Category Archives: TV SHOWS


On January 1st, 2021, I packed away my Christmas decoration table display, and removed my bead wreath from my front door grille.

 Next task was to changeover the calendars. Down came the 2020 Wildlife calendar, up went the pretty Paws and Petals calendar. Lovely! a colourful, calming picture of cats posed decoratively amongst the flowers. Inspiration above my worktable. Great.

Final chore: to write up the birthday dates into my new 2021 diary, without which no one would receive my enthusiastic rendering on their birthday of Happy Birthday to youuuu ….  sung by Yours Truly, somewhat out of tune, but with feeling.

Oh what a happy glow of accomplishment! Bolstered by the happy knowledge that  I decided not to make any New Year Resolutions this year. Note to all my readers who were nervously anticipating strange homemade gifts this coming Christmas (see previous post). Friends, it was but a passing fancy. Not an iron-clad resolution.

So: all organized, everything under control. I was prepped, ready for 2021.

 But unfolding events on Wednesday 6 January  in Washington, USA  shattered my sangfroid. Nothing could have prepared me for the sight, va BBC TV  News, of rioting Trump supporters storming the Capitol Building, and invading it. I was shocked. I was appalled. I was stunned. To put it mildly.

I live in Africa. I am well accustomed to news/footage of dictators fomenting riot and resolution when elections don’t go their way. But Americans? No! Surely not! Isn’t the USA meant to be the bastion of democracy, the leader of the Free World, the leader of the West? But if a narcissistic, rabble rouser is Top Dog, then look out. All the high flown ideals are tossed onto the rubbish heap, and mob rule is encouraged.

Which brings me to Napoleon Buonaparte, Emperor of France. I have been watching a fascinating TV documentary on the Corsican soldier, inspired by visions of classical heroes like Julius Caesar, soldier, leader, emperor extraordinaire – Napoleon’s role model.

A brilliant military strategist,  Buonaparte  tamed the post-French Revolution Mob chaos, brought order, rule of law, dignity and imperial status to his country. He unified France, which flourished and became a solid, established, modern society. History has recognized Napoleon’s genius.

How will History judge Donald Trump, I wonder? An aberration of the Social Media Age?

I watch unfolding events in the USA with horrified fascination. My feelings today can be summed up by a meme currently floating  around WhatsApp and it crisply states:

I’d like to cancel my subscription  to 2021. I’ve experienced the free 7 day trial and I am not interested.




 Because I’m hiding away from the dreaded Second Wave, I’m watching a lot of programmes on the Home Channel, and  I’m all fired up. Next year, friends and family will open their gifts and gasp: Did YOU make this? Yourself?  Whether  the gasps will be of horror or admiration remains to be seen.

How hard can it be? Knock up a batch of shortbread? Tick. Knock up a batch of Fir-tree shaped biscuits? Tick.  Bash out a couple of fruit cakes mid-October, buy a bottle of brandy, and tenderly dose the cakes at weekly intervals. Tick. These I can do. Easy peasy.

Ditto making chutney  when apricot and tomatoes  are plentiful. Tick.  Doable. Provided we aren’t plagued with load-shedding in 2021, hello Eskom, are you listening?

But there are other options: apparently all I need is  bunch of willow branches, a stout pair of pliers, iron determination and I will weave a batch of wooden placemats, or maybe  a small laundry hamper. The relentlessly enthusiastic   English TV anchor made it look so simple. Now where am I going to source willow branches? Do willows even grow in this province, I wonder? Maybe Karree  tree branches would work out? This is so exciting!

And then, I nearly forgot: Knitted items , and crochet whatsits. Why, I saw an adorable little crocheted snowflake in a craft magazine, only yesterday. Never mind that the South African Christmas season is blazingly hot, and not a snowflake in sight. Details, details!  Don’t be a wet blanket! Of course, I’ll have to learn how to crochet, but that’s all on YouTube, isn’t it ? No problem.

