The Tornado And Mad British Humans

The weather today was atrocious, but the kind of atrocious that’s actually quite nice. Instead of an insistent drizzle that climbs under your skin and drives you mad, it was this howling, tearing, windy rain splattered maelstrom of a day.

The wind slapped the windows, the rain clobbered the roof, puddles became lakes, lakes became shark-infested waters.

Actually, that last bit was a lie…

Anyway, I was unreasonably excited. I had bought my very first pair of wellies EVER and a revolting, flower patterened raincoat to match. I loved them. I’m not going to delve into the stupidity/madness/weirdness of my having not invested in wellies and a raincoat in the five years I’ve been here. No. I’m not.

I put on my wellies. I buttoned up my raincoat. I girded my loins. I stepped outside.

I was magnificent! I strode forth with purpose! I was toasty! I was dry! I was like a British Human. Water was pouring off my raincoat and I had turned into a garishly coloured blob of weather-proof wonder.

Which is when I started looking around me and realised that 70% of the British Humans walking about on the roads with me were not wearing any form of protective gear At All. Some women approaching the school gates were wearing the same outfits they wore last week on a warm, sunny autumn afternoon. Seriously. Are they all completely mad?

I scuttled into the school building for shelter. They all stood outside, as per usual, waiting for the back gates to open. Once the gates opened they all stood out in the rain, some of them in JEANS AND T-SHIRTS and carried on chatting as if they were on a beach in Mexico. I was huddled beneath a tiny triangle of fabric that offered meagre solace from the wind and howling rain.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen this is a true story. I would have taken pictures but my phone would have stopped working. It was THAT wet.

And my conclusion? If I get caught in a nuclear winter I want to get caught with Brits. They wouldn’t notice if their arms were falling off and if the temperature was below freezing, and they would probably share out the available land into carefully policed allotments to produce food for the masses.

A Week In Pictures: The Big Sleep, The Watermelon and The Beach

Last week was a manic mix of busy with work, dying with flu (am NOT stoic Brit. am miserable, grumpy git) and juggling a child who is not settling into school very well.

There is definitely a post coming up on ways to cope with them exerting control by not eating. Boy, have we had a time of it. However, this post is a week in pictures. Shots that made me laugh, made me sigh, made me actually fall over laughing, and made my inner mommy melt.

We started the week with a shopping trip at TKMax and lunch with Diary of  a First Child and her family. Obviously I adore them. They are Saffas. We may even meet up IN South Africa. Now how’s that for surreal? We can wave across the herds of elephants that trek through Jo’burg every morning.

School has had a very soporific effect on my offspring. She was very cross with me for some reason, hid behind the pouf with the blanket over her head so I couldn’t “find” her, and promptly fell asleep before I got back. Just to help you see how fast that was, I only went to get myself an apple. THAT fast. It is super cute though. Little mole creature found beside pouf.

Tuesday was the same. I went to get her a bowl for her raisins (Her Majesty does NOT consume these out of the perfectly serviceable raisin thingamajig) and came back to the sight of her snoring on her little chair. This time I had to move her, how uncomfortable does THAT look?

As you can see we lead RIVETING lives. Once again she fell asleep while I was doing something. In this case, I was sitting in the warm sun sorting through my bag, trying to find my credit card so I could get something for dinner. Out she went.

This was the sign in Worthing Hospital that made The Husband and I CRY with laughter. The POOR pregnant women who come here. This completely empty foyer that echoes when you breathe, has minimal lighting, no humans, and a sign that asks you to pretty much do the equivalent of run the marathon while trying to pull a watermelon out your ass. 

 It was a tough day. I was busy, but Squidge couldn’t go to school after the Exorcist moment so I was stressed because I couldn’t work. Then we went to the beach. A mobile phone camera doesn’t do the absolutely frabjousness of this view any justice. Ah. Calm.

Time: 10:45

Date: 27 September 2010

Case Number: CSI: 1172372310

Star of Toy Story 3 found murdered in luxury suite. CSI are on the case and following up suspects. Squidge suspected and held for questioning. So far no signs of her clothing or the murder weapon have been found. Investigation ongoing. Information welcome.

Guest Post: A Vision of Africa

Today’s guest post should have been announced with trumpets and a loud bang, but sadly my cold and lethargy made me barely capable of tapping a keyboard at all. This post is from my Person. She is a total South African convert and is now engaged to one of us addictive folk and is planning a December wedding to her African sweetheart this year. Here she talks about her visions of South Africa.

I spend a fair bit of time in South Africa; in fact, I will have spent a quarter of 2010 there by the time we’re done with another year.

There are two questions that I routinely get asked about SA:

1) what’s it’s like and 2) have you ever seen a lion?

