Archive for August, 2010


New Flickr account

I’ve created a new Flickr account to load my favourite images onto. Have a look-see down the right hand side of this post for the latest images & just click on them to go to the Flickr account.

For those of you with an RSS feed; you can put this link into your new subscriptions to see any new images that I post:

http://api.flickr.com/services/feeds/photos_public.gne?id=53540889@N08&lang=en-us&format=rss_200

Feel free to leave comments; would love the feedback 🙂

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Are you bored yet?

Um. No.

Its been a little more than a month since I started my sabbatical and I have not had a single moment of bordem yet. In fact, I put a ‘pj’ day into my calendar for today for the purpose of doing nothing – not even getting out of bed. But: this week filled up so quickly with to-do’s that I’ve had to reschedule it for neeeext week Tuesday. Well, lets hope so anyway.

Between admin (insurances, tax, blah) and general sorting out of *stuff* (things that need to come out of cupboards and other things that need to get into them), brushing up on my web design skillz (more on that later), getting acquainted with my camera and (most importantly) the hugely fun and entertaining hours spent with friends… well lets just say it hasn’t been ‘slow’.

Its awesome that I have so much time ahead of me, otherwise I’d start panicking a bit about all that I still ‘want’ to do, but haven’t got anywhere near to starting yet. This is why no 1- or 2-week holiday from work is ever really restful. You have to find a way to take a longer time-out to do everything and still have enough time to get bored.

And while I am sitting here, appreciating my time off, I have the most beautiful sunset to accompany me.

Garden Safari

j-a.g put me onto a cool blog that recently had a guest post about doing a mini photo safari. Inspired by that and the gorgeous SPRING weather we’re having in CT, I went shooting in my own garden.

I also have a copy of Lightroom 3 (woot!) so have been playing around with a few presets. I’ll get better with the photo editing as we go, I’m sure 🙂

Cooking Challenge

It was mrb’s birthday on Monday and I asked him what he wanted (after 14 years together, I need a bit of inspiration, ok!)

So, besides a new kite & board (!) he’s asked for 5 home cooked meals. Now I don’t cook, never have, and never intended to… so this is a real challenge for me. My negotiating skills are better than my cooking skills, so I have bargained him down to 3 evening meals and 2 breakfasts. The only restriction I have, is that the meals can’t be bought (take aways) and they can’t be served between 2 slices of bread.

I did offer to put the peanut butter straight onto the plate, but apparently that wasn’t good enough!

So, while I’ve been panicking a little bit, ka has come to the rescue with a cook book she thinks I can get on with:

Anyone got any good (easy-peasy) recipe ideas for me??

Hermanus bomber on the loose

On our way to Hermaus – stopping on Sir Lowry’s Pass – pretty, hey!

This weekend saw us in Hermanus for more birthday celebrations 😀 There were, of course friends, family and copious amounts of alcohol. It was sweet!

On Saturday, the boys tried to go kiting and unfortunately the wind was just fucking with them – far too gusty to play… it was all like:

WIND!!!!! no wind.

WIND!!!!! no wind.

And imagine trying to deal with that, on top of a hangover! lol shame; ja so we left…

We went to Cubana’s (where else is there to go in Hermanus??) for a drink while trying to decide what to do next. While we were there, my brother calls; they were on their way over and were just outside of Hermanus when his bloody car had broken down.

So hono decides that he’ll do the honours of collecting them, so that just left mrb & me to ‘guard’ an 8-seater table (rugby would be starting in a few hours). Anyway mrb goes for a smoke. I sit there and order a chicken sandwhich and then I noticed this retard (some fat chick wearing tooooo much pink) sitting with what must be her family at the table opposite kept eyeballing me. It was seriously freaking me out, so I thought stuff that – I’m also going for a smoke. I grab my jacket and bag and went outside to find mrb & some stuyvies..

About 10 mins later we go back to our table the the retard is STILL looking over at us and is totally creeping us out. We’re literally hiding behind our pints going: wft dude??? hee hee

Anyway, so the waitress comes over and points to mrb’s black, metal water bottle on the table and asks: What is that? So he says its a water bottle and takes off the lid to show her the water slooshing around inside. So she laughs quietly and says that the table opposite had been watching us arrive and then leave one at a time and the only thing we left behind on the table and in plain site (!) was this black can.

THEY THOUGHT IT WAS A BOMB!!!

No wonder the retard kept checking us out. Anyway they must have figured that that was what the waitress was talking to us about, because after she explained; we could not shut up – we laughed and pointed and laughed some more. Eventually they left. Then we laughed some more.

How paranoid can you get?? It’s only flippen HERMANUS man, come on! So – this has to be the first time we have ever been accused of being bombers… suicide or otherwise.

