Monday, July 28, 2008

3 Reasons to...

...get married:
  1. You get a new ring, new clothes and new shoes.
  2. Lots of presents. I like presents.
  3. You get to go on a decadent, smoochie holiday.

...have children:

  1. You get to call them things like "Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii", "Fish and Chips" and "Sexfruit".
  2. You get to dress them in things like this.
  3. You get a pram to run over other (pramless) shopper's toes - with 'inadvertant' aggression.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

I own the 70s

Okay, I swear this is the last one for now. And now I feel obliged to add a piccie of Deaky, to show that I am not completely prejudiced towards fur and four paws. Although, I still maintain that Kemba is easier to cuddle than Deaky.

Am recovering from a 70s party last night. Fantastic theme, mostly because of my hair. While the rest of the guests were wearing afros (Mills looked like Sideshow Bob from The Simpsons), I simply blow-dryed my hair in the style that it usually takes on without my consent... The Farrah Fawcett-Lee-Majors.

Everybody else was hugely jealous of my locks, obviously. I was born a few decades too late. God, I wish the 1970 hairdos would come back for real (not just as a kitsch party trick).

In preparation for the 70s party, I went into town on Saturday morning to purchase a gift for the birthday girl. One gift, for her. That was the shopping list. I returned home with three pairs of new shoes, two tops, and a few other goodies. Cycling home with all the packets was fun. Mills asked me if I actually remembered to get anything for the birthday girl. My response... "What birthday girl...? Have you seen my new shoes?"

Focus. It's all about focus.

ps. the lion collection pictured with Deaky are remnants of the EK Oranjegekte earlier this year. Albert Heijne supermarkets handed them out with pretty much all purchases.

pps. Deaky can just be seen in the background. He loves the camera.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


How beautiful is this cat? So far, he's only spread his white fur on Mills's black suits and chewed on one of our potplants. He's also taken to hiding in amongst Mills's shoes. I think they (the cat and Mills, not the cat and shoes) have bonded already.
ps. Due to paranoia levels, Deaky has been shipped off to a fish-sitter.

pps. No, I am not turning into a crazy cat woman.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Vegetables, animals and anniversaries

In the news this week: Summer makes a comeback. Standing in 14 degrees with wind and rain, while waiting for the bus this afternoon, I'm still hoping.

We spent the weekend at the Gentsefeesten - Europe's second biggest (yet, surprisingly almost unheard of) festival held in Gent. Belgium beer, chocolates, waffles, good food, great music, street performers and generally a great vibe. Highly recommended if you're in the region in July. I did feel my age after walking the festival streets for 12 hours... I was just too grumpy to be jostled in the tented dancefloor. Call me Cinderella - I apparently turn into some sort of vegetable at midnight.

In other news, NCF asked me to be one of her bridesmaids. I am deeeelighted. I may not be interested in my own wedding, but I do enjoy a good marital celebration!

Speaking of marital status, the Sheltered South African Kid is engaged. Well not really engaged. Maybe more betrothed. Or pre-engaged. I'm not sure. It all seems a bit Standard 3-ish to me. She and her almost-sort of-fiancee celebrated their 5 month anniversary recently and he asked her to be his premarital partner... sort of a commitment before a commitment. They decided to do the pre-engagement route because, and I quote, "they don't want to rush things."

I can see that. Especially as they're celebrating each month as an anniversary. All five of them.

Mills and I were always very boring. We ignored the months until they added up to years. Then we celebrated the first two and lost interest in that (well, technically Mills spoilt me with gifts, while mine weren't quite as thoughtful). Since then our anniversaries have been the less conventional, "five years, huh? Long time. Did you remember to get milk on your way home?"

We're so romantic. I like it.

Oooh, in other other news, Mills and I will be cat-sitting for the next 2 weeks. My colleague is going on holiday and needs someone to take in Kemba, her beautiful white and grey cat. Of course, I jumped at the chance. Mills was not thrilled but my enthusiasm drowned out his cynicism. Kemba arrives tomorrow.

My question is: will Kemba eat Deaky?

Monday, July 14, 2008

How to win friends and influence people

When arriving at (yet another) company event with Mills's colleagues, I try to introduce myself from the start. We meet so many expats, people who are just visiting, people who have just arrived or people who are back on business, that it's difficult to keep up with who's who. I start with my name and my relation to the person who actually works in the company. I find this has been a good way to avoid the awkward, "should I know you, do you work for XXX company?"

