Friday, June 30, 2006

It's that time again

... Time for the Vodacom Durban July, the biggest annual horseracing event in the country, and one of the most elegant, over-the-top events on the South African calendar. Every fashionista and glamour-girl will be there to strut their stuff in their very finest creations, the champagne will flow pretty much all day long… Oh yes, and there’s also the really amazing horse race to crown it all. (Note: I’m not really into horse racing. I’m still not sure about the whole ethical thing. But I do think that horses are just beautiful and this is a great opportunity to see some of the finest horses in the world!)
This year’s theme is “Baubles, bangles and beads”, and this is the “poem” that Vodacom posted on the race website ( to invite people to dress up according to the theme. The copy made be vomit ever-so-slightly – I don’t think I’ve ever read something so badly written! – but at least you know that the theme is all about. Here it is:

It’s baubles, bangles and beads,
Sequins, crystal, diamonds and pearls.
It could be bling! Show that ring!
Hey! Hey! Hey! Diamante.

Raid the loft – something soft.
Styles meet – marcasite!
Beau-ti-fy, tit-i-vate.
Pret-ti-fy, dec-o-rate.

Do not worry about the cut or cloth,
No panic about the seam or stitch.
Don’t tell that it’s Chanel or Shopwell,
Just take your “fave” and make it rave.

Adorn, enhance,
Catch the judges’ eye.
Dress it up,
At the Vodacom Durban July.

GAG!!! “Pret-ti-fy”?!?!?!?!?!? Anyway… This year I’ll be going as my mom’s date, and we’ll be in the SABC tent, which promises to be very nice. (I’ll also be sneaking off on occasion to my best friend Gail’s tent – The Hardy Boys – where I’m sure the party is gonna be rocking from first thing in the morning! Heh heh heh! Gail, keep some shooters warm for me, babe?)
Last night was “dress-rehersal-night” for my dress, hair and makeup, and much to my delight, everything looked really beautiful. It fits! That’s all I wanted! I’m going very African this year, in a skirt and top in a similar style to the red dress in the pic. But, I’m going with earth tones – greens, browns, rusts, mustards, reds, etc – and I’m pulling it all together with wooden African beads and bangles. Should be nice, hey?
Look out for an update on Monday, on how it all went down.
Wish me luck… No wardrobe malfunctions! Crossed fingers!

Fashion designed by Sfiso Mthethewa.
Pic and event logo taken from

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Virgen del Carmen

So there I was just messing around on the net and I discover… this! It’s the Virgen del Carmen. How cool is that?! I just love icons and religious art stuff so I was blown away to find something with my name attached. Read on to find out more about her… To understand why the Virgen del Carmen should be held so dear […] we need to go back to the Old Testament. Downshifting in his old age, the prophet Elias retreated to a cave in Mount Carmelo near Haife (Israel). Many centuries later, hermits following in Elijah's footsteps asked for the protection of the Virgin Mary of Mount Carmelo - the Virgin of Carmen. Stella Maris, as she was also known, was soon adopted by mariners and fishermen everywhere as their patron.

In Peru: Four hours from Cuzco, in the town of Paucartambo, thousands of devotees hold festivals in honor of the Virgen del Carmen, known locally as Mamacha Carmen, patron saint of the mestizo population (Webster's dictionary defines mestizo as "a person of mixed blood; a person of mixed Spanish and Amerindian blood."). The gathering, that raises the curtain on these days of celebrations is held in the main square, where troupes of musicians play their instruments while richly dressed choirs sing in Quechua. The setting gives way to a series of ingenious choreographies that portray events in Peruvian history. For five days, dance companies in various costumes (Doctorcitos, Waca Waca, Sarjas) take to the streets to accompany the Mamacha throughout the entire procession through the main square, the church and the city streets. On the main day, the virgin is borne aloft in a procession to bless those present and scare away demons. The dancers take to the housetops, performing daring gymnastics, showing off their colorful Inca and colonial garb. At the end of the procession, war is waged on the demons, from which the faithful emerge in triumph. Finally, the gathering ends up in the cemetery to render homage to the souls of the dead.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

