Reflecting on positive aspects of online dating

Spring is here again bringing with it feelings of optimism which leads to a renewed focus on making the most of life.  While this year’s focus is on improving my work situation and figuring out options for being able to see more of IT Guy, last year I was more interested in reassessing my approach to online dating and trying to be more social.

Online dating has a rather bad reputation but like many things in life there are positive and negative aspects.  The fact that many sites are all about looks gets a lot of press but let’s be honest most guys will only talk to a woman in a bar if he likes how she looks.

Part of the challenge is approaching online dating in the right way and knowing when it is time to take a break.  You need to accept that a lot of your time will be spent dodging wierd people and scammers.  There are a few examples where I decided to have a bit of fun with romance scammers as a way of staying sane.   There are others who have turned this into an art form.

Spring seems like a good time to reflect on the positive aspects of online dating.  I have met a few interesting people and had some interesting experiences.  I have met a few reasonably decent guys even if there was no chemistry and they did not know how to express this in a good way.  I met someone working in a similar field to me and while we have never met he is useful to know and has contacted me a few times for information.  Online dating provided an opportunity for career related networking.  I have made friends with one of the guys I met through online dating.

There are also benefits with a slightly more distant link to online dating.  Import-export guy making me feel like I should be doing more around the time time as my preferred sports class kept getting cancelled led to me finding a nice local Pilates class.  An old school friends also attends the class.  We have been out a few times and making plans for tomorrow gave me the inspiration for this post.

Perhaps most importantly of all is the fact that all of these experiences and the related decisions to make the most of life is what gave me the confidence to ask an old friend for his number.  I thought it would be nice to try and stay in touch even though he lives in Dubai and look how well that is working out.

So what I would say to anyone thinking of trying online dating is that you should give it a try.  There are blogs and websites which offer some great information and advice, I recommend starting here.  Just try to keep a positive outlook and an open mind.  But above all stay safe and don’t give anyone any money.




Heading back to Cape Town

Finally the last installment of IT Guy’s visit in June.  A combination of short posts and the time job hunting means it has taken a long time to cover this, long enough that there has been another visit from IT Guy in the meantime.

I realized when I started to write this post that the last post on this story ended rather abruptly.  No doubt because I was rather tired and stressed about my dental implant.  I briefly considered changing it, but I think picking up the story from where we left off is better.

After watching the movie we decided to head out and get some food.  I decided it was my best chance to get dressed up.  One thing I am finding with this long distance relationship is that it can be difficult to make time to get dressed uo to go out.  When he is here we are together all the time and this means we are generally out doing something during the day.  So by the evening we are tired and often go with a lazy meal solution.

We ended up going back to the same restaurant as the night before.  The food looked good, there was not a lot of choice at the hotel restaurant and there didn’t seem to be many other places.  While there was some life in the restaurant on the Friday night we were the only guests on the Saturday night.  I think we were also the only people in the hotel on the Saturday night.  I guess weekend visits to small South African farming towns is not common in the winter.  Plus there was rugby on so many people would have stayed home to braai (BBQ) and watch the game.

Most of the smaller farming towns are dominated by the Christian church.  You can generally find the down centre by following the church spire.  It also means that pretty much, unlike the bigger cities and towns, everything is closed on a Sunday.  So we decided to head slowly south and back to Cape Town.

Our first stop was Citrusdal.  Strangely enough this is a major area for growing oranges.  Also everything was closed.  We tried to stop at Die Sandveldhuisie which is described as a quirky little art house.  Certainly it looks very interesting from the outside but it was closed.

The next stop was a farm-stall.  This particular farm-stall was well recommended in a local travel magazine.  They do the most amazing light and fresh chocolate cake.  Then on to the winery we tried to visit a few days earlier.  This time we managed to do our wine and our wine and biltong (dried meat) pairing.  We also managed a tasty late lunch.  Then home where we chilled out in front of the cricket.  IT Guy really likes cricket.

