Category Archives: miscellaneous

a walk in the park

If life is like a box of chocolates, I feel like I left my box out in the road and a ten-ton truck drove right over it. I managed to make the effort on Wednesday to spend an hour wandering round Arderne Gardens in Claremont, on my own.  When Alex was little, we often used to go there to feed the ducks and roll around on the grass. She used to call it the Wedding Park, because on Saturday afternoons enormous parties of beautiful brides and grooms and their extended families would disembark from fleets of beribboned limousines for photo time.

This is the first tree you pass on entering the gardens from the main road. Many pixies live in and around it but they are shy, I didn’t see a single one. Or maybe Wednesdays are their shopping days and they were all down the road at Pick n Pay, stocking up on peanut butter and marie biscuits.

fairy tree

I am very ignorant about trees, and as I walked around I jotted down the names of some of them – water pear, blueberry ash, copper beech, Cedar of Lebanon, forest saffron, hoop pine, bunya-bunya, jacaranda, and – my personal favourite – the “Bushman’s poison tree”. I’d like to think I’ll be able to identify them in the future, but it’s unlikely (although you never know when you might need a bit of fresh poison so I’ve made a mental note of exactly where that one is growing).

The littlest pond has all dried up (please please let it rain soon…..) although the elephant ear plants were still managing to grow round the sides. Heart leaves – what’s not to love?

dry 1


a dung beetle walked into a bar…

What’s going on around here? Not a whole lot of anything especially exciting, which is why I haven’t posted for a while. There’s the usual stuff – making patchwork bedspreads, screenprinting this and that, trying to survive the heatwave, etc – and a bit of new stuff – doing some freelance content development for a community upliftment project. I’m enjoying it and it’s forcing me to manage my time better. That can only be a good thing, right?!


So, I feel I should tell you a joke, in lieu of interesting news.

A dung beetle walked into a bar, looked around and said, Is this stool taken?


waiting for rain, and a miracle

They promised us rain today, so I’ve been up since 6.00 holding my breath…so far, four hours later, sweet nothing. Five melon plants have already gone to the Great Garden in the Sky, so I’m left tending just one. My tomato has grown in size – it’s now a whole 0.5 cm larger in diameter than it was a week ago. Talk about failure to launch.


We were talking about little miracles the other day, and I had an experience shortly after that which I have chosen to see, ironically and perversely (because that’s what I do so well), as a miracle. Sitting typing exactly where I am now, I looked up to see a man walking past the window to the patio door. I didn’t know him. I went to the door to ask him who he was, you know, like a total idiot. Excuse me, Mr Burglar, we haven’t met before, is there anything I can help you with? 

It was 6.30am, and I’d already been out in the garden with buckets of ‘grey’ water, trying to save the plants. I had left the French door open, and pulled the security gate closed but hadn’t actually locked it. He opened the door and barged right in. My brain slowly began to realise that this guy was Up To No Good. I backed off down the passage, trying to remember where the nearest wall panic button was. By the time I did, he’d taken the laptop that was on the kitchen counter plus what he thought was a purse (actually my sunglasses case) and shot back out the door.  Power cord and mouse dangling from under his arm, he vaulted over the side gate (6 feet high) and then right over the main gate (8 feet high) and disappeared.

So, obviously, this was not a nice thing to happen. But it was a good thing to happen – because I will be forever more alert to the possibility of this happening again, and will never ever leave any door or gate unlocked. I will also always wear my mobile panic button round my neck.

It was also a lucky thing to happen –  this man wanted something valuable, and nothing else. He had no weapon and wasn’t interested in being violent. I was less than a meter away from him at one point so it would have been easy to get hurt. Not many people get off this lightly. Some victims get stabbed or shot. It happens every day. In South Africa, and all over the world. I don’t know why I was so lucky (although, to be honest, I don’t really know why anything ever happens at all. Does anyone?)

Wishing you all a very very happy holiday season, however you spend it, with your friends and family. xxx


I was surprised by how many people read and responded to my recent post on depression, so I thought I’d follow it up with a subject that’s closely related ** (for those of you not into patchwork and craft markets!)

When I turned 30, I had a birthday party at a friend’s house. Photos were taken and, when I got them back from being developed (remember those days?), was horrified by how fat and awful I looked. Two months previously, I’d been dumped by my then-boyfriend: he’d decided to go back to his ex-wife, which wouldn’t have been too terrible if he’d only had the decency to inform me instead of just changing his phone number and leaving me up in the air. I was distressed and miserable, and felt vulnerable and unwanted. The photos of myself revolted me.

Well, I came across those photos the other day – and thought, Oh boy, I wish I still looked like that! I wasn’t fat at all (in fact I was a perfectly normal weight), my dress looked lovely, it was a good hair day, and there were no crow’s feet or double chins! Why had I been so very critical of myself?

Looking back, the break-up with David must have played a part – but to be more honest, it was how I generally saw myself. My self-image was very negative, and I couldn’t remember a time since puberty that it hadn’t been that way. I always felt fat, bulky, with legs like coke bottles, chubby arms, moon face, frizzy hair… I could go on but I’ll try and stop. Oh wait, I also hated my breasts. [At 21, I visited a plastic surgeon about having a breast reduction but she advised against it because of my age; I ended up having the op in my early 40s, and was/am greatly happy with my reduced size].