My Hluhluwe Getaway - Day 4

I don’t normally sleep in the car if we’re going long distances, but this time I was officially pooped. Mom, dad and I got out of bed, packed, got all our stuff into the boot of our car and sauntered down to the dining room for our last breakfast at the Hluhluwe Hotel. Everyone was tired and cheerful but kind of sad to say goodbye… So we didn’t. We sorted out our bill, which is always a mission, and hit the road, stopping at a fabulous arts and crafts place with an African art gallery called, Ilala Weavers. I got a really nice pair of bead earrings there. (That reminds me! Why haven’t I worn those yet?!) It was my gran’s birthday, so I called from the car to wish her, promising to make a batch of crumpets for her and her mates later on in the week, and after an hour or so we made our final stop, an awesome arts and crafts place on the side of the freeway. From the road, you could never have guessed how huge the place was, so when we eventually walked around, what should have been just a quick stop, turned into an hour! This pic really doesn’t do it any justice. I managed to pick up some beautiful beads and a stunning bracelet for The July (the theme is “Beads, Bangles and Baubles” – or something like that) and we were on our way.
I had decided to wear one of my new African skirts that I bought in Hluhluwe on Day 3, and the compliments kept rolling in. So I’ve decided that’s definitely the one I’ll be wearing in 2 weeks to South Africa’s biggest and most elegant annual horseracing event. I might just jazz it up with some other elegant stuff I’ve been hiding in my cupboard.
I must’ve been out-for-the-count for at least 2 hours, because when I opened my eyes we were pulling into my neighbourhood.
It was nice to be home and to see my brothers and Beena. Looks like she really missed me too. She slept in my bed for two nights after we got back, - something virtually unheard of, seeing as I’m a kicker and she prefers to sleep in the boys beds where she won’t get the boot.
It took me two whole days to recover. I basically walked around in my pajamas for two days, unpacking on day one and catching up on some tv on day two.
And that’s my holiday in a huge nutshell.
Would I do Hluhluwe again? Most definitely! Although just driving through St Lucia on the way to our boat ride, I think that would be more to my taste… On the water. Quant little restaurants, shops and pubs. A really laid back vibe. Yeah! I’m looking into St Lucia for the next round...

My Hluhluwe Getaway - Day 3

Day three started off with a full breakfast – AGAIN! (Aside: The only good thing about a dinner-bed-and-breakfast arrangement is that you skip having a heavy lunch.) We missioned around Hluhluwe for a bit, where I managed to find something ethnic to wear to the Durban July, and then we relaxed around the pool. I seemed to be the only one longing for some down time with my book, so I skipped the book and joined the gang, nibbling on Aunty Maureen’s mince pies and making sure Tatum doesn’t do a swan dive into the pool. I also managed to wander around for a bit with my camera, pretending to take some arty pics. Here’s one of them. I call it, “Blue sky through really big tree”. Heh!
Our last planned activity for the holiday was our visit to the cheetah project. Those for you who know ANYTHING about me will know that I love cats, so to stand less than a meter away from a wild cheetah while she waits for her dinner was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I’ll never forget it! The thing that got me the most is how much my own little Sabrina (Beena) has in common with them. Big cat, or little domestic cat – the feline instincts are there. At one point, the female cheetah grew tired of waiting for her meat while the game ranger told us about the project, so she stopped jumping around and sat with her back to the game ranger, pretending that she didn’t care about the huge chunk of meat sitting just three meters away from her. When Beena’s tired of begging, she does the same thing! They both peep over their “shoulders” now and again to see if you’re giving in or not and then pretend to ignore you again. I loved every minute of it!
The dinner wasn’t all that nice this time, with the hotel forgetting to keep a table for us, and the food not being up to scratch. But we didn’t let it put a damper on our weekend. On the whole, it was a great experience. I believe that this was the first time the hotel had ever advertised this promotion, and I really don’t think that they were prepared for the number people that descended on them. However, they did their very best to make us comfortable, and to be honest, I think they did very well in the face of possible disaster. I’m sure that the next time the put a good deal on the internet (and a couple of flyers in the mailbox) they’ll be better prepared for the hungry, demanding guests that attack the place.

