Thursday, December 13, 2012

November: Part 2

This is part two of my travels throughout the month of November. Part one can be found here.

The view of the Monument coming back into Grahamstown.
After the weekend away, coming back down to earth and back to little old Grahamstown was a bit of a shock to the system, but we managed it without a hitch, spending Sunday afternoon driving back and Sunday evening celebrating Grant’s birthday with the rest of our friends at the Rat and Parrot. We also had Monday to recuperate, having intended originally to spend an extra day in George before 1time’s closure ruined our plans. But, I will admit, I was grateful for the day spent relaxing at home rather than coming straight from travelling to returning to work. The day off was spent truly relaxing – staying in PJs and watching series, taking advantage of Tommy’s first good day and just generally arbing about.

Back to work on Tuesday for work as normal, but thankfully the rest of the week did not revolve around just work work work and no play. I got to take my camera out again on Wednesday when Kim asked me to come to the paddocks and take photos of her horse, Lightning. I have never been very comfortable around horses, having never done riding or anything along those lines. So I was a little nervous around him, but not enough to make him act up. I was surprised to find how soft and velvety he was and had a lot of fun trying to capture his friendly, excitable side. He is still young and inexperienced and really not used to being told to run, which meant that he got a bit uneasy and nervous, and we ended up having to cut the shoot short to calm him down. I had fun nonetheless and the photos that I got out of it can be found on my photography blog.

The rest of the week passed by in an uneventful fashion and Friday came quickly, which is always a relief. On Friday evening we went and picked Kath up and kidnapped her for a night of movies, popcorn and soju. We watched Brave (I finally got around to it) and made up a drinking game whereby we had to take a shot whenever a character said “Och”. After Brave came Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter which was fairly entertaining, though none of us made it all the way through it and we stopped the movie with half an hour to go. Not because it was bad, but because we were all ready to pass out. Kath and I managed to outlast Grant, which we both thought was impressive, and it was to bed with us where Kath and I stayed up chatting abit before passing out.
I was awoken at 5am by Kath, being the light sleeper that I am, and almost got up the gall to go and capture some scenes during the golden hour (I really do understand why it is called that now), but even being awake, I was too tired to bother leaving the house. Instead, I grabbed my laptop and started doing some photo editing. I was joined by Kath and her kindle before too long, and then it was time to drop Kath at home and start getting ready for the day ahead.

The day ahead on Saturday involved a trip to PE with Vicky. I needed to go and see my dad, who was bringing down some gifts that my Mom had found me overseas. For Vicky, it was a day of trying to find a harness for her kite so that she could take it out for some kite surfing. Unfortunately, we found that PE is a pretty useless place for finding kite surfing equipment, and after spending a few hours searching, we gave up and had lunch before heading to the race track to meet dad whose race was supposed to be at 3pm. Only to find that he wasn’t there. It turns out that he had given me the wrong time, and had gone back to his hotel to fetch supplies. We waited for most of an hour before he finally arrived, and it was a quick hug and leave as I had a session with Debbie planned for 6pm and, with the road still not fixed, the trip back was going to take longer than usual.

We managed to get back home by 5pm, giving me one hour to sort out the studio and get the house into some semblance of order before going to pick up Debbie and Ben. The plan was for Debbie to have a quick photo session and then for them to stay for some dinner and games thereafter. Alas, the session was not as quick as we had expected, but it was a lot more fun. Debbie came fully prepared with three outfits and was in a great mood which meant that she was very open to looking silly while I tried to find the best angles and positions, and while I got used to ordering her around. Puddims decided to join in the fun for a bit and became one of Debbie’s props, perfect considering her affinity for cats, and around an hour and a half later, Grant came in asking why we were taking so long. It turned out that in our absence, Grant had finished making dinner and had converted Ben into a sports-watching, beer-drinking guy. Debbie was thoroughly impressed. After dinner… there was more sport, because Grant is obsessed with both the soccer and the Formula One…. But after THAT there was Baulderdash. Mike and Vicky came over, and it made for a fun game of words, people, acronyms, movies and laws as Balderdash always does. With alcohol flowing and hubbly blowing, the evening turned into quite a lot of fun. Debbie's photographs can be found on my photography blog.

Sunday was almost as action packed as Grant, Jono and I prepared for the farewell braai that we would be hosting for Kath and Mangwe. We bought meat, we made salads, we cleaned the house so that it was spick and span, and we were ready for the hoards to arrive. And then we found out the Mangwe had gone to PE for the day and was likely to only arrive back late in the evening. And then Kim cancelled. And Shaun and Mel were both coming back from PE. And Danika and Tom were in Cape Town. And our hoards of people only ended up being three guests. Suddenly we found ourselves with mounds of potato salad, rolls and bread and hardly anyone to eat it. But that wasn’t going to get us down. We laughed, we chilled and we had a good time despite the small crowd.

And so, my busy few weeks came to an end. It was back to work as usual on Monday, and though even work itself was more exciting with launches and promotions popping up all over the place, it was still a small relief to find that little changes, even when your life seems to be spiralling uncontrollably (in a good way).

So, you can expect to see a ton of photos on my photography blog, and I am going to be trying my best to update my website as soon as possible (I haven’t added much since June), and in the meantime you can watch this space for more details on my exploits through what’s going on in December.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

November: Part 1

If someone were to ask me to describe my last few weeks (go ahead… ASK!) the first word that comes to mind would be RIDICULOUS. And I do not mean that in a bad way. It has been ridiculously busy, but also ridiculously fun, exciting and simply breathtaking. So much so, that I do not have the breathe to explain it all in one post.

How about we start from the beginning? The first weekend of November was an incredibly busy one, but in the best way possible. The Saturday was spent taking photos for the Rhodes Chamber Choir (the people who have kept my photography going throughout the year) in my studio. I really enjoy spending time with people in my studio, so it made for a fun afternoon with lots of laughter. The photos were being taken for adverts that will be used to find new choir members next year, and they had a mugshot theme. This meant a lot of fun for the people involved, and a lot of post-production to make the white background seem a little more like a police station. You can check out the results on my photography blog.

Sunday saw more time spent with my camera as Lwando and his girlfriend, Nonkosazana, who was down from East London for the weekend. A new challenge faced me as I have never had a couple session in my studio, and found it a lot more difficult to co-ordinate while trying to stop the shadows from the lighting getting in the way. After half an hour in the studio, and around 40 photographs to work with, it was out into the sunshine as we made our way to the Botanical Gardens. It was the perfect day to walk around, and I took them to the spots that I am used to being the small bamboo jungle, the romantic pond and the river. From being hyper-aware of the camera in the beginning, the two started relaxing more, posing easier and just have fun. Have a look at the photos that came out of the session on my photography blog.

With the weekend out of the way, it was back to work for a slightly shorter week than normal. Grant’s dad and stepmom came down on Wednesday in preparation for our roadtrip on Thursday, and they came bearing many a gift. Having just moved into a new house in Johannesburg, they had a lot of extra bits and bobs that they didn’t need any more and decided to bring down to their incredibly grateful (step-)son and his girlfriend! This included an extra fridge, a gas braai and a tortoise named Tommy, Grant’s childhood pet.

The new house in Johannesburg doesn’t have a big garden (hardly any garden at all, in fact), so it was decided that Tommy would be far happier in our backyard nomming on the fruit as it falls (because we are entirely useless at picking it) and having a Puddims to play with. For the first few days, Tommy was entirely unimpressed with his new situation, hissing and spitting and threatening to chew on any hand that got near him (though for a toothless animal, his beak certainly does pack a punch). But he seems to have come around to it with the help of some tomatoes, apples, strawberries and cuttlefish. He is undergoing an entirely new diet regiment consisting of less veggies and fruit, because apparently tortoises struggle to process sugar, but more hay. Which he seems entirely unimpressed with. But we keep trying regardless!

