Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New beginnings

This being the last day of 2013, it is a time for reflection. Just as I love Mondays, I love the idea of a whole new fresh year ahead. Maybe it was the '13' of 2013 that made it a challenging year for many of the folk I know but it certainly had its moments! Mine were mostly health issues which really were no big deal now when I look back. It is time to look forward and to be positive about it all.

People scoff at the idea of New Year Resolutions as most of us last just a few days but there is no harm in trying. Let's go for it and look at the New Year with much excitement and enthusiasm. I am truly fortunate and blessed to have such great family and wonderful friends. I want to see more of them, chat more often and share as much time with them as possible.

We also want to travel to new places and go to places we have only dreamt of visiting. I have lists of those! Maybe South America......Botswana, more of the Berg.....

I continue trying to put dents into my stash of fabric. I aim to continue finishing my UFO's and I have great ambitions to try doing some art quilts. I know my friend Joyce wants me to make a memory quilt for her daughter Kirsten. Bring it on.

I am slowly decluttering......this is a bit of a challenge as I have to have a certain amount of co operation, which is not very forthcoming, but we will keep at it. After all, a rusted exercise bike is just not a pretty sight on the verandah in the flat! It might just have to disappear one sunny day!

The highlights for the year were: *Driving to the Cape for Michele and Mark's wedding.

*En route stopping off at Kidds Beach and visiting Mdme Judd.

*A week at the Southern Sun Hotel, courtesy of Geoff.

*Meeting up with my Distant cousin Cathy and her hubby.

*Seeing my brother Les and wife Mandy and their lovely children and families.

*Marion and her clan.

*Richard and his family.

Being treated to two nights in a beautiful B and B, courtesy of Sarah and Oscar in Franschoek.

A couple of nights with John and Patty in Knysna.

Oscar spending his holidays with us.

Quality time with Sarah, Adrien and being there for Oscar's birthday.

Back to Malaysia for Joshua's school holidays and being there for his birthday.

A couple of weeks in the bush and seeing our lovely Lowveld friends.

Spending quality time with my sister and her hubby.

Quilting up a storm.

Having lots of laughs with quilting buddies.

Back to Malaysia and then onto Australia to see the Boden's new home.

Blessings, blessings, blessings. There are too many to count.

Happy 2014 to you all. Thank you for reading my blog. Thank you for commenting. Thank you! Xxxxxxxx



Thursday, December 26, 2013

Kersfees, Christmas and Xmas!

Christmas, by any other name means Family, Feasting and Fun! With the family spread all over the world this year we got to enjoy three Christmas Feasts on three continents! We also had much FUN!

Our first, was early December in Johannesburg with Sarah, Adrien and Oscar. As most of their stuff was boxed up and ready for moving! Sarah would not let this opportunity to celebrate our last Christmas in her flat pass by, so being resourceful she resorted to a full on "Woolies Christmas Feast!"

We cleared the table, set up our disposable plates etc. added a bit of decor with Oscar's help and voila it was time to celebrate!

Oscar did not know the story of Christmas so as the responsible adult I felt it my duty and pleasure to tell him the beautiful story of the nativity. He listened carefully and after a few 'Why's he seemed to get the drift. A few days later I received a message from his Dad saying "Oscar keeps wanting Baby Cheeses" do I have any idea what he is referring too? .....Mmmmmm only Adrien!

Our second Christmas feast took place in Kuala Lumpur at Moira's apartment the night before she and Joshua left for S.A. I wrote about that in my last post. BUT then Nick gave us a lovely treat, cooked all by himself...Chef Nick! It was his first attempt at roasting a leg of lamb. There is no need for cookbooks any more as everyone uses their ipads or I phones ! Wow, leg of lamb in Malaysia is such a treat. How shopping has changed over the twelve plus years we have been visiting there! Having to cater for the ex pats needs has pushed boundaries somewhat. Thanks Nick for the treat and the beautiful pressies! We are so spoilt!

On Christmas Day we were thrilled to enjoy Christmas in Eumundi in Chris and Diana's new home! It is so beautiful here!

T'was the night before Christmas, we thought the children would never go to sleep as we needed to finish wrapping gifts! Our suitcase, which weighed 26 kilos, consisted of 20 kilos of gifts from the Aunts and Uncles and us, of course.

