Profiling a villain

“I hadn’t been driving long when I felt what I thought was a bug fluttering around my left leg and ankle. I tried to brush it away, but it persisted. With my eyes on the road , I leaned down again to shoo it away, only to feel something much larger than an insect against my hand. Looking down, I saw the head and about 10 to 15 centimetres, of a snake. We had somehow picked up a passenger.”

‘The Biyamati Stowaway’ by Gordon Parratt, from ‘101 Kruger Tales’

Kruger National Park BaboonA shriek came from a nearby cottage. Then we heard the crash of crockery shattering on a stone floor. A man shouted and swore in German.

Within seconds a large male baboon bounded onto the lawn in front of our cottage. He looked back a few times towards the last shouts of the angry German, then settled down on the grass. Continue reading Profiling a villain

Not mushroom picking in Latvia & Sightseeing in Portugal

Concerning truffles – “During the season, from November until March, they can be tracked down by nose, providing you have sensitive enough equipment. The supreme truffle detector is the pig, who is born with a fondness for the taste, and whose sense of smell in this case is superior to the dog’s. But there is a snag: the pig is not content to wag his tail and point when he has discovered a truffle. He wants to eat it. In fact, he is desperate to eat it. And as Ramon said, you cannot reason with a pig on the brink of gastronomic ecstasy.”

A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle

Mushroom pickingHubby: We are going mushroom picking this Autumn.
Me: We don’t have any spare weekends.
Hubby: We are going!
Me: But…
Hubby: Show me our calendar.
Me: The only open weekend left is the end of September and I need to pack for South Africa.
Hubby: That weekend is perfect!

There are no half measures in my husband. Continue reading Not mushroom picking in Latvia & Sightseeing in Portugal

Keeping my head above water

“John kept referencing something called the ‘Downflooding Angle’. I looked up the term in the ‘Code of Federal Regulations’ – a multi-volume compilation of all US rules covering every conceivable industry from education, to energy, to agriculture, to shipping. The ‘Downflooding Angle’ refers to how far you’d have to tip a boat in calm conditions for water to penetrate the boat’s first nonweathertight opening… With a list like that, you couldn’t stop water from getting in. The vessel would never be able to right itself.”

Into the Raging Sea by Rachel Slade
Subtitled: Thirty-three mariners, one megastore and The Sinking of the El Faro

SS El FaroLet me introduce you to ‘Maria’, ‘Irma’, ‘Harvey’, ‘Matthew’, ‘Joaquin’ and ‘Igor’ – all category 4 and 5 tropical hurricanes of the last decade. ‘Florence’ is visiting the west coast of America as we speak.

I love extreme weather … that is, when I’m in my bed cosy and warm.

Last night an early Autumn gale came up and blew eerie groans among the trees outside our window. Reading the newly-published Into the Raging Sea about hurricane ‘Joaquin’ and the sinking of the US cargo ship SS El Faro on 1st October 2015, was about as much reality as I needed. Continue reading Keeping my head above water

Taking risks

Susan and Lucy ask if Aslan the lion is safe — to which Mr. Beaver answers: ‘Who said anything about safe? ’Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.’

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

Hair dyed red and black
Me, circa 2009

I’ve stood on boulders, dyed my hair purple and skinny-dipped in the sea, so I often forget how risk-averse I really am.

Last weekend Hubby and I went to Rye. We stayed in the rather atmospheric Jeakes House. Built circa 1650, it’s decorated in the style of ‘Mrs White in the library with a rope‘ and other such scenarios. Continue reading Taking risks

Torrid temperatures take their toll

“Maycomb was a tired old town, even in 1932 when I first knew it. Somehow, it was hotter then. Men’s stiff collars wilted by nine in the morning. Ladies bathed before noon after their three o’clock naps, and by nightfall were like soft teacakes with frosting from sweating and sweet talcum. The day was twenty-four hours long, but it seemed longer.”

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

dry dry dryI love a good sci-fi film, a nail-biting apocalyptic flick or an edge-of-your-seat creature-feature.

Hubby and I often make up storylines – one such tale featured a family of hikers on the run from a scourge of stealthy blood-sucking giant mosquitos, the result of nuclear testing gone wrong.

I fleetingly imagined getting a call from Steven Spielberg about this one. Continue reading Torrid temperatures take their toll

Practicing reinvention

“One thing I’ve learned in my brief career: It’s the side projects that really take off. By side projects I mean the stuff that you thought was just messing around. Stuff that’s just play. That’s actually the good stuff. That’s when the magic happens.”

Steal like an Artist by Austin Kleon 

Floor plans My English ancestors sailed on the HMS Weymouth from Portsmouth to Algoa Bay in 1820. They were from Burton-in-Kendal, Evlestoke and Guildford. An out of work labourer, a weaver, a wife. It took them 6 months to get there. Their hope: to reinvent themselves in a new country.

Many births, deaths and marriages later, I turned up.

I had a privileged, colonial upbringing. Good schools. Good manners. Good books. My English accent was corrected by my maternal grandmother. Summers were spent at the sea, winters in the game reserve.

Mother England I’m sure, was proud of her colonial child.

Ah, the colonial life (you might say) … wide open spaces, sun, land and opportunity!

True. But. Continue reading Practicing reinvention

Small things matter

“It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important.”

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Dr SeussWhen my siblings and I were small, one of our favourite bedtime stories was The Teeny-Tiny Woman.

Once upon a time there was a teeny-tiny woman. She lived all alone in a teeny-tiny house. Her teeny-tiny house sat on the teeny-tiny edge of a big swamp. The teeny-tiny woman loved her teeny-tiny house. One day, the teeny-tiny woman decided to go for a teeny-tiny walk. She put on her teeny-tiny scarf and her teeny-tiny shawl…Continue reading Small things matter