So at the recent BBQ on Saturday, I confidently marched up to the first group of people I didn't recognise, stuck out my hand and announced, "Hi, I'm Koekie. I'm Mills's boyfriend."

Step One: Introduce yourself as the wrong gender.

Having got over that little hurdle (I didn't speak to the particular group again, and I noticed, they didn't make my effort in my direction either), I stuck to talking with people I know. I was engrossed in one such conversation, and was aware of a screaming child having a temper tantrum somewhere in our vicinity. It was noisy and I was doing a good job of blocking the crying child out. What I didn't realise was that said-screaming child was having said-screaming fit directly behind us. I found this out when I took a small step back, and ACCIDENTLY trod on his precious blonde locks. Which were, in my defence, right behind my goddamn foot. Not surprisingly, child screamed harder. Where were his parent's through this? Oh, they were hovering over him and politely asking him to please calm down and stop making such a scene. That worked out well.

Step Two: Abuse children in full view of other guests.

Once the parents finally decided to remove screaming child from the middle of the social gathering, we could get back to adult conversation. In the throes of a no doubt highly entertaining and intellectual argument, I flailed my arms around to make my point. Unfortunately flailing hand connected with another guest's boob, who happened to be walking past at that stage. My hand landed, palm-open, on her left breast. At least a D-cup, I reckon. They were pretty hard to miss.

Step Three: Inappropriately grope other guests.

We left shortly after that. I don't know why, I had only embarrassed myself in front of a quarter of the crowd. I was just gaining momentum!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Near death experience

"Today, ah nearly daaaaied..." Okay, maybe not "died" but I nearly got hurt. Okay, it doesn't sound dramatic anymore, but it could've been way worse than a dented desk drawer.

You see, I sit at the end of our office, under the large round clock. I love that clock. It reminds me of a good ol' fashioned train station clock - the kind that you can see from the far end of the platform. And up until 1.15 this afternoon, that clock has never shown any signs of giving in to gravity.

I know the exact time because that's when it decided to lose it grip on the wall, fall to the shelf below, smash a glass vase behind my head and bounce to the ground, taking out my desk drawers and landing 10cm from my right ankle.

The whole episode was accompanied by much crashing, smashing and other heavy noises as the timepiece made its way to the ground. Everyone in the office came rushing to the source of the noise.

I was pretty sure what was happening behind me, but as there is not much space to move, I had nowhere to go. I also realised that if I pushed my chair back to stand up, I would probably move INTO the clock's path. And so, I froze. With very wide eyes, waiting for something to hit me.

The noise stopped and the clock came to a halt at the ground by my feet. My chair was surrounded by smashed glass and broken furniture and I hadn't been touched. My colleagues cleared the mess and wheeled my chair away. I don't think I could've stood up if I tried. That massive clock almost landed on me.

Having witnessed the whole event, my manager now concedes that things do "just break" around me. He bought me a lovely giftset of a bottle of Baileys and two Baileys glasses as compensation for my near-miss.


Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Get on the barge, Marge

Bum to bum, crotch to crotch, or (if you really want spice things up) crotch to bum... which one is more appropriate when squeezing past your boyfriend's family members?

This was a dilemma frequently visited over the last weekend on the recent family get-together. Why a narrow boat/barging experience in the rural region of Milton Keynes, I hear you ask? Keep right on asking, cos I ain't too sure either.

The trip started out with a practise run as Mills and I arrived the night before boarding, sharing a matchbox-size apartment in London with his sister, her boyfriend and his parents. We ended up sleeping on a blow-up mattress under the dining room table (not all of us, obviously), which is ironically where his sister and her boyfriend ended up sleeping on the barge (okay, they were sleeping ON the dining room table, but that's just detail).

We were meeting the oldest sibling and his wife on the barge the following afternoon, which would complete the set. Eight noisy, opinionated adults on one narrow barge for three nights.


Before getting on board, we were shown a highly educational video, which included long, drawn-out sequences of happy people smoothly barging through beautiful sunsets, and short split-second shots of random stuff, like the correct knot for mooring the boat and specific technique to rudder steering. The video ended the soothing voiceover, "all you need for a successful barging holiday, is common sense."

And I thought, hmmmm...

All aboard, and there was a mad rush for the bed allocation. Three double beds and one dining table/bed. Being last onboard, Kj and her boyfriend lost that fight. The double bed/dining table was easy enough to construct. All you had to do was take the table lid off, remove the legs, replace them with shorter legs, pull the first cushion out, remove the wooden seat underneath, remove the third cushion to make way for the second cushion, pull two doves out of your right sleeve and click your heels three times. Voila! One times double bed and nowhere to store the kettle, cups and saucers.