That little episode was followed by more drinking, poker, and of course my little ‘finger-being-jammed-in-the-door-and-getting-squashed-and-burst-like-a-grape’ incident. 😦

Sunday was a bit of a blur – I had low blood sugar and I think I might have scared the locals (again??) by demanding breakfast LIKE YESTERDAY!!! GGRRRR. I dont really remember. But was made our way back to CT (via Somerset West to collect my bro’s car that had been towed there) and we towed it to Rondebosch. It was somewhere there that I started feeling better again 🙂

And for the 2nd Sunday in a row… Home Sweet Home.

What happened while we were away

After that dodgy episode of Dawie taking off our roof last winter and having the Cape of Storms move into the top floor and then into the ground floor while we were away for the weekend; mrb & I have become a little paranoid about what we might find when we get home after any time away. So with a little trepidation, we rolled in after our holiday, wondering what had happened while we were away.

The first thing was an email we received from the Australian Gov, Dept of Immigration & Citizenship. The letter said:

Dear mrb

I am pleased to advise that your application for a Class VE, subclass 175 Skilled – Independent visa was approved on 04 August 2010 and visas granted to the following applicants:
mrb
Mrs Redzxber

So, after that whole drama, just like that and very unceremoniously they sent us an EMAIL. There –> done and dusted, visa is yours. The application started over 3 years ago and we applied for it while still in the UK. Now that we’re settled back in CT & have also never actually been to Oz, we’re not so sure we want to pack up and rush over. But hey… its not like we havent relocated before… eeck-not-again! Anyway we’ve decided that we’ll go over and visit next year and decide after that. At least we have the visa now – the choice is ours.

Also, while we were away, our neighbours (the ones I really, really dont like!!) moved out! YIPPEEEE 😀 I actually jumped for joy on our deck when I found out! WooT WooT!!

And then…. some bastard stole my lilies out of my garden. They’ve actually been dug out of the ground (so we know it wasn’t the baboons) 😦 Who does that??? Freaks.

My sister did an awesome job of house-sitting and looking after out babies – THANKS SO MUCH

Zanzibar – the beautiful

And just because I need balance in my life – here are some of the beautiful pics 🙂

Zanzibar – the ugly

I’ve mentioned to a few ppl that I think Zanzibar is very ugly dirty and generally not the beautiful postcard pictures you imagine… although, believe me, you can get stunning areas on the island. I’ll just add a few pics to show you what I mean.

There is a lot of litter everywhere, which chickens, cows, goats pick at and eat.

Stone Town

Stone Town

Meat market in Stone Town

Fruit & Veg Market in Stone Town

Fish Market in Stone Town

Stone Town

Stone Town

Stone Town

Jambiani, the area we stayed in – this is just behind the place we stayed. Full of litter.

These are shacks where the locals live, behind the house we stayed in.

The only tap in the area (directly behind our house). Its tied up, so we didn’t think it worked – which is why everyone used the facilites where we stayed.

My lunch. mrb had the tail end of this.

The locals empty their bins onto the beach for the goats, cows, chickens or the ocean to take away. This is at the house next to the one we stayed at.

Goats eating litter.

The ferry dock when we left. Not so ugly, but noisy and smelly!

Zanzibar – the bad

We stayed at Vanilla House in Jambiani – the Eastern side of the Island. This side of the island was better (for us) than the more touristy northern part we visited last year. It was less crowded and most things were charged in Tanzanian Shillings, rather than USD: 10 000 tzs = $6 = R 48

On the first night we arrived in Dar es Salaam, mrb went to draw cash and came back with a TZS5000 note in his hand and whispered to me: “I dont know what the exchange rate is, but I just drew 5000!” hee hee; its ok babe, thats only R24!! 😀

Our holiday was awesome, but we did have really crappy accommodation, which put a huge dent in how much we could have enjoyed it.

The self catering house is in a superb location, but the facilities were seriously lacking. They advertised all of the following and had none of it: Internet Access, Laundry Service, Bar on the Premises, Library (only a couple of polish books lying around…), Fireplace on the Premises, Internet, Boma Fire, Fully Equipped Kitchen. Thats most of their advertised facilities and it does build up a certain image in your head of what to expect. mrb and I aren’t ppl that need 5* all the way, but we do appreciate the basics like everyone else.

There was no hot water in the shower for the entire 2 weeks we were there. We asked the guys looking after the place every day for the first week if it was going to be fixed and if they can let the owner (who is residing in Poland) know… but they just laughed and ‘didnt understand’ what we were saying. And of course nothing was done about it. We had to shower in ice cold water (and its not that hot in Zanzibar this time of year!). One night about 2/3rds of the way into the holiday we resorted to boiling water in pots on the gas stove and pouring it into a little bucket and tried to get clean that way…

The bed was really very uncomfortable: its one of those foam mattresses with massive dents in it from too many bodies sleeping on it. We literally could not get comfortable enough to sleep. We tried the other 3 rooms but they were all in the same condition. The last 4 nights I was sleeping at the bottom of the bed trying to find a spot that had some support. Shame, and then mrb had a cockroach run on him on the last night in bed. I don’t even want to know where else that thing had been up to that point.