Or I can raid my trove of wallpaper samples, ( note to self: start collecting wallpaper samples); cut out floral bits and bobs and make individual handsewn greetings cards; or decorate the cover of the handmade book that I’ve conjured up out of thick manilla paper, and magicked up a cover out of an old leather coat that I’ve cut up. Must say I have reservations about cutting up an old leather coat. Even if it is Pleather. Is this a good idea, I wonder? Again, the TV anchor was amazingly nonchalant about attacking an old leather jacket with an enormous pair of shears. Mind you, it was a nasty shade of green, so what the heck.

Really, the choice is dazzling, and I haven’t even got around to the  knitted and sewn items. I mean, socks, scarves, beanies, dinky little purses.  Positively overwhelming.

Oh! the agonies of choice!  A greener, more thoughtful Christmas. Thoughtfully  curated gifts, personally designed and laboriously made; no more raids on the Chinese plastic shop.

The only thing between me and  a homespun Christmas in 2021 are the following: a glue gun, a craft cutting mat, a super-sharp craft knife,  an awl, pliers, a steel ruler, paint,  decorative trinkets, buttons, raffia,  fabric strips, a collection of wallpaper samples, fabrics samples, buttons, sequins, dinky charms, a ton of glass and ceramic beads, oh …. and a lot more besides.

My word, I’m going to be busy in the New Year. Alternatively I could just go online on Black Friday and press the plastic. could see me around the end of November. Watch this space. And if you don’t want a home-made gift,  I suggest you start planning your  home removal right now! You have been warned.




The Virus/Lockdown Combo   induced a sort of writers’ lethargy in me, dropping a thick blanket of torpor upon me, smothering my energy. I never knew what day of the week it was, and found it hard to concentrate. I noticed other bloggers  complaining about  the same deadening effect. With the slow reduction of our lock-down, a beam of sanity is creeping in. I plan on re-cycling a few older posts. My readership has changed enormously over the years, so most of you will not have read  this food/TV  post, dating back to 2015. Enjoy!


I watched a BBC cooking show, a series called Rick Stein’s India which gave us all the colour, dust, crowds, gaudy festivals, temples, gorgeous saris, elephants, and palaces you could ever wish for. An absolute feast for the eye. My favourite street scene shows an elephant slowly ambling along a road bordering a street market, and at each stall the vendor steps forward and offers one item – mostly fruits – from his stall, which the elephant gracefully scoops up with a curled trunk, while the vendor makes a Namaste and a slight head bow.

In amongst this, the pink and perspiring Mr Rick Stein, notebook in hand, camera-man at his shoulder, valiantly researched South Indian cuisine, Rajasthani delights, on and on he went, through humble home kitchens, hole-in-the-wall kitchens in cities,  no bigger than a broom cupboard, tucked down side-streets, manned by sweating cooks turning out their speciality – just the one dish, there literally being no room to produce more than one. He ate street food (and there were never any references to the dreaded Delhi Belly, he must have a very strong stomach!). He ate in a restaurant run by a Maharajah, who personally cooked ‘Jungly Mas’ for him – a simple dish consisting of goat, water, salty, ghee and chillies. He ate at the Indian school equivalent to Eton. He ate at the Golden Temple, in  Amritsar, where thousands are fed daily – food is cooked in vast vats over open wood fires, by bare-chested, lunghi-clad old men.

No matter where he ate, the theme seldom varied: curry. Sometimes it was vegetarian curry, sometimes fish, but often it was goat curry, masquerading as lamb, called lamb, and never referred to as goat. I gathered that sheep didn’t do well in India. Imagine those thick woolly fleeces in that terrific heat!

He conducted an earnest enquiry during his travels, as to whether Indians use the ubiquitous word ‘curry’ and if so, what they meant by the term?  Apparently in Britain, the word curry covers practically any hot and spicy main dish, produced by immigrant families in takeaways, in the local High Street; accompanied by naan bread  and lots of lager.

It transpired that most Indians were quite happy to use the word curry, although – strictly speaking – the work means ‘gravy’. But it seems that ‘curry’ has entered the many languages of India, and is widely use, to cover main dishes ranging from the most subtly fragrant to the most inflammatory chilli. One Indian gentleman, a famous cook in India, discoursed eloquently and scornfully on the horrors of “Indian Curry Powder”, the boxed variety brought home from colonial service, to dear old Blighty, by the British. His condemnation of commercial curry powder was a joy to listen to! Indian cooks, of course, buy and grind their spices daily, at home, depending on the dish they’re making. I have to agree, that boxed curry powder (Rajah Curry here in South Africa) while quick and easy is always too hot. I don’t like blow-your-sox off fiery curries, I prefer spicy, deep flavoured curries.

