*JAP* BEATING THE WINTER BLUES


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Tip #1 – sit outside in the sun whenever and wherever possible. Following the example of my fat feline guest. Tip #2 – turn off all sources of media – radio and electronic. Tip #3 – refuse to listen to news bulletins. Tip #4 – take advantage of the glorious weather and go on an outing – fresh air and sunshine are a restorative combo. Tip #5 – once the sun sets, make cocoa. Enjoy!

*JAP = just a paragraph to keep my blog ticking over, whilst I’m busy with longer posts.

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MAY 2019 CAPE TOWN ROUND UP


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Jean Doyle’s bronze statue of Just Nusiance; erected 1985 overlooking Simonstown Harbour.

FINALLY the Elections are OVER. Whew! Not a moment too soon. All the talking heads busily telling us who voted/didn’t vote (many of the unemployed, disinterested millenials) followed by a fresh bout of punditry on who would/would not be elected to the Cabinet. Which Prez Cyril has told us will be surgically trimmed to 22 ministries, as opposed to the current bloated 35. Jobs for pals, our previous Prez’s modus operandi, meant we could have built a wonderful braai/barbecue fire with the deadwood in Parliament. That is, provided we could have woken them up in time to herd them off to the braai fire. Our MPs are notorious for snoozing peacefully on their cosy Parly benches, as many pics have testified.
Election fatigue was followed by the drama over the new cabinet : who’s in? who’s out? The days of delay while the behind scenes turmoil of bargaining, bluster, and probably blackmail play out against the backdrop of a tripartite political party. The ruling party is a robust alliance of the African National Congress (ANC) the SA Communist Party (SACP) and the COSATU (the Congress of SA Trade Unions). Can you imagine trying to satisfy – placate is probably a better word – those three groups? Prez Cyril can have it, rather him than me!

 

I’m finding it difficult to ensure the balance in my monthly Cape Town round-up posts. I don’t want the post to be a non-stop litany of crime, which is pretty much 75% of the daily newscasts in SA, and the Western Cape in particular. I certainly don’t even want to think about, let alone write down the daily national murder rate figure. I heard it yesterday on radio. Quite often, on the days when I don’t feel particularly brave, I work on the principle of “if I close my eyes, it’s not there”, i.e. head in the sand approach; believe me, if you live in SA, you either have sand in your ears, or you’re busy booking your ticket to Perth, WA. There’s a theory that Perth now has a bigger population of white ex-South Africans than the actual Republic; but this is only a snarky rumour.

 

Metal theft is prevalent in my city. The scrap metal dealers don’t ask questions. They weigh the scrap and a desperately poor person gets a few rands in his pocket to feed his family, and/or buy drugs. Garden taps, metal house numbers – you name it. Latest victim of this scourge was Just Nuisance, the magnificent bronze statue of the famous Great Dane overlooking the harbor and Naval dockyards in Simonstown. He stands proudly in Jubilee Square. But some so-and-so prised off the metal dog-collar, and his naval cap, both of which were part of the statuary. Sigh.

 

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The other 25% of our news that is not clogged up with politics, is heavily slanted towards Sports. If its round and it bounces, or if its got four legs or even two legs, and runs, then South Africans will watch it, participate in it, bet on it, follow it, endlessly analyze it, obsess over it. Football, rugby, cricket, golf followed by the rest of the sporting categories. But not by me. I am the .00001% national anomaly who is oblivious to the national passions. And you know what? My sports-free life is just fine, thank you.

 

One major good thing happened to me this month: at last I got the message to collect my renewed Drivers’ Licence card from the Milnerton Traffic Department. The end of a saga that began in September last year, when I virtuously applied well in advance of my expiry date. I had new pics taken ( aaarrrgghhh – do I really look like that?) paid my money, had my eye test, filled out the paperwork and hope to receive the renewal within six weeks. Ha! Foolish woman. First obstacle was months of labour problems, a strike; followed by a dispute with the new service provider who lost over 100 000 applications … mine included.

 

I had to make another trip to the Traffic department, to re-apply and start the process all over again, and seven months later, I finally received my new licence card. That’s what’s so exhausting about living in South Africa – apart from the nervous wear and tear – mundane tasks turn into a Mission of Note.

 

We’ve had glorious mild, sunny weather that has been alarmingly dry. Ours is a winter rainfall area but this year the rains hover above, and then very frustratingly, blow up towards the Southern Cape coast, missing my area. So no new gardening projects for me. But I’ve been feasting on winter produce from my neighbourhood Food Lovers : leeks, which I adore, turnips, cabbage. And I’ve dusted off my big cast-iron soup pot and brewed up delicious Quinoa and Sweet Potato soup. It’s laced with fresh ginger, one of my favourites. I’m a winter person, just in case you hadn’t guessed!