As in most homes it was a race to see who would be up first in the morning! Hannah definitely heard Santa and crept out of bed and saw the over loaded sleigh! The reindeer even had a baby reindeer in training! As for the jingling of bells!

What fun it was to see the children's delight and surprise with all their pressis. Of course they got far too many gifts but hey, Christmas comes but once a year!

It was time to get the feast prepared for all the guests! Wow, what a feast indeed. Everyone brought a dish to add to what Diana had prepared and here was sufficient food to feed a small army!

We had a wonderful day and thank all concerned for the special treats. Three Christmases in three countries! How special!



Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Krazee K.L.

It is great being back in this hot, noisy, busy Kuala Lumpur. I tend to think of Capital Cities as countries on their own because as soon as you get out of the rat race things do change dramatically.

Hot...K.L. enjoys tropical-forest like conditions as it is situated near the equator. The average temp for December is 30* F ! It is 7a.m. It rains most days And it is cooler than most mornings at 29*F giving me the energy to sit out on the balcony and do some writing.

Noisy.....oh my! It is such an eye opener as wherever you drive, construction is happening. Blocks of apartments, more shopping malls, businesses etc continue to be built wherever you look. The clanging and banging continues from early morning to late at night. The development is simply amazing!


Busy......traffic in K.L. is KRAZEE.....! We have the use of Moira's car while she is in S.A. and we are trying to do our Christmas shopping! If you leave the apartment between one and three o' clock you cannot get to the end of the road due to all the drivers arriving to fetch the children from the International School situated at the end of the road! In S.A. We referred to the Mommies waiting to pick up their children as the "car park brigade" where much socializing and discussion about school affairs would happen. Here there are groups of driversin their dark outfits gathered having a smoke waiting for their charges and no doubt having equally stimulating discussions.

Nick is opening a new clinic across town and we have gone there a few times to sort things out and as the crow flies it is not so far away but with the traffic, one needs the Patience of Job. Being a keen follower of Malaysian under 21 hockey, the team were playing in the semis in India and we were stuck in the traffic. No trouble to my Techno son he connected his I phone and managed to pick up the coverage of the game.

Twelve years ago when we first started coming here the season of Christmas was not very evident! How things have changed as the Malls have picked up on the commercial value that Christmas brings and like all things in K.L. the decorations are simply amazing. The Malls are ringing with beautiful Christmas music with the staff donning the traditional red and white Christmas hats. Snowmen, reindeer and the promise of Santa arriving with his bag packed to overflowing is very evident! Many of the apartment blocks have lovely decorations in the foyers too! I would love to visit more of the malls armed with my camera but the traffic is too much of a challenge!

The first few week here we were able to spend time with Joshua. He has gone to S.A. with his Mum Moira for Christmas but before they left, we had a lovely Christmas party.


My niece Emma and her partner Chris from New Zealand happened to be in town so they joined us together with a few more local friends. Perla our Colombian friend is a professional singer and we "nagged" her to fetch her mike and equipment and our dinner party ended up being a swinging affair! What a super way to begin the season.


Thank you so much for reading my blog and to those who post comments, I am so grateful! May I take this opportunity of wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and I hope you all have lots of fun during this festive time. My next blogpost should be from the land of Oz till


Friday, December 13, 2013


Getting a phone call early in the morning telling us the terrible news that Robbie Clarke had died just absolutely shocked us. A young man of twenty eight killed on his motor bike. This was too awful!

Robbie's Dad had taught with Warren at Jeppe, followed us to Swaziland together with his wife Elsa and two children Robert and Jennifer. Two more sisters arrived while they lived in Swaziland, Monica and Emily. The family thrived while living in Big Bend and Austin rose through the ranks from Accountancy teacher to Headmaster of his own school. Then we moved to Uplands and with four children needing good high schooling, Austin took up the position of bursar. When it was time for Warren to move on Austin became the Headmaster of Uplands. The children slotted into the College and Prep and Robert was an instant success. He studied at UCT and had the world at his feet.

Two months previous to his death he married an Uplands girl. And then poof he was gone....! It is all too much for anyone to handle let alone his new wife and his family. We were so lucky that we could attend his funeral in JHB just before leaving for Malaysia. Just to hug those girls as I have taught all four Clarke children and feel I know them well. To be able to chat and offer condolences to Austin and Elsa was so cathartic for us. TOO MANY children of friends of ours have died! It's not the natural way things should happen!!

