to make sure my Mister has a wonderful birthday. Because he is amazing and I love him a ridiculous amount. And, if you’ll be slaving away too (for whatever entertaining-reason), and need some fab foodie inspiration, grab a copy of the October Essentials and follow our recipes for:

  • a sizzling seafood platter (with J.C Le Roux La Vallée MCC)
  • hazelnut tarts with strawberries
  • asparagus and prosciutto lilies
  • classic Cobb salad

Or visit Essentials.co.za and click on the Food tab for some delectable recipes.



A tale of a few cities

New york london parisThis post is about not travelling. And, because I have so much to say on the subject, it’s been written in two installments. With a cliffhanger – just like Charles Dickens used to do.

New York smells like burnt bread. Paris smells like sulphur and burnt cocoa. London smells like rain and petrol. Every city I’ve been to has its own distinct smell. And, for years after I’ve been to a city, I often experience smell-ja vu and I’m transported right back to the streets of that city.


When I left school I never felt the urge to go travelling. I didn’t have an image of myself as a back-packing, dreadlock-sporting, hostel-sleeping, toilet sharing, The Beach-emulating adventurer. I had friends who went to London for a year or so, worked in bars and did some travelling around Europe. My Mister himself did his fair share of adventuring too: he worked on a kibbutz in Israel for a few months and he worked as a construction worker, tie salesman to the rich and famous and as a barman in London.

I did go to Paris and London for a short couple of weeks after I left school and I loved every second of it (despite the fact I was as sick as a dog that’s eaten a putrefying kipper). I was blown away by the sights of England’s capital and I wasn’t even frightened away by the little foreign man who followed us around Earl’s Court saying, ‘Book room for three! Book room for three!’

London2 London was everything it was meant to be: from the grey skies and continuous, bone-chilling damp, to the concrete, moss-covered gargoyles on the rooftops of centuries-old buildings. We walked that city flat, starting right after our eggs, bacon, tomato, baked beans, chips and toast builders’ breakfasts from Benjy’s. We saw The Royal Albert Hall, Westminster Abbey and the Tower Bridge. We wondered around Hyde Park, listened to angry doomsday lunatics at Speaker’s Corner and got lost in the gardens of Kensington Palace.

Eiffel tower And Paris was just as amazing as I always imagined it would be. The Eiffel Tower was omnipresent and imposing, even though we somehow managed to walk right past it while searching for it. When we booked our hotel room in Paris we did so on the spur of the moment while in London and we didn’t really know what we were doing or where we should be staying. We didn’t know a Rue from a roux or a Maison from a mason. We were bound to fail.

We ended up in a hotel in what I can only call the Parisian equivalent of Johannesburg’s Hillbrow. We’d booked a room that had an en suite bathroom (a real treat after our shared with 10 pther travellers bathroom in London) and a TV but, when got there, our room was sans television. So we insisted. And mimed our insistence to the dour woman at reception who spoke no English and very French French. And, after almost storming the Bastille to get what we saw as rightfully ours, we finally got our TV. And watched Full House dubbed into French and didn’t understand a word of it. And New York. I’m almost at a loss for words. Almost, but not quite.

Here’s looking at you, kid

King Shaka Airport

We were at King Shaka International Airport in Durban on Sunday after having spent a long weekend there with my family when I witnessed my very first Love Actually moment. In fact, it was more than just a Love Actually moment – it was your quintessential rom-com denouement. Let me set the scene and tell you how it went down. Ronan

Please, if you will, imagine an appropriate soundtrack playing unobtrusively over the airport speakers. Perhaps Ronan Keating’s When you say nothing at all. Visualise a busy airport gate with passengers queuing and rushing to board their flight (it was nothing like this – we were just about the last three passengers to board a Kalula.com flight from Durbs to Joburg – definitely not JFK or Heathrow).Man with heart

Anyhoo. So there we were clambering through the airport after scoffing down the slowest egg croissant orders in the history of the world, my Mister, me and the baby, our bags, her pram, stuffed cow and blankets. When we got to the boarding gate there stood our hero, carrying his heart in his hand (this is no metaphor – I swear he was holding a big red velvet heart) along with a gift. He was on his phone to his girlfriend/potential fiancée, asking her to just tell him yes or no and saying he couldn’t wait as the plane was about to board and he couldn’t change his flight.

