Remembering June Lockdown

What can I say about June in the time of Corona? By this time we were starting to lose our sense of humour, seriously. The virus was raging, numbers rising. It was cold and wet, and booze was suddenly unavailable again. We were warned the virus would get worse before it got better and the few bookings I was still holding for September and October were cancelled. I started wondering if I would have any work at all for the rest of the year.

I seldom ventured out; saw a friend once – for a walk outdoors, keeping masks on – and became very tired of home cooking. I was grateful to not live alone. My companions and I started getting on each others’ nerves but the good times were worth the bad ones. Caring friends continued reaching out with phone calls and check-ins. I did the same to others that I knew would be anxious, alone, stressed. We’d have long conversations, boost each other, encourage each other, and offer advice and help.

It takes a plague to see who your true friends are and I can testify to that.

After years of drought, this winter decided to make up for lost time. In this region we have wet winters, as opposed to the savanna up north where they enjoy wet summers. Cape Town is lovely but sometimes disgusting winter weather. It’s really awful – cold and wet, the rain falls sideways because of the wind, and we have storms coming in from the ocean that have turned the coastlines into a graveyard of ships.

So, one night, in the first of two very bad storms, my bedroom ceiling started collapsing. If it had been any other room I might have been tempted to just ignore it and continue spending most of my days in bed with Netflix and depression. But the bedroom, my sanctuary, above my bed? Had to be fixed. Luckily, my 2 lockdown inmates are very tall men who did an amazing repair job. They did it all despite not having the right tools and by improvising with various items such as a tripod, a strip of wooden fencing, various other bits and bobs, and an amazing type of rude glue, photographed below.

And walks .. oh my god, finally, some proper walks with the dogs. What an absolute joy it was to get out and walk in nature again, to see the dogs run free. Things like that we take for granted until we don’t have them.

Last thing .. ending off with yet another link to my crowdfunding page wherein I try to save my business. Any assistance will be greatly appreciated.

Disclaimer: I have no control over any advertising on these blog entries and derive no benefit from them.

Lockdown memories, May

My dog Vida on her bed. She kindly allows me to sleep in it every night. Note the raised paw – she knows a cuddle is imminent.

As May arrived and Covid-19 continued to ravage the world, we at the tip of Africa entered the last month of autumn. You call it ‘fall‘ in the US because that’s what the leaves do, right? I love autumn because it’s still very warm but tree colours are lovely and sunsets seem to reflect those colours. Unless you’re stuck at home and can’t get to the forest or special places where you normally admire the autumn leaves.

Guess who loved lockdown? Guess who loved it very much and didn’t have the possibility of being infected? Guess who doesn’t have to wear a mask or sanitise or wash hands or do anything different? Dogs! That’s who.

Lockdown from a dog’s point of view was pure heaven. The humans were home all the time. The humans were needy and prone to repeated cuddling. The humans never pushed them away because of wearing a clean special dress or delicate fabric. Humans spent extra time in the kitchen and there were all sorts of things falling from the counter – hullo, do you know how much cheese this house went through? The humans even spent many extra hours in bed – sometimes entire days!!!! Ok, so walks were fewer and maybe even sometimes boringly around the block on a lead instead of favourite places like the beach or the forest where they could run off leash. But hey, having your human home all day long, that’s a dogs perfect life.

Yeah, Covid-19 was good for dogs.

Sweets …. I munched on a lot of sweets during lockdown. These are pretty and colourful and they’re called jelly beans.

When the strictest lockdown was eased in May, one of the luxuries available was food deliveries. Restaurants were still months away from opening, but deliveries were possible. My son’s lovely friend Anne-Charlotte who lives in Toulouse, France, arranged a lovely care-gift for us. What a treat it was! These gorgeous items below, and some not shown such as a marvellous farm-bread and a chicken pie. The red mask is mine, my son got a green one. It was gestures like this that made life bearable. My industry was decimated, my income was zero, but someone somewhere made a loving gesture.. we felt the love.

I’ve been very grateful for my garden and I can’t imagine how hard it must be to be cooped up inside an apartment, as many people were. The fencing off of certain sections is to prevent the dogs from trampling things as they rush through to shout at passers-by in the street.

See previous post – this was a May braai. The famous boerewors, chicken, and sweet potato (yam) cooked on the fire wrapped in foil, served with a big blob of butter. Yum.
We baked an excessive quantity of muffins, of every flavour. This is choc-chip. Many miniature ones and one large one for fun.
And as winter approached, it became cold and I wore my onesie. I love it to bits and have no shame, especially when I know lockdown means no-one will drop in unexpectedly.

And, as all my posts end these days – my continued appeal for your assistance to save my business before the bank does its dirty deed of repossessing my minibus. Read about it here:

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Lockdown, memories of month one – April 2020.