Sadly the following day it was time for IT Guy to leave it was a rather sad and stressful day.  We had a really amazing time and looking back on the photos I can see how the relationship evolved over the week.  I have a photo of use together on his first full day in South Africa looking rather awkward together in comparison to the last few days where we were much more comfortable with each other.

So it seems that by the end of this holiday the relationship was going well and a good chanced to learn more about each other.




A strange coincidence

Last week I had the surgery for the first stage of a dental implant.  It is possible to have the procedure carried out under local anesthetic but going on previous experiences I suspected that could go badly and opted for general anesthetic.

On the day of the procedure the anesthetist came to do the initial assessment and we started chatting.  He asked if I was a medical doctor so I explained that I wasn’t.  It turns out that his son had studied the same subject, going as far as doing a master’s degree.  Giving the string of coincidences it was highly likely that I had worked with his son.  However at this point I couldn’t remember the name of the anesthetist and I was too embarrassed to admit it.  I am not good with names at the best of times and this was not the best of times.

Then after they wheeled me to the operating theater and I was waiting to go in, he came to talk to me again.  He was trying to remember the name of the guy his son had worked for and I suggested a few possible names.  It was the same person I worked for.  By this point I had a pretty good idea who the son was and I had worked with him for a while.  The problem was that I was still not sure of the anesthetists name.  Also I was doped up on some pre-med and a bit anxious about the surgery.

He started telling me all about the work he is son had done.  Actually thinking about it now I’m not sure he was that bothered about me remembering his son’s name.  I think he was just glad of an excuse to talk about his son’s achievements.  At that point he really was just a proud dad.

I had the stitches removed a few days ago.  The surgeon is happy that things are healing well.  I didn’t use most of the painkillers he prescribed.  The only problem is that I think the antibiotics  he prescribed are very strong and they have been part of the reason I have been feeling tired and sleepy all week.

The surgeon offered me a printout of the X-rays.  Even X-rays are done digitally now so an extra copy of the pictures is easy to make.  I duly showed the printout to my nephew at the next chance I got.  He looked at them with a mix of fascination and horror.  Typical boy, he loves that sort of thing.

Still it is interesting to reflect on some of the stranger coincidences in life.  How it is that the father of someone I worked with a few years ago was my anesthetist.



Paternoster and Clanwilliam

For the last part of IT Guys visit we decided to head north.  As far as I can remember I have never been to the Cederberg region but it sounded like it was worth a visit.   

Friday morning after a slow start we headed to the local shopping center so that IT Guy could get himself a woolly hat before setting out on a weekend away.  We decided to follow the coast road and stop in Paternoster for lunch.  The town is well known for seafood.  Something IT Guy struggles to get in Dubai.  Actually I think he is mostly wary of getting good seafood because of the heat.  I was told that you need to book in advance to be sure of getting a table.  As usual we did not make time to properly research the restaurants.  I figured that we should be able to get a table on the Friday lunchtime before the start of the winter school holidays.  

It turns out the place is so quiet that a lot of the restaurants are closed.  Fortunately we found one on the way in that was open.  It was part way up the hill so we had a lovely view of the sea.  After lunch we had a nice walk along the beach.  Paternoster is a very pretty town and I can see why people would go there for holidays but I’m not sure it would suit me as it seems the main activities are the beach and seafood.   

A view of Paternoster

Then on to Clanwilliam.  We stayed on the coastal road which was very pretty with plenty of holiday places.  Clanwilliam is a small farming town and the centre of the rooibos (redbush) tea industry.  By the time we arrived it was dark and I was tired.  After checking in we went to find the restaurant recommended by the hotel.    We weren’t very hungry having had a bit and late lunch so we just had dessert.   