Here’s hoping for a more tranquil and wetter June.

 

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SO WHO’S A HAPPY LITTLE GARDENER?


 

The answer is me!

Look what I grew in pots on my patio :

 

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Nothing beats the taste of young, freshly picked green beans. By planting at four weekly intervals another crop of beans arrives in time to replace the fading first plantings. I’ve had fun waiting and watching for the sprouting beans to push through the soil, then watering them – just a little, this is pot gardening we’re talking about here – until they’re established. I use my kitchen grey water for my pots where possible, and it fascinates me that the beans are not flavoured with Sunlight Dishwashing liquid!

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The New Zealand Spinach is rampaging happily, as it does. I can barely keep up with it! Nobody more surprised than me when it erupted in both my pots, having self seeded eighteen months ago.
I’m currently on a gardening binge, and buying a few new shrubs to fill in the evidence of the drought. My lavender and my ground cover died off, drought victims, and my ten year old Rosemary bush jungle is in a sad state, sorry to say.

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My two new hibiscus plants, both with promising fat buds. I’m looking forward to their generous pale pink flowers.
However, I’ve had success with striking cuttings from my Hoya creeper and my pretty pink geranium, so I need to start replacement rosemary cuttings. On a hot afternoon the remaining rosemary sends clouds of perfume into my bedroom. Delicious!
The soil in my garden is basically beach sand, but fortunately only  a very small area, which is manageable for a spasmodic gardener like yours truly.  Gardening in pots is waterwise,  versatile and rewarding.  If, like me, you garden in adverse conditions, pot gardening is worth a try.

 

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APRIL 2019 ROUND UP FROM CAPE TOWN


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Mountains en route to Ceres, Western Cape.  Prime leopard territory.

 

 

My Northern Hemisphere readers are enthusing about Spring, sunshine, and budding trees. But we’re doing the reverse, enjoying cooler Autumn days and showery weather – harbinger of our winter rains. Fingers crossed. My garden is still struggling to recover after our punitive drought.

 
Fortunately the weather smiled when our Two Oceans Marathon was staged on Easter Saturday. The race has been run annually on Easter Saturday in Cape Town since 1970. . Due to the mountainous terrain, it’s a tough race over a course of 56 km/35 miles; the field is limited to 13 000 runners. The Sowetan reported: There was double joy for SA in yesterday’s Two Oceans Marathon in Cape Town, with three-time Comrades Marathon champion Bongumusa Mthembu winning the ultra leg of the men’s race and Gerda Steyn claiming honours in the women’s section.
April is the month prior to our five yearly National and Provincial Elections on 8th May. So we’re in for endless April Foolery, unconnected with the actual date of 1 April. The day itself turned out to be very low-key this year, in terms of public pranks. But not to worry, our political parties filled the vacuum with gusto. See details below of the Dagga (Cannabis) Party.

 
For openers: 33 political parties have registered to fight (probably going to be a very appropriate word) the elections. Local radio announcer, Pippa Hudson, gave us her criteria for selecting who to vote for:
• What is their track record?
• What is the quality of their leadership?
• What does their manifesto have to say?

Using these criteria to review the parties, via, gave me a headache, especially Point #2 : leadership quality.

 

However, I did crack a smile when I heard about a colourful Party entering the race : The Dagga Party. Apparently one of their major policy points is that hemp provides a viable alternative to fossil fuel. Yes: hemp seeds produce Biodiesel. News to me.  Clearly there’s more to hemp than I realised. Others thought so too, because the first Cannabis Expo took place at Cape Town ‘s Grand West venue in early April. It was punted as “– displaying medicinal, agricultural, construction and lifestyle etc. ” Unfortunately the entry tickets fell outside my budget, but hey! A sign of the times, no?

 

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Another happy event this month : popular blind singer, Andrea Bocelli gave a concert in Paarl, at the22 April at Val de Vie Estate, Paarl. Not my cup of tea, but he’s an extremely popular Performer.

 
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April was a bad month for Taxi troubles. When I say ‘taxi’ I’m referring to public transport, mini bus taxis, used by thousands. On the other side of the mountain in Hout Bay, Taxi violence on 1 April saw the bullets flying, three killed right outside the Cop Shop*; others were wounded. Local law enforcement is seemingly unable to deal with ongoing taxi violence , which is usually sparked by disputes over taxi routes. Unlike Joburg where the non-nonsense Mayor brought out the Casspirs  and the taxis came to heel. I thank my lucky stars I’m not dependent on public transport!

