I am a 40 something woman living in South Africa. I started blogging after a guy let me down and I decided to try out online dating. The stories I shared with my friends gave me the idea for starting this blog.
It seems like I have managed to turn Heartbreak into Hope so my blog is evolving in the stories of What Hope did Next. This means a focus on travel and lifestyle stories. The idea of the blog has been to provide short light-hearted stories. Something you might enjoy reading during a lunch break. So I see my stories of providing ideas of things people can with plenty of other resources providing the necessary details to make something happen
I have finally managed to set up the much promised new website. IT Guy helped with some of the more technical stuff then it too me a while to figure out how to get things looking and working how I want. Actually there are still some refinements I want to make but I decided that I was ready to start sharing the website. Suggestions for improvement will be appreciated.
The new website is going to be more of a travel and lifestyle website. I have added a small twist on this approach which will hopefully add interest.
To start off with I have decided to be careful with my identity so there probably won’t be any photos of me but in the future this may change. One important concern is making sure having a blog does not cause problems for my professional life.
For those who are keen to keep following me, please email me through the contact page and I will send you a link to the new website.
You may have noticed there have been fewer posts lately. I have decided to sort out a new blog which fits better with the sort of posts I have been sharing lately.
Clearly with my relationship going well there is not much material for an online dating blog and I don’t really want to write about how the relationship is going. So I have decided to change to more of a travel and lifestyle blog. That way I can share stories about things I do that I hope you will find interesting.
So far I have come up with a new concept. The next big decision is if I should go self-hosting. IT Guy has suggested a cheap host site which he uses as well as a good place to get a web template which he knows is reliable. I have a load more reading to do to make sure I know what I am doing. I am not even sure if all the terminology is correct.
I have a trip planned in March which means I should be able to get some good material for posts for the new blog. So hopefully you will be understanding while I get things figured out managed to set-up a new blog
I recently went to a showing of Agatha Christie’s murder mystery play, The Mousetrap in Cape Town. The theatre is in Camps Bay which is a very trendy part of Cape Town. There are some very fancy restaurants and interesting bars on the seafront. It was very cloudy so you can’t see the mountains behind Camps Bay very well.
Camps Bay has not always been such a fashionable neighborhood as it was once deemed too far from Sea Point Swimming Pool. With a beautiful beach and a narrow strip of land between the sea and the mountains, it was inevitable it would become a desirable place to live. This history reflects the history of the theatre, which used to be a flea pit cinema till someone saw the potential to turn it into an intimate theatre.
We arrived about 20 mins before the show was due to start. There were a lot of people inside enjoying drinks but it looked a little crowded and stuffy for us. Instead we went for a short walk along the beach front. There were clouds bringing rain so the sky was spectacular.
I kept forgetting to organise the tickets and finally booked about 2 days before the show. By this point there were roughly 4 tickets left for the Thursday showing and we opted for seats at the right side of the balcony. My view was slightly obscured by a light but I could still see the relevant action.
I am not a big Agatha Christie fan and this play was my Mom’s choice. I went because I enjoy the theater. Also I saw this play many years ago in London but couldn’t really remember what happened so I thought it would be interesting to see it again. For me the first act was a bit slow and boring. Also I found, with such a small intimate theater, the overacting typical of this type of show, a bit grating at times.
My Mom loved the show because it was very typical of Agatha Christie. Although even she commented that parts were a bit dated. To be fair, the show opened in the West End of London in 1952, and has been running continuously since then. The most notable example is how one of the owners of the guest house kept talking about opening tins to make food. I was appalled at the idea until Mom pointed out that in the 1950’s, this was the height of sophistication. No doubt this is why the guests were offered stewed fruit instead of a nice piece of chocolate cake.
Overall I enjoyed the play even if it wasn’t quite my taste. The theatre is in a great location and if I have a chance to visit again I would try to make more of a night of it with a meal or a few drinks.
I have been so busy the last few weeks that I have not been able to find time to write some planned posts. Covering Christmas and New Year in special posts this late in January starts to feel a bit sad so I will just do a quick review of the holidays.
This year it felt like Christmas was shorter than usual and I struggled to get into the mood. Part of the reason is that I only focused on planning for Christmas after the trip to Dubai which meant less time for Christmas shopping. Actually I did a lot more online shopping this year. Also with IT Guy scheduled to arrive just after Christmas I was more focused on that date. There were also a few job deadlines in December. Enjoying a work Christmas function is interesting when you have decided it is past time to move on.