The main tourist activities in the Clanwilliam-Cederberg area are hiking and other outdoor activities.  I even found a place where you could herd sheep.  We decided to visit the Sevilla Rock Art Trail which included driving over the very pretty PakHuis pass.  It was a 6 km walk over some rocky terrain which I enjoyed.  Also being winter it was very quiet and there were parts where it felt like we were miles from civilization.  Once we got back we stopped for a light lunch and a well-deserved drink at the farmstall where you can also buy the permits for the walk.     

On the way back we decided to extend our drive to check out the local dam.  You could see that while it was starting to refill the water levels were still very low.  It turns out there is not a lot to do in Clanwilliam on a Saturday afternoon.  One website mostly listed tea rooms but it was not that long since lunch.  Instead we went back to the hotel and managed to find a good movie.  After all the main point of the visit was to spend time together and chilling in front of a movie is a good way to spend a cold Saturday afternoon. 

Long distance communication challenges

I’m sure it is a common challenge developing good communication when you are in a long distance relationship.  Well any relationship really but some of these challenges are greater when you cannot see each other on a regular basis.

I recently had a good Skype conversation with IT Guy.  There were some connection problems and elements were rather chaotic but that kinda made it more fun and relaxed.  Particularly when he decided to show me his laptop only he had trouble opening it and had to investigate.  While it was great just watching him it was also very frustrating because I was not able to touch him or hug him.

There are so many difficulties finding time for a decent conversation.  There is a 2h time difference and the weekend in the Emirates is Friday and Saturday.  Things are often chaotic when I get home so I find that by the time things settle and I am ready to chat he is tired and heading for bed.

There are days when he is very quiet and it can be frustrating waiting for him to reply to a message.  Sometimes I start wondering if he really is committed to this relationship.  Wondering if it is too soon to focus my job search on Dubai.

What is a reasonable expectation for staying in touch and how does this fit with our particular situations?  After-all I can’t expect him to chat just because I am bored and I want to.  Do I really want to insist he stays home and chats on WhatsApp instead of joining friends for drinks?

Actually it is silences that I find the most difficult to deal with.  Especially those evenings he fails to say good night.  It is the not knowing that comes with silence.  It allows uncertainty to creep in.  This isn’t helped by the memory of other guys how have let me down recently.  Particularly Guy 0 who messaged less after he met someone else or the ghosting from Import-export guy.

In contrast IT Guy reappears after a short while.  Sometimes he apologies and explains if he has been quiet.  Phone batteries die, people fall asleep and guys can’t multi-task (certainly this one can’t).  Last week I just got regular cricket updates.  One evening he reappeared to say he had just ordered some books I told him about.  Various things he has said, including during the Skype, which have given me insight into why he sometimes struggles to chat on WhatsApp.

I have found a good strategy to cope when I start getting stressed by the silences.  I remind myself of the examples which show he cares and wants a future together.  He made the most of a trip to South Africa when he wanted to to go to Italy, asked for my input on an important decision, he cares what I think of some artwork wants. Sometimes the reminder is a simple as a picture of a nice restaurant in Tuscany,  The list is growing steadily.  ‘How is your day going?’ works well to understand the reason for the silence.

So while there are still challenges with communication, made more difficult by the distance, I believe we both want this to work.  Relationships take effort and I probably need to find a way of explaining that I would prefer ‘tough day, need sleep’ to no message.

The Cape Town part of his Visit

Finally I have some time to write about the Cape Town part of IT Guy’s visit.  I am in the process of looking for a new job and doing that properly takes time.

After a few lovely days in Durban we returned to Cape Town.  It was necessary for me to work so I was a little worried about what IT Guy would do during the day.  On the first evening I stopped to get some pork chops on the way home.  I know a place that does really good ones and it would make a nice treat given it is virtually impossible to get them in Dubai.  I got home to find he had been updating his CV.  After a nice meal we chilled in front of the TV.

The second day I made a plan to get home early so we could go wine tasting.  This time he had actually made plans to sort some stuff and was chasing my sister’s kids round the garden.  I gather he is good at hide and seek.  I had hoped we would have time for two wineries but by the time we got into the car I realised there was only time for one.  So it was particularly frustrating to find the one I had chosen closed for a private function.