My Hluhluwe Getaway - Day 2

Day Two started with a 3 hour game drive around the Hluhluwe Game Reserve. We all got together in the parking lot at 6:30am with our jackets and a few blankets (included in the tour vehicle) but NOTHING could have prepared us for the cold. Mid-winter, misty air, whipping past your head and neck at 6:30am in an OPEN game-viewing vehicle is no joke. Please bear in mind that I was still on day 2 or 3 of my flu antibiotics, so I was sure that this cold was going to be the death of me. El then bundled me up in one of his jackets and rolled me up in a blanket, and by the time the sun decided to come out for sure, I was toasty and LOVING it.
Wow! What an experience. I’ve never been on a game drive before so it was all a great adventure to me. We saw three of the Big Five (elephant, rhino and buffalo) plus loads of little duiker, birds, giraffe etc. We sadly didn’t get to see any lion and leopard – that would have been the best! – but any self-respecting cat would NEVER have been moving around in that cold morning mist anyway. Trust me. I know these things. The highlight of it all, for me, was getting to see the hyena. I could never, in my wildest dreams, have imagined how big and ferocious they are. They came right up to the vehicle, one with a kudu leg in its mouth, and gave us the hairy eyeball. Shiver!
Then we had breakfast and a quick game of football on the lawn at the hotel and in no time at all we were off to the St Lucia estuary for our 2hour boat ride. I had to keep reminding myself that we were just three hours from my hometown. St Lucia is a world heritage site with good reason. There aren’t too many places on this planet where could you see a 5day old baby hippo playing in the water, while you sip on a glass of white wine and listen to the gentle waves lapping at the side of the boat. The pic you see is of the sun setting over St Lucia. Breathtaking.
A sumptuous dinner of fresh, steamed salmon and grilled wild boar made it a day to remember.

My Hluhluwe Getaway - Day 1

Mom, dad and I only had to check in at 2pm at the Hluhluwe Hotel, so we decided to run few errands in the morning and then leave home at 11am-ish to be there by about 3pm-ish. We were driving so we made sure that we had enough padkos (mince pies, chicken breadrolls and whisky) and a bunch of cds to keep us going. Three-four hours is a LONG time on the road.
We had a short pit stop just outside Matubatuba, where dad was flabbergasted that he had to pay a buck to use the loo, and a minor detour around to the back entrance of the hotel (the front is under construction), and suddenly we were there at the front desk checking in. Yay!
The Hluhluwe Hotel was every bit as nice as we thought it would be and the rooms were very comfortable. I thought that the bathrooms could’ve used a bit of work, but the rooms themselves were nice. And the dining area, curio shop, lounge, pool area and bar were really nicely done in an African theme – of course.
We popped down to the Boxer supermarket across the street for some junk food for the room and then settled in to wait for the rest of my family to get there.
The rest of that evening is kind of a blur… Heh heh heh.
The rest of the gang consisted of – my dad’s sister, Maureen and her husband Clem, their two kids Shaun and Lyn and their partners (Debbie and El). Shaun and his wife Debbie have two little ones, Liam (5) and Tatum (11months).
Well! One whisky turned into ten whiskies, turned into some wine, turned into a couple of shooters… Groan!
Dad got so wasted he took over the band. It was their first night there and I doubt they’ll take a weekend booking there ever again. Being the musician that he is, dad couldn’t STAND having someone else there on stage hogging the spotlight, so he kept running up, song after song, grabbing the mic (AND a guitar at one stage!) and taking over! The people loved it, but mom and I were mortified. The more shooters the audience sent his way, the more raucous he got, until eventually mom and I packed him off to bed.
The next morning at breakfast, everyone treated him like a celebrity and wanted to know if there’d be a repeat performance later that night. With a filthy glance in dad’s direction, mom and I assured them that there wouldn’t be.