I tried to hang back a little to listen in on his superbly dramatic conversation but my Mister had tramped off down the ramp and I looked like I was hanging back to listen to his conversation. My Mister was completely oblivious to the dramatic and possibly life-changing events unfolding a few meteres behind him.  I asked him if he’d heard what had happened and his response was: “Ja shame – that guy’s having a problem with his flight”. Boys. Sleepless in seattle

This is what happened in my head. Boy on phone is having a long distance relationship with girl on other phone. They’ve been taking turns flying between Durban and Joburg to visit each other. But it’s been getting harder and harder to be apart and the novelty and Sleepless in Seattle ness of it all is wearing thin. Finally he convinces himself that proposing to his long-distance love is the best way to rectify the situation. In his head he proposes, she says yes. They move to Durban to pursue his career. It’s perfect. What could go wrong? Well, apparently, she could not say yes immediately.

During the flight I happened to glance up over the baby playing on my lap, eating my hair and licking my face, and saw our story’s protagonist conveying his tale animatedly to a very pretty (plain) air stewardess. I did consider asking her to confirm my literary suspicions but we were hustled off the plane before I got a chance.  casablanca-2

As we trudged wearily out the airport at the other side, I again spotted our hero waiting for, I can only assume, his girlfriend/potential fiancée. But we left before I could see what happened. I like to believe that his girlfriend decided that saying yes would indeed make her exceptionally happy and that they were very lucky to have one another in their lives.

Not dogs, not playing rummy


It snuck up on me. Like a stealthy, well-trained ninja, hell-bent on destruction. I thought I was safe. I thought I was we’ll-protected – I take a multi-vitamin. But there it was lurking in the corner, ready to pounce as I woke up last Monday morning and clawed my way out of bed. I didn’t notice immediately, it being that well disguised. It was only as I sat in traffic, in the gently glowing sun, that I realised how deeply, and completely, exhausted-to-the-bone I was.  And it only got worse as the morning wore on. No amount of coffee, not even coffee administered intravenously, could ward off the weariness. And that’s when I began to brew my plan.


I made a Fooble (Facebook and Google) request for some suggestions of a spa where I could have my nails done while lying down having a nap (so I could multi-task, you see, like all moms do). I got some great responses from friends – and a few weird ones from my brother – and finally settled on Riverview Spa in Muldersdrift (www.riverviewspa.co.za). Because it was the week of Essentials’ magazine print deadline we had a half day on Friday so I decided to make it a full day off.

pattiserie belle

I woke up on Friday morning and decided to treat myself to a brekkie to kick-start my day off. I stopped in at Patisserie Belle (www.patisseriebelle.co.za), a gorgeous little eatery that serves delicious light meals and is decorated in the opulence of sixteenth-century France. I had an omelette that was as light and fluffy as a cloud stuffed full of cheese and mushrooms and it was fabulous! I sat all alone reading my Country Life magazine and sipping my cappuccino. I’ve never done this before (gone out for a meal alone) and I don’t know why – it was peaceful and relaxing and I could do whatever I wanted to do. It was a promising start to my weekend of wellness.

I followed my breakfast up with a couple of hours baby-and-husband-free clothes shopping, another thing I’m not used to. It’s so much easier trying on clothes when you don’t have someone tugging on your arm to leave, and not having a baby there either also made it less if a chore.  And then I went for my spa treatments.

Imagine, if you can, a place in the countryside nestled between the hills and alongside a babbling brook. A place where the birds sing, butterflies flit and the bees happily collect their pollen. This idyl is Riverview Spa. And it’s a mere 20 minutes from Randburg. I was gently led to a covered wooden deck overlooking a swimming pool and the hills in the distance. I lay down and floated away as the melodic tones of gentle pan flutes carefully caressed my aching body and tired mind.