So we decided to go for the second part of our plan and head for the coast for some food.  There is a fairly recent development called Eden on the Bay with numerous restaurants overlooking the sea with a view of Robben Island and Table Mountain.  Many of the restaurants have outdoor heaters and provide blankets so it is possible to sit outside and enjoy the fresh air and view.  You get some really nice winter days in Cape Town.

Eden on the Bay
Eden on the Bay

On Day 3 we had an early start.  IT Guy had arranged to borrow Mom’s car and as we were collecting it he asked Mom to join him.  Mom was expecting to spend some time at a Mall near where he was going but he took her everywhere he went.   I think Mom was rather bemused.  With hindsight perhaps I should have gone with him although at the time I was just glad he had something useful to do.  Some of the errands were emotionally tough.  Probably why he wasn’t very forthcoming with details and did his CV on Day 1.

In the evening I had arranged a family meal out with him, Mom and my sister’s family.  We went to one of our favorite special treat restaurants.  They do some amazing steaks which includes various types of game such as ostrich, kudo and springbok.  We had a nice evening although it took a little while for IT Guy to recover from his tough day and get dragging into playing with the kids again.  One nice thing about South Africa is that many restaurants include access to a kids play area.  Also my sister is a master at finding places she can take her kids.

Overall I think it was good to stop in Cape Town for a few days.  IT Guy needed a few days to chill out and he got some first hand experience of how crazy my life can be at times.  We were so busy doing stuff I kept forgetting to get photos.

Weekend in Durban Days 2 – 3

For our second full day in Durban It Guy and I decided to head out of Durban to see the Valley of 1000 Hills.  Unfortunately we were too late to get tickets on the steam train that runs on selected Sundays.  We headed to one of the towns listed on the steam train route.  It turned out to be the one where the train started but it wasn’t clear from there how we got to the Valley of 1000 Hills.  Perhaps we should have done a bit more research.  It probably didn’t help that while I had done a little reading it was left to IT Guy to navigate while I drove.

After a bit of messing about we finally found one of the correct roads and drove up into the hills.  The Valley of the 1000 Hills was home to the Zulu people for centuries so there are cultural places to visit.  There are also plenty of markets and interesting places to eat and stay.  We drove past a few interesting looking places and after a while decided to stop at a nice looking place at the top of a hill.  I was just thinking of a getting a few photos but IT Guy decided it would be nice to stop for a few drinks.


We drove some more but not being very organised we lost the scenic route at some point.  This was particularly frustrating as I was starting to get hungry and we couldn’t see anywhere to stop.  We were heading back towards Durban when we spotted some signs for the Valley of a 1000 Hills.  As we turned onto the road IT guy spotted signs to a polo match.  I have never watched polo before so it was rather interesting.

After the match we headed back to Durban and a seafood restaurant on the seafront.  We had planned to have a walk after our food but having watched people getting blown around we decided that wouldn’t be much fun.  Instead we headed back to the hotel, enjoyed a nice glass of wine and watched a movie.

For our final day in Durban we decided to head to the Moses Mabhida stadium.  The stadium was constructed for the Football World Cup in 2010.  A lot of people had recommended this on a previous visit and it was in the general direction of the airport.  We took the SkyCar to the viewing platform at the top for some fantastic views.  We also did the stadium tour which I found surprisingly interesting.  It turns out the design of the arches is based on the South African flag and they have some really nice artwork.


It is possible to access the golden mile from the stadium but by the time we were finished there was not enough time for a walk and lunch.  In the ended we decided to head to the airport and eat there before catching a flight to Cape Town.

I have to say I was rather sceptical about a visit to Durban.  I didn’t think there would be that much to do.  In the end I really enjoyed my weekend there.  The right company helps of course.  There wasn’t enough time to do all of the things I would have liked to do and I found more interesting things to do when researching this blog so I would definitely like to visit Durban again sometime.