Friday, April 24, 2009

It's great working in advertising... But let me tell you why.

Don't ask me WHY we thought it would be funny, but a bunch of the girls in the office (in a moment of complete boredom) decided to construct a willy out of a banana, 2 apples and a fake mustache, and place it on one of the guy's desks while he was out to lunch.
What followed for the next 15minutes was complete confusion as we argued over the anatomical correctness of the various willies we'd constructed.
Let's just say it took 4 girls, 4 attempts to get it "right".
Judge for yourself:

I hadn't laughed that hard in ages...

Contraption Review: Fail!

Well... Being the little jet-setter that I am, I can hardly expect my wonderful friends and family to always be around to feed my beloved Beena while I'm away. So I decided to get one of these little feeders from the pet store.
Pretty simple: You simply fill it up with their food and as they nibble from the tray, the holder releases more food into the tray to replenish it.
I was really hopeful about this one, because my Beena is not a big eater and never finishes her full day's feed. So I knew that she wouldn't be liked some pets who gobble up all the food in the feeder and end up starving afterward. For a short trip of 2 days / 2 nights, this feeder would've held MORE than enough food for my little angel!
Unfortunately... The food kept jamming in the release opening and she didn't know how to stick a paw in to shake things around to release more food. :(
Don't bother getting one of these for your kitty / pup. They're just not worth it!
So, sadly we're back to relying on the kindness of others to feed my angel.
I'm off to Johannesburg next month for a few days...
Anyone keen to babysit?

Well, done my fellow South Africans!

Well done for casting your vote and making your voice heard.
Here's hoping and praying that we're all equally and fairly represented in SA's new government.

HaikuNunu's "Flame"

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

What an awesome way to end Lent and celebrate Easter!

... In the Mother City, Cape Town with my mom, dad and youngest brother, Brendan.

Here's where I get to do my bit for SA Tourism and wax lyrical about what is truly one of the most amazing cities in the world. Mountains, beach, winelands, history, shopping, arts & culture... there's nothing that Cape Town is lacking in, and I'm probably sure I'm missing out a few key categories.
But, here goes...
There's no way I could possibly capture it all in words, so I'm going to let the pictures speak for me, with the odd note here and there to let you know what you're looking at.

This is how early we had to be at the airport. The sun was only just putting in an appearance as I took this pic from the restaurant window. I should mention here that I had been on my fast for Lent for about 40 to 50 days and only had that day (Holy Thursday) and the next day (til 3pm - Good Friday) to go. So while everyone else tucked into their bacon, eggs and toast I had eggs and chips. I'd given up booze, meat, fish, wheat and the obvious ones like chocolate and cake, - all the good stuff, and was left with veggies, fruit, dairy, eggs, tofu and legumes/nuts etc. I knew that I would make it gracefully to the end. I do it every year, but I will say that as you get older and look forward to that glass of wine with your dinner in the evening, it seems to get tougher and tougher not to feel a little sorry for yourself when you see others "indulging". It was also with mixed feelings that I left my beloved cat, Sabrina, in the care of my landlady (Shelley). I knew that she'd do a fantastic job of looking after her, but knowing that Beena's only been living with me for ±8weeks and was still adjusting to her new home, did worry me quite a bit. I knew she'd miss me and that made me miss her even more. I bought her a little radio so she wouldn't feel too lonely, topped up her clean kitty litter and made sure that Shelley knew where to find her food etc.

Well, we arrived in Cape Town without a hitch and met Brendan at the airport (he flew from Johannesburg where he now lives and works), collected our hire car and headed straight for our accommodation in Camps Bay. I'm told that we were blessed with 6 of the most stunning days (weather-wise) that Cape Town has seen in a long time, especially for this time of the year. As you can see, we had nothing but sunshine the whole time. You're looking at pics of our B&B and the views of Cape Town from all angles.

In the many, MANY times I've been to Cape Town I've never been able to go up Table Mountain. Just my bad luck, whenever I've gone the weather has always been a bit dodgy. But this time, clear skies and no wind meant that we could take the cable car up the side of the mountain all the way to the top to take in the breathtaking views, enjoy a light lunch and do a bit of shopping.

