Monday, July 30, 2012

Sight seeing tour of San Francisco.

The best way of seeing a city is without doubt a "Hop on hop off" bus tour that comes with a guide who fills you in with lots of interesting facts and details you might otherwise miss. We caught the local bus into the city which took us via the Bay and dropped us at the Ferry Terminal and from here we made our way to the stop, to catch our tourist bus.

This is also the only place to catch the ferry to Alcatraz.

One of the surprising sights was to see how any homeless people were sleeping wherever they could find a comfortable spot.

I was a little nervous of getting too close and upsetting these "homeless" folk! They seemed to have their worldly goods with them and looked so scruffy!

San Francisco was named after the patron saint of small animals and is one of the worlds most popular tourist sights. There is much to see and some beautiful buildings.


The Hearst Building was home to the newspaper mogul William Hearst who lived in the penthouse until his death. This building was remodeled by one of the first female architects Julia Morgan. The entrance is very beautiful with its monogram.

Many movies have used the beautiful buildings as the background for their scenes.

The City Hall is modeled after the St Peters Basilica in the Vatican and has gilded decor for all to see.

Lombard Street is a street everyone wants to travel down as it is known to be the "crookedest" street in the world. Because the street is so steep it has been designed so that it winds down and thus slows the traffic down. It has eight hairpin bends and is quite beautiful as the street is lined with lots of colorful plants. This could not be seen from the tourist bus. I should add that while it carries this important reputation, it is not the crookedest street in San Francisco or the world!

Union Square is a great place to sit and watch the world go buy. It is opposite Macy's


The tour ends at Pier 39 and this is also where the cable car start fom but ther was a four hour wait so we gave that a miss. I would however like to return to Pier 39.


China Town was buzzing with activity. Lots of Chinese restaurants are here too.

There is lots to see and do in the city and it was great fun trekking around!



Thursday, July 26, 2012

Build a Bear!

Because we flew back from Hawaii on Hannah's birthday her celebrations went on for three days. The morning after we arrived home was gift opening time. I think this family have shares in the "Barbie" business! Oh my what beautiful gifts Hannah received. I wish I was five all over again! Tea time was birthday cake time and Hannah enjoyed blowing out her candles!

Saturday dawned and wow! The girls were so excited to take their friends to "Build a bear" party.

Ten beautifully dressed little girls arrived at the venue and were so excited to be able to choose their own teddy and then to top it all they could choose a pretty outfit to dress their teddies in.

The group gathered and "Grant" took over laying down some basic rules like " Let us stick together like peanut butter and jelly."

Once the teddies were stuffed, the girls took it in turns to bathe them.

Now came the difficult part, choosing an outfit. Oh my, what beautiful options there were. I would have taken hours to choose but these little ladies knew exactly what they want. The teddies were dressed and we ended up with ten very happy little ladies.

Now it was time to go off for pizza and lemonade. Diana had also baked a batch of cup cakes which she decorated so sweetly with My Pony rings!!

Ten very cute little bears and their owners were happy to go home!! it was time for Diana to rest up until the next birthday!


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

House Sitting in San Francisco.



To alleviate the space problems in the family home Diana sent out a request in the community letter as to anyone needing house sitting during the period that we are staying here. To deviate a little, I think having a "community" email letter being sent out regularly is such a great idea. This makes it possible to communicate with your neighbors without invading their private space and also makes it easy to send messages out quickly. The positive possibilities are endless and could break down many barriers.

To continue, Diana got two positive responses and so we have stayed in two different homes. The first home was just across the road where we had to take care of Dooper, the family rabbit. He is a beautiful creature and loves being fussed over and was no problem whatsoever.

The second home is a block away and is a very cute house. The owner wrote out very detailed instructions as to how to take care of Watson the dog and the two beautiful black cats! Warren and Watson bonded and went on many long walks together. The cats kept their distance and had a flap in the door in the basement through which they would sneak in and out. When Winston was out for his walk they would follow at a distance just checking that their friend would be brought back safely. Warren described them as being "furtive" a lovely old fashioned word. I loved watering the garden every day. It is on a small piece of ground but is a bit of an "English country garden."


