Hail to the shop assistants!

Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic healthcare workers have been lauded, for doing their job. Okay so they didn’t sign up for a pandemic but they did sign up for sickness and risk, and they are trained professionals. I applaud them for the continued efforts, for not giving up, for going back into the field even when exhausted or after recovering from the virus themselves.

But supermarket staff? They didn’t sign up for anything dangerous. In South Africa they are not even paid a living wage. One supermarket chain pays its workers so badly it one 290 years to earn what her boss was paid in a month.

With the exception of some high-end stores, most shop assistants in this country are surly, rude, and not ever likely to do anything for you beyond roughly swiping your groceries along the scanner. Who can blame them for not being thrilled with their lot in life? What do they actually have to be happy about? Nothing. They work very long hours, earn peanuts, receive very little in the way of benefits, and most of them live so far from their place of work that they can easily spend 2 hours in disgusting dangerous public transport to reach their work. And when they get home there is no help for them to guide kids with homework, to prepare supper, to do the laundry, and in many instances to endure domestic violence.

They’ve worked throughout the pandemic so that we could have food and other consumables. Lucky for us, the people who work in the retail stores have continued to be there. I’m not referring to the owners of the stores, those who take the profit, but the poor sods who ring up your stuff and get nothing extra for working in a pandemic, except droplets of virus from the customers.

No-one clapped for them. No one arranged videos and public outpourings of gratitude.

How else would we have eaten for 10 months? Who stacked the shelves full of toilet paper that we suddenly needed in massive quantities? Who loaded and unloaded the delivery trucks and shelves and warehouses? Millions and millions of retail workers, that’s who!

Thank you to anyone who works in retail, especially those who come into contact with the public and their droplets and bad attitude. And a special thank you to those who were not always empowered by their companies to enforce the safety protocols to safeguard them.

Thank you to all supermarket staff, and especially my local surly ladies at Checkers!

Only one photo today. The lovely Kirstenbosch Botanical gardens with agapanthus in the foreground.

Ending off as usual, with a link to my crowdfunding campaign. Thanks in advance for any contributions.

Reconciliation, corona style

Today is a holiday – Day of Reconciliation – in South Africa. It’s also the start of the annual holidays for many people which, in the case of 2020, will be a holiday unlike any other. For some it may be the last holiday they ever have, or it could be the last with their elderly parents or grandparents. Sounds harsh, doesn’t it? Well, that’s how the President put it when he addressed the nation the other day (we refer to these national addresses as ‘family meetings’ now).

In the latest address new Covid safety measures were announced. For the first time, certain regions have regulations specific to each region. It’s harsh and many will not spend their holiday at the beach as they normally do, but if they obey the rules, it will be only for this year, and next year they can live normally again. If they had obeyed the rules months ago, this would probably not be happening.

I am angry at, and extremely impatient and scornful of, those who are upset at this new beach ban. They asked for it, they themselves have spread the virus. Many others like myself have been stuck at home, unable to work, unable to have fun, stressed, bored and fearful for almost a full year so that they can gad about breaking the rules, acting carelessly and endangering everyone else.

And now it’s teenagers testing positive in their thousands because their parents have taught them nothing. It’ll be hard for me to ever have respect and understanding of youthful ways again. This might well turn me into that crabby old lady who hates the youth of today. Who is going to want to enter the healthcare field after all this? Who would want to work with the public if your own customers bring sickness?

Anyway, that rant is over. I am staying put these holidays, of course. Walks with the dogs (my local beaches are staying open so I’ll venture out to one or two isolated ones), reading, Netflix, gardening, eating, same old same old as this whole year. I am not inclined to cook anything festive but I would love a gammon, preferably one that is already cooked, which I believe is hard to find and costs a fortune. My lockdown inmates might not even all be here, but we will probably braai / bbq a lot. And all I want Santa to bring me is a contribution to my fund campaign as link below.

