Tag Archives: Europe

The day I met Pamela Jooste….

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I’m busy reading 7 Days by Deon Meyer. Now, I have to say I’m a big fan of this chap. I’ve even stalked him on google. He lives in Melkbosstrand. Was born in Paarl, grew up in Klerksdorp and is an internationally renown author.

His books are THAT good. Really clever and a little dark too. Makes one think that there’s a whole world out there in South Africa, other than the queue in Woolies, the inside of the hairdressers, driving through your suburb to park in your double garage. It frightens me a little. That whole industrial espionage, crooks, gangs, diamond smuggling and murdering world, that I know fak all about.

If you’ve read any of his books, you’ll know he’s a really clever fellow. Well, he must be. I mean… to come up with all of that.

There are so many GREAT South African novels out there.

Two books I’ve read in the last year or so were:

  • Little Ice cream Boy
  • Choke Chain

Both by different authors but EXCELLENT.

and of course my personal favourite Pamela Jooste. I’ve met her, did you know that? I’ve never told you the story. Well here goes:

Back in 2000 I went travelling around Europe. In the South of France, all my friends chose to go to Cannes for the day and I said I preferred to go to Nice. You see my gran had travelled there, back in the seventies, I’d seen her photo’s and I wanted to compare notes. Also there was a Matisse Museum overlooking the city and I really wanted to see his work.

Well, at the Matisse Museum, I wondered around and then decided to sit in the outdoor coffee shop/cafe area overlooking the city. It was hot and it had plenty of shade. I wanted to reflect on Matisse’s work that I’d seen and having studied all these artists at school, it never failed to impress when I saw the original artworks.  I remember seeing the Raft of Medusa in the Lourve and feeling so humble and filled with awe at the size and splendour of it. Also got to see van Gogh in Amsterdam and an exhibit of Picasso’s in Barcelona among many many others. I know I’m name dropping here, but I need to paint a picture of me sitting in that cafe, inspired, humbled and alone with my thoughts.

I ordered my ice cream and sat at a table looking at the few people around me. The woman from the next table started speaking to me. She asked me if I was from South Africa? Yes, I replied and we chatted and chatted. We got on so well and I when we introduced ourselves she told me she was a South African writer and had won an award for Dance with a poor Man’s daughter. Pamela was by no means bragging but I’d asked what she’d written. I’m ashamed to say I didn’t know the book at that stage. Well we chatted and really bonded for what seemed an age and she had to go and meet her husband and I had to go and meet my friends. She asked me for my address and she said she’d like to send me a copy of her book. Pamela told me to always keep my youthful outlook on life, we hugged and she left.

and do you know, that when I got home to South Africa? The signed book, bookmark and note were waiting for me. It had been there waiting for me for 3 months. Well if you haven’t read Dance with a Poor Mans Daughter, you need too. It’s excellent and it made me cry.

An Instant in the Wind by Andre Brink, My Traitors Heart by Rian Malan, all books that had profound effects on me. Each comes with a different story of how I got them. An ex boyfriend and I swapped books that had inspired us. He gave me An instant in the wind, I gave him: I heard the Owl Call My Name by Margeret Craven.(not South African but still great)

My mom  gave me Under The Pear Saffron Tree when I was going through a particularly bad stage. It inspired me so much I phoned the author up and told her how much I enjoyed it. She lives in St Francis Bay.

South African books are my secret passion. Books that shift my view on life. Life as we know it and life as others know it.

I think the movie Yesterday (South African movie about a woman living in a rural area with AIDS) should be compulsory for everyone to watch.

I can go on and on and add more South African books to the list.

Oh yes, The Diary of Iris Vaughn and Shades by Margerite Poland. Must must must must must read!!!!!!!!!!!!

well happy reading.

oh yes, forgot to mention that I met Justin Bonello (famed cook/chef) this holiday at our secluded holiday spot. We had a chat and he’s the most awesome down to earth chap. Just thought I’d name drop one last time.

 

 

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An excerpt from our local newspaper…….

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Here is an excerpt from our local paper. We were asked to share our overseas trip. We do that here. Your children’s party and theme would definitely feature in the paper!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The %$#@ and &*() take Belgium and Switzerland By Storm….

