Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Is it a fountain, a pool or a pond?

We've had the builders in at Drommadaris Street lately building what Ninja and Elaine describe as a fountain and Stoffel and I call a splash pool and bar area!

During our now traditional Sunday Bloody Mary breakfast in the gazebo it was decided that the structure formerly referred to as fountain, splash pool or bar will be now known simply as 'The Pond'.

It is going to look fabulous sitting in the courtyard area between the two houses. We've got to wait for another week or so for the concrete to cure then it's going to be lined and the surrounding area paved. Once the lining is done Elaine will start work installing the mosaic which will cover the top of the surround.

Here's a picture of her hard at work designing the mosaic. I think that the bottle of cider was purely there to provide a sense of scale and some perspective rather than inspiration!

A quiet week so far but........

It's been a quiet start to the week as I have to do a couple more assignments for University before the weekend and Elaine is busy getting creative designing and planning for the installation of the mosaic for 'The Pond'.

All that will of course change at the weekend as we're off to Cape Town on Friday evening for a party to say goodbye to Katie who is returning to London.

On Saturday we will go and buy mosaic tiles for 'The Pond' before the big braai night at our house to celebrate Elaine's return to SA and to say goodbye to Reinette who is heading back to London to be reunited with James, shiny new visa in hand!

Sunday will undoubtedly begin in the gazebo with our neighbours before heading off to see Shakespeare's As You Like It at St Maynardville in Cape Town, though Stoffel and I are considering finding a nice bar instead!

Hopefully we'll get time to update the blog and upload a few pictures for your amusement during this time. Until then we hope that everyone is doing just fine!

Lots of love from us both.

Friday, 23 January 2009

Meet Meiring

This is Meiring, thanks to whom you all have the chance to see a few of our photos (see some of the previous posts which have now been updated). You've seen Meiring mentioned before as he was also our host at the after wedding pool party!

We've shrunk the size of the files to about 70k and logged into Meiring's wireless connection while he is at work! Hopefully if you click on them you should see a bigger low resolution version.

Elaine and Meiring's wife Linda are busy sampling his red wine as I type! Better get home soon Meiring or we'll start on your huge vinyl record collection!

Baie dankie Meiring!

Monday, 19 January 2009

Weather Watch

A number of you have pointed out that it is depressing for you to hear about the weather here!


Better news for you all today as there is a slight breeze here making it feel like 28 degrees. On the upside there is not a cloud in the sky and the sun is blazing!

Lazy Sunday Afternoons

A lie in! How we needed it after a hectic week and a half.

After putting on some washing it was time to sit and chat with Ninja and Stoffel in the gazebo enjoying the scorching weather.

Eventually cold beers appeared, then the white wine, then a lunch of chicken wrapped in bacon and roasted vegetables followed by an exotic cheese board, grapa and rounded off with vodka and orange juice!

All of a sudden it was nine o'clock at night and time to watch a film - Tropic Thunder followed by bed!

What a perfect way to spend a Sunday!!

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Brunch, Penguins and another Braai

We woke on Saturday morning at Leonie and Radie's house after a great evening.

Really lovely people. In fact to save time and space I'd just like to say what lovely people all of Elaine's friends are, they have all made me feel totally at home and it is easy to see why Elaine misses them all so much when she is in the UK. Baie dankie almal.

We got up, showered, had breakfast and set off to the centre of Cape Town to meet Nadia for brunch at the V&A Waterfront. A full South African (same as English) breakfast in the shadow of table mountain helped to set us up for a trip out to Simonstown and the Penguin colony at Boulders Beach.

It was great to be within touching distance of so many of these funny sea birds and especially entertaining for Nadia and I when one of them gave Elaine a little peck when she got her hand a little too close! Much laughter but no injuries to report. Again there are plenty of photos that we can't share at the moment but will very soon! (Update 23rd January 2009 - Here you go!)

After a relaxing day it was time to say goodbye to Nadia and head off for yet another braai, this time in Durbanville just outside Cape Town with Larah, Johan, Shanien and JF.

The snoek, accompanying food, company and wine were again excellent and it was two very happy but tired campers who arrived back in Stellenbosch in the early hours of the morning.

Friday, 16 January 2009

Croc Farm

Elaine's friend Alzette runs Le Bonheur Crocodile Farm with her family between Franschhoek and Paarl.

We went for a lovely relaxing lunch of croc pie and croc spring rolls overlooking one of the lakes at the farm. Like many other exotic meats I think that crocodile meat is a bit like chicken....... though that could just be me of course! We all shared a nice bottle of local white wine and set off to see the crocs.