 

 

And, of course, the usual public holiday mayhem on our roads , caused chiefly by drunken driving, drunken pedestrians, and speeding. This year’s fatality total in our Province: 22. As radio host Africa Melane observed: effectively, we are a nation of functioning alcoholics … when are we going to stop drinking so much? Good question.

 
Followed by more arson at Cape Town station on Easter Monday: rolling stock set alight at the station, damage amounting to millions, and resulting in yet more woes for Cape Towns rail passengers. Three years down the line, little progress is being made to solve the mystery. Speculation is rife: who is behind the ongoing sabotage of our rail network? Who benefits? The Taxi industry? The coach-building industry? The ANC  by causing public disenchantment with our Province’s DA majority government? We are the only Province that is not run by the ruling ANC party. Oh: and statistically the best run Province, which is an embarrassment to the ruling party. Life in South Africa: challenging!

 

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Leaving urban troubles behind, and turning to Nature. 200 kms from Cape Town lies the mountainous Cedarberg region PIC , perfect habitat for the rare Cape Leopard . They like the rocky environment, populated by baboons, a handy food source for them. Estimates put the Cedarberg leopard population at a mere 350 animals. So sad to learn that a mature female was knocked down and killed by a vehicle on the N1 this month. The accident happened at night, when the leopard was crossing the road. Wild life vs cars seldom has a happy outcome, because the animals appear quickly, seemingly out of nowhere, become dazzled by the vehicle lights, and then its collision time.
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One of the Cape Honeysuckle hedges bordering my garden

Wildlife in my garden has been on a much smaller, safer scale: birds feasting on the nectar in the Cape Honeysuckle hedge, a late Autumn flowering. Snails reappearing with the arrival of rain showers. On which more peaceful note, I will leave you – see you in May.

*SA slang for Police Station

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VISITING THE 2019 INVESTEC ART FAIR


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Overall impressions: more exhibits this year;  a  far more International array of work – Angola, Kenya, Uganda, Angola, Zimbabwe, and from Europe France, Italy, Germany, Britain – I even spotted one Australian  Art Gallery’s stand! I watched dapper little men with neat van Dyk beards, clad in seersucker suits, excitedly waving their hands  and explaining the finer points of displayed works in heavily foreign accents …. No doubt about it, much more international this year.

The inventive use of mundane objects for art projects was typically African : the humble clothes peg, metal bottle tops, fabrics, woven  fibre ropes, plasticised hessian bag fabric , plus others that I ‘m sure I missed in the huge exhibition.

Last year’s centre piece was the pink polar bear wearing its blue tutu. Nothing so frivolous this time. There was centrally displayed  Teddy Bear, giant sized, in pale terracotta ceramic, in a seated position and but I didn’t take a pic – I  found the deconstructed bear showing its plastic exo skeleton very off-putting.However, I did spot this mixed media (beads and artificial flowers)  Albino   bust which  was an unusual  item. Albinism in Africa is often the subject of superstition and persecution.

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I was conscious of so much texture this time around. Some notably prickly works. I can imagine what a traffic hazard these protruding rigid wires would be in a confined space.

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I loved the vivid colours of the  plastic snake-y coils a sort of wild reinvention of mating pythons. One of my favourite pieces.

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And what looks like fabric or yarn, but is in fact a heavily textured plastic paint .

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And beautiful work crated out of coiled sisal strips – I really liked this.

 

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Not many  ceramics . but I spotted this, and pray none of my friends decide it would make a lovely gift for me!

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But I did like these little ceramic  objets d’art:

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Plenty of fabric of one sort and another :

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This quirky bicycle caught my eye
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The Feet – striking – if only I could read Arabic.

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I loved the 8 portrait series of (presumably) Toureg men .

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And the 12 small Cubist works

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Finally: a dash of colour from Angola:

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There was so much more to see and enjoy, but I couldn’t take pics of everything. For info on the Prize Winners  and other details, please go to :https://www.investeccapetownartfair.co.za/

Had I won the Lotto I would have gone mad at the Print stands.  But I went home empty handed, replete with colour, texture and adventure. The annual Investec February Art Fair is one of my favourite events – I wouldn’t miss it for the world.

