Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Whistlestop weekend

Some snaps from our family weekend away with my folks. It was short - we had to leave a day later than planned because Immy got a nasty bout of gastro - but we made the most of it.

Immy was in her element. Most of her favourite people all together all weekend. I was in my element because I had plenty of gin and tonic, and a brand new book. Also a stylish new slate to play with, but this ended up being relegated to the Corner of Shame for the weekend because I couldn't install the Kindle app update. Or any other update for that matter. Technology just hates me.

Which is kind of a pity, since it's what I do for a living.

Anyway. We read stories, and played board games. She skipped stones on the dam and climbed rocks in her pajamas. Curled up with Granny in a sun-warmed room for long afternoon naps. Played hide and seek with Grampy - who was kind of fabulous at it, although potentially the longest seeker ever known to the game.

Houston. We have a pony.

We had grand plans for Saturday. Which didn't work out quite the way we had hoped, so we improvised. First stop: the dam. And skipping stones. What she lacked in technique, she more than made up for in enthusiasm. And rock size.

Her dad rolled up his jeans so the two of them would have matching turn-ups.

And since skipping stones is such thirsty work, we stopped in at the local pub-type-place for something to drink.

A riveting conversation with the pub owner who was explaining at this particular juncture how the dog (a massive creature placidly lying next to our table) got bitten by a croc as he was climbing out of the river after a swim.

Well. That's Africa for you.

The rest of our weekend looked something like this.

Way too much eating. My dad made these for lunch and we swore we would never eat again. Until about four hours later, when we proclaimed ourselves starving.

Cosy afternoon sleeps with her Granny. Who is her favourite sleeping buddy and all-round best friend in the world.

And while a little girl sleeps, a new book to read...

I started reading this book on Saturday afternoon, and I finished it earlier this evening. Fellow book lovers will know that there are many good books out there, with good being defined in a hundred different ways. Books that are a good read. Books that are well written. Books that are entertaining, funny, gripping, or just what you needed to escape for a while.

And then there are those very rare books that whisper to your soul and stay with you long after you've read them. A few on my list? Cry, the Beloved Country. The Poisonwood Bible. The Night Circus. The Book Thief.

And now this book. The Language of Flowers. Beautiful, heart-breaking, poignant and definitely the best book I have read this year.

We ended off our day with the obligatory roaring boma fire, complete with rising moon and chops on the braai.

It was a weekend to remember.

Last night we had a small celebration with my in-laws. A simple meal around the table, followed by cake with candles for The Birthday Grandpa. Immy sang happy birthday and blew the candles out with sparkling eyes.

I watched her. And I wondered if all these moments, these special times with her grandparents, are being etched into her memory.

I hope so.

But even if she won't remember the details, I am so thankful - grateful - that as she grows and finds her way in the world, there are so many hands besides our own to catch her.

And P.S.

The slate and I have called a temporary truce and are getting to know each other better.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Tata Madiba

Driving to work this morning, I listened to the tributes pouring in for Nelson Mandela. And I was struck by the fact that on this day in 1918, nobody knew that this newborn would go on to shape the face of humanity.

Happy 95th birthday Tata. You have shown us how to lead a life of grace. Courage. Forgiveness. Love.

We salute you. And we hold onto you because a world without you in it just makes less sense.

Photo credit: Matthew Willman

No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite. - Nelson Mandela

Wednesday, 17 July 2013


It's winter. And we have been stockpiling some cosiness in our home. Crackling log fires and toasted marshmallows. Old-fashioned cups of real cocoa. Snuggling into warm beds to read stories and have long afternoon naps while the shadows lengthen and the temperature drops.

This post is extremely overdue. Our Father's Day celebrations slipped under the blogging radar, now to be remembered and published. Father's Day incidentally was also the day we did our lovely photo shoot, so I kept back a few good ones of Rob and Immy to use here.
First off: the gifts. Rob has been fixated for absolute ages on making pies. Not pies the way we know them in South Africa, but real American pies with a crust and a filling and a list of ingredients as long as your arm. I'm sure he is the ONLY father who received a red pie dish for Father's Day this year - along with a rolling pin and ceramic baking beans. Ahem. Not very manly as these things go, but there you have it. His first attempt was a strawberry and almond pie, and it was disturbingly good.

We kicked off Father's Day with a champagne breakfast. The ladies mostly made the breakfast and the men mostly drank the champagne.

Immy gave Grampy a lesson on the fine art of how to play Counting Caterpillar.

These stripey tights and her choice of outfit. My best.

It was a fabulous morning. And when the coffee was finished and all that was left of the croissants were a few crumbs, we set off for our photo shoot. Looking back, I'm so glad we did it on Father's Day because these pictures are such a celebration of love and family and a daddy that's our perfect fit.

It makes me feel glad that every day the sun goes down a fraction later. We are inching our way towards summer, and picnics and holidays and other good things.

Meanwhile, we're keeping things comfy in other ways.

NY slipper socks. Loads of candle-lit bubble baths. Yellow flowers. Hide and seek. Which is not always extremely challenging when playing with a 3-year old.

Mmm. Where could she be?

Best of all - a new pile of books. Including imaginative, lyrical children's books. Our current favourite is I took the Moon for a walk. The words and pictures are just gorgeous.

An excerpt:

I took the Moon for a walk last night.
It followed behind like a still, summer kite
Though there wasn't a string or a tail in sight
When I took the Moon for a walk.

And yes. That IS another cookbook to add to my collection of never-cooked-from cookbooks. Stop judging me!

Hope you're all keepin' cosy. Happy winter.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

All us. Only better.

I love this quote, because for me it sums up why I take a million pictures a week of things which may or may not be quite arbitrary.

Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything.

- Aaron Sussman

I'm all about the little things. And the remembering.

I searched for two months for the perfect photographer for a family photo shoot. I've always been a bit sceptical of these (the shoots, not the photographers), but with me being behind the camera all the time, I really wanted some special ones of Immy and myself. Mostly a mother-daughter shoot, with Rob as a foxy extra.

We aren't good at posing. AT ALL. Immy hates the camera, and if we manage to get her to look at it then she does that clenched-jaw 'cheeeeeze' look. So I was on the hunt for a photographer who could be a bit more creative and a lot more flexible. Silk purse, sow's ear kind of thing.

And then I found Cindy, at Lifestory. I loved her website, and her blog. And I loved loved loved her photos, which were all outside at dreamy locations and felt like a celebration of life's small moments.

I just knew she was the one.

The photos are dreamy. Spectacularly, comfortably us.

These are my faves.


Our wood sprite. Off to 'work' and then to 'Woolworths to get something for supper'.

Those starfish hands.

And then this one of her. Which is art and a photo and a life and a moment all wrapped up in one.

I published the original version of this post with more words. And descriptions. And then I decided that if a picture really is worth a thousand words, I was totally overdoing it.

Also. Soap-opera ending removed. Luckily you missed it.