If there's one waterfront / harbour place you get to visit in your lifetime, make it The V & A Waterfront in Cape Town. Great vibe, live music on every corner, unbelievably good food, a wide variety of things to do, even seagulls that steal your fish and chips right out of your plate. That's one of them, checking out my chips in the bottom right pic. I bought the most amazing African dresses from the craft market... *happy sigh*

I've been once before, but I was happy to go to Robben Island for a second time in my life to see the prison where Nelson Mandela spent 18 years of his life. (He was incarcerated for 27 years, but 18 of them were on the island and the rest were elsewhere.) A ±45minute ferry ride takes you out there, and then a bus tour takes you around the island and an ex-political prisoner takes you through the prison facility. The bottom left pic is the lime quarry that has left Nelson Mandela partially blinded after years of crushing lime stone for no reason other than punishment. The lime wasn't used for anything after it had been crushed. The bottom right pic is of his 2m by 2m prison cell. The bucket on the right was his toilet and the blankets on the floor were his bed. Failure to fold them exactly as prescribed (seen in the pic) would result in solitary confinement.

That's the ferry that took us to the island (a former leper colony before it became a prison for political prisoners during the apartheid era). Looking at it like this, you would never believe that such pain, torture and suffering took place here. The pic in the top left corner is of an old Taiwanese wreck and the one on the right is the view of Table Mountain from the island.

Cape Point was truly one of the most amazing places I've ever been. It's the southern most tip of Africa where the Indian Ocean and Atlantic Ocean meet. I've been to Cairo too, so for me it was really cool knowing that I've been to the Northern and Southern most tips of the continent. In the bottom left pic you'll see one of the many stinky baboons that hang out there waiting for scraps of food that dumb tourists feed them. (READ THE SIGNS PEOPLE! Don't feed the animals! Sheesh.) My brother and I walked all the way to the top in no time at all, but my folks took the little shuttle because it IS a little tough for the older folk to get to the top without being puffed out. The drive there and back to Camps Bay was stunning... Little seaside villages with quaint antique shops and book shops. *sigh* We stopped at a fish and chip place and had the BEST piece of battered fish I've ever eaten in my life... wait for it... FOR TWENTY RAND A PIECE! Practically for free. That's $2 (USD) a piece guys. Buttery, flaky hake in crispy, puffy batter. There are no words, seriously.

On the Sunday we popped into church for Easter Mass. The choir was pretty dismal but we felt good none-the-less knowing that we'd made it to the end of Lent. I had actually broken my fast on Good Friday evening with a double cheese burger and a scotch/soda... Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaah. Sweet freedom, you tickle my tongue and warm my belly.

We decided to save the best for the last day and booked a one-day tour of the Stellenbosch winelands, with a guided long walk through the Delheim vineyard, several wine tastings and a stop for lunch at one of Stellenbosch's posh little restaurants. I can't tell you how much I learned about wine, grapes and wine-making in that walk! I have a whole new appreciation for the poetic, philosophical process that is wine making. I love that kind of shit! It's right up my alley. I can now spot a Cabernet Sauvignon leaf from a mile away, or a "Cab Sav" leaf as we wine connoisseurs fondly refer to it. And in the bottom left pic you'll see the Pinotage vines soaking up the sun. Pinotage (just so you know) is a grape variety indigenous to South Africa. in fact it was created in a lab by a bunch of scientists keen to create a grape that would thrive in our climate. A well-known, regular variety that thrives here naturally is Chardonnay, so look out for a good SA Chardonnay when you're out and you won't go wrong! (Delheim's Chardonnay "Sur Lie"... Mmmmmmmmmmmmh!)

And finally some random people pics... My mom, dad and Brendan at the top of Table Mountain in the bottom right pic. Me at the top of Table mountain in the top left pic and Nisha, Shivani and me partying at Cubana for Nisha's birthday on Saturday night.

God, I love that city.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

FRESHLYGROUND at the Durban Botanic Gardens

Ok... So sue me!
I'm probably the only South African out there who really doesn't think that FRESHLYGROUND is "all that and a bag of biltong".
At least I didn't think so, until last Sunday and their awesome afternoon concert at the Durban Botanic Gardens. Haleluia! PRAISE GAHD! I've seen the light. FRESHLYGROUND rocks!
I only pitched up in the first place because two of my best mates were going to be there, and it was either the concert or dvds on the sofa... Bleh.
And I know what you're thinking: A bottle of wine in Durban's blazing Summer sun will make ANY band seem great. Well, just so you know, I'm completely sober these days thanks to Lent - it's a Catholic thing - and I was totally sober the whole afternoon.
There was an hour or so from the opening band, Maisha:

The buffed arms on the lead guy were killer! ROWR! And the music was good too. Very chilled, laid back, African vibe with a bit of reggae thrown in. Lovely stuff.
But there's a reason that FRESHLYGROUND has become one of the most sought-after SA headliners. They came out dancing and rocking and jumping and interacting with the crowd from the moment they hit the stage until they left about and hour later.