The view of Robberg Beach in Plett.
The view of Knysna Quays.
Grant and I jetted off on Thursday, leaving Jono to look after the new addition to our family, and made our way to George for a long weekend away, stopping off in Plett for a night on the way to visit family friends and just rest considering that Grant and I only managed to leave Grahamstown close to 6pm. The Plett leg of the trip was very short and not particularly eventful, being only one night, but from there Sharon and I made our way to Knysna for the day on Friday while the boys carried on to George for their first day of golf. Knysna meant shopping and time spent by the seaside, which was greatly appreciated by me, and it was a lovely, relaxing day spent wandering from shop to shop, without buying too much to Grant’s relief.

Sunrise from one of our balconies. To the far right, you can see our lounge and further in our bedroom.
From Knysna, Sharon and I slowly made our way to the hotel in George and, oh my, what a hotel. The Hyatt Regency in George is absolutely stunning, and Grant and I were incredibly, incredibly lucky because Grant’s dad decided that, because it was Grant’s birthday weekend, we would get the bigger suite. Which just happened to be the presidential one!! The hostess seemed just as shocked as I was, but managed to keep her composure for long enough to hand me the key to the room and keep herself from gawking as Sharon and I made our way to the elevator. When I returned with Grant later in the evening though, we caught her whispering to a colleague and pointing in our direction, which we found to be hilarious rather than offensive. We were just as surprised as she was at the luxury we had been provided.

Sun setting over the Hyatt Regency.
The room itself was bigger than our entirely three bedroomed, two bathroomed house. With a lavish lounge, an office area (as part of the lounge), a dining room, a kitchen, two bathrooms, a giant bedroom and three balconies (all with amazing views, of course), we were set to never have to leave the room again. But then, there were others things to coax us out and convince us that we were still in the real world with shopping downstairs, an infinity pool, a spa and the Ernie Els designed Oubaai golf course all being part of the resort. Grant and Rob made full use of the golf course, while Sharon and I perused the shops and the local area, stopping into Heralds Bay for lunch on Saturday and sitting by the pool with the boys for the rest of the afternoon. The breakfast that the hotel provided was also phenomenal and out of this world, but unfortunately I only got to make use of the restaurant for the breakfasts. On Saturday evening I started feeling completely out of it, losing feeling in my arm and feeling disoriented and nauseous. After taking a few pills, I was out like a light and only managed to wake up for a few minutes to grab a bite of the divine grilled chicken that had been ordered from room service as part of the dinner. I got told the next morning how the meals that Grant, Rob and Sharon had ordered (also through room service) came on silver platters. The next morning, we were slow to wake and reluctant to leave, but were out of the hotel and back on the road by midday, stopping briefly to grab a token or two and some lunch on the way back to Grahamstown.

The view on the way back into Grahamstown

And thus ends part one of November thus far. Watch this space for part 2.

Saturday, November 24, 2012


If I had to name only one that I hate about Grahamstown, it would be an easy task. It is that people are always coming and going. Grahamstown is an inbetween town, and I have had more than my fair share of goodbyes. So, what I suppose it boils down to is hating to say goodbyes.

I had to say goodbye to all of my friends back in 2009 when I decided to leave Grahamstown, and was on the leaving end. That was ridiculously rough. I remember nights of celebrating the time that we had together, but more than anything I remember leaving the house on African Street, tears streaming down my face because I had just had to say goodbye to Grant, for what we expected to be the last time, and having to drive the 10 hours to Cape Town unable to listen to my radio because every song that came up reminded me of him.

Then I had to say goodbye to my parents and Cape Town friends as I left for Korea, though that was never intended to be a permanent move, and was not a goodbye for good. Still, the image of my mother waving goodbye to me through the crowds is not an easy one to forget.

Then, after a friend or two leaving during my time in Korea, I had to leave all of the friends that I had made behind, not knowing when I would see any of them again. The weekend before my departure, I shed more tears than I am willing to admit, but every drop was worth the friendships that had been forged. I still get a little teary eyed when I look at the last photo of Amy and I ever to be taken, a polaroid that I keep in my wallet. You can tell from both of our red eyes just how much it hurt to be saying goodbye.

And then, after all of these heartfelt goodbyes, I ended up back in little old Grahamstown where people are constantly coming and going, entering and leaving your life. And most of the time, for most of the people, it leaves no impact. But then, there are the people who make it worthwhile, who make you want to stay around, who can convince you to leave the comfort of your bed even if it is just for one drink, who are willing to stay in bed with you if you can't be convinced, who are happy to do nothing in each others company and who are always there with a kind word, even if you don't think that you need it. And tonight, I have had to say goodbye to one of those people.

So yes, I am more than a little emotional at the moment and a little resentful towards Grahamstown because without it, I wouldn't have had the chance to meet half of the awesome people that I have met in my life, but I would also be without the pain of having to say goodbye to those people while one or both of us forge our own ways in the world.

There are more goodbyes to come over the next few weeks, but I don't think any of them will pull at my heartstrings quite as much as having to say goodbye to Kath. We will always have Kenton!! 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Revisionist History

The theme for today - Go back in time to an event you think could have played out differently for you. Let alternate history have its moment: tell us what could, would or should have happened?

It was my first year, my first street party. I had one sip of my alchipop, one taste of Brutal Fruit after a week of heavy nights, and suddenly felt the world spinning at my feet. 

The music reverberates through my body and I can feel rather than hear every beat of it. People pass me in masses as I sway on the spot, unmoving. Laughter and screams of joy interrupt my thoughts, not letting them complete themselves and leaving me running in circles in my head without so much as blinking. I couldn't blink even if I wanted to, cannot control the weight that it my eyelids. I ignore the alarms going off in my brain, telling me that something is just not right and take another sip of the liquid poison. An unfamiliar hand slides along my waist and pulls me, and I follow unrelenting, unquestioning, leaning into it. And then there is nothing.

I awake, broken in every sense of the word, my throat begging for relief in the form of cool liquid, but nothing is enough to quench the thirst, nothing is enough to bring back the night that has been lost. This room is not my own.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Some Nights

I never know just how I will feel from one night to the next. My mood changes with the temperature, with the day that has passed, the day that is to come, with ever so slight alterations in my surroundings and in the attitudes of those that I spend my time with.

Some nights I lay up cashing in my bad luck
Some nights I call it a draw

What will it be? A night of joy and laughter, soft music and popcorn, or a night of grinding teeth and glaring eyes staring blankly at a computer screen without taking anything in, waiting to snap at the first person to walk in the door. Will it be a night of tap tap tapping on the keyboard, or one of clicking away at the mouse incessantly, trying to get the picture just right, just the way that I imagined it in my mind, just the way that I saw it before it got compressed into 1s and 0s. Will I lie down and sleep, or will I twist and turn, first too hot and then too cold. Will the cat be an annoyance or a welcome distraction and cuddling partner?

Some nights I wish that these lips could be a castle
Some night I wish they'd just fall off

It speaks volumes to me as I ponder how I am going to be feeling tonight, what mood I am going to be in and how it will affect those around me, from my loving boyfriend to my housemate to my pets. Because while the good nights are wonderfully, blissfully good, I know that the bad nights are horrifying and I live in a constant fear that one of these days the bad night will end and I will not know how I got to where I am, alone and bitter.

But I still wake up, I still see your ghost...

The ghost that I see is all too familiar - a ghost of my past. A ghost of a better me, of the person that I wish I could be, especially when compared to the person that I have become. A person with hopes and dreams that cannot be quelched by reality, when I stand here wondering what became of those dreams. I can remember a time when I knew what I wanted in life, when I knew what would make me happy. Today, I look at myself and do not know where to start. Each day goes on relentlessly, and I am left in a zombie-like state, living out day to day without any feeling or meaning and not knowing when it will end.