I woke an hour and a half later with very pretty pink toes and finger nails and a quietly soothed and restored body. As I drove down the dirt road and away from my temporary sanctuary that had saved me from temporary insanity, I mused about the appropriate start to my weekend of wellness.

packed car

Saturday dawned bright and early (ok not bright, it being early in winter in Johannesburg) with the soft cooing noises (read: loud shouting) of baby Holly playing as a soundtrack to the dawn. We packed the car and headed off to the Vaal Dam for a short getaway with friends. Just a quick aside here: going away for one night with a baby requires the same amount of luggage two adults alone would need to go camping for three weeks. The rest of the weekend was spent  doing all the things my tired, drained and cluttered mind and body so badly needed for restoration. We drank magnificent wine (ALLÉE BLEUE STARLETTE PINOTAGE 2012 – about R42) , ate tasty food and gorgeous pudding and played Mexican Train (an entertaining domino game) with Arrested Development on TV in the background. We laughed, joked, caught up on each other’s lives and teased one another – something I’ve not done in a while and something I definitely needed.

Ballée Bleue

Ballée Bleue

So as we drove home on Sunday afternoon and I wrote my very late blog post, I pondered the importance, the necessity of friends, and how some friendships are so special, that regardless of how long you haven’t seen one another for, things are exactly the same as they were when you last left off. And, in the  weird and random words of the back window of a taxi I once saw: when times are dark, friends are few. How patently untrue.


10 things I learnt on my Easter holiday

  1. When flying with a baby you do in fact need planea birth  certificate for identification. This is something the airline (I won’t mention any names) fails to mention on their tickets or website. So, when you pitch up at the airport, with an hour before boarding CLOSES, and are told you need to make the 50-minute round trip back to your house plus the 20-minute drive to and from long-term parking, don’t be surprised. Fortunately a gentleman did tell us we could use our medical aid card if Holly’s name was on it. Fortunately again, no one asked to see her identification. Really. After all of that. But now you know.
  2. If you’re travelling with a baby, board the plane first, or as close to first as possible. Everyone knows that travelling with a baby includes being encumbered with:


  • a nappy bag containing the contents of the baby’s bedroom
  • a cooler bag with the entire contents of the fridge
  • your own handbag containing everything you own
  • a carry-on bag with miscellaneous items of varying degrees of importance including picture frames (long story), camera, iPad, Kindle, book and sunscreen
  • a jersey and fashionable scarf
  • a hat and sunglasses
  • a cup of coffee and a bottle of water.

So encumbered, you walk down the aeroplane aisle and bash other passengers in the face.

3.  Your baby’s nappy won’t spontaneously combust if your baby cries. No, it’s not pleasant to hear shrill screaming and heaving sobs but we’re not encouraging our babies to cry. They’re unhappy, and we’re trying to figure out why. And when we do, we’ll try to make them stop. So, Lady in the Seat behind Me, you can take your hands off your ears – I know you’re not enjoying the noise.

4.  The seats on the plane aren’t big enough for one person, let alone one person and a baby and definitely not one person and a baby when the passenger in front puts his seat back. It’s less than a two-hour flight, Mister. You don’t need to recline.

5.  Rush hour traffic the day before the Easter long weekend in Cape Town is no place for a baby. That is all.

6.  If you’re in Cape Town ever, pack for ALL seasons – you’ll experience them all in one day. This is not a bad thing – if you like summer, you’ll get it; if you like winter, you’ll get that too. Cape Town, because it is a friendly city, caters for everyone’s likes.


7.  When you have a baby you can’t do all the things you did before – you can’t go out at night without organising a baby sitter, you can’t drive around for hours sightseeing or looking for stuff to do and you can’t go to crowded restaurants or events because babies don’t really like the kerfuffle. But that’s ok, because you don’t want or need to. Sitting watching your baba playing is sometimes all the entertainment you need. Throw in a delicious glass of wine and the scene is set for a perfect evening.

8.  When you go away over Easter calories don’t count. It’s one of those unexplained phenomena – scientists are stumped and have tried for millennia to understand it but have failed. Just eat your chocolate and go with it.

9.  Sometimes it’s OK for the baby to lick the couch/chair/fridge/grass/dog.

Lick grass

10.  Despite your best intentions, it’s very very difficult to drink only one glass of yummy  wine. But that’s fine. Why should you deprive yourself? You owe it to yourself to have another glass.

If horses were wishes…


I used to ride an incredibly intelligent beast whose philosophy in life is: Why run when you can walk? Why walk when you can not walk? One Friday afternoon, after a long week at work, Masochist Mike (the riding instructor) decided that it would be good idea for us to trot without stirrups. I knew instinctively, like an ant knows not to crawl down the bath drain, that I wasn’t going to stay elegantly perched on the back of the horse. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I was born with no sense of balance at all – I’m the only person I know who can quite easily, and quite readily does, trip over invisible objects.