So: inspired by Mr Stein, I hauled out my cookery books and made a tasty cauliflower curry for lunch yesterday. It’s quite a fiddly process, what with the chopping up of the veg, the discovery that I do not have fenugreek, or ground clove in my spice drawer, the garlic is finished, and so on – back to the shops yet again. But the results were worth it, and I have a nice stash of curry dinners tucked away in my freezer.

I can’t resist a bargain, especially in the cash-strapped month of January, so I bought vast quantities of tomatoes which suddenly appeared at Food Lovers’ Market at literally give-away prices, and I’ve found a recipe for tomato and hardboiled egg curry.   Hardboiled eggs, oddly enough, go well in a curry sauce. Sounds good to me!









I’m a huge fan of the award winning TV series Madam Secretary.
Not only do I enjoy the plots, which are always up to date and compelling, but the chief focus is on the fictional female incumbent of the USA Secretary of State Ms Elizabeth McCord. The fact that the series promotes a feisty, fearless woman in one of the world’s most challenging political roles, cheers me immensely. Especially in the current period of Trump turmoil in the White House.

I recall that in Series One, an episode showed Madeleine Albright  mentoring her fictional counterpart with sage advice based on her own experience in the position. How’s that for authenticity? Ms Albright occupied the powerful and demanding position during from 1997 to 2001. She was the first woman to hold the cabinet post of U.S. secretary of state.

I’m well aware that TV series stretch and embellish fact, for the sake of dramatic impact. I know that TV stations/movie production companies all have a particular agenda they want to promote. I’m also  well aware that I’m watching fictional events play out on my TV screen. This said, I am struck over and over again, by the frequent reference in the dialogue to the importance of upholding a democracy, and how Madam Secretary often says things like: It’s a privilege to uphold or contribute Public Service. OMG. I can’t imagine any South African politician saying anything remotely like that.

South African politicians, I am very sorry to say, seem to enter politics for one reason and one reason only: to enrich themselves. Public Service and democratic principle are a foreign concept to them so far as one can see. Our country has gone through a black period of corruption and maladministration for 9 years. At the moment we are gingerly creeping out of the stinking swamp and scrabbling for dry land and a public service driven by ideals, hard work and recognition that the citizens of South Africa have a right to a better life and clean governance.


Reference is often made to our Constitution , very recently composed in the late 1990s, and held up as the best Constitution in the world. Maybe it is, on paper, but in the real world our politicians flout it at every turn.

Elizabeth Mc Cord: please pay us a visit – we desperately need you!






Proof – I really did go! Here’s the ticket stub, and the indestructible, hard to remove armband that gets you through the door.

Why? I hear you ask.I’m a self-confessed wrinkly, who doesn’t play electronic games. All true.  But I’m a dedicated fan of The Big Bang Theory  and brainwashed by the Uber Nerds, I was hoping for a Comicon style display of glorious Star Wars costumes down at the Gaming Expo. I have to say, I was disappointed. I spotted very few. What I did see was enough  PC Monitors and big screens to thrill every gamer in Cape Town. Nerdvana heaven, without a doubt.

The gamers were there in sober blacks and greys,  throngs of spindly teens with ratty locks and deathly white complexions, clearly unaccustomed to the Great Outdoors or meat and three veg. I had to resist the maternal urge to dash up and force feed them. There were quite a number of hefty Dad-type men in attendance too, and not all of them were clutching kids by the scruff of their  hyped up necks.  Some women, but clearly on kid duty, and I spotted only one of my contemporaries. These events are not really Granny territory, but hey!  You never know until you give it a bash.

Bash being the operative word. All I could see on the mega-screens were un-ending battles with exotic creatures demolishing opponents with brilliant red starbursts. And not to forget the death-defying cars zooming through canyon-like cities. I’m not a boy. I could care less about fast cars. Give me style and padded luxury any day. James – bring round the Rolls.