Oh Lord I'm still not sure what I stand for, oh..
What do I stand for? What do I stand for?

Most nights, I don't know anymore.

Daily Posting

It has been awhile since I last posted, but I am hoping that is about to change. See, after reading my friend Annetjie's blog for awhile, I realised that Annetjie has been getting ideas for blog posts not just from her wonderful mind, but with a little help.

And so, I have discovered a blog that I hope will give me a little inspiration. Or a lot. Depending on how it goes. I at least hope that it will inspire one post a week, starting with a post today. See below/above (not sure where the post will end up in the grand scheme of things) for my interpretation of today's theme.

In addition to using the Daily Post as an inspiration and idea-generator, I also hope to be using Worth1000's ideas a little more often on my blog. I do not often enter the contests, but I do occasionally find the subjects inspiring and, though I might not finish in the time-frame, hopefully it will mean that I can post the ideas that I have here. So this will become more of a space for creative writing, for musings and for introspection, or so I hope. 

I hope that anyone following will either join in or at least appreciate what I have to give!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Big Tick For Twing!

When Fish Tales in Grahamstown closed down without warning, I was not particularly happy. Sure, I had been complaining about the number of places for fish in Grahamstown for awhile, but why did my favourite one have to close down? But the disappointment did not last long. Before long, I realised that the loss of one of my favourite restaurants meant the possibility for a new one to take its place.

I have never really considered myself an expert in Asian cuisine. For a long time I avoided some of the more spicy aspects of it and stuck to the regular cashew chicken at pretty much all of the Chinese, Thai and Fusion restaurants that I visited. Of course, going to Korea kind of pushed me into liking both more Asian cuisine and more spicy foods, and so when I returned to Grahamstown, I found the Asian offerings a little lacking. No Chinese, no Vietnamese, no Mongolian. There was one Thai restaurant, but even my beloved Ruan Thai felt a little lacking (not to mention that I don't get to go there nearly often enough). So, when I saw that the new restaurant had reopened over the weekend, I was very keen to find out what it was that they were offering. I knew that it had been taken over by the owners of Twing, the sushi restaurant downstairs, and I had high hopes of Chinese. And, though I wasn't quite right, I wasn't let down either.

Walking up the red walled and black tiled staircase into Twing Wok was a very different experience to the boring white that had adorned Fish Aways. No glass door awaited at the top, instead you entered a wide expanse of red, black and white, all beautifully decorated and incredibly modern feeling. Elegant black metal chairs adorned tables that were scattered around the floor while a couched smoking? room stood to one side. The windows were open letting in the fresh air and the sounds of Peppergrove centre (something that may not be appealing often, but on a wonderfully cool evening after a warm day, is very welcoming). A selection of square lights and mirrors line one wall looking like a work of art and adding to the modern feel of the place. This was a different class to the regular Grahamstown restaurants.

Picking up a menu, I wasn't sure what I was going to go for. There was, of course, the sushi that could be ordered and freshly prepared downstairs, but I was more interested in some of the new items on the menu. Did I want one of their different sounding salads (words like citrus soy and edamame jumping out at me and making my mouth water)? Did I feel like noodles instead, with choices of egg, rice, udon and pad thai flavoured with Japenese, Chinese or Thai sauces? I knew for sure that I was going to be getting some of the dim sum, but which ones would I choose?

In the end I decided to go with a Wok Platter involving four different kinds of dim sum (shared with my lovely friend, Kath), all of which were divine. In fact, divine feels like too mild a description. Delectable might be more apt. There was spinach and cream cheese, chicken and ginger, and prawn and mushroom (all steamed) as well as some fried prawn ones, and I cannot tell you which of them was the best because I thought they were all amazing. Once the starter was complete, our main meals were quickly placed in front of us (no need to wait, which was lovely) and I started on my Chinese (sweet and sour) chicken with egg noodles. Which, I must say, was pretty darn good. I am not a big fan of noodles and would have preferred rice myself, but the sauce was delicious and the meal most enjoyable. Halfway through, I decided to swap with Kath and got to try her Thai beef with rice noodles, which I found to be very tasty and a little more interesting than the sweet and sour, simply because it was a new combination of flavours for me. It was spicy, it was tangy and it was a little sweet. For me it was perfect, for Kath the sweet and sour was the choice of the night. It goes to show - different strokes for different folks. But overall, I found both meals to be great and, to my surprise, quite light on the wallet at only R40.00 each (for the noodles, not the dim sum as well).

My verdict? I think I have a new favourite restaurant in Grahamstown! I can't wait to go there again and try the rest of their menu. Hopefully next time I will have my camera with me too :)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


A high school friend of mine posed a question on Facebook earlier this week:

"to all my geek friends, can magneto lift thor's hammer? think about it."

The question made me smile, as did the responses from all involved, and I went ahead and commented that I approved of the question and the answers provided and that they had brightened up my day ever so slightly. Next thing, I was getting a message from this high school friend asking me since when was I a geek.

It was a question that I was quite surprised at as I have always considered myself to be, well... not a full blown geek, but certainly at least slightly geekish. I have always liked computers, have felt more comfortable talking over IM or mIRC than talking in person and a lot of the friends that I have made over the years, even the friends that I made at varsity, were made through chat and forums and just generally online.

Sure, I was never geeky in the super smart way, nor was I very into comics, Star Wars or Star Trek. But does that exclude me from being a geek? What is it that you define as being a geek then? How limited is your perception of what a geek is? 

I know that I identify myself as a geek, and here is why: I may not be into comic books, but I am into superheroes (and particularly superhero movies... I am not good with the backgrounds, but I am very into pretty much every superhero movie that has come out over the last decade or so.) I am into certain computer games - not very many of them, because

a) my computer sucks, and
b) I am not particularly good at them.

But I do have a deep love for World of Warcraft, a feeling that I will very much enjoy Portal when I eventually get around to playing it and a fondness for online games. I have a feeling that I would love dungeons and dragons if I were ever to play it, but for the moment I do enjoy Munchkin on occasion, which is geeky in itself. And, as of this week, I am addicted to Magic the Gathering. So much so, that in a half-comatose state on Sunday evening (I was so far gone and exhausted that I couldn't remember if I had the discussion or if it was a dream when I woke up the next morning) I decided to turn our cat into a Magic card, in such a well-thought-out way that Grant ended up making the card for us. And that is what you see on the right side of this  paragraph. And if playing Magic with the kind of obsessiveness does not make you a geek, well... then... good for  you. But it certainly makes me consider myself to be one.

Oh, and you know what makes a geek more than any of the things above - fondly referring to yourself as a geek. It is something that I am proud of, and it someone were to drive by and throw it at me as an insult, I think that it  would warm my heart more than cause any profound pain. 

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Movie Review: One Day

I have been wanting to watch One Day for quite awhile now, since seeing it advertised on DSTV's Box-Office. I love Anne Hathaway and enjoy most of the movies that I have seen her in, and this one was no exception.

Based on a book by David Nicholls (which I am now going to have to find) One Day is the story of two people, Emma (Anne Hathaway) and Dexter (Jim Sturgess). The two meet at university and the movie shows how each of their lives progress, dropping in on them both each year after their initial meeting. Some years they are together, some they are apart, but they are always thinking of each other in some way or another on the day. We watch them grow up, grow together, grow apart and grow wiser. We witness joys, pains and everything in between.

I thought that the storyline of the movie was very good. It was an intriguing concept to pop in each year and see how one night can change two people's leaves for the better and for the worse. I thought that the acting was brilliant on both parts and I thought that it was a wonderful movie overall. It had funny moments, mostly at the hands of Sturgess whose character was a bit of a wild child when compared to Hathaway's straight-arrow. Not that Hathaway's character doesn't face struggles of her own, but she tends to deal with them more serenely than Sturgess deals with his difficulties, which on reflection are a lot more life-altering.