James  dropped off John #$%^ and Ian and Angie (*&)% at the !!@@#*& airport. They met Countesskaz there, as she had gone via Riet River to drop off  the kids with her folks.

They boarded the flight to Joburg. A longish sit spent at the Mugg and Bean before they left for Zürich. To say that excitement filled the air is an understatement. After the chaos, that is passport control and International Departures in JHB, the calm efficiency of Zürich airport jolted the 4 South Africans. Angie’s Sister and Husband, C and G ^%&* met them at half past six in the morning. They spent the day in Uster, a village on the outskirts of Zürich. C fed and took the eager Saffers on a walk around the magnificent lake. The snow-capped Alps set in the background  provided a great backdrop and taster of more exciting things to come.

Ian, Ang, John and Countesskaz once again boarded a flight to Brussels late  that afternoon. They arrived after a few glasses of Swiss Air Heineken and glasses of red to find no-one to collect them. After much Twittering, facebooking, sms-ing  to the Belgian Tablers they finally made contact and found the Coach Driver to take them to Dinant. Because the over-zealous Norwegians had already booked limo’s they didn’t travel on the bus. So it was 4 South Africans in a 50 seater bus driven by a non-English Speaking Spaniard. John and Ian, using very expressive sign language and basic English finally got the Spaniard to understand that they wanted beer. An emergency stop at a garage prevailed . During the 1-ish hour long trip (**&^ 75 represented (*&&^ most admirably in a record-setting beer tasting of note. Did you know Belgium offers over 600 types of beers?

Arrived at the venue in Dinant, the French part of Belgium. As is tradition for every, or most Euro meetings, the Norwegians stole the show with their antics and high jinx. It was lovely to see old friends from Germany, Norway, and Gillingham to name a few. France has now joined the Euro 75 meeting, so some lucky Tabler’s wives will soon get taken to romantic Paris in the next few years. After a late night of good fun and exquisite French champagne, as per Ang and Countesskaz, provided kindly by the Belgians, we all headed off to bed.

The next morning after breakfast, began the Belgian adventure Boot Camp. As official photographer, and NOT because she was a bangbroek, Countesskaz abstained from the abseiling, rock climbing lark. She hung with her new mates from Gillingham and Germany, with her feet firmly on the ground and watched and took photographs of Ian, Ang and John.  At one stage countesskaz got a crick in her neck at the angle she had to put her head to see how high the others had climbed and eventually had to abseil down from.

After a dubious taster of the Norwegians version of Bobsey’s Blitz, which incidentally is quiet a local  legend in Europe, and cured leg of lamb,(there are no words to describe this, but let us try: take a lamb. Slaughter it. Skin it. Take a chunk of meat out of it. Bite a piece off!) the afternoon was spent strolling the charming town of Dinant and HORRAY, FINALLY, Angie and Countesskaz found a chocolatier. Angie took it from the left and Countesskaz took it from the right while Ian and John stood stunned with their mouths hanging open….who knew their wives enjoyed chocolate so much?

That night all the Tablers from Europe and South Africa 75 boarded a bus to an ancient, beautiful monastry where we celebrated in absolute 5 star style…the gala evening. Ian  was asked to auction off the goods bought by the Norwegians minus one bottle of Vodka. Someone nicked the vodka out the trolley. And rumour has it, that her feet lifted clean off the ground while rummaging  through the bottom of the trolley. The Norwegians had bought out the contents of a Nigerian’s shop in Dinant. Ian, single-handedly raised over 2000 Euro’s. The Europeans, especially, the Norwegians, gave Ian a standing ovation for his auctioneering expertise.  The background house and Techno music gave Ian an excellent backdrop for his auctioneering style.

The next morning after a farewell breakfast, the South Africans took the coach back to Brussels. This time with 3 Norwegians. The other Norwegians would follow later. A quick farewell to Norwegian friends at the Brussels Airport and then the Saffers were taken to their 3 star hotel. More like 1 star dodgy dive! John almost got flattened by an Eastern European ex pat speeding by as he was disembarking from the coach.

After a hop-on and hop-off Bus tour around Brussels and absorbing the Brussels atmosphere, the four went for some sundowners at 8-30pm. The sun only sets at about half 10. John experienced an agonising meal of mussels from Brussels. Feel free to ask him about it.