Anyway, back to the horse. So there I was being instructed to remove my feet from the stirrups and trot. I had a feeling of impending doom. And maybe I’m entirely to blame for putting my imminent close-encounter with the sandy paddock out in the Universe. Maybe the Universe did no wrong and just answered the call I sent out to fall flat on my bum. As the usually laziest horse in the history of the world gained speed and trotted on in what can only be described as anticipatory glee, I began to lose my balance.

Falling off I did the only thing a quick-thinking, horse whispering tamer-of-beasts in my predicament would do: I decided on the controlled-fall approach. Don’t be fooled: this isn’t as easy as it sounds. It requires much manoeuvring of the body into positions that contortionists can only wish to emulate. I slid slowly from the saddle and twisted around so as to land on the soft cushiony pad of my rump. My reasoning was that it is far easier to break your arm than it is to break your bum. So there I was, inches from the end of my life (a little melodramatic, I concede but then I’m allowed a little melodrama when I barely escaped death) when I hear Mad Mike shouting: ‘What the hell do you think you’re doing disembarking from moving horse?’

And as I pondered the profundity of his question, I hit the ground with an oomf. Fortunately, my well-thought-out plan turned out to be just that and the effects and scarring were minimal. Nothing bites deeper than the disappointment of a bruise that doesn’t appear when all you need is a little evidence to show and tell the world about your near-death experience.

I lay on the sand looking up in to the eyes of an Smiling horse
extremely amused and, I’m not going to lie,
self-satisfied horse. Andy is not mean. There is
not a malicious bone in his gorgeous horsey body.
But he is smart. And he does have a wicked sense
of humour. I swear I heard him chuckling from the
bottom of his belly, which was now surprisingly close
to my face.

Again I was faced with a monumental decision. Well two decisions really: How was I going to react to this situation, and what was I going to do about it? I was running out of time to show those watching that I was not in fact dead so I decided to go against everything I believe in and against all my morals and values. I decided not to cry. And with that decision I stood up and walked it off. Like the cowboys did in the days of yore.

I grabbed my chuckling 800kg horse by the reigns and frog-marched him to the mounting block. I could have stared adversity in the face and tried mounting him from ground zero but all that stuff I said earlier about contorting myself was a blatant bald-faced lie. My legs just don’t bend that way. So off we tramped to the mounting block in order for me to regain a little of the dignity that now lay smeared in the horse manure.

I parallel parked Andy alongside the mounting block and prepared to climb up and back onto the throne from which I’d so recently been removed. I stood, hoisted up my right leg ready to show the world how brave I was, when Andy decided that he’d finished with his riding lesson for the day and began to lope exhaustedly back to his stable. I just about heard him say: ‘Thanks, I’m a little tired now. I think I’ll go for a lie down. Bye, Lady.’

Horse in stable I dismounted the mounting block to retrieve my gentle giant who was quickening his pace the closer he got to freedom. I grabbed the reigns and took the horse by the mane (please appreciate the subtle use of metaphor) and parallel parked him once more against the mounting block. I was again in mid leg throw when Andy decided, with much certainty, that he was finished riding for the day and off he went to have a nap.

I once again dismounted the mounting block in a way it really never should be, and went trotting (without stirrups I might add) after Andy. We parallel parked for the third time and I prepared once again to grasp at the remaining tatters of my dignity and remount the most obedient horse in the yard. Fortunately a bystander, now bored with my lack of command and the general repetitiveness of me failing to mount my ruddy steed, decided to help out by reigning in my mule.

Once again I threw my leg energetically towards the heavens where the Universe now lay rolling on the floor laughing and Andy loped off. To cut a really long story about climbing on the back of a horse short, it took three people to hold down my horse while I pathetically and without any dignity clambered up on his back. And off we went in search of more humiliation.

In the April issue of Essentials magazine (http://bit.ly/dVqXd1), Taryn, our travel ed, visits Ant’s Hill in the Waterburg and enjoys an unforgettable horse-riding safari. Fortunately she manages to stay on top of her horse and shares her amazing experiences with us.


She also tells us about a couple of other weekend-away destinations if you’re looking to go somewhere lovely for Easter, including a country manor in the North West, a spa in Chinsta and a gorgeous wine farm in the Cape.