I wouldn't call One Day a comedy though, despite some comedic relief on occasion. It is a romance and it is a drama, but the issues that come up throughout the movie can certainly not be called comedy. If you are looking or a good romance to watch, I would highly recommend this one, and would certainly recommend it above some of the others making the rounds at the moment including The Vow and Like Crazy (I never did review that one... perhaps a task for another time). Overall, I would give it a 5/5 because I honestly can't think of anything that I would criticise.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Review: Adventureland

Hey all

It has been awhile since I last posted, but I have spent a day in bed thanks to pain and sinuses and watched a lot of movies, so you can expect to see a lot of reviews. The first is for a movie called Adventureland starring Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart.

The story revolves around James (Jesse Eisenberg), who has just graduated from university and finds out, on his graduation day, that his plans for a trip to Europe over the summer and his plans for grad school in New York have fallen through thanks to his dad losing his job. Instead of travelling, he is forced to find a job back home where the skills he has learned from his degrees will not come in any use at all. He manages to find a job at a local carnival and, despite the lacklustre work, he makes some good friends and has some great experiences, one of which being falling in love with Em (Kristen Stewart). Of course, he has no idea what he is getting himself into, as Em is complicated and currently having an affair with a married man (Ryan Reynolds) and so James finds himself stuck in a complicated situation.

I thought that the movie was pretty good. The story line wasn't exactly thrilling and was predictable, but the acting was decent enough. Kristen Stewart surprised me a little as I was expecting something more along the lines of her role in Twilight and thought that she pulled off the character quite well. The character is still a bit of a mopey, depressed, oh woe is me type, kinda like Bella Swan, but I thought that she pulled herself off better in this movie. I haven't seen Jesse Eisenberg in anything else as yet (I am one of the few people who haven't seen The Social Network) but I thought that his acting was pretty decent as well. Ryan Reynolds was very much a sideline character and acted as one - nothing special from him in this unfortunately. I got the sense that the cinematography was very artsy, very indie and the movie reminded me of a mix between the styles of Nick and Norahs Infinite Playlist and Juno, both of which I felt pulled the style off better.

All in all, I would give Adventureland a 3/5 rating. I thought that the movie was decent enough and I do not regret watching it, but it could also have been better. The storyline was a little bit shallow and very predictable and the acting was fairly average. If you have some time on your hands and are looking for a bit of a fun, but not particularly funny, rom com, I would go for this.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Serial Watcher

I remember the days when I was addicted to books. I remember nights spent going to bed with a book and lying awake reading until my alarm started going off to get ready for school. I remember early university days spent skipping classes to read the latest novels. I remember loving reading, and dying to read practically anything and everything that I could. I look back on those days fondly, because they are no more. These days, my life has been taken over by series.

For the most part, it is not even new series that have taken over. It is rewatching series. I have been going through phases of rewatching shows from the beginning to the latest episodes to ensure that I am caught up before a new season starts. This also comes from a bit of reluctance to try new things. I am reluctant to get into a new series because I don't want to get caught up like I have been with so many others. I am reluctant to pick up a book in case I end up reading it for weeks on end trying to push through it even though my heart says no.

So, instead, I rewatch. And what have I been rewatching I hear you ask? So far I have rewatched three full series and am busy with a fourth. The first is Greys Anatomy. I got pulled into it again by my work colleagues at the point when every single person in my office was watching episodes during their lunch breaks and I started remembering how much I enjoyed the show. I even pulled Grant in for a grand total of 4 days or so, but he refused to be hooked despite the drama, and possibly because of it. And the show is full of drama. Meredith is dating McDreamy, but he is married, but his wife cheated on him with McSteamy, so she has been unknowing cheating with him, and then she knowingly cheats with him, but then she doesn't, but then he falls in love with someone else, so she realises she does love him. And if only I was exaggerating here! But, what can I say, I am a sucker for drama. I have reached the last episode of the latest season and am on the edge of my seat waiting for the series to come back next month.

Then, there is Criminal Minds. Another show that I am completely addicted to, and in this case it is less because of the drama of the main characters, mostly because that is sidelined by all other sorts of drama in the cases that they solve. For those who do not know about Criminal Minds, and I am willing to bet that there are quite a few of you since the series is not particularly popular in SA, the series revolves around the Behavioural Analysis Unit (BAU) of the FBI and their hunts for serial killers, kidnappers, murderers and all other kinds of creeps that pop up from time to time. The lives of the main characters do inform the plot a lot of the time, but the main draw (for me at least) is the analysis of the criminals, the profiling as the team likes to call it. This is a great suspense type of series and if murder mysteries are your thing, I think you will love it.

The third series that I have been going through, particularly now that the series is over entirely, is House, MD. Once again, I am less drawn to this medical series because of the drama, though in this case there is plenty of it, but because of the humour and the actual medicine involved. Once again, I like the mystery, of which there is little in Greys (though a lot of suspense, as per the last episode of last season). With Greys, you tend to know what the problem is from the start and it is just a case of whether the patients live or die while the doctors quibble amongst themselves and deal with their own personal issues. With House it tends to be more a case of what the hell is wrong with this patient and what aspect of his personal life will provide him with the clue to crack the case wide open. The humour is less in your face and more cynical, and I love that. I also adore Hugh Laurie.

And then there is the series that I am currently rewatching, How I Met Your Mother (fondly refered to as HIMYM). I consider it to be a modern day Friends, and I was a big Friends fan back in the day. HIMYM is the story of a group of five friends all growing up and looking for love in New York. They are all in their mid-20s at the start of the first season, all just finished or finishing college, all starting to realise that they are grown ups and learning how to act that way. It makes for a show that is easy to relate to. The main premise to the story is one of the main characters, Ted, telling his two children (seen often throughout the series) how he met their mother, though I am 6 seasons in and she has yet to make an appearance (though they have hinted at her in terms of yellow umbrellas and ankle-glimpses and such). It ends up being less about how he met her and more about how his life progressed to the point that he was ready to meet her.

And what will I watch once HIMYM is up to date? Well, there are a number of shows in the running including, but not limited to, Supernatural, The OC (a favourite of mine from high school), Chuck and possibly Desperate Housewives (don't judge me!). So, while I will still try to keep reading in my spare time, you can see that I have a lot of catching up to do and I intend to do it quickly. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


I have never considered myself to be a smoker. That is not to say that I have never smoked in my life, but that I have never found myself to be addicted to the habit of smoking.

There was a time when I used smoking as a social tool, mostly in my first year of University. It was a good conversation starter, having a chat over a smoke. It was a good reason to hang out with the girls in res and get to know them as we sat outside the front door, sucking on our cancer sticks and reliving our weekends. Hell, I even met Grant because of smoking. Our first conversation went something along the lines of:

"Can I bum a smoke?"

And six and a half years on, we are still going strong without the help of cigarettes. Of course, it took awhile for us to get there. Even after I "quit" smoking (ie. quit bumming smokes off girls in res), Grant carried on for a good two years and I was surrounded by second hand smoke. Which makes it even easier for me to say that I was never a smoker, because it was easy for me to "quit". I still had the occasional cigarette, and there are still times when I am tempted to ask a friend for a drag even to this day, but I am able to keep back the temptation without too much effort.

You see, while I have never been a smoker, I have a funny feeling that I could easily become one if I let myself. All it would take it giving in at a point when I am too stressed, when I am practically over the edge. All it would take is one little cigarette, one little drag, to push me. And I am trying very hard to avoid that. So instead of becoming a smoker, instead of taking a drag of a cigarette when I feel that need, I have taken to another stress-reliever. And that is hubbly.

