Showing posts from July, 2009

time for a break

You know you really, really need a holiday when:

1. You decide to get really organised and book your August holiday in April, carefully file the confirmation letter and don't notice until yesterday that somehow you'd booked for May. And the reservations people managed to be helpful without budging an inch, which meant that we had to pay for the Kruger Park days again. So now we are having three days in the park instead of four. The silver lining (because, somehow there always is one) is that two of the nights will be in a river view rondavel at Olifants camp... one of my favourites. the black lining (because there's always one of those too) is that there'll be a whole lot less money to spend on the holiday. And we definitely won't be doing that hot air balloon ride

2. You really struggle to get any work done because your mind is determined to enter "play" mode

3. You really wish people would stop phoning and wanting to talk about work

4. You are counting sle…

what's in a name?

How much thought do people put into the names they choose for their products, their businesses or their children?

Sometimes I wonder.

I got myself in a lot of trouble once by going on a rave about the Afrikaans habit giving children surnames as first names.

"How can they do that?" I asked. "Its just awful. I mean, can you imagine looking at your baby and saying 'I think I'll call this child Poggenpoel'!"

The man I was speaking to, a Mr Lingenvelder, glared as he replied:

"My son's name is Steggmann" (with the gg prounounced like the sound of a throat being cleared)

Well yes... my point exactly!

(and while I'm on a roll... why don't business design posters that fit their frames?)

ploeg dag

This weekend Greg and I went to a farm outside Malmesbury to see the antique tractor club ploughing a field. It was fun to see how efficiently they worked, as well as the contrast with the shiny new behemoths that have taken their place. The new ones have sound systems and air conditioning and sprung seats and headlights and windcreeen wipers....

but the old ones are much cooler.

I can say that because I don't actually have to spend my day in the sun having my bones jarred right out of my body!

and look, there's Table Mountain in the distance!

the power of dreams

When I was nine years old, I was at school at Loreto Convent in Hillcrest, Pretoria. Next door was the boy's school... Christian Brothers College. Some of the older girls managed a few snatched words through the fence, but for those of us in Std 2, it was a place to be avoided. Except, that is, for one glorious day in July or August 1969 when we headed off, single file, to the CBC hall to see the Apollo moon landing.

I can't remember whether we saw the landing on the actual day, but I do remember crowding round the tiny television - the first I had ever seen - and watching the grainy pictures of the moon landing. And, strangely, I remember the dusty smell of the hall, and the sunlight coming through the cracks in the black curtains, high up on the walls. And the wooden floors, scuffed by decades of boy feet.

It was a pivotal point in my life. I remember a few years before being taken outside by my father to see a satellite... one of the sputniks ... passing through the night sky…

measuring impact

I'm at a conference on exciting things like radar and satellitetes and remote sensing, and its taking all my brainpower to understand what is going on!
You can read the daily newsletters we are producing here if you want to see the bits that I do understand (and some great pictures). A lot of what the satellites are showing is the incredible and sometimes devastating impact that humans have on our world.

So this guest post by the passionate, inspired, issues-driven Lalifufu from Eternal Ramblings of a Tangled Mind seems particularly relevant. Thanks Ms Fufu for making us think, and hopefully act too!

over to Lali...

I witnessed the most brutal and mindless animal abuse on CTV last night. It was a snippet from a documentary film called Earthlings (see the link below) and this part focused predominantly on medical and military research.

I strongly believe that everyone needs to see this.

The Earthlings project began in 1999 when writer, producer and director Shaun Monson started working o…

baking bread

In honour of my son Ben's safe return to the Seychelles after yet another trip through pirate-infested waters ... this time dropping some special-forces types off on a ship before it entered the Gulf ... I decided to share his really great bread recipe with you.

Ever since he taught me to make it a year or so ago, I haven't bought any bread at all. I allow myself one slice, hot out of the oven and covered in farm butter, but the rest of the loaf is for Greg. It lasts about a week (and miraculously stays fresh-ish).

So here it is... a bread so easy you can make it in the middle of the ocean!

600g white bread flour
2 packets of dry yeast
2 tsp salt
4 tsp sugar

mix all together in big bowl and add 600ml lukewarm water

Cover bowl with clingfilm and leave to rise in a warm place for an hour or so.

Pour into bread pan (it's gloopy... not stiff like normal bread dough) and bake in the hottest possible oven (mine's 230 C) for about 40 mins.

that's it. Easy peasy.

sunday sunshine

It should be the middle of winter, but our trees still have all their leaves (the oak is still mostly green)and the spring flowers are beginning to come out in our veggie garden where I scattered handfuls of seeds last spring.

Is this the effect of global warming?

of resolution

Making resolutions is one of my specialities. I'm good at knowing exactly what I want to do, and when and how I want to do it.
Sadly, breaking resolutions is one of the other things I excel at.

Last night, I planned to surprise Greg by getting up early and suggesting a bike ride up to Piekenierskloof to see the sunrise. It was a great idea, except for two things:
1. the sun rises on the other side of the mountain so we wouldn't be able to see it
2. when Greg woke me up at 7am I told him it was far too early to be human and suggested (not very politely) that he should go back to sleep.

And, of course... yesterday saw another resolution broken. After an impressive record of two blogs in two days, I missed Friday. Not because I had nothing to say, which would have been a very good reason. But because I had absolutely no inclination to turn on my computer.

The beautiful Rosie with her groom and one of the children who she is working with

Yesterday was a good day. We spent the morni…


I feel the need to explain...
In yesterday's post I mentioned a smokey room in the Royal Hotel.
The smoke was from the fire. Not from us. No heated conversations. No cigars or even cigarettes.

It seems such a short time ago that smoking cigarettes was the thing to do. Now, I imagine that many smokers feel like pariahs.

And it's not getting any easier. The latest anti-smoking legislation in South Africa bans smoking in a car with children under 12 years of age. And, thankfully, also bans smoking outside public buildings. No more hacking through clouds of smoke before you get to the reception desk!

I wonder how many other things that we see as totally acceptable today will soon be looked at with the same level of disapproval? The results of the green movement are obvious, but there must surely be other things that we are going to blushingly tell our grandchildren that we enjoyed in the "good old days".

Any ideas what they could be?

Something else that's "smokin!&quo…

finding a voice

June was a really productive month. I wrote hundreds (well, it felt like it) of articles, met and interviewed a host of interesting people, found new clients and got rid of one particularly dreadful one...
But in the flurry of it all, I seem to have lost my own voice.
Perhaps it is because I have spent a fair amount of time "ghost-blogging" for a couple of my clients? I've been crafting my words into their voices, hearing their tones and inflections and passions and speaking for them.
My mind is so filled with these other characters, that I am finding it difficult to speak for myself.

We did find some time for some fun things though... a highlight was breakfast at the Royal Hotel in Riebeeck Kasteel, which claims to have the longest stoep in Africa, or something. Here it is. A great spot. We went back for dinner... waterblommetjie breedie (stew made with water lilies) and because we were the only guests (we were early) sat in the smoking room in front of the huge fireplace. …