I am sure many of my Northern Hemisphere readers will struggle with the idea of Christmas in summer. Regardless of the heat, my family, like many others has a big meal on Christmas Day. Having said that the heat does mean we have the option of doing some of our food on the braai (BBQ).
Everyone who attends contributes food. This year we had gammon, turkey and beef. There were two types of potato and two types of gravy. My sister also makes a lovely pumpkin pie and while we eat it as part of the main meal some might think it is more suitable for dessert. This year the weather was good so we ate on the patio, spent most of the day in the garden and even swam a few times.
The weather on New Year’s Eve was warm and sunny. (Last year it rained.) So IT Guy suggested a trip up Table Mountain. He has been wanting to go for a while because he really enjoyed our previous visit. He expected to be quiet because it was New Year’s Eve but of course with such good weather the mountain was very busy. We avoided the worst of the queues up by going in the afternoon.
We had a walk around the top of the mountain and were appalled by the amount of litter people left. I really can’t understand why people would travel to a place of outstanding natural beauty and think it is OK to leave drinks cans on the rocks. We stayed up to watch the sunset and caught one of the last cable cars down.
We got home in time to make a brief appearance and my neighbor’s house party. It was a lovely evening for sitting in the garden with a few drinks until midnight. Although it was busy at times I really enjoyed Christmas and New Year.
After the excitement of the Grand Prix we managed a few quiet days. Our next big adventure was a Dubai desert safari experience. Other than shopping this is one of the most common tourist activities in Dubai.
According to the travel websites there are a range of options but broadly speaking the more you pay the more you get. The more expensive trips even include gold-colored vehicles, it seems that matters to some people. IT Guy picked one of the bigger Dubai desert safari tour operators because regularly seeing their vehicles around Dubai gave him confidence the company was reputable.
IT Guy had arranged pick up at a hotel near where he lives. Of course bad timing with laundry meant we were watching the washing machine timer when we should have been catching a taxi. This meant a mad dash to the hotel and then of course we sat for 20 mins waiting for our car to arrive.
Our first stop inside the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve was a falconry display and I was amused to learn that the the falconer was South African. Near the end of the display the falcon settled on the dune and I think the falconer starting to worry about getting his bird back, fortunately she returned.
This was followed by dune bashing. For me it was the highlight of the trip but near the end IT Guy was struggling with car sickness. At least one of the vehicles had to stop. Fortunately for IT Guy we soon stopped to watch the sunset.
Then onto a Bedouin-style camp. We had our photos taken with a falcons. We also tried out the sandboarding although halfway up the dune I remembered how difficult sand is to walk in, and was regretting my decision. Sadly I can’t say the sandboarding down was worth the effort for me. We also had a short camel ride.
Once we got inside the camp we had just enough time to get a drink and then the starters were served. We found a nice spot around a fire and settled to enjoy our food and drinks. Our package included drinks so there were regular trips to the bar.
After we had eaten we both got henna tattoos. I was impressed at the speed with which the lady was able to draw a delicate pattern on my hand. Then we watched the end of the belly dancing. Once that was finished, the lights were turned out for 5 mins. A sad reflection of modern technology is that most people turned on their cell phone flashes which I felt spoilt the moment.
There were element of the trip that were very touristy. Still that is expected. Overall I really enjoyed the desert safari and I would recommend going if you visit Dubai.
Finally the day of the Grand Prix arrived. After a walk round the Pit Lane and having watched some Formula 2 I was definitely getting into the spirit of things.
The other advantage of having traveled to the Yas Island Circuit a few times is that it was easier for us to plan our trip to Abu Dhabi on the day of the Grand Prix. Well in theory anyway. We had to make a stop to collect a ticket for a friend and ended up taking a wrong turn. Interestingly the SatNav directed us through the Yas Mall car park.
Unfortunately we arrived too late to see the drive past with the racing car drivers. We caught a glimpse from the bus as we drove past the race track to our grandstand. After finding our seats in the Marina Grandstand we headed for the beer garden to chill out before the start of the race.
There was a fantastic atmosphere with everyone having fun. There was loud music and of course fans of the different teams dressed up to show who they supported. We returned to our seats in time to catch the fly by.
I have to admit that I was half expecting to get bored part way through the F1 race but in the end I found it really interesting. The race started with a rather spectacular crash but the driver was unharmed. IT Guy had showed me some videos about strategies related to tyre changes and the impact of the safety car so we considered what effect such an early use of the safety car would have. The next challenge was getting a few decent pics of fast cars.