And yes, it does sound like a bit of a contradiction, doesn't it? I don't consider myself a smoker, but I am happy to smoke hubbly. Do I think that it is any better for me? Probably not. Do I think that it is less addictive? Absolutely. You see, while smokers often smoke a number of cigarettes in a day (a pack or more for the serious ones), I smoke perhaps three hubblies in a week. And that would be a very stressful week for me to smoke that much. I can go weeks or months without smoking a hubbly, and feel in no way addicted to it. In fact, I do not think that it is the smoking itself that draws me in. It is the preparation that goes into it.

Smoking a hubbly is not a five minute affair. It is not just a case of lighting up, powering through and throwing away a stump at the end. It is a methodical procedure, from filling the vase to choosing the flavour, from poking holes in the foil to lighting the coal. Even once it is ready and the smoking has begun, it is not the smoking that draws me. It is, once again, the social nature of smoking a hubbly. It is a far more social activity than smoking ever was for me. Instead of rushing through the latest news in the span of a cigarette, you sit around, you chat, you soak in the atmosphere, you take turns, you share. Once it is over, you methodically take it apart, from letting the coal burn out to clearing out the tobacco, rinsing the vase and setting it aside for the next time.

And so, I will say it again. I do not consider myself to be a smoker. A hubbly smoker, perhaps, but I see that to be a different brand of person altogether, and a brand of person that I am happy to associate myself with.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Arno Carstens

I walked into the theatre for the Arno Carstens concert in Grahamstown and two things struck me. The first was that we had PERFECT seats. We were about five rows from the front, a little to the left of centre stage and were at eye level with the band. It could not have been better! The second was that this was not the ideal setting for a rock concert, and when it comes to Carstens, that was exactly what I was expecting. I was expecting something along the lines of the last Parlatones concert that I went to in terms of atmosphere, and that is not what I got.

While the venue for the concert (Guy Butler theatre in the Monument) may be great in terms of acoustics, it is not so great in terms of atmosphere. The theatre is built more like an opera house with folding seats going back around 26 rows and further seating in raised rows at the back. Which does not make it the ideal situation for the kind of music that Carstens produces. The biggest trouble is that the Guy Butler theatre  is the largest in Grahamstown, and the only theatre that could accommodate the kind of audience that Carstens wants to draw. Going to the concert would have been a more attractive idea if it had been in a smaller location, but had been running for a few days rather than a one-night-only show to draw in the crowds, but then have them sit awkwardly in their seats while you play at them.

Despite the atmosphere, I found the concert to be rather enjoyable. I am not a big fan of Carstens, nor was I a big fan of the Springbok Nude Girls, but that is simply because I do not know much of his (or their) music. The little that I knew of it, I liked and when Mike and Vicky suggested going, it was not something that I jumped at, but considering that we were going to the show before and considering that it was in the same venue, I was not against going either. And I'm glad that I went!

The music was good. Nothing spectacular, but it was good enough to make me want to dance along. To be honest, I found that Carstens did not have much of a stage presence. I found my eyes wandering from him and on to the band and the vocalist that he brought along. He didn't engage with the audience much. He played, he sang and it was good, but not great. When the songs that I recognised came up, I stood and I danced, but for most of the evening I stayed stuck to my seat. I am sure that if there hadn't been a seat to stick to, I would have been up there and dancing along, even to the songs that I didn't know.There is something about the atmosphere of concerts that does that to me. But as it was, I was happy to just be there, listen and leave. I wasn't one of the people shouting out for an encore, but I wasn't asking for my money back either.

What I can say is that the music was enjoyable. Carstens has a great voice, there is no doubting that. The classics are classics for a reason and I loved hearing them. I thought that a little too much of his new stuff was played, and I found it to be a bit too generic for my liking. All of the music sounded the same essentially with only two songs really standing out, those two being the ones that I already knew and loved. If I hear one of his songs come up over the radio, I will turn it up and listen, but I won't be going out of my way to buy myself his CD any time soon. Unfortunately, he didn't convince me of that much. But I wouldn't give up on old Arno quite yet. I think there is still a lot to come from him, and I look forward to hearing it when it comes.

Friday, July 20, 2012


Self-image is not an easy topic for me to discuss, but it is one that I have been faced with a lot recently. I have been bombarded with news articles about it and faced with it whenever I look in the mirror.

I have always had weight problems. At first, when I was young, I was significantly underweight. I was accused by classmates and teachers of being anorexic, and my parents seemed to feel the same way to some extent. I had no appetite, and the small amount of food that I did eat they tended to encourage. Nevermind the fact that it was terribly bad for me, as long as I was eating, it was fine.

Then, when I hit my teenage years and my appetite started to grow along with my figure, at first it was a relief. The change happened to come at the same time as a change in school, and the feeling was that the weight-gain came from somewhere in between happiness at my new surroundings and just growing up in general. My metabolism was changing, and at first it was seen as a good thing. A great thing in fact! I remember bragging to my sister that I had finally put on weight, and she didn't believe me! And putting on weight was something to brag about at that stage. It meant that I was getting healthy. It meant, in my mind, no more mocking and no more accusations.

What I didn't realise at that point was that the weight gain was not all going to be good. While eating whatever I wanted was fine when I was eating hardly anything at all, the weight gain meant that eating whatever I wanted whenever I wanted should have been off the cards. And yet, I had grown so used to eating whatever I pleased that dieting was not something that formed a part of my vocabulary. I had grown used to eating meals that were not necessarily good for me, and succumbing to any cravings that I had. I would not let my body hold me back from what I wanted, under the impression that I would rather be over-weight and happy than under-weight and unhappy.

And I think this is where the biggest problem came in. I had started associating my weight with my emotions. The times in my life when I had been at my lowest weight were also the times when I was at my lowest emotionally. I wanted to avoid that at all costs, and food became a means of reaching this end.

It is now many years later, and my weight is a rollercoaster. I have hypo-thyroidism, which does not help (and nor does my phobia of needles for getting my thyroid checked regularly), but my diet is still all over the place. I am a stress-eater, and I consider my job to be stressful. I am not a smoker, I am not a huge coffee drinker, and this means that when I stress, I use food to cope, and I eat badly.

I look in the mirror and I often wonder how I got to be this way. I try to lose weight, but as soon as an obstacle comes along, I tend to falter in its path. I think part of the problem is that I have a low self-image. While Grant can look at me and say that I am sexy, I look at myself and do not feel it. And I don't think that is something that is going to be shed with weight-loss. When I was overseas and had lost over 10kg in weight over a matter  of months, I still felt over-weight, I still felt like it was not good enough. And when you have that mindset, no amount of weight is ever going to be good enough. At that point,  you have to take a deeper look at yourself and wonder whether your weight-loss or -gain is the real aim, or is there something else about yourself that needs to change - whether it be  your attitude, your lifestyle or your way of coping with things.

To me, I think that I could do with a change in all aspects. I have a very negative way of looking at the world, I live a lazy lifestyle and I do not cope with stress well (screaming and eating being only two of the signs that I am having a bad day) and those are things that are not going to fix themselves with weight-loss. Those are things that may lead to me being happier as a person and happier with myself, and I think that is a good start on the way to having both a healthy body and a healthy mind.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Accident Prone

I took a tumble over the weekend. Not a big one, not one that would normally have featured on my blog, except that it really got me thinking. I took a tumble, and it wasn't the first in recent months.

The first happened a good four months back when I was walking with Grant and Jono to quiz. We were walking and chatting and singing along to Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah, and it was beautiful and poetic and helluvah lucky. There I was, belting it out, "And it goes like this, the fourth the fifth, the minor..." And there I went. Plummeting to earth in a most graceful manner, camera in hand and face forward. I don't know how I did it. I turned in mid-air and instead of landing face-first and camera first in the gravel, I landed back down, head slightly raised and the camera an inch from the ground. It was miraculous. I was bruised in more ways than one, but I was in one piece and I stood up, dusted myself off and was on my way again.