Another reason for my attendance were the advertised Board Games. I’m looking for a particular board game and hoped to find it there, but no luck. To my astonishment I spotted big piles of boxes of Monopoly and Cluedo on the Games stands. There was merchandise to gladden every gamers’  heart: figurines, hats, costumes,  and I even spotted Harry Potter lingering over the trinkets.



The pic I missed: a 7 year old little boy, wearing a brown Jedi robe, with an enormous fluorescent green light sabre clipped to his belt. The sabre was so long, it trailed on the ground behind him. Ag shame.

Never miss an opportunity to wear your pink Princess outfit.  Despite all the sexy girls prancing round in lycra, the Pink Princess was the prettiest girl there.



Will I go to another Gaming Expo?  I very much doubt it. Unless the cast of The Big Bang Theory happen to be in attendance …

Because   my faithful photographer Nina could not accompany me , I am responsible for all the blurry, second-rate cellphone  pics – photography is  not my strong point.







While tidying my bookshelves, I found  my copy of the poet, H W Longfellow’s epic poem, The Song of Hiawatha. Donkey’s years ago, when I was probably between the ages of 5 and 9 , my Mother introduced me to Hiawatha. My Mum enjoyed poetry, and had a copy of the book. She read aloud to me, and I loved the rhythmic sing-song cadence of the poem, especially the lines:

On the shores of Gitche Gumee,

      Of the shining Big-Sea water.

Stood Nokomis, the old woman,

Pointing with her finger westward,

O’er the water pointing westward,

To the purple clouds of sunset.

For years I mistakenly thought the poem was written in rhyming couplets, but after re-reading, I discover it is not. In fact, the metre of Hiawatha is borrowed from a Finnish collection of poems that Longfellow had studied. The lines are unrhymed … notwithstanding this, the lines have a simple flowing rhythm.  This explanation is from the introduction by D C Browning, to my 1960 J M Dent & Sons (London) edition, in The Children’s Illustrated Classics series.

I picked up my copy 6 years ago, while on a tour to Matjiesfontein, of all places! Matjiesfontein is a tiny, quaint , restored Victorian village in the middle of the South African Karoo. The little village came to prominence  during the Anglo Boer War, but these days it is a prime tourist destination for history buffs, and travellers seeking a jolly good lunch en route up the N1 to Johannesburg. In the souvenir shop there were two bookcases, which I dived into, and to my joy, there was Hiawatha.


The paper jacket is remarkably intact, given that the book was published in 1960. Insects have nibbled a few holes in the jacket, but all in all, for a 50+ year old book, it’s not bad. The pages are foxed, and there’s a musty smell, despite my airing the book in the sun on a  windy Cape summer’s day.


It’s a ‘proper book’ in that it has a hardcover, which has a repeat woodblock print pattern of an Indian brave in feathered war bonnet on the inside.  And best of all: there are two-colour line drawings on every page of the text, drawn by Joan  Kiddell-Monroe. As you can see from the photos in this post, the drawings are simple and elegant.


I think it must have been my early introduction to Hiawatha that led to my interest in the American West. Which was odd, considering I was a child with a British Colonial heritage and lifestyle, growing up in Central Africa. Or possibly it was the influence of the exciting black and white spaghetti Westerns that I was very occasionally taken to see; but only if I’d been good.

In my teen years I devoured every single Western that Zane Grey wrote – and he wrote over 90 of them*. I loved every page. Men were men, and women were glad of it. The horses were magnificent and the villains were real baddies. Nothing complicated. You knew where you were. Right would triumph after tests and trials, and the lone ranger would ride off into the sunset. *His book sales numbered 40 million ! (thanks, Wikipedia).

My Western phase petered out after my Zane Grey teens, but was revived with gusto with the advent of Sheriff Walt Longmire onto our TV screens about 4 years ago. This time we were looking at the modern West – murder and robberies, Indians on The Rez (reservation) gambling casinos, domestic dramas,  and Lou Diamond Philips as the impassive Standing Bear, sidekick and  friend of said Sheriff.  I’m hooked all over again.

