New Blog Update

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

The Mousetrap in Cape Town

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.

A picture of the shops and restaurants on the seafront at Camps Bay

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.

A picture of some buildings meant to give an idea of how small the theatre on the bay is

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.

Camps Bay Seafront

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.

Christmas and New Year in South Africa

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.

People queuing to go up Table Mountain

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.

Breakfast, Gin and Classic Cars

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.

Eggs benedict for breakfast

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.

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.

Classic cars jaguar

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.

South African craft gin

I am looking forward to another chance to visit this wine farm.

Lunch in Stellenbosch

I have found a very nice spot for lunch in Stellenbosch.  There are a lot of good restaurants and coffee shops in the touristy part of town but I do like the option of going to a restaurant in the botanical gardens.

The restaurant is called the Katjiepiering and is named after one South Africa’s oldest garden plants.  An example of the species, Gardenia jasminoides can be found growing in pots near the door.  As an English speaker I am more familiar with the name Gardenia for this plant and only recently learnt that the Afrikaans name is Katjiepiering.  This plant is also native to parts of Asia and the Afrikaans name was derived from the Malay name “Kachapirang” or “Catshopiri”.  The Afrikaans culture and language has many Malay influences as a result of slaves that were brought over from Indonesia by the Dutch.

A picture of a Katjiepiering or Gardenia in a pot

The restaurant has a very nice setting in the Stellenbosch University Botanical Garden.  One of these days I will make time to explore more of the garden than just the path to the restaurant.  The Botanical Garden looks very very interesting and is of course a great place to learn a bit more about some of South Africa’s local plants.

Botanical garden

When the weather is good you can sit outside in the shade which includes an old gum tree and umbrellas.  When the weather is bad there is a small seating area indoors.

The Katjiepiering

The food is good and reasonably priced for what you get.  I think the portion sizes are good for a light lunch which is what you want when the weather is good.  When I visited a few days ago it very hot.  It has been for a few days now.  It seems like Cape Town went from winter to summer in about 2 weeks.  I’m sure that within a month we went from using the gas heater to swimming outdoors.  The temperature change has been quite a shock because it is not normally so hot in October.

Anyway because of the heat I decided to have the Cajun Chicken salad which was very tasty.  The cajun spices balance nicely with lettuce and cucumber.  I found it a little too spicy but then I’m not very good with hot food so I thing most people will be happy with level of spiciness for a salad.  Having had a salad I was feeling virtuous and decided that it would be OK to finish the meal off with some chocolate cake.

So I think the Katjiepiering is a good place for lunch in Stellenbosch and if you have time you can take a bit of time to enjoy the Botanical Garden.

 

 

 

The Chocolate Festival

Of course with so little notice of IT Guy’s arrival we did not have much time to make plans.

The first morning of his visit I needed to take care of a few work things before making some plans for his visit.  He was keen the Chocolate Festival in Stellenbosch and I found a Jazz Festival the following day so I suggested we spend a few days in the area. Normally I would aim to go to an event like the Chocolate festival when it opened but by the time we were ready to leave it was too late for that.  There there was a long queue to get into wine farm where the festival was being held.  I think we queued for about 20 mins to get parked.

Which of course meant that there were crowds everywhere including for the food vans as it was lunchtime when we arrived.  We headed for the building which housed the chocolate festival and after a bit of pushing and shoving we managed to get some chocolate covered strawberries from the fountain.  Then I had a cheese platter, it was very tasty but I would have liked more bread or crackers.  IT Guy had opted for a pie when we stopped for petrol, which seemed a bit wrong to me. Typical of many of these things there was not enough seating so we had to eat standing up.

We found a stand doing very nice gin cocktails based on various flavors of tonic.  There didn’t seem to be enough choice of chocolate to justify the title but maybe this was because I was already familiar with most of the brands (maybe I shouldn’t admit that) although I did find a very nice chocolate spread (without nuts) and some tasty chocolate.  So I ended up back at the chocolate fountain for a waffle.  Then we got some drinks and IT Guy found a table because the placed had started to empty a bit.  We sat for a while enjoying each other’s company, the good weather and the atmosphere.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Our guest house was only about 10 mins away so we stopped there briefly to check in and they recommended Paarl Mall for some food.  After snacking on various things we were definitely in need of a decent meal.