In the top right of the above picture, is a corner which was very popular for overtaking. The challenge was watching for overtaking attempts and who would be ahead as they came out of the corner. Then the cars would come flying back past us and under the Yas Hotel. When the cars came back round we would be watching for more changes to the order from overtaking on other parts of the circuit. There was enough going on to keep me interested till the end of the race.
After the race ended we spent more time chilling out in the beer garden. We knew there was no need to rush to the Du Arena for the “Guns and Roses” concert.
This was the first time I had been to a Grand Prix and I really enjoyed it. Being able to attend a range of activities made for a fantastic experience and added to my enjoyment of the main race
One of the nice things about the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, at the Yas Marina Circuit, is that you can buy tickets which cover a wide range of events. We got a package that covered the 4 days starting with the Pit Lane Walk which meant we could see the cars up close.
After the Pit Lane Walk we headed for the beer garden for a drink and to enjoy the atmosphere. We managed to find some food although being late in the day our choices were somewhat limited. Still there was a really good atmosphere with everyone enjoying themselves. At some point some of the drivers were signing autographs.
Every evening there is an after race concert starting with Post Malone. So after eating we headed back to the bus stop to catch a bus to the Du Arena. We did stopping to get some photos with formula 2 cars. We got to the Arean there shortly after 6 pm when the gates opened so while the stadium was starting to fill we had to wait till 8 pm for the concert to start. The first part was a DJ. I guess we were showing our age because we decided it was way too loud and it was not worth waiting for Post Malone so we left. Nonetheless the concert was very popular and I’m sure most people would have enjoyed it.
On Friday we decided not to attend the F1 Grand Prix. It was mostly practice races and we were not very interested in the after race concert. IT Guy had some work to complete and I wanted to catch up on my sleep. It turns out this was a good choice because security decided to close the gates early and so there were riots with people pushing and shoving so the gates were reopened. I gather this kind of behavior in the UAE because the authorities are quick to clamp down on any trouble.
On Saturday we had planned to attend the qualifying race but we ended up watching IT Guy’s cricket team. Then we headed for Abu Dhabi and it seems like everyone was in the Grand Prix spirit with a lot of fast cars and also crazy drivers with aspirations to drive racing cars. We arrived in time for some Formula 2 racing. I found it a nice warm up for the Grand Prix because it was a chance to get an idea of what it would be like watching fast cars go round the Yas Marina Circuit. We quickly learned that there was a good view of one of the corners which was a good spot for overtaking so it was interesting to see which car would come out of the corner first.
Then we headed for the concert area. Sam Smith was performing and IT Guy was very keen to watch him live. I enjoyed the concert but I think IT Guy was a bit disappointed because he did not perform all of his best songs and did a lot of talking.
Overall I enjoyed the Grand Prix concerts and the atmosphere. Even if you are not interested in watching the F1 racing there is still a lot to do and it can be lots of fun.
One of the nice things about the Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi is that you can buy tickets that cover 4 days of activities starting on the Thursday. The main activity on Thursday is a Pit Lane Walk.
We were staying in Dubai so we drove to Abu Dhabi in the early afternoon which is about an hour’s drive. The tickets included parking in car park W. Typically we only decided to check which car park we were in as we drove past the turn-off for our car park. Naturally this meant we ended up going the long way round. We then managed to drive in the bus entrance and had to do a slightly dodgy stunt to park. Clearly we weren’t the only ones because when we returned later they had put extra cones out.
Thursday being relatively quiet there was a long line of buses ready to take passengers so we hopped on the first bus and were soon on our way. From there it was about a 10-15 min walk to get to the pit lane so by the time we arrived we only had an hour to look at the cars.
It was great because you could watch the guys working on the cars. We got really close to the cars and with a good zoom lens it was possible to get detailed picture of the fins. They are developed by the aerodynamics team to create downforce. The front wing is really important because it affects the airflow for the rest of the car.
It was very interesting watching the guys getting the cars ready. When we walked past the Red Bull team they were busy sorting out the suspension on the car. With most things looking very high tech it was rather amusing to see this process involved a hammer and guys sitting on the car.
Of course one of the most famous teams is Ferrari with the biggest fan base. So crowds were biggest in this area.
One of the key part of the preparation is to get technical approval of. Every so often a team would push their cars past us so then we really were very close. We were so focused on watching the guys working on the cars that I was a bit slow getting a decent photo.
This is the Haas team taking their car for inspection. Interestingly in the middle of the season the inspection found that leading edges in the middle of the car exceeded requirements by a few millimeters. This was enough for them to have points deducted. Fortunately this time it seems they did not have any issues.