Then, a few months later, there I was feeling sorry for myself, having just failed at diving not for the first time, walking out of the changing room carrying all of my belongings and poof! Down a small flight of stairs. This time I was not so lucky. This time I didn't manage to walk away without a scratch. Instead, I walked away with a bandaged up foot and a sprained ankle that reminded me of my failure for days and weeks on end. There went any thoughts of playing sport. There went any chance of finishing my diving course. There went practically all of my dignity as this fall was not graceful in the slightest, nor was my response. I was a ball of tears and weeping, and let me tell you I am not a pretty sight when I am upset. Trying to make me feel better, the assistant at the dive shop tried to take my mind off the pain by asking how my diving course went. I burst into tears on the spot.

And now, having regained my stride and having finally stopped feeling pangs of pain when I put too much strain on my foot, I have gone and done it again. After the (most amazing) Mango Groove concert on Saturday, we were walking back to the car. Grant had cleverly decided to park off to the side to avoid the rush of festival ongoers and to ensure that he got a parking fairly close to the entrance. It would have been genius, if it hadn't been so dark. On our way into the concert I stumbled over rocks and stones, but made my way in unscathed. On the way out on the other hand... Once again, it was quite beautiful timing. Grant was racing ahead as I tried to find my way between rocks. "Baby," I called out, "Please walk a little slower. I don't want to..." And there I went. Plummeting to earth once again. Only not so graceful this time. Possibly worse than the second fall even. This time it was into a puddle and, once again, I was not unscathed. Not only was I wet and embarrassed, but my ankle was aching in an all-too familiar way. Panic struck. Literally. I started having a panic attack. I have only had 3 in my lifetime, but I know them all-too well as well. The numbing sensation of your whole body that stops you from being able to move even an inch. I had to be carried to the car (not a small feat) and once in, I was dead to the world. Forget shaking. Forget crying. I was utterly gone.

And so, as I lie here in bed, my foot pounding just a little more than is normal for a sprained ankle, I think to myself that it turns out I am accident prone. I don't know when it started. Come to think of it, I have always been one to watch my feet when I walk, so perhaps I have always known. But what I know for certain is that I am going to be watching them a lot closer from now on. Feet, you have been warned, as have all people coming into close proximity to me. I am not to be trusted on my own two feet.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Imaginings in the Dark

I am a big fan of magic, and I don't mean the Disney kind or the Wiccan kind or anything along those lines. I mean sleights of hand, illusion, mentalism and tricks. I find them both fun and fascinating. and I find them to be even more so when the person performing them throws his heart and soul into them so that they are not only good, but reflect the personality of the person performing them. That is probably why I love Stuart Lightbody's shows so much.

Last year I went to see Stuperstition, which ended up winning a Standard Bank Silver Ovation Award, and absolutely loved it! So when Stuart returned to town with another show in his box of tricks, we knew that we were going to have to see it! With all of his shows booking up fast, we decided to book our tickets nice and early, and I'm glad that we did. This show was no exception and there were crowds lining up half an hour before the show even started. There could be no personal greeting upon entrance this time around as the door was stampeded with people trying to get good seats. If Stuart had tried to greet each person with a handshake as he did at the show last year, he would have been crushed by the crowds.

The show itself is a little darker in nature than Stuperstition as the name might imply. It's not that the magic itself is dark or that the humour is dark or that there is less of it, but it is a more thoughtful show and more serious in nature I found. Which, I might add, I see as a good thing. Before the show even starts, each audience member is handed an inkblot picture, and it sets the mood for the show as people discussed what it was they were seeing while waiting for the masses to settle. Throughout the show, the audience is invited and encouraged to consider what is happening before them, to question and, most of all to think.

While the theme of Stuperstition revolves around superstitions and mentalism and Stuart educating the audience on how these things can be done, Dark Imaginings makes more use of the mentalism and slights of hand and becomes less educational and more demonstrative in its nature. It makes for a great show! Stuart is hilarious as always, entertaining as always and brilliant as ever. He works his charms on the audience and enraptures them. Gasps of amazement and wonder were heard more than once and even skeptics found themselves challenging their views.

I would highly recommend seeing at least one of Stuart's shows at this year's festival, but if possible I would recommend seeing them both. There is little similarity between them and I know that I would see them both again in a heartbeat.

Festival Localised

Just as there are advantages and disadvantages to everything in life, there are advantages and disadvantages to being a Grahamstown local during Fest. There are things that I love and there are things that I hate, and it is hard to decide whether this time of year is one of my favourites or one of my worst.

What makes this time of year amazing is the atmosphere that fills the town. It feels like a two-week celebration. All of the things that I dislike about Grahamstown the rest of the year suddenly make their way here. There is food galore. There is entertainment in the form of music, plays, shows and fairgrounds. Town becomes electric and I love it!

What makes it terrible is that the thing that I do love about Grahamstown become ruined. The peaceful quiet of a small town gets lost in the manic hubbub of festival goers. Traffic lines the streets making it nearly impossible to find a parking anywhere and, living on the outskirts of town, this makes partaking in any festival activities pretty darn difficult! Peppergrove becomes nightmarish and I find myself wanting to curl up in bed and not leave because I don't want to face the horror of it all. And yet, you can't help but want to participate in the madness!

So this weekend, Grant, Jono and I decided to brave the Fest Grounds at the Village Green. Though this is not where the magic of the shows themselves happen, this is the centre of all things Fest and may be considered by some to be utter chaos and by others to be heavenly. I tend to gravitate towards the middle of these two opinions and see it as part good, part bad and mostly pretty average. The grounds are filled with tents, and the tents are filled with shops selling odds and ends - clothing, toys, novelties and food. But, of course you have to get into the grounds to experience these!

The first problem that we had was finding parking. The parking during Fest is awful. Absolutely terrible. Last year we managed to find a spot early on, but despite arriving at what I thought was a decent time, the paid parking lot was full, as was the area surrounding it, as was campus and we finally got lucky enough to find a parking on Somerset Street a short walk away. And when I say that we got lucky, it was literally the only parking I could spot in the vicinity and we almost missed it!

I must say that the food that comes to Grahamstown during Fest is probably my favourite part of the whole experience, and the Village Green is where you can find most of the good stuff. Chinese, Indian, Greek, you name it, they've got it! And this was the main purpose of our coming to the Green. Lunch! We wandered between the food stalls before deciding on a three-course menu. First up was Chinese as our main with smoothies to wash it down with.

I am a big fan of Chinese food! I am the advocate for Chinese food in Grahamstown, and I have never been more determined that Grahamstown should have a Chinese restaurant than I was after eating the Chinese at Fest. And that is not because it is amazing. Sadly, the food itself was pretty average - way too oily, way too generic. Not bad, but not very good either. And that was kind of the point. Even though it was just average Chinese, I was still wallowing in the joy of having it! Grahamstown needs a good Chinese place so that this is not the standard for the locals.

The smoothies, on the other hand, were pretty great. I love smoothies and I am determined that Grahamstown should also have a place that makes them. It shouldn't be too difficult to do! I know that Kauai is pretty much off the cards for a small student town, and the smoothies from Fest did not compare, but they were great and were perfect and I would have one on a daily basis if they were available to me! But they are not, sadly. And so I will make do with returning at some point during the Fest and having another.

With Chinese and smoothies in our bellies, we decided to walk around for a bit and see what else was on offer. There were books, but the book stall was not nearly as exciting as last year. I found a wonderful hat stall which sold incredible, steam-punky hats... for R1,800.00. They informed me that they would be bringing in more next week for around R400.00, but even that is beyond my price range! There were beautiful clocks and kaleidoscopes and so many wonderful things that made me ooh and aah!

And then there were the nuts. The greatest thing about Fest in my opinion. Of all the food, the nuts are the things that drive me mad! So, of course, these wonderful, caramelised, cinnamoned drops of goodness had to be mine. R30.00 bought me a small bag full of them, and though it is quite steep, it is also totally worth it! Another thing that I will definitely be returning for.