It was lovely day and while this kind of festival can get a bit expensive I the weather and the atmosphere made for a very nice day.

 

The Future of Heartbreak and Hope

This started out as a blog about online dating but since I met IT Guy I have deleted all my dating profiles.  Of course one can never be completely sure how long a relationship will last but right now the signs are good.  I’m sure anyone who has been following my blog for a while will have noticed that it has been evolving.  So I figured it was time to clarify the future of Heartbreak and Hope.

I have always found that writing is a great way of organizing my thoughts and making plans to sort out problems.  I could continue with a more personal journal about my search for a job and some of the challenges with a long-distance relationship.  Blogging about a job hunt seems rather dull and fraught with risks that something will come back to haunt me.  Plus, at the start I was aiming for something more lighthearted and entertaining.

I have already decided to be more cautious about what I share about IT Guy.  I want to be able to share this blog with him so it was frustrating that I published a post about the challenges of staying in touch a few days before he made his last-minute visit.  An important topic I had not been able to discuss with him was the most recent post which made sharing the blog rather awkward.

Also one of the goals of this blog was to learn more about blogging.  I had been trying to think of a topic for a while before I got the idea of an online dating blog.  This has been great for learning more about blogging and over time I have been using more features.  Another issue that has been bothering me is that the web address and title of my blog do not match.  For a while I have been thinking about starting a fresh blog.  Something without the online dating and allows me to share my name and face.

My dream is a joint project with IT Guy.  He has been doing websites for work and his cricket club so he knows a lot of about the with the technical aspects and marketing.  The first challenge is actually being able to show him my current blog.  I suspect he is going to find loads of things to fix.

And the content, you must be wondering by now.  I like the idea of a travel and lifestyle blog.  Something with a bit of humor and the odd ‘it didn’t really go according to plan‘ story.  Fun stories that give more of a sense of the experience of places I visit.  Nothing too serious there are plenty of websites that specialise in facts and figures.

For now I will continue writing here.  It will give me a chance to figure out the content, writing style and timing for a new blog.  Please feel free to let me know which posts you like and what you think of where this blog is going.

 

 

 

 

An Evening at the V&A Waterfront

The weather in Cape Town is steadily improving and last night the weather was perfect for sitting outside and where better to go than the V&A Waterfront.  Part of the harbor has been converted into a big development which includes shops, restaurants, hotels and housing.

When we first moved back to Cape Town in 1990 they had just finished the first phase of the development.  There used to be a place that did really nice ice-creams so we would go and get an ice-cream, have a walk around and watch the boats.  It is still a working harbor.  I also found it interesting looking at scale model of what was then a proposed development.

These days it is very popular especially when the weather is good.  While the V&A Waterfront caters to wealthy people there are still options for those with less money.  You can walk around looking at the different places and soaking up the atmosphere.  There is even an amphitheater that offers free entertainment although a cynic could argue this is a cunning ploy to encourage you to spend at the nearby restaurants.

the amphitheater at the waterfront

One of the things I love about the V&A Waterfront is that it is still a working harbor and there is a lot of activity with boats and yachts coming and going.  This part of harbor even includes the dock which would have taken numerous political prisoners including Nelson Mandela to Robben Island although these days the trips to Robben Island leave from another part of the harbor.

There are many restaurants overlooking the harbor and last night we went to Quay 4.  It has been there ever since I have been going to the V&A Waterfront.  I also remember it as a popular drinking spot many people while still at school even though they might not have reached the legal drinking age.  We sat on the top deck which give a nice view of the harbor

a view of the waterfront from Quay 4

It made an interesting start to the evening when I ordered an Appletiser (a soft drink) and the waiter had to clarify if I wanted one of their cocktails, an Apple-thai-zer.  Although I did later have a gin cocktail called a Blue Moon which was very tasty but not the poshest looking cocktail.  I also had a very tasty Salmon dish.

a food photo showing a plate of Salmon

Overall I had a very nice evening and would definitely recommend a visit to the V&A Waterfront.

 

 

 

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.

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.