With access to the tiny kitchen, the first thing we did was set fire to our afternoon tea. Four-minute croissants become highly flammable when left under the grill. And we hadn't even gone anywhere yet.

After a few false starts, we made it out of our marina and were on the Grand Union Canal. The plan was to potter for a few hundred metres and find somewhere to moor overnight. The instructional video stated, with grand common sense, that you should moor on the righthand side where possible. The in-laws poo-pooed this idea and decided that over there on the lefthand side, next to the pretty horses and on top of the shallow sandbank, was much nicer.

Why go for an easy mooring spot on your first attempt?

So, while the horses strolled up to see what was going, Mills and The Bald Eagle tried to pull the 70-ft long barge closer to the bank in order to moor. Standing on the bank and pulling on one end just meant that the barge was becoming more stranded across the narrow canal. Fortunately there wasn't much traffic at 8pm, but then I wouldn't really know because I was too busy tucking into the gin below deck.

An hour later, we were off the sandbank, back in deeper water, and The Eagle and Mills had shredded several layers of clothing and most of their dignity in order to wade back onto the boat. At 10pm, two hours after 'canal etiquette' suggests engines should be turned off, we finally moored on the right handside of the canal. I would've said, "I told you so" but I was too busy finishing a bottle of rose.

We hadn't even gotten to the locks yet.

The next morning was a much better start. Less bashing into embankments, narrow bridges and other barges and more aiming to the right. I started to relax and eased my grip on the neck of the gin bottle. Common sense, it seemed, would prevail after all.

The Bald Eagle made short work of that confidence, by falling headfirst into the canal - between the narrow gap of boat and bank. He didn't stay in for long as embarrassment and the thought of excrement propelled him out of the canal faster than he fell in.

And then came the locks.

Let it be known, I am a wus. I am claustrophic, agoraphobic, hydrophic and scared of the dark. So when it comes to sailing upstream and facing a wall of water held back by very creaky wooden gates, I was determined not to be on board. We approached the first lock, and I confidently scrambled across the lock gates winding and dropping sluices like a pro. It started to rain, so I ran back downhill and jumped on our barge to get my raincoat. Unfortunate timing, as I climbed onboard without noticing that we were preparing to set off for the lock.

I came out of the front of the boat, just as we were entering the downstream lock. Stuck between two very high concrete walls, and facing a wall of water that was about to be emptied into our cage, I was not a happy camper. Especially at the hands of a family who think that 'protocol' is something that applies to other people. In fact, I think I did very well not to cry. Needless to say, I made sure I was well clear of the boat leading up to every lock after that.

Nightmare of a holiday, right? Confined space, in-laws, shared facilities and treacherous amounts of water.... horror.

Negative, Maverick. I actually enjoyed it. In fact, I would highly recommend it. Yes, the narrow boat is dimensionally challenged, to say the least. And I would avoid sharing this holiday with anyone who vaguely grates your carrot. But, even in the rain, it is a very peaceful means of escaping it all. You cannot rush. Barges are not known for their speed. You cannot make the lock fill up faster than Mother Nature intended. Even if you try to open the lock gates before the water has equalised (as KK did - at every lock), the water pressure simply will not allow it. And KK has Madonna arms, so if she can't do it... no one can.

I never thought I would say this, but I wouldn't mind going barging again... maybe not in the near future (I'm still swaying slightly), but sometime, maybe, again.


Wednesday, July 02, 2008


On Monday afternoon (shortly before I set off to purposefully crash into some dipshit's back wheel), I watched a tram run over a car. The tram was turning the corner, very diligently following the tram tracks, when a 4x4 tried to squeeze through the inside gap. The car lost.

This was shortly after another car drove into a different tram at the same intersection, going in a different direction. Two in one day.

This morning, yet another tram on different tracks on the SAME intersection hit a car trying to get across the road. This is the intersection that we can see from our office. Front row seats if you will. I keep a bucket of popcorn just for these occassions.

I've seen bikes hit by cars, bikes hit (and swallowed underneath) by trams, cars hit by cars, cars hit by trams. I've also watched a tram being craned back onto the tracks, after being knocked off the rails by a car. That was a goodie.
This afternoon, a car hit a scooter. More squealing of tyres, thud, shouting, sirens.

That's three calls to the police in the last 48 hours. Three times the same intersection was chevron-taped off. And they do love to cordon things off here... I think monthly policing targets are based per metre of chevron tape used.

This intersection is just ridiculous.