 

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POTTERING INTO PORTERVILLE


 

 

 

 

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As we enter into Porterville and slowly drive down the main road Helen asks me what day it is? Fair question. When you’re on holiday the days blur into each other. I tell her its Thursday. “Oh!” she says, “for a moment I thought it must be Sunday. Where is everybody?”
Another good question. Its mid-morning, on an oven-hot day, 40 degrees Centigrade, we later discover. Not a car in sight. Way down the street, one man leaning languidly against a wall, smoking.
We locate my artist friends’ home, and spend two hours outside, sitting under a shady pepper tree, feasting on tiny sticky figs, a selection of cheese and crackers, and absorbing gallons of tea. Our hosts are seemingly unfazed by the extreme heat and enthuse over the benefits of living in a tiny country town. Peace and quiet, minimal crime, spacious properties, lower cost of living, and still within a 90 minutes drive from urban fun in Cape Town. Plus a weekly farmers’ market, which truly is a local affair, and the source of today’s figgy treat.
They assure us that the extreme heat is only for 6 weeks or so, and the rest of the year is very livable. I’ll take their word for it.

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Driving away with the aircon going full blast, we paused briefly to take pics of an extraordinarily grand church, which reminded me of a wedding cake. My attention was caught by the pillars. But heat fatigue curbed our enthusiasm for more sightseeing and happy snaps.

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MARCH CAPE TOWN ROUND UP


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The big headlines in March are: Eskom and more load shedding. That’s the South African euphemism for rolling power blackouts.
Oh: maybe I should mention our Public Enterprise power producing company, Eskom, is billions of Rands in the red, and unable to cope. Just a tiny little detail. Talk about fiddling while Rome burns, or rather: does not burn. Eskom can’t keep the turbines turning. Sigh. AND, as the cherry on top: a 9.4% increase in the price of electricity coming next month. Our corrupt, incompetent national power supplier Eskom kicking us, and the poor old abused tax cash cow, in the ribs again.
A load-shedding parallel story from the gang-ridden Cape Flats area of our city. A caller to Cape Talk Radio station reported how, during load shedding, crime rises exponentially in their areas. Residents are not even safe within their own homes, due to ricocheting bullets. How his teenage son crawled up the stairs to his own bedroom, to study with a LED lantern; the kid crawled because he was terrified of being struck by a stray bullet on his way upstairs. Words fail me. How can we expect people to live like this?

 
South Africa has but one nuclear Power station, and I happen to live quite close to it. Our wonderful government cooked up a scheme to build three more nuclear power stations, to augment our coal fired plants, despite the glaringly obvious fact that solar energy blasts us daily and is a renewable energy source. Whichever way you slice it and dice it, solar energy is the way to go, but unfortunately it seems there’s insufficient kickback opportunities for our crooked politicians along the solar road, so our desperate need to divorce ourselves from coal is mired in inaction and controversy. One tiny crumb of comfort: the nuclear scheme, via Russian suppliers, was blocked and remains in limbo.
February/ March is the date for the annual Koeberg Nuclear Power Station Siren Test. It always gives me the heebie jeebies. The booming, disembodied voice droning : This is only a test. No action is required. This is only a test. Followed by the banshee wailing of an alarm siren. Supposedly, if Koeberg Nuclear Power Station, 15 kms to the north of my area, has an oopsie – think Chernoybl – theoretically the warning system will alert us to immediately vacate the area and congregate at designated gathering points. Personally,I think if Koeberg blows we will all be toast before anybody can press the broadcast system button.

 

 
Maybe Adriaan Nieuwoudt’s scheme to establish an escape haven for beleaguered whites in his new town of Eureka, to hell and gone in the Northern Cape, is not such a bad idea after all. Abundant sunshine, (solar power; Eskom can take a hike), wide open spaces, beautiful Namaqualand spring flowers, plentiful mutton, what’s not to like? And don’t even think about playing that tattered old Race Card. Boo-oooo-rrring.
Fibre Optic cable is being laid in our Village: the 21st Century has officially arrived! Men in hardhats are hauling cable up out of manhole covers in every street and doing technical additions. I won’t be subscribing to it, because I don’t livestream material, and my current ADSL line works just fine, thank you. Additionally, I’m a POP = a Poor Old Pensioner.

 
Despite all the above gloom (pun intended), life goes on. Polo at swish Val de Vie Wine Estate, sponsored by Veuve Cliquot, and organised by SA swimming star, Ryk Neethling who has obviously handled the transition from water to land very successfully. Cape Town is within easy access to dozens of Wine estates, ranging from the ultra-luxurious to the modest but productive smaller ones, that don’t go in for the added-extras like open air concerts, music fests, wedding and conference venues.
Cape Town has hosted an Ed Shieran concert which was packed. What a good thing our 2010 soccer stadium was left standing to serve as a venue. I say this because a few years ago some genius wanted to tear it down and build low cost housing on the site. Other musical excitement this month is the annual Cape Town Jazz festival which always draws huge crowds.