That little lead singer chick is AWESOME!

In spite of myself, I got the biggest goosebumps ever when she sang "I'd Like" and hit all the big notes, just right. My mate Lor is a big fan so she was right up front for all the songs, dancing the afternoon away. But it was quite funny when she turned around at one point to find that she was the only one standing there waiting for them to start playing. Everyone else had wandered off after Maisha and Lor was left standing there, staring at the stage until she had the good sense to turn around and head back to our picnic blanket.

That's Lor in the cream top, laughing her ass off... Hah!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Contraption Review: *****

I'm giving this homemade contraption five stars, a kiss and a hug!
Let me tell you just what it does: Stops my kitty cat from climbing the tree and getting stuck in the branches or jumping onto the roof, from whence I will NEVER be able to help her down.

I wanted Beena to be able to play in her new garden and enjoy scratching / sharpening her claws on the massive trees in the yard (just like she used to do back home at my folks' place). But alas! In her nervousness with adapting to a new environment, I found that she would RACE up to the top of the tree at the slightest movement or loud noise, and it would take me FOREVER to coax her down again. Cats also tend to run AWAY from you while you're trying to help them, so I found that she would look at the roof (just a few inches away) and be getting ready to pounce on top, instead of coming to me and safety. At my parents' place, we found a little route that she could follow to get back to solid ground, but here at the new place, there's no such thing. I'd have to get a ladder... And even that won't work because, like I said, cats run AWAY from you when you're trying to help. It would have been a real disaster if she got onto the roof...

So my dad and I devised this cunning plan involving some plastic chicken wire, some washing line wire and a few bits of plastic coated wire to secure it all in place. It basically looks like a wire lampshade that sits around the trunk of the tree about 2meters off the ground. Beena can scratch as much as she wants and climb to a height of 2meters, but once she sees the obstruction, she quickly scampers down again and finds another curiosity to investigate elsewhere in the garden. Phew.

And of course, the tree is not harmed in any way at all and the contraption is barely visible from a couple of meters away.

I beg your pardon. I never promised you a herb garden!

But I've grown one anyway.

You've got to understand what a big deal this is...
My father, who is an avid gardener and lover of all things garden related, has always lamented the fact that my younger brothers and I have never shown any interest in the garden at all. He would often try to inspire us, encourage us and when all else failed he sometimes resorted to outright bribery and finally threats. None of it worked.
Don't get me wrong... I LOVE flowers. Adore them, in fact.
It's the bugs that completely freak me out.
I remember going through a particularly weird (read: "lonely") teenage phase where I decided to adopt a little potted green plant for my bedroom. I called her Wendy and decided that she was going to be my best mate. (If you grew up on movies like Revenge of the Nerds, or anything from that time featuring the Brat Pack, you would also have done weird shit like that. That's what they did in the movies, so that's what we all did. Pet rocks and shit like that.) Well... All went well with little old Wendy for about 2 weeks or so, until the one day I picked her up off the windowsill to "chat" and a giant bug crawled up my arm. I vaguely remember shrieking and FLINGING Wendy across the room. She hit the fridge door and landed in a thousand gritty pieces of wet sand, leaves and stems.
Not good.
And it got steadily worse from there. Once I started work I was determined to join my lady workmates in nurturing a little desk plant with pride and cooing admiration. So I said to myself, I said: "Self, if there's one thing NOBODY can kill it's a cactus; they live out in the desert; they go for months (nay, YEARS!) without water; they're indestructible." WRONG! What followed over the years was a basic mass genocide, a cactus holocaust if you will, as innocent baby cactus after innocent baby cactus perished under my watchful eye. Oh yeah... It was not a pretty sight and not something that I am particularly proud of.
Fast-forward to today and my new living space (with perfect garden area) and a growing obsession with cooking. To be honest, it's been a dream of mine for some time now to have a herb garden, but after my "bad luck" with plants, I was hesitant to add to the death toll. The carnage had to stop!
But lately, as I've matured, I discovered that I was beginning to find the courage to interact with the plant world again. So I got my dad to pot a few herbs for me. Nothing to major. Just some simple stuff to "get my feet wet"... And look!

Almost a month down the line: My basil is thriving. My chilli plant is not bearing yet but growing well. My curry leaf plant is looking good. My brand new parsley seems to be catching on and my sage is hanging on for dear life. My mint was looking good, but now the leaves have gone black at the tips and the thyme didn't seem to want to grow from the very start, so bleh!
Watering them every evening as the sun goes down and Beena romps in the background somewhere, has become one of the most peaceful, happiest parts of my day.