I’m not going to yack on about cultural norms or parental judgements, let’s just say I’ve come to terms with the reasons why my body always felt ugly to me. It doesn’t any more (despite being 55 with all accompanying signs of aging!), so I thought I’d pass on something that helped me with this – in case anyone out there also has crappy feelings about themselves that hold them back and pull them down.

My then-psychologist suggested I find three things that I liked about myself. Three? That was a big ask, especially since internal organs like kidneys didn’t count (I’m sure I have extremely beautiful kidneys). I had a good think and came up with: nose – fine; skin – clear; hands – fine, elegant even! That was a good start and, together with a bit of maturity on these matters, my self-image has improved since then. It’s not a magic formula, and I still have fat and/or ugly days, but on the whole I am a lot less critical of myself. None of us is perfect.

Last week my daughter and I were listing things that we were happy about in life. One of her happy things is how she is physically – hair, body, face, everything.  This struck me as being absolutely wonderful – my own daughter has a positive self-image! Imagine if we could bottle it and share it with the world….

Happy Sunday, everyone xx

** NB. entirely my own point of view, of course, and also please note I am not a therapist or trained in any way to advise anyone (on anything!!)

holes in walls 2

It’s been a bigger and far messier job than I’d anticipated, but progress is definitely being made:

bed 5

An unforeseen problem with convoluted water pipes has forced a couple of changes from the original plan, and Anwar has had to pop out quickly for different taps. I’ve been to Plumb Crazy twice in the last couple of days and I’ll be happy to never see the inside of it ever again so I was delighted when he offered to go, prompted no doubt by my wretched expression. Bathroom fittings do not excite me in any way.

You will notice the very pretty handpainted tiles (above the toilet) that were a gift to the previous owner from her sister-in-law, on a trip to Portugal, so I’m happy that we’ll be able to leave them intact.

Another unforeseen problem was the self-removal (!!) of huge chunks of plaster from the adjacent wall, when the new doorway was being banged out. Luckily Anwar’s crew can turn their hand to a range of jobs, so the wall was replastered and skimmed almost immediately.

bed 4

And when I saw how nice that wall was going to look, I asked Maanie to do the whole room. Luckily the sun is shining, so it shouldn’t take more than three days to dry out properly.

bed 6


WARNING: Avoid moving house when you need to be more productive than usual.

I’ve reached the stage where I would go so far as to say Avoid moving house altogether, but sometimes moving is a good thing, and if the opportunity presents itself you can go along with it without too much disruption to work or mental equilibrium. (Okay, okay, we all know that that was a Big Fat Lie. I’m a terrible liar.)

But if you cannot circumvent the warning above, LIKE ME, here are some tips on preventing things from being most horrible:

  1. When you have packed a box in the old house, write its contents on the top as legibly as possible. A rough scribble can be hard to decipher at a rushed time when the movers are speeding in and out of the new house ….
  2. Make your bed as soon as you can. At the end of moving day, when you are exhausted and in the foulest of moods, you will be overjoyed to fall into your familiar old cocoon of blankies and pillows. And if you can locate the hot water bottle and keep it near the kettle, then you fall into the SuperMover category and earn extra points.*
  3.  Do not allow yourself to be tempted to do just one little thing in the new house, because once you start you won’t be able to stop. And then you can say goodbye to the fantastic notion of getting all your stock ready in time for Grahamstown. For example, the brass letter slot on the front door that is going to be so lovely and shiny when you’ve stripped off all the paint? … WALK AWAY FROM THE BRASS.
  4. Do not think about cooking, you don’t have time. If there’s someone around you who will cook, then count your lucky stars. Otherwise, be happy with peanut butter on toast or get in touch with Mr Delivery.
  5. Don’t try and unpack all your work-related boxes at once. You can’t sew, screenprint and crochet at the same time, so focus on one thing and stick with it until it’s done. It’s just taken me twice as long to get 30 beanies ready for an order (because of constant interruptions relating to plumber, agent, builder, electrician, cupboard man, painter, security people, conveyancing attorneys, electronic gate people, new neighbours, moving shock etc etc) but now that it’s finally in the post, I can give my full attention to the 360 pillowcases waiting for me. Try not to make yourself crosser with yourself than you already are by having chosen to move house in the first place.
  6. If someone offers you a tranquiliser, don’t try and be tough. Say thanks and swallow it immediately. It might slow you down a bit, but more haste less speed, right?
  7. If someone offers to help – it’s similar to #6 above: don’t try and be tough, say thanks and show them how to thread a needle or iron a stack of pillow cases.
  8. Remind yourself that you aren’t SuperWoman. It’s times like these that you feel more like SuperCretin, actually, but you’re not that either – you simply bit off more than you could chew. Just keep going – it’s not like you have a choice!

* Any and all points you award yourself can be saved up and spent in a single splurge at the local bottle store. There’s a crate of Tanqueray I have my eye on…