Later in the week, to wake up to the news that the worlds greatest leader Nelson Mandela had died, was very sad. Not so much his death as he had been ill and bed bound for a long time and his death was probably a happy release but the fact that this Great Statesman, Father of the nation, has gone, is a sad moment in time. South Africa has done him proud with all the memorial services held for him, the accolades the honoring of the Great Man he was! I was deeply moved listening to Desmind Tutu' s service.

Christopher, many years ago had the honour of meeting the great man himself. It was 1995 when he found himself on the same small plane flying from JHB to Manzini, Swaziland and he was able to get his signature. Christopher and Diana named their son Benjamin Nelson after the great man.

Nicholas was interviewed a few months ago by BFM on the local Malaysian radio programme to give his thought and impressions. Listening to this made me rather weepy too.?

Sarah, on hearing the news gathered her Team and went straight to his home in Houghton to pay their respects. She also managed to get to the FNB stadium for his memorial service.

I am proud that my children could honour and recognize this wonderful man.

RIP Tata Mandela.


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Moving on!

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of events and emotions! We live in a "pack up and go" home so it really is easy to leave it for a few months. Warren had a few challenges to sort out as we are both on the Management Board of our block of flats and he is in charge of "Good Governannace"! He is the perfect person to do the job as he is THOROUGH! When we have Board meetings,I am reminded of when we he was the Headmaster. I think his staff dreaded the meetings he chaired as he is rather long winded and does not leave a stone unturned! In fact, I know they would run bets as to how long the meetings would last! I felt the same at these Board meetings and could not wait until all was done and we could set for for the first leg of our journey.

It was to be the last week we would spend with Sarah, Adrien and Oscar in their flat in Parkdene. We have had loads of fun there over the years but it is time for them to spread their wings and move to the suburbs!

While much of the packing had been done there were several more boxes to pack up! I love packing up homes....I could do this as a hobby or a small business. Many years ago while we were traveling through Zimbabwe we stopped of in Marondera, Zimbabwe, to connect with someone's Gran and deliver a parcel, to the Old Age home where she lived. This lady's job was to pack up homes after people had died or had to down scale due to bad health for some reason. I listened to her stories totally enraptured. She showed us some of the treasures she had collected along the way and I was hooked. I too could do this. I love seeing what folk have and I enjoy packing up all their treasures! I guess it is part of my inquisitive mind! (nosey parker my hubby says) BUT the greatest challenge of all will be packing up my own home when I pop off this mortal coil! Who will do this awful job?

While I packed boxes, Warren loaded his car up and took the boxes through to the new home. The move was delayed somewhat as the painted concrete floors would not dry!!! All the boxes had to be stacked in the Garage....good luck to those who do the sorting out of those boxes!

In between all of the packing and sorting, we fetched Oscar from School every day. We were able to observe him during one of his Judo sessions


When the weather was good we took him to Zoo lake for a play but it was a very rainy week and then there's no place like home, even if we were surrounded by boxes!

One of our last treats was to see the local production of Cinderella. What fun it was! The cast were mostly young folk and they did extremely well. Oscar and his friends thorughly enjoyed the production.

The theatre is situated in Hoofd Street, Braamfontein! NOSTALGIA! All of 48 years ago I arrived at JCE and was placed at Jaundice Hall as we called it but officially known as Reith Hall in Hoofd Street, Braamfontein, for three years! What fun we had. My, how the area has changed ...mostly for the better! I remember working all thise years ago as an 'usherette' at the Civic theatre and at the "Pig"(Pigalle) just to be able to see the shows. AAAH the memories!

That is Jaundice Hall sticking out above the trees!

This was a lovely way to end our stay before setting off for Malaysia.


Oscar having his last play in their garden before moving on.

(please ignore the dates on the photos as they are all wrong. My camera needs resetting!)

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Bag Lady,

Joke: what do you call a person who blogs and has to have her gallbladder out.... A gall blogger! That was my friend Erica's joke when she heard I had to have my gall bladder removed as she too has been through the process and she too enjoys blogging! Thanks Erica, at least that put a lighter spin on the situation and put a smile on my face which I really needed.

To have to go to hospital yet again was a bit daunting but after my annual check up it was found that my gall bladder had developed polyps which if left could lead to other awful things so it had to be removed. My admiration and appreciation for the medical world has increased even more. Thank you all.