Quite what H W Longfellow (an American poet and academic in the Victorian era) would make of the modern shenanigans in the West, I shudder to think. No more exploits of hunting, fishing, physical prowess, warring,  battling with the winds,  wooing the fair Minnehahha . Modern Westerns are much grittier, and far less mythical.  It looks as if childhood discoveries  through poetry have influenced me at different stages of my life. I’m glad Mum introduced me to Hiawatha!










DSTV are currently offering a ten day Star Wars special on a dedicated channel. Yay! An entire channel – Star Wars, 24/7   – how much better can it get? I’m currently watching Star Wars Rebels  which is an animated series, in half hour episodes. Suits me. In between my frantic dashing to and fro, I can collapse on my couch and lose myself in a universe filled with the heroic exploits of the noble Jedi versus the inhuman villains of the evil Empire.  We zoom from galaxy to galaxy, (what would we do without hyper-drives?), dodging gigantic hostile creatures or armies of robotic troopers; we’re hiding behind asteroids, or exploring buried Jedi temples. It’s all so straightforward: Good versus Evil. No deep psycho-social issues, no emotional traumas, no politics,no literary nuances :  just the comradeship of the brave few battling the forces of evil. Whoosh! I want a light-sabre  and Jedi powers for Christmas, please.


Filed under TV SHOWS



I’m still shaking my head.   Chiefly in bemused bafflement. Why?

Last night I watched a BBC programme entitled The Naked Village. The title says it all. The documentary dealt with a 12 acre Village called Spiel Platz . I watched – drop-jawed, initially, I must admit, but it was amazing how soon I got over my initial – what? astonishment? shock? distaste? Believe me, elderly wrinkled genitalia are much better of hidden behind clothing!

The tone of the programme was matter-of-fact and not a hint of innuendo, humour, bias, or anything whatsoever other than straightforward reporting on a small group of villagers going about their daily round – painting fascia boards, gardening, sunbathing, swimming, working in their kitchens, reading the paper over a pint in the pub. Except that everybody is stark naked.

Spiel Platz village in Hertfordshire is the home of Britain’s oldest naturist colony. Situated a few miles outside St Albans, and is a permanent home to the owners of 34 of the little bungalows. There are another 24 houses ­available to rent to summer visitors.

The mainly two-bed bungalows come with all mod cons, including mains ­electricity, water and sewage.

Splashing in the swimming pool, mowing the lawn, even enjoying a pint in the local, its inhabitants are always stripped for action. The village was founded by Charles Macaskie, who bought the leafy 12-acre site for £500 in 1929.

The heart of the village is its club house where the residents get together in the altogether for discos, karaoke sessions, quiz nights and pool tournaments.

Firstly I’m amazed that the famously changeable British climate hasn’t put off the naturists. They all had nice tans, and the documentary showed gorgeously sunny scenes – all well and good in summer, but what about the remainder of the year, I wondered? Visitors to the village may remain clothed, and the villagers refer to them as ‘Textiles’.  However, when the  Villagers venture into the outside world which they do periodically (shopping, dentists’ visits and the like) they turn into Textiles, like the rest of us. Mercifully. Imagine geriatric shoppers in their birthday suits in Tesco?

Secondly, Spiel Platz needs to recruit new members. The current community in middled-aged to very elderly. As part of their recruitment drive they hosted a Naked Yoga Day and about half the participants appeared to be in the 20 – 40 age group, but whether any of them signed up as residents, wasn’t revealed. One of the residents was of the opinion that today’s youngsters were so influenced by peer pressure that they were not inclined to even give Naturism a try.

When Spiel Platz was started way back in the late 1920s, Naturism was seen as a fad, or a daring declaration of rebellion. But nowadays? I think its time has passed, what with the proliferation of Nudist Beaches, topless beaches, and scanty revealing clothing. Not to mention the relaxed attitude to nudity in Art, cinema and so on. I remember back in the 1960s a gentleman called Beau Brummel started a Naturist resort in South Africa, which was (mainly) seen as sinful, sexual and/or disgusting at the time. The apartheid government closed it down, but it resurfaced years later. Definitely under the heading of nudge-nudge, wink-wink, har-har.

Times have changed, and it seems Naturism is alive and well in our country : .