April was all about food wasn’t it? My mood swings were off the charts. One minute I was convinced we would be up and running again in no time, like perhaps July. I envisaged winter tourists doing winter tourism – safaris up north where it doesn’t rain in winter and the lions roam far for food, walking the streets of Cape Town – where it does rain in winter, a lot – on my history city tours, sitting huddled in front of a fireplace at wineries tasting red wine and eating gourmet meals.

Normal life, in other words.

But it was not to be. Lockdown went on and on and on. The regulations and details changed, easing up a bit. We were allowed out for 3 hours every morning to exercise. No-one was impressed with that because it was from 6 to 9 am and the sun only rises at 7,30 in winter. Alcohol sales were forbidden for months. Even tobacco products were forbidden – smokers went nuts and landed up spending 10 times as much money on bootleg rubbish. Drug dealers changed product range overnight, who can blame them?

And we baked and baked and cooked and ate and braaied. That’s what we call a bbq in South Africa – a braai. We do it throughout the year, come rain or shine, and we do a fabulous job of it, too. We’re very proud of our braais and I don’t know any other country that does it as well as we do. We don’t use gas, that’s for sissies, we use an open fire with wood and charcoal, or just wood. And when the food is cooked the braai-master (because there can only be one person in charge, no-one interferes) might keep adding wood to the fire to keep everyone warm and lend a camping atmosphere.

We braai beef steak, lamb chops (especially Karoo lamb which is the best), pork chops, pork sausages, and the ultimate South African item: boerewors. It translates directly into ‘farmer’s sausage’. These are rather thick sausages, slightly spicy, and very juicy. Seriously, if you are ever invited to a bbq by a South Africa, especially IN South Africa, and you say no, then you are either a vegan or missing out on the treat of your life. Just do it! Read more here.

In the baking department we did not bake banana loaf – I have no idea why that became such a thing but we baked a host of other cakes – lemon meringue, carrot cake, sponge cake, chocolate cake and the family favourite clafoutis. I did buy yeast when it was finally available in the shops, and it’s still in the grocery cupboard waiting for me. It could wait a very long time.

In the meantime, here is the link to my crowdfunding campaign. I’ve set it up to save my business. Please note that even just 10 dollars is a lot of money when converted to my currency, South African Rands! Thank you so much in advance.

Clafoutis close up – can be made with any fruit but one of my favourites is apricot.
Lemon meringue cake
Pork chop braai – I love it when the fatty bits of the chop get a bit burnt.

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Heritage Day 24/9

Mzolis

The most famous ‘braai’ restaurant in the Cape. This is not just a restaurant, it’s an experience.

 

This country’s come a long way from the days of slavery, colonialism, 50 years of legalised racism, then a few skirmishes in the years between Nelson Mandela’s release from prison and his inauguration as President in 1994 when the country was finally a real democracy. Now we’re all united and happy, we no longer see colour, we treat everyone as equals and we love our government.

Not really, actually.

20 years is just a moment in history so we’ve a long way to go and we’ll never be a perfect nation because there’s no such thing.

In the meantime, we have Heritage Day – 24 September. This is the day on which we should reflect on our heritage, what it means to each of us, who we are, who we want to be, and how we relate to each other. This isn’t easy for 50 million people as diverse as this rainbow nation. There are people in this country who have never left their village, there are whites who have never had a black friend and don’t even know any black people except their staff, there are people who speak 6 of the 11  official languages, there are some who speak only one, there are people who know nothing about others’ cultures, there are people who are scared of other cultures. We are many, we are diverse, and the country is huge.

So what do we have in common? Is there any ONE thing that we all have in common?

Yes! A deep abiding love of cooking meat on an open fire. Everyone does it, absolutely everyone. And often, very often. Not just in summer when we want to entertain friends. In all seasons, in any weather, with anyone. We call it a ‘braai‘ which is the Afrikaans word for .. well.. cooking meat on an open fire. Everyone uses the same word, everyone does it pretty much the same way and there are very very few who don’t like it. And we do it damn well, too – none of those little sausages and patties, no siree .. steak and chops and our very own unique sausage called a ‘boerewors‘ – Afrikaans word for ‘farmer’s sausage’ – it’s thick, it’s slightly spicy and it’s always included.

So that’s why tomorrow’s holiday was unofficially, and with some controversy, declared National Braai Day.  There is still controversy and many detractors because too many people are forgetting the original reason for this public holiday, but that’s the South African way. We tend to not take too much notice of the symbolism and reason for a day off work. We just head for the beach, or light a fire.

Here’s another take on South Africa’s Favourite Pastime with photos of actual food!

welcome

This is also part of our heritage – people who live in shacks, have satellites for television, and who welcome visitors.

heritage

Unfortunately, poverty is still part of our heritage. This photo was taken a year ago and these shacks have now been replaced with decent housing.

 

Disclaimer

A note to all accidental visitors:

I am not a photographer and do not claim to have any particular skills whatsoever in that department. I have enormous respect for those who can see the potential in a scene and can create a great photo. Good photography is an art, in my opinion.

I am just a happy snapper, I have no special lenses or accessories, my camera is very simple and it's usually best to leave the setting on auto.

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