In terms of bedding, there was only ONE double sheet to use for a blanket, for both of us. I had to fight mrb for it for a few nights before I eventually tracked one down to use myself.

I think the most annoying thing though was that the locals use the house as their own. They dont have running water or electricity in their shacks which surround this house, so they come along to cook and shower and wash their clothes on the premises at all hours of the night / day. The guys looking after us have keys, so they simply let themselves in whenever they feel like it.

We woke up in the middle of the night so many times with ppl in the house cooking and showering and using the toilet and banging pots and pans and carrying on, it was actually ridiculous. And when you complain, then suddenly they cant speak English any more.

The water pressure only works when you flick a switch (which only works if there is electricity – which Zanzibar doesn’t have reliably). And when the switch is flicked and the toilet is flushed or a tap opened it makes the scariest blood curdling screaming noise. When you’ve evenutally fallen asleep and suddenly hear that sound, its really enough to give you a heart attack and send so much adrenalin rushing through your body that you have no chance of falling asleep again.

Not the fault of the house owner, but there were also cows-mooing, square-eyed-goats screaming and cocka-fucking-doodle-doos carrying all day and all night. Every day and Every night.

Its also a Muslim area, so we have the all morning, all day and all night prayers blasting in our ears. That in itself wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for the fact that this dude could not sing to save his immortal soul. No pun intended.

Towards the end of the 2nd week, Ramadan started and it turns out the locals have a little tradition of running around outside banging pots and pans and shouting at the top of their voices at 4:00 (or earlier??) in the morning, which obviously ensures that everyone is up early enough to eat before sunrise. Everyone.

The ‘laundry service’ by the way is a lady cleaning the bedding by hand in a bucket under an outside tap (the very same bucket we bathed in!)… along with the rest of the locals who often turned up in their underpants with buckets of dirty clothes and cleaned them under that same running tap, right there where we were trying to sit and have breakfast. Yummeh.

About 1/2 way through the holiday I had to use the same bucket (thank God for that green bucket, eh?) and tap to clean some of our own clothes.

See the geen bucket?

So not exactly relaxing, when you consider we’re supposed to be on holiday and we’re constantly having to live around ppl who don’t speak English but sit on all the chairs, invite their friends over, talk and laugh very loudly and use the kitchen… there was no escaping it.

During all 14 nights we were there, there was only one night that had 2 other rooms booked out, so we should have had the place to ourselves (ie: privacy!!) the whole holiday, but instead we shared it with the rest of Jambiani.

We had to buy our own toilet paper when they ran out and there wasn’t ever any milk for coffee. In fact there was no kettle either. We had to boil water on the gas stove and put it in a flask.

The locals farm and harvest seaweed, which they collect in great big bags and leave lying around everywhere to dry. They get something ridiculous like tzs200 per kilo (thats less than R1!) and sell it to various countries in the far East (China, Philippines, Thailand etc). Once dried, its very light and you need a lot to make up even one kilo. So you can imagine how much they collect everyday and how much lies around on the beach, on the grounds, on any available surface area, really. One word: STINKY

Needless to say, we were VERY happy to be going home at the end of the trip. We were tired and moody, but very happy to be boarding the ferry back to Dar es Salaam.

Of course about 20 mins after this picture was taken (we were sitting on the top level of the ferry) we all had to move, because the ferry was going against the wind and so against the (very big) swell also. The entire top deck got completely soaked.. but that was only the beginning. After 30 mins, we saw the first victim: A tiny woman with her face in a sick bag hurling her guts up. With 2.30 hours of swell to get through it wasn’t long before more than 1/2 of the ppl on board were chucking up. It was sooo disgusting. Puke everywhere!! Thankfully mrb & I didn’t get sick, but checking all those people feeding the fish, was pretty disgusting!  We had an Indian man sitting near where we were standing, who 2hours into the trip looked like a pomie. Shame.

Of course the highlight was getting to the hotel in Dar for our last night in Tanzania. The bed, this time, was the opposite of what we had in Jambiani. I said to mrb that it felt like we were sleeping on a dining room table with a sheet thrown over it. He said I make it sound comfortable! Oh and then there was the drilling on the floor above us. The porter said it wouldn’t carry too long (being 6pm on a Saturday night already.) At 8:30pm we called to reception to ask just how long this drilling was going on for (I mean it was interfering with our tv reception, and we were trying to enjoy the new teenage mutant ninja movie!) and she told us that they should be done by 10pm!! lol. Irk.