On return from the bush, into hospital I went and out the vital organ came! Obviously it is not so vital as I have been absolutely fine without it as long as I watch my diet. Oh dear the diet...I am definitely a comfort eater! Knowing I had to go through this 'procedure' I did not hold back while in the bush and enjoyed all the treats and of course now I am fighting the bulge. But that's fine too because it's all over, stitches out and I am fine.

Take it from me that the best way to recuperate is to spend as many hours in the sewing room where the only physical exertion is my foot on the pedal!

Firstly I finished off these two items to go off to New Zealand with my sister Robyn as her and Dudley join their son Brett for three months. Their request was something " African". I still have a bag of scraps from my Swazi days so out it came and what fun I had putting a small quilt and a wallhanging together!


I had to make a little something for Brett's girls and all of our grandchildren and it had to be Christmassy!

What about a few bags....and a few more , I was all bagged out. I really enjoyed making these and the pattern and style got better and better. Each piece of fabric has a story behind it as to where I bought it. South Africa, Malaysia, France, America( thanks Diana). I almost feel I should write a little history and attach it to the bag.

Guess what everyone is getting for Christmas.....! With lots of love from The Bag Lady



Sunday, November 24, 2013

Screw it!

This sounds a little like the name of Richard Branson's book, Screw it, let's do it, but it is not. It is all about having the right screw as in a small silver device.



I have a beautiful Pfaff sewing machine which I absolutely adore. My sewing machine and I spend many, many precious hours together on a daily basis. It works hard and so do I!


Don't get me wrong.....I have also had a long affair with a Bernina . In fact I still have my Bernina but she is rather worn out and just does not do the blanket stitch as well as my current friend. Before my dear friend the Bernina passed on I used an Elna(Stella) which I bought second hand for R600 and used in Swaziland when we started our small clothing business


The Elna bugged me from time to time as the threads jammed so quickly if you did not hold them towards the back of the machine before take off. This would mean pulling everything out, taking the machine apart and extracting all the jammed threads! A waste of precious time, tempers flying, bad language flowing etc. I usually work fast and could not bare the waste of time. It was time for my daughter to inherit that one! The predecessor to the Elna was some unnamed brand which I purchase from a friend's wife for two hundred rand and used until it died.


But my very first machine was the greatest! My grandmother gave it to me when I was just sixteen. A lovely faithful hand turn Singer. What a beaut. I learnt to sew on this machine and in fact it unlocked my passion for what has been my lifelong hobby. One of the first items I recall making were "Twist"dresses. It was the season where every radiogramme was blasting forth with Bill Hayley and the comets and "Let's twist again like we did last summer" and we would twist our bodies up and down, back and forth, getting our exercise without even realizing it. To match the music we had to wear the correct dresses which we made ourselves.

Off to the shops mother and I would go and there we would buy fabric which I think was called Sungleam for a couple of "bob". No pattern was needed as I would cut a long top out and then gather or pleat the skirt and attach it. It had to bounce and bob as I danced the twist. The zigzag stitch was a luxury that my old singer did not have but who minded.....the finished article was far more important. Voila! Before you knew it you had a new outfit to wear to the party where we could Twist the night away.

This darling machine went to College with me and many a time my friend Mignon and I would cut a dress out and while one would guide the fabric the other would turn the handle as fast as possible resulting in a lovely outfit we could wear to the next 'hop' as we called parties in those days!

That old faithful machine is safely ensconced in our bush house which does not have electricity, so should the emergency arrive out comes the Singer!

But back to present times. Somehow the screw on my Pfaff which holds the free motion quilting foot got lost. When ever I attend a course I have to take my machine along which weighs a ton and that must be how I lost the screw! That one little screw has caused untold misery! I searched and searched for the original, to no avail. Then I called in the help of my hubby. He went off to the hardware shop but without the machine they could not help him. My brother in law came to the rescue and gave us an assortment of screws to try out.

The position of this screw is so awkward..we tried screwdrivers of various kinds, long nosed pliers,tweezers etc.cursing, praying and eventually got a screw to fit. Hooray...I attached the special foot, dropped the feed dog and off I went at a hundred miles an hour. It did not last long.....the screw was not tight enough and the next thing the special foot came flying off and was cracked! Tears and frustration ruled the day, what to do.

