Shopping and Steam Trains

Shopping and Steam Trains make a good combination for a day out.  In this case I am referring to a trip yesterday to Elgin Railway Market.  Elgin is a place I associate with apples and it is not surprising because about 60% of South Africa’s apples are grown in this valley.  More recently they have started making wine and I believe there are some unusual varieties due to the climatic conditions.  I must make a plan to do some wine tasting there soon.

I supposed it is was inevitable that some clever businessman would figure out that a grand old apple warehouse could be converted to an interesting market.  Then work out that as the apple warehouse is in a rather rural location, but next to a train station, that a steam train would be a good way to bring in more customers.

A warehouse roof with showing some of the interesting decor inside the market

My sister and her husband bought tickets for the steam train which runs from Cape Town to Elgin so we arranged to meet her at the market.  We arrived about 30 – 60 mins before the train was due to arrive.  So we got some coffee, found a nice table and settled down to wait.  In the end the train was about an hour late.  It seems it kept running out of steam and had to stop to let the steam to build up again.  The route to Elgin is uphill and includes the rather spectacular Sir Lowry’s Pass with fantastic views of the sea.

The market offers a nice range of food stalls so once my sister arrived we all went to get something to eat.  One thing I liked about the market is that while there were enough people for it to feel lively there weren’t excessive crowds.  We didn’t have to queue for long and were able to find a decent place to sit.  (I once went to a festival where they even charged to get into the seating area and we left feeling cheated.)  In fact at the Elgin Railway Market we were able to find a nice place to sit overlooking the train tracks and could watch them preparing the steam train for the return journey while enjoying a few drinks and some cake.  I particularly like the gin bar with a good range of gins and tonics and interesting garnishes.

A picture of a steam trainAn outside view of the Railway Market overlooking the steam train

We also managed to browse the various craft stall which included wine tasting, clothes, jewelry and paintings.  I managed to get a jar of bacon, rosemary and pinotage chutney for IT Guy and a nice necklace for one of my nieces.  It was a good day out but I must say, I’m not sure I would drive that far just for the market.  It definitely needed the added attraction of something like the steam train.

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.