A 04:30 start, the following morning saw us bidding a very happy farewell to Tanzania.

Zanzibar – the good

2 Weeks in Zanzibar, just me and my man… no phones, no computers, no friends, no family; just us, books, beaches, beer = bliss.

Zanzibar does have the most stunning beaches – the sand is as soft as clay – I know we have awesome beaches in CT, but this is unbelievable. The weather was a mixed bag – really really hot days, followed by windy ones and some stormy days (although not much rain while we were there.)

We did make one little friend while we were there. This little boy kept us company every day we were there. It helped us not to miss our babies too much over the 14 days. He was extremely cute (we debated the possibility of bringing him home….) And he managed to get into our stash of biltong and eat about 1/2kg of it in one sitting.

Zanzibar is well known as the Spice Island, so of course we went on a ‘spice tour’. The picture above was on a plantation, and they grow everything from vanilla, cinnamon, pepper corns, cocoa, cardamon, ginger, lots of fruit (9 different types of bananas – including a pink one!) We bought a few samples of their local coffee – cardamon coffee, vanilla coffee, cinnamon and vanilla coffee, plain coffee… really, you guys need to come around for some coffee!

We also went to Prison Island and had a quick walk around. It was very prison-like – nothing too exciting, except for the hundreds of African Tortoises they have there. We arrived at feeding time, so theres me giving this old one some lettuce. The oldest tortoise they have there is 185 years old. Pretty impressive.

We did make it to Stone Town this time around (we missed it last year). Everyone made a very big deal about us going and so this time we didn’t miss it. It was definitely an eye opener, although not my favourite place, it has to be said. (More on stone town later)

mrb did get in some kitesurfing, which was cool. There were a few days he managed to go out right where we were staying (the tide change was so large that some days there was no beach for him to launch and other days there was a 1km walk over sea urchins to get to the water.)  On other days we walked the 6km’s up the  beach to the more popular kitesurfing spot (with all his gear!) so that at least made us a bit fitter 🙂

Getting around is very expensive if you want to take a taxi anywhere, so we hired a ‘vespa’ for a day. That was lots of fun – although this thing is sooo tiny and neither of our helmuts stayed on our heads – so I had my one hand on my helmut and my other hand on mrb’s helmut to keep it on while chugging along at 70km’s an hour. Oh and the ‘vespa’ only had 2 gears: 1st and 4th – which made riding around in stone town, in hectic traffic (cars, bikes, people, cattle, goats etc!) quite challenging! At least I know that mrb is an excellent rider!

Towards the end of the week,  the heavy tides came in. In the picture above there was usually a long stretch of beach in front, but this afternoon we got back and the waves were bashing up against our wall. So we put on costumes and played in the stormy surge for ages. That was a lot of fun – giggling like kids, playing in the strong stormy water, which eventually got bigger better faster more:

And about 3 seconds later my camera was soaked!!

On another day we hired a scrambler (which was way more fun than the ‘vespa’). We popped in to the butterfly world, which was kinda fun:

We also explore Zanzibar a bit more and ended up somewhere near Unguja Kuu, where we found a B&B / restaurant run by an Italian and his Thai wife / partner. They had a really cool spot – with a 900+ year old Baobab on their premises. The baobab makes fuit, which they use to make baobab juice. It was totally delicious – thick like pear juice with a caramel / amarula type flavour to it. Yummeh!

We then got directions on how to get to Uzi Island – there is a single coral rock road that thats you to the island. The road is only accessible when the tide is low and is surrounded on either side by mangroves. Thank goodness we had the scrambler, because that road would have killed the tyres on the ‘vespa’. (Are you getting that is wasn’t a real vespa?? lol!) Anyhoo… it was a hellava bumpy ride – there isnt anything of interest on Uzi island, that we could find, but we did manage to get some cool pics of the mangroves:

mrb wanted to go out on one of the dhows to join the locals on a fishing trip. The dhow we went on was teeny-tiny: sitting port side, your knees are touching starboard! And there were 5 of us on there. The funny part, though, is that they fish using hand lines and they baited up, cast out, hooked the fish, then gave the line to either mrb or me to reel in. We reeled in about 5 or 6 little tropical fish, before mrb got bored 🙂

About 2kms out, we got to a shallow reef. So shallow that we pulled up and walked across it. Along the way we saw some awesome tropical fish, star fish and even a coral snake! The most amazing, has to be this iridescent sea urchin that we came across. It was underwater, shimmering in reds and blues and purples. Truly amazing; I’ve never seen anything like it before:

We managed to get some snorkeling in as well and saw some huge coral and lots of tropical fish. And in between all that, we mostly sat the beach, reading, chatting, drinking beer and just chilling out 🙂