And finally, we ended off our trip to the Greens with a stop at Wicked Waffles. The smell was enough to bring us in, the idea of alcohol-infused cream was enough to keep us there. One bite was enough for us to know that it had probably been a bad idea and the price convinced us that it was a terrible one. The waffles themselves I found to be pretty average, nothing special. The cream was ridiculous! I am not all that good with my alcohol and find everything to be strong, but even Grant thought it was way too much, like taking a shot of Vodka with every bite. And at R35.00 each for a small waffle, it is not worth your while. I wouldn't recommend them.

And so our Village Green experience ended on a bit of a bad note. We finished our waffles and made our way back to the car, pretty keen to get out of the crowds. But I know that I will be back there next week again! As chaotic as it can be, I don't think that there is anything that can stop me. And that is the joy of Fest! It is a wonderous, terrifying time that we just cannot help but enjoy!

What do other locals think?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Memory of Water

Tonight came close to being a good night. And, in fact for awhile it was! I got to go to an amazing show, I got to spend time with Grant and I had a nice dinner. And then it failed.

But let me start from the beginning. I got to go to an amazing show! It is one of the few shows that I am going to this fest (unlike last year when I had a plan practically every night). And I will admit from the outset that I may be a little biased about it - it was directed by a good friend after all. But that is no reason to let the awesomeness slide. I didn't know what to expect from The Memory of Water. I had read the summary of course, but you know summaries - they don't tell you very much. I even convinced Grant that he had to come along. It took a little persuading, but he relented, especially after I bought him his ticket.

And so, at 17:45 we made our way to NG Kerk Saal to go and see The Memory of Water, directed by Deborah Robertson. I had a little trouble getting in (booking through Computicket and collecting the tickets at the door is not a good plan) but we managed with some time to spare and took our seats towards the middle of the room. Two of the actors stayed on stage while people found their seats, one sleeping while the other smoked to add to the atmosphere that the play was to provide. And then it started.

From the first few lines, I was intrigued. And I stayed that way throughout the play. There wasn't a moment of boredom, there wasn't a moment where I thought that it might have been running to long, there wasn't a moment where I regretted going to the show. The acting was superb, the timing was perfect and, even when things went wrong like the set falling over halfway during the show, they didn't skip a beat as the eldest sister exclaimed "Old house!" and they continued with the script. It was funny, it was poignant, it was heartwrenching and it was amazing. I left smiling and filled with warmth, and I would recommend that everyone snatch up the opportunity to see the show before it finishes on Saturday.

Once the play was over, it was time to grab some dinner. Grant wanted to catch the football, so there was no chance of heading home to cook. So we decided to go to the Albany Club. We tend to go there occasionally for lunch and we knew that they would be open for dinner during fest, they are usually quick and make decent meals, so we decided that would be the place to go. We arrived and quickly found a seat. We had been hoping for a table in the bar area since it is warmer and more lively, but no such luck. Nonetheless, we got a table and settled down for a nice meal. The menu was pretty much the same as it always is - typical pub meals of burgers, calamari, chops, etc. with a few Fest additions like Kudu steaks and Butter Chicken. Grant decided to take advantage of the festival and go for the kudu, while I decided on the calamari. The food was decent and came fairly quickly and I was looking forward to dessert when Grant saw the time out of the corner of his eye and realised that he had to run. Which was fine. I ordered the bill as he ran out of the door and waited for it to come. And waited. And waited some more. A table came in and sat down next to me, ordered, got their food and I was still waiting. The other table finished their meal, got the bill and left and I waited. Finally my waiter came in and asked if I wanted the bill because it seemed that my partner wasn't coming back. To which I responded, with frustration. "Yes, I want that bill. That's why I asked for it 25 minutes ago!" Five minutes later he came back with it, and then left. I waited five more minutes before deciding that it was enough and walking through to the kitchen to pay. My waiter found me there and brought over the card machine. Only to say, "I don't know how to do this". It is not rocket science. Once one of the managers had rung it up, he then handed me both the slip for the restaurant and the one that I am supposed to keep. It boggles my mind.

Anyway, I was more than a little annoyed after this, and I made my way to PnP only to park in front of someone who appeared to be taking some coke in front of my car, not wanting to move out of the way which, though not directly affecting me, still pissed me off even further.

So no, despite a wonderful play and a decent dinner, I am sad to say that it has not been a good night. Here's hoping that tomorrow will be better!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


It comes in waves and unexpectedly.

It starts with something as simple as a picture. A photo of a friend from way back when that takes me back to days spent laughing in hotel rooms and getting into trouble that seemed so big at the time and feels so small now, sneaking bottles of champagne at New Years and regretting it in the morning, kissing and telling and moving on quickly, lessons and card games and thinking it would last forever. Thinking that we'd always stay young.

Tumbles forward to nights spent ballroom dancing in a crowded Friar Tucks, spent huddled in a res room listening to Placebo and planning surprise birthday parties in the middle of the night. Days spent juggling classes and social life, old friends and new ones, bouncing off the walls with excitement at new opportunities and new places to go, things to do, people to meet.

Until suddenly first year is over. The fun is fading as I come to the realisation that my University life can't just be non-stop partying. Friends fade as groups split and new friends are found closer to home. Suddenly I become the responsible one, the reliable one, the sensible one, the one who will stand up for you, will butt in to help and will speak your mind when you are too scared to. The friend who tells you what she thinks, but is there for you if you decide to do your thing regardless.

And before I know it, I am moving out, am settling in, am studying hard and partying little, am reclusive and despondent. Still there if you call me, but lost in my own world for the most part. Away from the centre of things, I start to cave in on myself, stop venturing outside the eight walls of the two rooms that comprise my homes. Lectures, home, Grant, home.

And it is finished. Four years of studying comes to a grand finale of examinations and expectations and tearful goodbyes. A heartbreaking ten hour journey stands between Grahamstown and Cape Town, both halfway houses to my grander plan of Korea, excitement, exploration and exhiliration. And it is exhilirating. A year of once-in-a-lifetime experiences. New friends, new places, a new start away from everything that I know, everything that I want. A whirlwind year of thrills and spills, fun and heartache, learning in a new way what the world is about. Travel and people and places that I will never see again.

Only to return to Grahamstown a year later. Grahamstown, which never changes but changes so consistently at the same time. New people, but young people, people that I can no longer relate to. New places, but all the same in their vibes, their atmospheres, their memories of days gone by that haunt me everywhere I go, reminding me of my youth and the people that I miss.

Nostalgia comes in waves and unexpectedly, and then fades into the distance as my daily routine resumes.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Breaking the Bad Habits

I hate calorie (or kilojoule) counting. I hate it with a passion. I don't like being around people who do it and whenever I find myself doing it, it feels like I become an annoying, overbearing, obsessive person, and I don't like that feeling. And yet, I have found myself doing a lot of it lately.

I am trying my damndest to be healthy lately. And I could say that it is because my friends and I have a contest going on where the person to lose the most weight by the 20th will be winning a wad of cash. But I don't think that is quite it either. Sure, the contest gave me some incentive to get started, incentive that was definitely needed! But a couple of nights before it was suggested, I was sitting in bed and, inexplicably, I was crying. I just couldn't stop it. The tears were just leaking out of me unprovoked. I'd had a bad day, and it culminated into a bad week, month and year so far with everything that has gone wrong just taking over in my mind. And there have been quite a few things going wrong. Not that things are dreadful, but you know how it happens - you start obsessing about something bad and all of the other bad things come to mind and take over completely until you can't think of anything else. And a big contribution towards that was my weight.

My weight has always been very up and down. It was way down when I was young, and then I hit puberty and it shot up. Around the age of 17, I started getting it back down, and then around 20 it started creeping up again. At age 22, during my year in Korea, I got it back down to where I was fairly comfortable with it (sure, I still wanted to lose some weight, but I was a good 10 kgs lighter than when I had arrived). And then I came back to Grahamstown. And in one year it all came back, bringing its friends along to join in the fun.

