Category Archives: SOCIAL COMMENT

JULY 2019 CAPE TOWN ROUND UP


 

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Winter in Cape Town

 

NATIONAL
Much loved musician Johnny Clegg dies. The man who bridged the national cultural gap by making Zulu music his own. The French gave him the fitting soubriquet of Le Zoulou Blanc. The entire nation mourned his passing. Hamba Kahle, Johnny.
http://www.capetalk.co.za/articles/355022/may-we-repeat-asimbonan

 

Former President Jacob Zuma finally attends the Zondo Commission of Enquiry into State Capture. Why he bothered I don’t know, because he displayed wall-to-wall amnesia about everything.

 

What a mensch! Not strictly a Cape Town story, but I did hear it on Cape Talk Radio Station. It’s such a good news story, I have to share it. A recently qualified medical doctor, Dr Paolo de Valdoleiros , living in Bloemfontein, has taken the radical step of telling patients they should pay what they can afford for a consultation. Now that’s a real doctor, in my book! He says he’s not interested in the luxe lifestyle, expressing disinterest in acquiring a Merc – how very refreshing.
The background to his story is even more astonishing: at the age of 46, paraphrasing his words : I woke up one morning and decided: that’s it – I’m going to be a doctor. Inspired by a lifesaving stint as a patient in hospital in Beira, Mozambique, when he was ten years old,  suffering from hepatitis. His recovery made him realise, at this early age, he wanted to help people. However, it wasn’t until he reached middle age, when he changed career path and he succeeded. What a story.

LOCALLY
At last, at long last, after literally years of formal requests, the Army is deployed to assist the SA Police in the gang-ravaged areas of the Cape Flats. The difference thus far is minimal, from what I’m hearing. Last weekend only – note only – six murders on the Cape Flats. Clearly better than the double figures reported after every weekend, week after week. The mind just reels.

 
Winter rains continue falling, to the relief of those watching our dam levels, now around 70% capacity. Counterbalanced by the annual misery of flooding amongst shack dwellers living in low lying areas, plus yet another fire in Masi in Hout Bay. Imagine being homeless in the pouring rain ….

 

PERSONALLY
I’ve had some lovely beach walks, read a pile of books, drunk plenty cocoa. My garden has provided the annual smorgasbord of tasty shrubs to hordes of hungry black and orange furry caterpillars busily munching their way towards their cocoons, and ultimately glorious wings. Meanwhile, they’re hairy, ugly, prickly and to be avoided. Much like South Africa. I wish our country could quickly pass through this painful, difficult period of clearing out the mess and corruption, and move on to butterfly status.

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OH, I DO LIKE TO BE BESIDES THE SEASIDE ¶♫♫


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Indeed I do, even if it’s a partly overcast, mid-winter  Sunday. Melkbos is  always  lovely whatever the  day or season.  Look at those clouds, the play of light on the water.

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The sun gleamed and vanished, but it made no difference to the walkers, the dog walkers and the Dads playing footie with their kids.

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Did I see dogs? Oh yeah – and of course, my cellphone camera was not to hand, so you‘ll have to take it on trust that I saw twin beagles, many Pavement Specials, a curly poodle, two extraordinarily well behaved Jack Russells, Labs both black and cream, three tiny Yorkies manically towing along an elderly lady who was forced to tilt herself backwards at an angle of 120 degrees to maintain stable forward progression, otherwise she’d be ploughing a furrow in the sand with her nose!

 

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The  mid-pic group wearing red are the junior trainee lifesavers, going through drills. You need your wet suit in these icy Atlantic waters!

The jet skis howled and whined offshore, above the sound of the incoming breakers. But the racket didn’t spoil my morning. And even though my little Yaris was boxed in by two behemoth 4x4sfrom which I extricated myself with difficulty on departure, even this did not dispel my seaside euphoria.

Oh! I do love to be beside the sea side!

 

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*JAP* SO WHO’S AN ACHING LITTLE GARDENER?


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Me, that’s who!
But the glow of satisfaction is warming my sore hands and aching lower back. Oh! The aged bod.
Mid-winter is the time to oil my secateurs and lay waste to the straggling fuschia, the lanky geraniums and the snail munched canary creeper. Snip, Snip, and off they come. Pausing constantly to yank out the indigenous foxglove which is the most persistent plant on the planet, so far as I’m concerned. I use it as ground cover, but somehow the plant didn’t get the message, because it has rooted itself into every pot and tub on my patio with gusto. I’ve seen pics of the rioting vegetation swarming over the deserted area area around Chernobyl in Russia, so if Koeberg ever blows its lid, a mere fifteen kays away from my house, I am quite confident that the good old foxglove will shake off the radiation in no time, and proceed to envelop everything within a ten kay radius. Plant power versus nuclear power. You’d better believe it.

*JAP* Just a Paragraph to keep my blog ticking over whilst I’m working on longer writing projects.