First up amongst the near 2000 inhabitants was 'Snowy' a rare albino croc who has to be kept in the shade to protect his sensitive eyes and skin. Snowy looked deceptively cute but you could see in his eyes that he would quite happily take a nibble out of any part of you that got too close!

Then we went out to the main holding pools that some 1600 bigger crocs call home. Our guide was really passionate about the crocs and moved amongst them with confidence. It would appear that crocs love to eat chickens, perhaps that explains their taste!

We got to hold a three month old croc and Elaine even put her finger into his mouth, taking great care not to touch either jaw! Our guide than showed us just how quickly they can snap shut by putting an old mobile phone in the crocs mouth. Snap! It took a good 5 minutes to persuade the croc to let go! Seems like they like to eat mobiles as well as chicken!

We took loads of nice photographs to be used on the farm's website at a later date and eventually posted somewhere for you all to see (still not able to do this yet, sorry).

Tonight we are off for another Braai with Elaine's friends Leonie and Radie near Cape Town.

Love to you all Jon and Elaine

Book Club vs Braai Club

Yesterday was the monthly 'Book Club' for Elaine's group of friends where, it would appear, very few books are discussed and much wine is sampled!

To provide a social balance all of the 'book club widowers' have devised 'Braai Club' where beer and huge T-Bone steaks are the order of the day. This time the venue was our house on Nina and Stoffel's huge braai. The timing also coincided nicely with James' return to the UK after his wedding.

A fun and drunken evening was enjoyed by the men and, judging by the blurry eyes when they returned home, the ladies as well!

At least Elaine and I didn't have to get up for work this morning!

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Home Sweet Home

I suppose we should tell you a little bit about the fantastic place where we are living!

Nina and Stefan (or Ninja and Stoffel to us) have a lovely house in Stellenbosh. In the same grounds is the 'Toaster' which is where we live. Elaine used to live here before coming to the UK and was resident when the whole place burnt down some years ago, hence the name! She still professes her innocence, though we are undecided!

We have our own garage, bedroom, kitchen, bathroom and outside living space as well as being fortunate enough to have access to the gardens, gazebo, braai and the main house.

At the moment the builders are here constructing a splash pool which will be home to three fountains and decorated in mosaic by Elaine. We are all looking forward to summer evenings with cocktails and dangling our feet in the water!

We love it here and you couldn't hope for nicer neighbours/landlords than ours.

Monday, 12 January 2009

B is for Braai

Braai (plural braais)

1. (South Africa) A barbecue, the Afrikaans word for grill.
2. (South Africa) An open outdoor grill built specifically for the purpose of braaing.
3. (South Africa) A social meeting, including the braaing of meat.

Come over to our place for a braai.
(Source Wiktionary)

In simple terms a braai is a barbeque, but never say this to a South African!

Braai is a national institution in SA and the act of braaing almost exclusively a male activity (see I told you it was like a barbeque)! Basically set fire to some wood, let it burn down to the embers and away you go!

There are arguments that there is no place for anything other than meat and 'braai broodjies' at a braai but as an outsider I'm not going to get involved in that debate!

All I can say is that they are great!

Sunday, 11 January 2009


Let's see, bed at 0600, Elaine wide awake at 1030, Jon woken by Elaine at 1031........... nice!

Elaine's friend Lise has just passed her final exams to become a Barrister and organised a weekend celebration and 'braai' at her family beach house in Kleinmond.

The drive from Stellenbosch takes about an hour and a half and the scenery through and over the mountains is breathtaking. The coastline is dotted with beautiful beaches and small colourful towns.

After buying 'supplies' we all went to the beach for a couple of hours and dipped our toes into the South Atlantic - bracing to say the least! Then it was time to sample my first 'braai'.

The guys all concentrated on building the fire and drinking beer whilst Elaine helped the other girls prepare salads etc and show their support for the local wine industry!

After all of the preparation it was time to eat 'Snoek' (a saltwater member of the Pike family), Boerewors (SA sausage), Braai Broodjies (cheese and tomato sandwiches toasted on the Braai) and every type of salad known to man! The food and company were both great.

Eventually we got to bed at 0100 hours, once again, shattered!!!

Saturday, 10 January 2009

The Big Day

After a few days of pre wedding activity including a fantastic spa day for Elaine and champagne reception at the exclusive Mount Nelson Hotel in Cape Town, Friday finally arrived.

Jon dropped Elaine off at Reinette's (the bride) mother's house for hair, make up and 'pre match' nerve settlers (probably vodka!) only to be summoned back 20 minutes later with the forgotten half of the outfit!

At 4 o'clock it was time to meet up for the drinks reception (have you spotted a theme yet?) at the Stellenbosh Botanical Gardens . Mojitos, billtong and some amazing canapes were enjoyed by James (the groom) and guests until 4.30 when it was time for him to disappear and Reinette to arrive, without accidentally bumping into each other.