After much googling I found an agent in JHB and ordered a new foot which we picked up during our next visit to the city. I still needed the screw. When next we visited the bush I popped into a machine shop in Hazyview and told the Uncle there my very sad story. He is a Mr Fixit of note and told me to leave it to him. That was in April this year. In October I popped back to his shop which had actually moved into bigger premises and shyly asked Mr Fixit if he remembered me and my sob story and lo and behold there was the illusive SCEW! Mr Fixit being a wiley old Fellow knows a desperate sewer when he sees one charged me a magnificent R75.00 for this tiny but IMPORTANT little screw! I hugged that little thing, stroked it and could not wait to get back to base to put it where it belongs and now I am pleased to report that I am a happy chappy and have not stopped sewing and quilting. What an amazing difference that little screw has made in my life! Did I ever confess how much it cost....never, who cares! Now to improve my free motion quilting skills.

Long live the screw! Let's screw it!


Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Bush.






It is a long drive from Toti to Sabie Park. With a quick stop in Swaziland it takes almost thirteen hours.

On entry into Kruger we were greeted by three of the big Five.....Rhinos, buffalo and elephants. This is a great start ....long may it last.

It was good to arrive at the house. The first thing Warren does is undo all the damage the baboons do whilst we are away! As he surveys the destruction his vocab tends to deteriorate somewhat!

The bush is dry, dry dry. The rains were late. In addition to that, Kruger has done some burning, so talk about scorched earth!! I always worry about the animals who get injured during the burns. Poor Torty!

Despite the lack of rain, the picnic spot is as lovely as ever. For the first time in a while we were fortunate in that we could watch lion across the river! The newer hide is perfect for this viewing.


The best part of being here is connecting with our local friends. They are all so good about coming to spend time with us despite their busy lives. None of them have really retired as we have! Thanks Neil and Lois, Mary and Gav, Ed and Liz. It is always so good to catch up with you guys! We also had visits from family, Colleen and Jim, and the Kochs who were staying at Sabie River bungalows.

The best visitor was Oscar.....he stayed with us for a week then his Mom, Sarah and Nicole arrived and stayed a few days too!

We had loads of fun at the house as little boys and girls dont really like spending hours in the car looking for illusive animals! Gangan loved this special time and we did lots of fun things together.


The wonderful thing about Mother Nature that in her own time she will always deliver. Eventually the rains fact we had huge huge electrical storms. The skies lit up with amazing streaks of lightening, the thunder rolled by and the rain poured and poured. The poor roof was tested to its limits and we had to move furniture out of the way of the leaks, put buckets in line to catch the drips.


The night the Harris's spent with us, plans to enjoy liqueurs around the fire had to be changed due to the storm and while watching the lightening Ed commented how beautiful the sky looked streaked and all lit up with the lightening. I argued that it made me feel rather nervous and uncomfortable. Apparently at approximately the same time 11:15 p.m. a neighbour' s house was burnt to the ground. We were totally unaware and only found out the following day!! Fortunately the owners were not present so no one was injured.


The magic started and every day one would wake up to a greener day. Watching the grass turn green is absolutely wondorous. A special time indeed. The animal population around the house increased enjoying the new lush, green grass. Mother Nature never fails to deliver! Zebras galore, giraffe, wildebeest, kudu, impala and even the baboons tried to join in the party!

With the lack of rain the river was low and there was no sign of the happy hippo. However on our last day at the picnic spot we witnessed the The Return of the Hippo....we watched Mom, Dad amd hippolet pop out of the river just in front of the hide run down the bank and pop back into the deeper water in front of the lower look out point! A short cut or just avoiding the stony bumps I am not sure but how wonderful to have them back!

The hyaena are becoming a threat to the residents. They are becoming more and more daring as they encroach on the bomas. We had an incident one night while enjoying our stew around the fire. I made the mistake of throwing the chewed bones into the fire and Buster our friendly hyaena could not resist the smell of our dinner and came sniffing by and then was tempted to chew on our left over bones and came closer and closer and .....closer. Warren had to chase him off and in my haste to escape to the safety of our home I knocked over a wine glass! The following morning early Warren went outside to pick up the pieces and who was IN the boma and virtually in the ashes of our fire!! Cheeky bugger! The age old debate raises its head again.....who is the interloper!! Man or beast.

It was soon time to pack up and set off for home. A couple of weeks in the bush is always such a tonic!