The main preconceptions (prior to the world cup at least) seemed to be:

1) the roads are generally dusty tracks 2) you’ll probably be driving past lions and elephants 3) it’s hot ALL the time 4) it’s a bit…backward.

When I’m in SA, I spend the majority of my time in Johannesburg and I love it.  People seem to have even stronger preconceptions (and misconceptions) about Joburg than they do about the country as a whole!

Thanks to shock programmes made by Louis Theroux and, more recently, our ‘esteemed’ English footballers wives and girlfriends, the main view of Joes is that danger lurks in every dark recess of the city.

There are gun-toting, crack-smoking pimps, gangsters and hookers hanging out on every street corner; poverty abounds and in most high-rise blocks, that were once nice, there are either brothels or hundreds of illegal immigrants hiding out in rooms with stolen electricity or none at all.

It’s amusing, and frustrating, that these programmes aren’t balanced with visits to places like Sandton and Sandton City, it’s ENORMOUS shopping mall  (the biggest in the Southern Hemisphere as it happens and if you can’t get something there, well then it’s likely it doesn’t exist).  Here, wide city roads are lined with trees and tall, shiny glass high rise buildings.

Ferrari, Porsche, Lamborghini and Aston Martin are the badge you’ll see the cars that sleek past you if you visit South Africa’s richest square mile.  Hmmm, not quite the Wild West that makes for good TV ratings and out-pouring of charity cash, which is why we don’t get to see it.

Before I carry on, let me answer the burning question…yes, I have seen a lion whilst I’ve been in SA. No it wasn’t just strolling casually along the side of the road when I popped out to the local shops under armed guard.

So what’s it REALLY like?

This is where it gets tricky because it has so much of, well, EVERYTHING!  It’s diverse, it’s modern, it’s ancient, it’s complex, it can be shocking. It’s fabulous!

To truly understand SA you need to experience it, live in it for a while (if you can) so you can get to know it and the people who make up it’s nation.

The first world that springs to mind when I’m asked, “What’s it like?”, is BIG!

Everything is big. The cities are big – Joburg is enormous – the freeways are big, the mostly unwidened M25 looks like a Liliput road in comparison. The shopping malls are massive – big doesn’t even go some way to describing those – the BIG five (lions, leopards, elephants, buffalo and rhino) are native to Africa.

But by far my most favourite big of all is the sky – I still haven’t worked out how, but it feels bigger here than in any of the other places I’ve been in the world. (I know! I still feel like the UK sky is about to fall on my head. I totally relate to Obelix – Tam)

Lightning over Johannesburg.

When they’re deep blue and crystal clear it feels so high up and out of reach, it’s as if someone’s lifted the ceiling on the world. When it’s stormy and the clouds roll in, boy, are you in for a treat! VAST apocolyptic skies descend which are fabulously menacing and often erupt into the most epic storms I’ve ever experienced which shake you to your very core.

South Africa is BIG.

Another word is STUNNING!  If you want scenery and sunsets of the kind that will take your breath away then South Africa is the place to go.  Most people assume that the landscape is predominantly flat, sandy yellow plains, dotted with cartoonesque cacti and termit mounds which go on forever, if that’s what you’re after then you’re in luck! They have that.

But there’s so much more.  Drive the Garden Route and you’ll experience everything from lush green hillsides (yep, there is green in South Acrica), to huge mountains that loom in the distance, and driving along their passes through the clouds you’ll read signs warning of ice and snow which might have a monkey or two perched on top of them (I kid you not!).  

Exotic plants that we can only grow in our greenhouses or conservatories grow freely in gardens and unfamiliar birds of various sizes are everywhere, and if I start talking about the beaches and what it’s like to watch the gentle rise and fall of the ocean by moonlight then I might start drooling!

I first went to South Africa in 1992 and I fell in love with the Hadedah bird (African Ibis) – they’re big, they’re noisy and are one of the things I look forward to seeing most whenever I go back. I’m sure the ‘natives’ think I’m mad but, for me, there’s always just been something magical about this fabulous bird.

South Africa is STUNNING.

Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t always bathed in hot sunshine. OK, so the weather is predominantly sunny but in Joes, during the winter, don’t be surprised if temperatures dip into minus figures overnight and you find yourself scraping frost off your car very early in the morning.  When I packed to go back in August (their winter) my kids thought it was most amusing to see me bundling jumpers and warm winter clothes into my case, I needed them too!

Another thing you’ll notice as you drive around the country is the sheer number of white cars! It’s funny the things you notice, and this is one of the most obvious. Here, almost every other car is either black or silver but THERE, I’m telling you, for every non-white car there has to be at least 10 white ones.

I suppose I had to get round to black and white at some time. South Africa’s Apartheid history is just that – history.  It’s interesting to watch the country and it’s people moving on from this part of their past, and it’s important for anyone who really wants to understand this complex part of the country’s to LEARN about it rather than just regurgitate what they’ve heard on the news or from John who lives two doors down from their friend’s cousin’s neighbour in Scotland.