The bridal party looked absolutely stunning (though this was not a surprise) as did the 1958 Jaguar Mark VIII 3.4l! In fact the girls will soon be appearing on the car's very own website (link here when I've found it). Of course Elaine was by far and away the most beautiul non-bride there and looked stunning in her 1920's 'Flapper' dress.

Then it was off to the vineyards, winery and restaurant at Tokara for the outdoor ceremony, reception and party. The location is simply stunning and a fabulous time was had by all. I've now met loads of Elaine's friends and like them all very much. Being with such a sociable and friendly bunch really makes me feel part of things here.

In the wee small hours it was time for the wedding party to come to an end and for us all to head off in different directions. We ended up at at the house of Elaine's friends Linda and Meiring for beachball water polo in the pool, drinks and classic vinyl tunes! At six o'clock in the morning and with Richard wearing Katy's dress it was finally time to call it a night so we made our way round the corner to our house happy but shattered. What a day!

Technical update

Hi all, very busy weekend now behind us we will step up efforts to sort out our internet connection. When we do we will only be able to upload a few low res photos at a time due to the constraints on bandwidth usage but we will see what can be done.

In the meantime we have to e-mail from my Blackberry.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

The Eagle has landed

This is the first attempt to post by e-mail from Blackberry! If it looks a mess I'll sort it out in the next few days when we get online.

I finally arrived yesterday lunchtime after 13 hours on the plane including a 2hr scheduled stop at Jo'burg. Thumbs up to Turkish Airlines, nice new airbus, two seats to myself, decent entertainment, edible food (I'll eat anything anyway) and as much red wine as you can drink. Whether I slept or passed out is open to debate but I arrived feeling pretty refreshed.

It was so exciting to finally set foot in Africa. Absolutely stunning scenery and a pleasant 26 degrees. After passport control and collecting my cargo it was time to see if Elaine had remembered if I was coming!

I got about a foot and a half outside the customs hall when she appeared, running full pelt, grining and shouting. Fortunately this gave me time to brace myself for the inevitable impact!

All pretty straight forward really, a stress free journey.

Once we got the bags into the 'bakkie' (definately worth a post in its own right) we set off for Cape Town and Daddy Long Legs Art Hotel . We checked into the very cool 'Freshroom' and had time for a quick shower and change before heading off to Stellenbosch and a run through of James and Reinette's wedding before the big day on Friday as Elaine is one of the bridesmaids. They have an absolutely stunning location but you'll have to wait for Friday (well probably Monday!) to see!

A stroll around the pretty town of Stellenbosch, which will be home to us from Thursday, followed then it was time for 'post wedding practice drinks'. Great company and nice to get to know a few more of the family/other guests before the big day.

A day exploring followed by the official pre wedding drinks in Cape Town make up the plan for today then we'll move into our house in Stellenbosch on Thursday morning. We'll try and get some photos uploaded as soon as we can.

Monday, 5 January 2009


No snow here. Just cold, wet dark and miserable!

Had planned to venture out into Istanbul for a few hours but I'm not bothered now! Had a good flight from Birmingham after we eventually took off (45mins late) but now I wish we had left 4 hours late - not sure what I'm going to do until 2300hrs this evening................. PUB!

Next update will be from sunny (bet it is raining) Cape Town! Enjoy the cold everybody!

Don't panic Mr Mannering!

What a start to the day - snow in Birmingham, flights cancelled and diverted first thing this morning!

Fortunately all is well now, someone has been out and swept the runway and the sun has even made an appearance. I love snow but i'll swap it for the 30+ degrees of Cape Town on this occasion, just don't let it delay me please.

Got a bit of a grilling at check in about the three and a half tonnes (metric) of baggage that i'm accompanying but it was all ok in the end - good job they didn't see my hand luggage!

Well that's it for me, just waiting to board now. The 23 hour countdown has begun.

Sunday, 4 January 2009

I'm off now as well!

That's it, all packed! Just got to get past the check in people in the morning, hope their scales are broken because i'm not exactly travelling light! Elaine has bought me a toothbrush so that's a couple of grams saved.

Had a cracking last meal with Bas, Charl, Tor and Ella tonight - going to miss you guys lots.

Anyway I suppose I should get some shut eye before trying to get more of the same on planes over the next 23hrs! First stop Istanbul!

I'll try to update from Blackberry along the way but i can't promise that I can make the technology do what I want it to do! See you on the other side.


Thursday, 1 January 2009

Happy New Year

Happy New Year everybody, hope you had a good one and that 2009 is a happy one for you all.

5 more days and I'm off to the sun, no more freezing conditions like the ones in Sutton Park today, brrrrrrr!