 

 

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*JAP* BEATING THE WINTER BLUES INSTALMENT 2


 

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Drag out those old LPs, dust them off, and crank up the turntable.

 

Here come the 50s, 60s, 70s . Those singalong tunes, the cheesy lyrics, the falsetto yodelling of Slim Whitman, the brassy trumpets and the salsa music. The heart broken cowboys lamenting lost loves, accompanied by mournful guitar twanging. You no longer own a turntable? Chucked out the old records? Not to worry. Just turn the radio dial to LM Radio, which is pumping out pretty much non-stop music of our youth. Reprising a few of the old dance steps will your blood flowing, and warm you up. Dancing not your thing? Then go & sit in the sun. Bask a little. Turn up the radio. Enjoy!
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LM_Radio
http://www.radio-south-africa.co.za/lm-radio

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

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JUNE 2019 CAPE TOWN ROUND UP


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Mid-year finds me depressed by crime and politics. Crime I’m going to skip over, relating the catalogue of recent mind-blowing events will not help or change anything, and a rehash will depress me even further.
Mid-month, to preserve my sanity, I turned off my trusty little red radio and limited local news to a 5 minute bulletin at breakfast time. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by the tide of crime and politics, none of the news in these categories is good. I remembered the advice of American Dr Weil, way back in the early 1990s, who advocated a 6 week news fast, exercise, an anti-inflammatory diet, and his cherry on top was: buy flowers once a week for your home. Pretty good advice in my opinion. To which I would add: sit in the sun, whenever possible. It eases my arthritis if nothing else.

Seems I’m not the only one feeling overwhelmed by the current global political climate, and ex-Saffer- now -Aussie Joanne Fedler’s recent post on the 100th Monkey story came timeously. Here’s the link: https://mailchi.mp/88b499636593/you-could-make-this-place-beautiful?e https://joannefedler.com/
On the political front, we had the Prez’ State of the Nation address/SONA , which evoked a torrent of ridicule, scorn and derision because the man had the temerity to dream a little, and speak of a bright future for South Africa, featuring a brand new mega-city (a la China) and a Bullet Train. Well – why not? What a refreshing change to think of the country in bright positive terms instead of wallowing in the dark muddy mire of the present.

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Cathy and the Trolley Dollies in Cape Town were the DA’s special guests for the 2019 Sona on 20 June 2019. Picture: Cindy Archillies/EWN
One SONA linked event cheered me enormously. Don’t ask me why, but the Democratic Alliance ( the official opposition) invited the Trolley Dollies to the SONA event. These people are female impersonators aka drag queens . SA pays due politically correct attitudes to all shades and variants of gender. Think SA athlete Caster Semenya. As you can see from the above  pic, the Trolley Dollies are a splendid trio.

Speaking of  women , Gerda Steyn, a South African runner, broke the record for the Up Run Race in the 94th Comrades Marathon that took place on 9th June 2019. For some years the Womens’ race at the annual Comrades was dominated by a pair of Russian twins, which always irked me.

Another Comrades’ story, of which I caught the tale end on the radio, about a domestic worker in Johannesburg, who regularly runs to work, from Soweto to Rivonia, a distance somewhere between 44 kms and 58 kms, saying “ I don’t run for the money – I run to be part of Comrades”. The human spirit can be extraordinary.
In similar vein, the following anecdote: you were casting about for some good news, Alison, why not mention that lovely story about that petrol attendant who paid the R100 for the girl who left her credit card at home? And when she put this good deed up on Facebook, everyone was so cheered up by his generosity that they have collected R495,000 for him – and still counting, nice . Thanks to my friend Ginny, for reminding me not all is doom and gloom.

So: ending on a lighter note. My friend Vanessa and I had a fabulous girly morning at the Charity Luxury Vintage fashion event, held at the Waterfront, in the Cruise Ship Passenger Terminal. I stood on the balcony, looking out over Table Bay, and dreamed of cruising for the rest of my life, as a permanent passenger on the QEII. I believe an elderly British lady did just that. Apparently it was economically viable option for her. I wish!
At the sale I drooled and oohed and aahed over Jimmy Choo and Louis Vuiton handbags; they’re one of my many weaknesses. I promised myself I wouldn’t buy any more handbags, but as you can see from the pic below, who was I kidding? I salved my conscience with the thought that I was supporting a charity working for literacy and children’s reading. So I’m enjoying my handbags and polishing my halo.
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IRONING MUSIC


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Most people hate doing the ironing, but I’m one of the few people who doesn’t mind ironing. I’m not saying I look forward to it, but one Sunday a month, when the pile of ironing is halfway to the ceiling, I tackle it, and while I iron, I play CDs or my antique LPs. Today’s music was Paul Simon’s So Beautiful, so What. I enjoy his lyrics, plus he often has exotic instruments as backing. A good combo for me. What’s your musical accompaniment to chores?
*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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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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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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