Rich Man Poor Man *****

I think I must be one of the few dorks on this planet who hadn’t read this book yet. And if you are one of those dorks too, do yourself a favour and get your hands on a copy of Rich Man Poor Man by Irwin Shaw. Whenever you mention this book to my folks, their eyes always glaze over with nostalgia and they simply lose it, raving about the tv series way-back-when. I was too little to pat attention when it was on, but I’ve always kind of known somewhere in the back of my mind that this was a really cool thing. So when I found a second hand copy of the book at a book sale for like five bucks, I bought it and put all 600plus pages away on my bookshelf for a day when I really be in the mood. Having nothing but a bunch of suicide novels to read from bookclub this month (don’t ask!) I finally picked it up, and didn’t put it down until I had finished it.
What a book!
No wonder it sold millions of copies and was made into a “major television series”. And if the tv series was half as good as the book, no wonder my parents rank it in their Top 10 All Time Best Ever Tv Experiences.
The plot is a lot like Jeffery Archer’s Kane and Abel. The story follows Rudolf, Gretchen and Thomas Jordache as they grow up and make their place in the world - all their triumphs and sorrows, success and failure. Rudy is the polished businessman, Gretchen the beauty who wants make it big in Hollywood and Tom is the aggressive black sheep who gets thrown out of the family and is left to survive on the strength of his fists in the boxing ring.
Oh man! I say again… What a book!
And what an ending?
I never saw it coming and it left me devastated.
I’ll say no more. Just get your hands on a copy and enjoy all five stars of it.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Now THAT'S what I call 'roughing it'...

I know you probably think that the novelty has worn off...
I can hear you from WAY over here, thinking, “Ja! She’s forgotten all about the blog she started so lovingly, not too long ago.” But I can assure you, you would be absolutely WRONG in assuming such things! I could NEVER forget about you, my dear blog visitors. All three of you will always have a special place in my heart.
The reason that I haven’t been blogging lately, is that I simply haven’t had all that much to say. We’ve been snowed under at work. (One person was on baby leave, one got married and one was never really there to begin with. You know who you are!) So I was left to stress about a lot of stuff. The guys really pulled it altogether, but somebody has to lie awake at night and stare at the ceiling, and as next-in-foodchain, that honored person was lil’ ol’ me.
Those were excuses numbers one through six.
I also had the flu… nay HAVE the flu.
Etc etc and so on and so forth!
Onto the better news…
This weekend I’ll be going away with my folks and my cousins to the Hluhluwe Hotel for four days (and three nights) of African Safari bliss! It’s gonna be very interesting, seeing as (many of you will know) my idea of “roughing it” is having only 6 dstv channels. Eek! Many of you will remember that my motto in life is “Life’s too short to wear ugly shoes”. The second part of that motto pertains to the many invitations that I get to join people on their many adventures. That line goes: “If I can’t wear my stilettos, I really don’t want to go!”
SO! You can imagine my “apprehension” when I discovered that the holiday comes with a free 3hour game drive. (Double EEK!) I LOVE animals, don’t get me wrong! But other than cats, I generally love my animals medium-rare on a bed of sweet potato chips… Heh heh heh! (Cats are safe, ‘cos they’re GORGEOUS!) I don’t do bugs. And I don’t do snakes. Or lizards. Or mud. Or hiking trails. (Cringe!) I walk several kilometers a week – on a treadmill. And my idea of braving “The Wild” is trying to find an organic lettuce in the fresh produce aisle that doesn’t have any worms in! (CRINGE!)
But I really couldn’t have been happier when I checked out the pics of the place on the ol’ inter-web! (Also don’t do computers. Or science. Or math.) It’s beautiful. Just check out the poolside pics… Stunning, hey? So (antibiotics or not!) I will be sipping on cocktails, lounging by the pool (in -10 winter weather!), wearing my beaded Indian wrap skirt, my tan stilettos and my green, safari-inspired jacket.
I hope they have a salon. I might get my hair blow-waved before I go down to Sunday breakfast…

Monday, June 05, 2006

Memoirs (The Movie) ***1/2

Okay... So I've changed my mind!
Go and see "Memoirs of a Geisha" the movie. It IS worth the price of the movie ticket. I thought that the casting was pretty good, except for Sayuri (THE MAIN CHARACTER!), but other than that, the rest of the cast was well suited to the roles. If you're an art director / creative / design type that gets a great big woody when you see a pretty picture, then you should DEFINATELY go and see Memoirs. Each and every shot was so beautifully crafted/directed, they all could quite easily qualify as works of art. For the readers in the house, I have to say that they stayed pretty true to the book. There were a few changes at the very begining and WAY at the end, but nothing that made me go, "Argh!". Memoirs the movie gets three and a half stars from me, even though I was determined to give it a -10.
So there.