It’s also important to realise that you can’t just sweep away the colour barriers (or any barriers in any country in the world for that matter) and expect all things to be equal overnight, it’s not as simple as that.

Yes, there are a lot of black people living in tiny corrugated shacks in informal settlements and townships, but there are a lot of very wealthy black people too; and before we start climbing too high up on the moral high ground, there are a lot of white (and black) people living in poverty and sleeping on the streets of our own country.

The younger generations don’t see colour – it’s not unusual for black teenagers to have white friends and vice versa. The only thing that’s odd about it to them is if someone comments on it. Sure there are still some members of older generations who don’t like it, but in my experience they are VERY few and far between.

The overwhelming sense I get from the nation as a whole – young, old and every age in between – is one of excitement. This is a new country now and one that can moulded into whatever its people want it to be.  Yes, there is crime and yes people live behind big walls with electric fencing running around the top.

Yes there are things you shouldn’t do and places you shouldn’t go to, otherwise you’ll be asking for trouble – but there are those places here too remember, and if you walk around parts of London with your bag open or your wallet in your back pocket, then don’t be surprised if you get home and find things have been taken from you.

South Africa is COMPLEX.

That’s not a South African robot

South Africans are FIERCLY patriotic and proud of their country and with initiatives like Lead SA going on, there is no doubt in my mind that the country will be a very different one again in another twenty years time.

You don’t even have to go to SA to experience the patriotism, you only have to talk to an ex-pat. They have such a strong sense of what it means to be South African, such a sense of pride in their cultural identity and they are FRIENDLY!

As a Brit this is the thing that hits me most whenever I’m there – people smile at you, people you don’t know! And they talk to you too! If you talk to a stranger they don’t look at you like you’re some sort of weirdo no, get this, they talk BACK! And they will probably share a laugh with you too!  It’s always a bit of a shock, landing back in the UK, and realising that’s not welcome here. 

South Africa’s friendliness and pride is one of the things I am deeply envious of. We just don’t have that anymore.

They have funny names for things. Ask a South African for directions in your car and you’ll likely get something like this: “Go down the road and turn right at the robot, then go over two circles, past the braai shop bla bla bla.” So you’ll merrily drive down the road, get to the traffic lights and wonder if you should go left, right or straight on now? They didn’t say but one thing’s for sure, you haven’t seen the robot they were talking about and what on EARTH are braais?!

Traffic lights are robots, circles are roundabouts and braais are barbequeues (and OH do South Africans know how to braai, you’ll never want to go to an English BBQ again once you’ve braaid in SA!) – there are a whole host of other things with funny names that I can’t remember right now.

Their taxis are MAD, don’t think private hire cabs that come and pick you up and deliver you door to door – think mini buses PACKED full of people who take thier life in their hands every time they get in one! The taxi drivers read the rules of the road and then make up their own version, almost everyone has a tale or ten to tell about encounters with SA taxis.

If you’ve been to South Africa and never eaten koeksisters, biltong or boerwors then I’m sorry, you simply haven’t lived. Koeksisters are the most evil things on the planet – I did them to death when I was there in April and May and will be eternally grateful that they don’t display it’s (lack of) nutritional content on the label, you’d just cry.

Biltong – air-dried and cured meat – sounds odd to us, tastes fabulous and I could happily live on it.  Boerwors, sausages will never be quite good enough again once you’ve eaten Boerwors, especially if it’s been braai’d!!  And as for Ouma’s rusks – oh just don’t get me started on those otherwise I’ll be in big trouble.

You see, I’m going back to SA for a month over December and January and am facing the prospect of a bikini on the beach in Durban in Christmas day – how WEIRD is that going to be!!!! Everything will be back to front – Christmas in the summer, leaves on the trees and HOT sunshine in December, I can’t wait!

And what makes it more exciting is being in Tamsin’s native land at the same time as her and having her about ten minutes up the road when we’re both in Joes! I only know her from here, I only know ‘my bit’ of Joburg without her – to have the two together is going to be surreal to say the least, but utterly amazing.

Rugby! You can’t talk about South Africa and not mention rugby. If you don’t know anything about the game, or you don’t like it, you have two choices  when you’re in the country – either get with it, or get out!

Back in 1992 I got in – it was the the only way – and in August I was at the Soccer City Stadium (sorry, the FNB Stadium) with 94,000 other rabid rugby fans to watch the Springboks (SA national rugby team) take on the New Zealand All Blacks. 

The atmosphere can only be described as A M A Z I N G and I waved my SA flag and cheered on the Boks as if they were my own.  You see, I feel more at home in South Africa than I do here in the UK. I know all about the crime statistics and everything else ‘negative’ about the country but, for me, the positives outweigh all of those things and I’d live there permanently again in a heartbeat.