While I’ve enjoyed skinny dipping on the odd occasion (swimming nude is a delicious sensation) but going about your household chores, or gardening, or DIY, well, I can see practical difficulties arising.

So: to each his own, but on this topic, not for me.








Reflections on Relationships – FAMILY

The Grey Family (Judging Amy) Tyne Daly 2nd left front row

The Grey Family (Judging Amy) Tyne Daly 2nd left front row


I’m a fan of an old American TV series Judging Amy , I suppose it’s in the  soapie category, charting the family life of the Grey family in Massachusetts. Late thirties, recently divorced Amy is a judge in the local Children’s Court; daughter Lauren is cute and curious; grandma Maxine is a magnificent feisty social worker with the Department of Children and Families, There are three other direct family members, but they’re not so central, nor so interesting, to the stories.

Thinking it over, I watch the series chiefly for the pleasure of seeing the redoubtable Maxine in action. Tyne Daly fills the role to perfection.  She first hit the limelight many years ago in a TV cop show, Cagney and Lacey; languished in obscurity for some years, then made a comeback with the Judging Amy  series and quite recently starred in the feature film about Maria Callas.

In her character as Maxine she is a commanding presence who stands no nonsense from anybody and robustly states her forthright views to children and adults alike. One scene shows a confrontation between Maxine and her daughter-in-law Gillian who – for once – turns on Maxine and gives her an earful, starting off with the declaration “I know you don’t like me …” Maxine replies to the tirade by saying “Yes, it’s true, often I don’t like you, but you’re family, and I love you.”

This statement was a lightbulb moment for me. How many of us, I wonder, have had similar thoughts, but have been too tactful/cowardly/nervous to voice them? Just because people enter our family – usually through marriage – does that mean that we will like them? Or have to like them? Or are able to like them? Perhaps, perhaps … And even if we don’t like them, are we capable of loving them, just because they’re now FAMILY?  It’s a big ask.  It’s a huge stretch.

I’m still thinking about this question. It remains unresolved.





What would you do if you won the Lotto? Don’t tell me you haven’t spent the odd moment dreaming about your new life with those infinite millions? I’m sure most people have, whether they admit it or not.

I’ve watched a few episodes of the American TV series How the Lottery Changed my Life. As usual, I’m fascinated by the responses of ordinary people when presented with a LOT OF MONEY. Some of the prizes are beyond grasp: telephone type numbers running into six digits, while other prizes have been a mere 3.5million dollars.

Many of the winners act predictably: a new home or car for their Mum; gifts to immediate family, an upgrade from their modest suburban home to something bigger and much grander – this usually means an explosion of extraordinary bad taste, but each to their own, I suppose.

Some of the men indulge their passion for fast cars – not one, not two, but stables of fast cars. Hello, Lamborghini!  Others – mainly bachelors, but I don’t think they remain bachelors for long! –  buy property that allows them to build huge swimming pools and their own private golf course, and these guys are tanned, and smiling from ear to ear. Golf every day and no work – gotta be good!

And then you get the mavericks. How about the family man who was in a syndicate with workmates – five guys in total. They won.  Four of the men went golfing but Number Five, the family man, continued with his job, which was operating a road-cleaning truck. He upgraded the family home, and explained he still had to put kids through college. I can’t decide whether he’s a shining hero, or an unimaginative idiot.

A farmer in Iowa, struggling to maintain the family farm, spent a fortune on a state of the art combine harvester, and a lovely new tractor. I notice they didn’t interview his wife – I hope she at least got a few new dresses, or something!

A woman living in a trailer with a large family didn’t change her lifestyle at all – just bought plenty of adult toys like quad bikes and motorbikes,  which were shown rusting away on a derelict property, guarded by a pack of dogs, numbering over twenty, or something. She fell into the category that decided: winning the Lotto isn’t going to change my lifestyle – I like it just the way it is.

Lastly, the couple who bought a monster – and I mean a monster – mobile home (I think they call them Winnebago’s in the USA). The vehicle was over forty feet long, and contained as many buttons, switches and gadgets as a NASA space vehicle. The couple took to the roads and were happily exploring America and delighted to be living on the road.

What would you do, I wonder? I’m still working on my wishlist.