I know that weight is not the be-all and end-all of life. I know that being thin does not make you happy. I know that indulging every whim doesn't either. But I also know that exercise releases endorphins, and I know that being comfortable with your body does make you more comfortable in general. I know that I would feel a lot less awkward about going out if I didn't have to try on five different outfits, all of which I feel are completely unflattering.

And so I am one week in. I am dieting, but not crash-dieting. I like to think of it less as dieting in fact and more as changing my eating habits for good. I am trying to cut down on wheat, since I suspect that my thyroid isn't a big fan of it. And speaking of my thyroid, I am trying my best to take my thyroid medication. Everyday. Which I am usually pretty darn bad at. I am also trying to eat breakfast everyday. And I am exercising. I went walking and jogging every day last week and, despite the weather turning bad, I intend to keep at it.

So, there is a new section that you can expect to see in my blog, and that is things that I have been eating. And for the first segment:

Chicken Salad
Italian minestrone and rye bread
Rice cakes with lettuce and tuna
Rice cakes with fat free cottage cheese and lemon chicken
Grilled chicken, salad and baked potato
Portuguese grilled chicken with mixed veg and mint rice
Baked fish with lemon, mixed veg and bakes potato
Turkey and avocado on rye
Fat free vanilla yoghurt
Original rice crackers with fat free cottage cheese
Celery and fat freee cottage cheese
One breakfast rusk with my one cup of coffee in the morning

Monday, May 21, 2012

Reviews to Come

Omigosh I have so many things to review! Mostly because I have been doing things lately, which is good :) Though the doing things tends to involve my couch or bed or warm clothes or something along those lines. Anyway, I have been trying! But because I have so many things to review, it is going to be difficult to review them all in separate posts. So, instead, here are the things that I have been watching, reading, eating and doing lately along with a 5/10 rating. Some of these will be properly reviewed as soon as I have some time on my hands which, hey! Starts today! Also, bear in mind that when I say lately, I am thinking over the last month. So bear with me here.

Machine Gun Preacher: 3/10
The Roommate: 3/10
Hunger Games: 7/10
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel: 8/10
Captain America (rewatched): 6/10
The Avengers: 8/10
The Vow: 6/10
Young Adult: 4/10

Dead Famous: 4/10
Hunger Games Trilogy: 8/10
American Gods: 7/10
Equal Rights: 8/10 (so far)

Grilled aubergine with parmesan: 6/10
Chicken wraps with homemade yoghurt sauce: 8/10
Individual Mojito Cheesecakes: 7/10

Eating out
Wakaberry: 10/10
Cafe D'Vine: 8/10

Watch this space for more :)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

What Grahamstown Needs

I remember when I first moved to Grahamstown, how everything was new and there were always things to do, places to go, and people to see. There were friends and there were clubs, there was peer pressure but it was a good thing and there was lots of fun to be had. But all of that was back when I was a student.

Having been back in Grahamstown for over a year now, I have been finding things very different. All of the places seem boring! There is hardly ever anything new, and when there is something new it is aimed at the students. What about those of us who haven’t joined the clubs? What about those of us who want to socialise with people our own age (even if that age happens to be closer to the students than a large portion of the working population?)

I have found that there are a number of things missing from Grahamstown. And I thought that I would put together a list of things that Grahamstown needs. Feel free to add to the list, feel free to contest the list. Feel free to ignore the list entirely and continue on with your lives as though this never happened. But here it is:

Things that Grahamstown needs
  • Cuisine.
    This is something that many people will   have heard me talk about. I am so bored with the food that I can get in Grahamstown! I like going out for meals, but there is little variety in town. And instead of opening new restaurants with different kinds of cuisine, the two new restaurants that are expected to open are Ocean Basket (bringing the number of fish places up to 3) and a Romans Pizza (bringing the number of pizza places up to 4 if you are not including the Rat, Ginos and Yellow House as pizza places - though their pizzas are what many people think they are popular for). What I want to see is Chinese, Indian, Thai, Mexican, Smoothies, Frozen Yoghurt and Kauai. These are things that are severely lacking in Grahamstown, and I think that having the variety would make a big difference to the overwhelming boredom that I am feeling at the moment.
  • Cafes.
    A lot of the cafes in Grahamstown are food cafes, and that is not quite what I am thinking of. I am   thinking of nice places to go for coffee. Places with magazines and couches, little nooks and crannies and places with personality that make you want to go into them. I blame Korea for this idea, because when I think of a cafe, I think of the Umbrella cafe or the Noriter or any number of little cafes that we would go to that felt like an experience more than just a cup of coffee.

    On another note, but the same topic... I would like to see some cafes that are open at night. I know that Rhodes has a reputation of drinking, but it doesn't help that the only places open at night are restaurants and bars. How about having a cafe that is open in the evenings for coffee and hot chocolate on cold winter nights. Lord knows that I struggle to find a cup of hot chocolate in the bars! The last time I tried, I was told most severely that only the kitchen staff could open a container of Nestle, put four heaped spoons of the stuff into a mug and pour boiling water over it, and the kitchen was closed.
  • Themed cafes.
    Okay, still on the cafe thing, but this is deserving of a post of its very own. I love themed cafes! One of the ones that I loved the most when in Korea were the Cat/Pet Cafes, and I think that they are great ideas. You pay a little more than you usually would for a cup of coffee and are treated to an experience with beautiful animals, all up for adoption, that you can play with. It's great for families that can't keep pets. It's great for people who are looking to adopt. It's great for the pets themselves because they get the attention that they so desperately need and the proceeds go towards keeping them well fed and happy. It is just great in general and I think that, if not Grahamstown, there should be one of these somewhere in SA. But why not Grahamstown, huh?

    Another one of these themed cafes would be a Boardgame cafe - a place where you can go to play anything from Scrabble, to Settlers of Catan, to Balderdash and beyond. There could be any number of boardgames and people would be welcome to come in, buy some coffee and take one for their table. I suspect that this would be a lot of fun and would do well in a place like Grahamstown.
  • Activities.
    Grahamstown is really lacking in activities. There is little to do aside from going to restaurants and going to bars, and I can think of a number of things that would change that. Mostly, I have four ideas:

    Bowling alley
    Go cart racing
    Putt Putt

    Now, obviously most of those require quite a lot of space, but the one that does not is Noraebang. It would be really simple to arrange - it just requires some capital and a nice big house central to town with lots of rooms. Couches, TVs, karaoke software, microphones and a liquor license. There. Sorted. I think that it would be insanely popular in Grahamstown! What is it? Think Karaoke, but with just your closest friends. Think SingStar, but after a night on the town, on comfy couches. Think less embarrassment and more fun! I don't like karaoke, hate singing in front of a room of people. I love Noraebang because it doesn't matter how badly you sing, it just matters that you are belting it out and having a good time!
  • Spice It Up.
    My final few ideas are just things to spice up what is already here (ie. bars). First of all, there needs to be more live music and live music with more variety. I enjoy live music. I don't enjoy having to pay R30.00 entrance fee to go and see it, but I will on occasion. The point is that there should be more of it and more variety of it. Bars should be open to letting people pick up their instruments, bring them in and play. Have jamming sessions. It would be fun!

    And finally, I know it has been tried before, but hubbly bars. Not the kind like Pop Up or Cow Moon either. I am thinking along the lines of the Ethnic Bars that I used to go to in Korea. Down dodgy staircases into brightly lit basements with fountains in the middle of them, little alcoves carved into the walls and colourful pillows scattered around. And fruit soju. Man, someone in SA needs to import some of that stuff!
And so concludes my opinion on what Grahamstown wants, needs and deserves. Who's with me??