The children came over and enjoyed playing with Watson and this too was a bonus.

What I have learnt from the two homes I have been so fortunate to stay in in the states, is that these folk have bright happy homes, practical as they do their own housework and that they love their pets. All the home owners I have met are aware of recycling too. Even on the plane flying back from Hawaii, the air hostess had two garbage packets one for rubbish and one for recycling. We really need to improve our attitude back home!!


These enjoyable home stays has got me thinking that maybe we could do more of this while traveling around South Africa and further afield. So should YOU need house sitters just let me know. We will look after your pets, water your garden, empty your postbox etc.



Friday, July 20, 2012

All good things come to an end!

What a wonderful time we have had in Maui, Hawaii. A happy week, with beautiful weather, super accommodation and our precious family! Most of the people we met were so friendly and curious to know where we were from. The Snorkeling was great and even the little ones managed to see turtles.

Now we know what people mean when they talk of a holiday of a lifetime!! Everything was perfect.

The resort catered so well for the children's needs having several pools of three to four feet deep so even the non swimmers could have fun floating around in their tubes or "floaties" and the sea is gentle and fun for children too.

The surrounding gardens are lovely.

And soon it was time to go home and celebrate Hannah's fifth birthday.

Thank you Diana and Christopher for a great time, to the kids for being so great and to Hawaii for giving us a holiday of a lifetime.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Hawaiin Quilting and back to Lahaina.

It was a day for the girls to go off to Lahaina on our own while the boys took the car, loaded up the children and set off on their own adventures. Diana and I made use of the free shuttle service and set off in the opposite direction! Lahaina was the original Royal capital of Hawaii and was well known for its whaling! It is a charming town with one of the prettiest main roads ever!  

There are over fifty galleries selling Art. We were able to see work by several film stars, for example, Red Skelton, Anthony Quinn, Anthony Hopkins amongst others.


We really loved this piece of work although I am not sure I want it in my home!

An interesting Craft Market was being held under the BIGGEST banyan tree I have ever seen. It is impossible to capture the magnitude of this tree in one photograph as it spans the entire block. From the original main trunk the branches have re rooted and grown in all directions! It is the most amazing sight ever.


Of course we were on a mission to find the quilting shop and see some traditional Hawaiin quilts.

Unfortunately the person working here was not very friendly so we did not spend too much time in the shop. We found a general clothing and gift shop that had a lovely display of Hawaiin quilts for us to enjoy.

I love these three examples. If you are interested in knowing how these are done, think back to your school days when we folded a square of paper into eighths and cut "snowflakes" and that will give you a good idea! The edges are needle turned onto a background fabric and with a little echo quilting, you have a Hawaiin quilt!


We ended our day off with a wander down to the harbour and lunch at the Pioneer Inn.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


Part of the Hawaiin Culture is to enjoy a LAHUA which is a traditional feast, followed by the lighting of the flames and jumping into the sea off a high point. The nearest venue was the Sheraton Hotel, so off we set everyone dressed to the nines!! 

The weather was superb and perfect for being out and watching the sun go down.

The evening started off with the lighting of the flame followed by jumping off Black Rock.

As I understand it the jumping off the rock represents ridding the earth of evil spirits. The Sheraton has someone jump off the rock every night......interesting job!


Then the band struck up and the real fun began. Hawaiin music is great and listening to this music reminded me of the movie "South Pacific, " a huge favorite of mine. I think this movie was the first of its kind being a musical.


The dancing began, with the dancers all dressed up n colorful costumes and those hips swaying in time to the delightful music.


We were keeping cool and hydrated by enjoying a couple of exotic drinks.

The children danced and pranced and had loads of fun.

Our camera man (Poppie) wandered round taking interesting pics.

We had not booked in for the "feast" part of the evening but little Ben could not resist the pudds!

Nothing like a bit of self,service!

Molly has set her dreams on being a Hawaiin dancer too!

Hannah, too enjoyed the sweets of the evening.


A great evening was had by all! If you have the chance don't miss out on a LAHUA!!