The Williams team were making the most of a brief rest while they waited for the inspection.
I think it really does make things more interesting when you can see a bit of the background activity and see the cars close up. So I really like the way the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix provides tickets for a Pit Lane Walk
We woke in Tulbagh to find that it had rained a lot in the night. A pity because there are a few nice hiking routes in the area. Still like most people in Cape Town I am not going to complain about rain. We had seen a place in town advertising wine tasting so we decided to head there. Sticking with the theme from the day before it was closed.
So we decided to head on our way. Tulbagh is in a valley with a small pass to cross back over the mountain range we had crossed the day before. Then it was a long straight road with the mountains on the left as we headed through Wellington and into Paarl. And no, we didn’t feel the need to go to Paarl Mall again.
Instead we decided to head for the Spice Route which has a lot of craft places. The things to do include wine tasting, spirit tasting, craft beer tasting and chocolate tasting. We headed for the Barley and Biltong Emporium which I hadn’t been to before. A great choice for a winters day because there was a fire burning and a spectacular view from the window (I never thought to take any photos. I will blame the gin from the day before). IT Guy ordered a platter of biltong and cheese, and some beer. Biltong is a South African form of dried meat a bit like beef jerky but I believe much tastier. We also visited the craft chocolate place.
Then we drove to Franshoek which can be translated as a French corner because this is where the French Huguenots settled after escaping persecution for their Protestant beliefs. These days there is even a Bastille Day festival. Franshoek is a very pretty town with lots of restaurants and wineries however large parts are very posh and pretentious.
We parked on the main street and went looking for some cake and coffee. I picked a place based on the fact they claimed to have a chocolate mouse cake only they had sold out. I had the baked cheesecake but it was a bit dry and heavy so I was rather disappointed.
After cake we continued walking down the high street and then decided to return on the back roads. Part of the way back IT Guy noticed water running down one of the gutters. We were curious because it had not rained so we decided to follow the water. A little further up we noticed a lot of algae growing in the gutter suggesting a constant stream of water. We followed the water back to the main road at which point the water disappeared underground and we could not follow it any further, Perhaps someone reading this knows more about the origin of the water.
Then we headed for our guest house for the night. It had a really nice balcony so we were able to sit outside with a glass of wine enjoying the view. Then when it got dark we headed inside to watch a movie. Afterwards we headed back into town for a quick, light meal although we didn’t pick the best restaurant for that. Still we had a very nice day.
On Saturday we decided to head to one of the local wine farms for breakfast. There was a time when the main thing to do at the wine farms was wine-tasting but these days there is a lot more going on. This particular wine farm includes a Big Cat Sanctuary, a petting zoo and two restaurants.
The restaurant we chose has tables outside overlooking the gardens. The children in our group had fun running in the gardens and exploring although they were happier with a grown-up nearby, which gave me a change to get some photos.
The place offers a good choice of breakfast options, more than just posh versions of an English or a Continental breakfast. Most of us had the Eggs Benedict which was very tasty, when it finally arrived. While the food was good there is room for improvement with the service.
After breakfast we decided to have cake. Once again, I went for a chocolate cake. I do have a particular weakness for chocolate cake even though most places struggle to make a nice moist version. I would say this chocolate cake was very average. I’m glad we decided to share because I could not have eaten a whole slice on my own. The raspberry coulis on the baked cheesecake was very tasty.
Given the slow service it was getting rather late by the time we had finished eating. Of course it was not the sort of place where people expect to rush and we took turns walking round the gardens. We even watched part of a wedding and they certainly have a good wedding venue.
Then time for some gin. The gin bar offers a wide range of local craft gins and is in the classic cars showroom. They have a range of jaguars which can be rented. I have seen pictures of people drinking gin at the table, I wonder how you make that happen.
You can choose to have a single glass of gin or do one of their tastings. They have a wide range of South African craft gins to choose from. I’m not sure how I feel about being told they were impressed with my knowledge of craft gin. In a gin tasting you start by trying the gin neat. At this point I found the gins too strong and could only taste a slight difference in the spicy gin. Then they add garnish to bring out the flavour except they still tasted pretty much the same to me. Maybe because two of the gins were very similar. After adding tonic water and ice the drinks tasted much better. I found the pomegranate gin a bit strange because of the combination of sweet and sharp flavours. In the end I bought a bottle of the naartjie (applies to tangerines, mandarins and satsumas) gin because I thought it was nice and refreshing for the summer.
I am looking forward to another chance to visit this wine farm.