 
The radio promo for the big musical Chicago, which opened mid-March sings : greed , lies, adultery, treachery …. And all that jazz! Sounds suspiciously like the job description for entering South African politics. Sorry: couldn’t resist that one. I’ve had too  much Zondo Commission info this month.

 

Mid-month brought a lovely story about Mufasa, the lion escapee from the Karoo National Park, finally captured in Sutherland, darted and transported by bakkie* back to the park. Apparently during the loading process, locals gathering around the recumbent lion, saying … ssshhhh … don’t make a noise … apparently worried in case he woke up, jumped out and devoured them all! I wish I had a pic to add to this little gem.

 
Finishing on a happier note: here’s a pic of the pink March lilies that bloom annually along the shores of our local Rietvlei Wetland. I had to scrounge a pic online. Thanks to .http://www.everything.co.za/2015/02/march-lily/ . Oddly, they signal the end of summer, not the beginning as one might suppose. Every time I head down the R27 I catch glimpses of them on my left. Luckily it’s a dual carriageway at this point, so I can sneak a peek if the traffic is light. Flowers, along with books, are in prime position on my list of Favourite things.

• Open truck/ute

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BROWN PAPER PACKAGES


 

 

indexBROWN PAPER PACKAGES,
Tied up with string,
These are a few of
My favourite things!

My favourite things! Sang Julie Andrews . Yes, mine too, when I was a kid. Such excitement! A Parcel! With foreign stamps, brown paper, string and sealing wax. A Proper Parcel which only arrived before or after birthdays and Christmases. Posted by kindly aunts from Overseas, that mythical place.

 
When last did you make and post a parcel? Not a padded white bag, a Proper Parcel. Last week I parcelled up a book, to send to a friend in Napier. Not so far from Cape Town as the crow flies, but he no longer drives and I’m not prepared to drive the distance. So a parcel it must be.

 
First I looked for the brown paper. I knew I had some. But where was it hiding? I finally tracked it down, hiding coyly in a cupboard. Next I dug out my sticky tape, scissors, and my ball of string. Got to have string for a Proper Parcel. Parcel completed, I dug out my old address book and find his postal address. Right – Done! Now to glue my return address sticker on the reverse of the parcel.

 
The final touch: tracking down my very last stick of red sealing wax, Burning my fingers as I held the lighter flame to the wax , but it was worth it, I love the smell. It’s a distinctive smell. You don’t get that bonus from a white padded envelope!

 
I have to confess the white padded thingys are a great deal quicker, but I enjoyed the old, familiar process of making a Proper Parcel, even though it took me at least 25 minutes. I’ve sent hundreds of parcels in my lifetime, because my family are scattered all over the place.

 

How about you? When last did you post a Proper Parcel ?

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(JAP) I’M NOT A HUG-A-BUG)


 

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Go away! Shoo! Please don’t advance on me & fold me in your embrace. A handshake will do, or a light touch on the arm. A genuine, big smile would be lovely. I’m not a hug-a-bug. I’m not a germophobe, neither am I the Ice Queen. I just like my personal space. And I’m not the only one. I thought I was a weird Tribe of One, but it turns out I’m not. In the February issue of Sawubona magazine Thando Ndabezitha titles her Anti-hug fest piece: Hugs Must Fall! * I’m with you all the way Thando. Why this mania for hugging complete strangers? The only people I want to hug are my family and my lovers. Not necessarily in this order.

*a reference to the disruptive student protests ‘Fees Must Fall’

JAP = just a paragraph to keep my blog ticking over, whilst I’m busy with longer posts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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LAUNDRY LUNACY


Are our homes hyper clean and hygienic ? or are they disgusting cesspits of potential typhoid?

 

Both ends of the spectrum, but where do we fit in? and does it matter? I’ve been reading on-line articles that reveal some Northern Hemisphere residents are dementedly washing duvet inners once a fortnight, and changing face cloths and bath towels daily. Oh: and let’s not forget the curtains – washed annually or more often. What are these people doing with their curtain, for goodness sake? Using them as dishtowels? On which topic : full scale germophobe hysteria.
When I’d finished reading, my overall impression was: how wonderful to live in countries where water is in such an abundant supply that people can cheerfully wash and clean like demented germophobes without a care in the world, using litres and litres of water in the process. My mind slid back to our recent drought, where we were down to using no more than 20 litres of water per person, per day, to stave off the dreaded Day Zero. We managed to do so by a combo of strict adherence and blessed rainfall in the nick of time.

 

For myself, I’d rather have continued access to water and to hell with laundry hygiene! How about you?

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