Next morning they caught a train to Brugge. Now Brugge, for those of you that don’t know, is known as the Venice of Northern Europe. It’s in the Dutch part of Belgium. Charming, narrow streets with cobbled stones. Home of the Belfry tower. It was in this town that Countesskaz was forcibly placed on a bicycle, by John, and made to cycle with Ian, Ang and John around the greater part of Brugge. After sulking and under-the-breath name calling she started to enjoy herself and actually had a great time. She actually found the cycle to be one of her highlights of her holiday. After cycling about 100 miles, Countesskaz stopped to rest at a restaurant/pub at a canal water’s edge. Angie cycled on with the boys and returned a while later. John and Ian cycled out-of-town almost to the Netherlands. It’s that close. Someone overheard the story being told the other day and the distance  is NOW 3km’s from the Netherlands!

After the cycle, the four ate chocolate, walked around Brugge, ate chocolate, went on a cruise in the canals, ate chocolate and ate more chocolate. And they drank beer. Had some supper, drank beer and then tried to drink some more beer. They also went shopping in some speciality shops, saw cathedrals, lace making and had lots and lots and lots of laughs.

The next morning they caught a train to Brussels. No-one left their camera bags on the train this time, and they got to the airport with plenty of time to spare. Once again they boarded a plane back to Zürich, to the eagerly awaiting friends. After a very Swiss supper and some card games, where Countesskaz beat Ian a few times, they went for a lovely walk around the farm lands in Uster.

The next morning, C took the Saffers to a lovely chocolate shop where all hell broke loose. Physical restraining and a few domestics broke out and wives had to be reigned in and reminded about baggage weight on Swiss Air! All’s well that ends well though, and with mouthfuls of chocolate they agreed to the conditions laid out by their husbands.

A trip around Zürich’s old Town, Zürich itself and the Zürich lake was enjoyed by John, Countesskaz, Ian and Ang. Zurich is known to be very expensive, but runs like clockwork, very clean and they loved it! The views from the large boat were magnificent  and showcased beautiful old churches, the Alps and lake front mansions.

The next day all departed for a Road Trip into the Alps. It’s difficult to explain the beauty of the Alps. Switzerland is very traditional and The road trip lead the 6 travellers into the French part of Switzerland as opposed to Zürich which is the German part of Switzerland. It might seem confusing, but try to keep up…A stop off at Gruyère castle for the traditional meringues and thick cream. And of course coffee for John, who became a coffee connoisseur in Europe…. Gruyère castle dates back to before 1554. It’s a medieval castle that towers over the town of Gruyère. Yes, that’s correct, that’s where Gruyère cheese comes from. Well done.  After enjoying the castle a trip to the Gruyère cheese factory was enjoyed and especially the cheese tasting. The 6 then travelled the short distance to the very Swiss B&B, complete with bedrooms over the shed with cows and their cowbells. They enjoyed a traditional fondue and a lovely walk.

The next day was spent travelling back to Zürich after visiting local towns, untouched by tourists and a visit to the Callier Chocolate factory, now owned by Nestle. That night John and Countesskaz travelled back to South Africa followed by Ian and Angie the next day. Altogether an excellent trip, so many memories, so many laughs shared. A great holiday….

Travel we must…….

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Stoopid Stoopid Stooooooopid me! I blimin’ opened my mouth this morning to convene a fund-raiser for our church. I don’t mind doing it, but we have 3 weeks exactly before we leave for Europe. I’m so stressed about flying that it will be good to occupy my mind with something else.

I love travelling I do. It’s an invaluable experience. It’s a necessity of life. It shifts your mind-set. It broadens your horizon and at the same time it makes you realise that the world is small.

You see beautiful architecture. Beautiful art. Taste different food. Expose yourself to a different rhythm and beat.

and….then there’s the flying. I can’t sit still for so long. I don’t sleep on the plane. I’m restless and anxious coz I’ve just left my kids and the farm etc.

Anyway will embrace this privilege of being able to travel. Will kiss it full on the lips and give it a bear hug.

Hellooooo Belgium………..and hellooooooooooooooo Switzerland………