So anyway, what is the Day of Reconciliation? Many South Africans don’t know, they only see it as the end of the working year. The 16th was a holiday for a very long time but changed to Reconciliation in 1994 in an attempt to unite the people of this country after the turbulent years of apartheid and before that colonialism. It hasn’t really worked, sad to say. Many people still see their fellow citizens as ‘others’ and ‘they’.

People do not know each other. They don’t understand each others’ customs and habits. They don’t know each others’ history. Black people know what it’s like to be white because they’ve worked for whites all their lives, for hundreds of years, but the majority of white people have never been to a black township or inside a black person’s home.

Many white people have no black friends. Many black people have no white friends. How then can we reconcile the segregated past? My understanding and knowledge of what black people think and feel has come directly from them. I asked, they answered, it was not always easy-listening, but it was needed. I have black friends, how can one not?

The political power in this country is held by black people, but the economic power is still held by whites – the stats show this quite clearly when you see that the biggest fortunes in the country are almost all white. Attitude also plays a big role .. as long as white people still see themselves as entitled to a good life while their black servants do their bidding, there is little unity and no understanding of the ‘other’.

People generally do not like to read this sort of thing. People do not have this conversation. They avoid it. And so of course nothing changes. It doesn’t help of course that the state has dragged its corrupt and incompetent heels on land reclamation claims and building affordable housing for the poor.

Wow, two rants in one post. Note to self: make next post as light as possible.

Let’s go light and fluffy with photos of food and the garden.

No wonder I’ve put on so much weight – lockdown baking: carrot cake, bread and butter pudding, apple clafoutis. Three oft repeated acts in this household, especially that last one because it’s soooo easy to make.

Above: look at the poppy that is still creased from unfurling, and also the white one in a sea of red. Below: duranta with its lovely drooping purple flowers that smell of vanilla and caramel. On the right, nasturtiums incongruously growing up an aloe ferox in which rests an animal skull found in the Karoo.

No tourists, no income. No income, no payment to the bank for my minibus. Hence, a crowdfund campaign to save it from the bank’s greedy jaws. Many thanks for any contributions.

We struck Gold!

Phil at Gold

After two postponements we finally got to Gold Restaurant last night for an African evening of drumming, food and dance. One of the perks of my job is being invited to try stuff like nice hotels and restaurants so that I can include them in my tours. Love it!

I hadn’t told Phil that the evening was to start with a drumming session and it turned out to be a perfect surprise – he’s under pressure at the moment so he gave that drum a good hiding. Our hands were red and very sore afterwards but it was lekker to make all that noise in time with all the other people – we brought the roof down, man! When the session was over I went to look at our lovely instructor’s hands – wow, talk about callouses! Phil wants to join a drumming group now but he didn’t see that man’s hands.

Then it was yummy time. The meal consists of 14 courses … everything was absolutely delicious … mostly small tapas size bites of different foods from various African countries. We polished off a bottle of excellent Rickety Bridge Shiraz while we worked our way through all the dishes being brought to the table one after the other. My mouth is watering as I write this and I could kill for a plateful of the Moroccan chicken pie.

During the meal a Malian dance group entertained us with singing, dancing and more drumming … one of the puppets took a shine to Phil, as you can see in the pic above. Most people were given a little fondle, but Phil got a complete cuddle.

I’m totally going to take visitors there or recommend it to my clients, it’s a really nice experience, combining all the elements of the diverse culture of Africa.  Check out their website  and look through the menu for details of all the courses, and bear it in mind for functions or a different evening out. I’m going to book my big school reunion there next year, many of my old school mates have left the country and not been back for many years, and some have spouses that have never been here at all – they will love this, and it’s not even expensive!

Tanzanian fish

I completely forgot to take photos of the first few courses which is silly because they were the most photogenic and you could see the crockery properly – it’s very pretty crockery! The dish on the bottom right was a sublime Tanzanian fish, one of our favourites.

Dancers at Gold



Very fast dancing


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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