I’ve found this really hard, tthere’s SO much about South Africa to tell that it’s almost impossible to know where to start.  It’s no good, if you REALLY want to know what it’s like, get yourself on a plane and go there for as long as you can.  But I warn you…you might not want to come back!

(Thanks, Sarah, you’ve made me INCREDIBLY homesick)

South African advertising, still extremely funny

It was with a large dose of delight that I rediscovered my enjoyment of hilarious adverts the other day. Yesterday, in fact. This was largely due to my being sick as a dog with this vile cold. I thoroughly enjoyed Juan Sheet (please, tell me that the bum scene doesn’t make you heave with laughter?) but it was this advert that won the day.

S sent this one over to me and I couldn’t stop laughing. Oh man, this is funny. If you’re feeling low, are having a bad day, or could do with a chuckle then watch away. Warning: there are naked people…

Pass The Koeksister

This IS a blog about a Souf Efrican in England so it’s about time I actually did something that was native. I thought that I would kick things off with my favourite South African food of all time – the koeksister.

This utterly blissful cake/sweet treat is quite a demanding thing to make, but if you do it right you will think you’ve died and gone to heaven. I’ve put a great recipe below for those of you who are adventurous in the kitchen. Those of you who prefer to just get them made for you can order them using the links below.

So what IS a koeksister exactly? To describe it I would say that it is a combination of a doughnut and those cookies that Silky used to make in Enid Blyton’s Faraway Tree series – the ones that you put in your mouth and then exploded so warm honey ran down the back of your throat.

Koeksisters (or Koeksusters) come in two cultural flavours. The Afrikaaner Koeksister is the one I’ve described here, then there is the traditional Cape Malay Koeksuster that is slightly thicker and softer, rolled in coconut and a bit spicy. Personally, I prefer the Afrikaaner version but either will do!

The perfect koeksister has to be crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside, and dripping with honey or syrup. A stodgy, thick, gooey koeksister just isn’t done right. There is an art to it and they can’t be whipped up in a day.

If any of you live near Brighton you’ll find a lady selling fantastic koeksisters at Brighton Pier. Or you can sidle into the South African food shop at Victoria Station in London.

If you like cakes then please, please do yourself the biggest favour in the world and try one of these. While not for everybody, they are a little slice of South African heaven…

The Recipe


For the syrup:
1kg sugar
500ml water
2 pieces fresh green ginger peeled and crushed
½ teaspoon cream of tartar
Pinch of salt
Grated rind and juice of ½ lemon

For the dough:
500g flour 
1/2 tsp salt
2 tablespoons baking powder
55g butter – chopped into fine pieces or grated
1 egg
250-375ml milk or water

Start Cooking

Make the syrup by sticking all the ingredients into a saucepan and heating until all that sugar has completely dissovled. Then let the mixture come to the boil for about a minute (cover), then remove the lid and keep it sizzling for another five mins. Don’t stir.

Once everything is syrupy and gooey stick it in the fridge overnight. OVERNIGHT. Ignore the two hours here and there from other recipes. This needs to be cold, cold, cold for the next stage.

Then sieve the dry ingredients together and rub in the butter with your fingertips. You can either grate the butter or cut it into very fine pieces before doing this. Beat the egg, add 250ml milk and mix it with the dry ingredients – gradually adding the liquid until a soft dough is formed.

Keep adding the milk if the dough is too thick, stiff or cracked. Knead the dough thoroughly until bubbly and soft and then leave it under a damp cloth for about an hour. Once this has settled nicely, roll out the dough to 1cm thick and then cut it into 1cm strips. Twist the strips together so they look like the picture, and pinch the ends together.  Make each koeksister about 5-8cm long. Look, as long as they fit in your pan you can have fun with the sizes.

Now comes the fun bit! Keep all children AWAY!

Heat about 7-10cm of oil to 180-190 degrees centigrade. Test it by dropping in some bread – if it goes golden brown then the oil is ready. Fry the koeksisters for one to two minutes, or until they turn that yummy golden brown, on both sides.  Lift them with a slotted spoon, pop them onto a paper towel for a second or two to absorb the excess oil, and then drop them into the cold, cold, syrup for about a minute.

One problem you face is keeping the syrup cold as you plunge all your hot koeksisters into it so either keep it in the fridge between fries, or put it inside a bowl/sink of ice.

Lift your koeksisters out of the syrup with a ladle wif holes in so the excess syrup drips back in, and then pop them onto a wire rack to cool down.

Enjoy with tea, after supper, for breakfast, with lunch, on the way to school, in front of the TV, and while exercising.

Saffas Wot Sell Them:

Disclaimer: I haven’t tried these koeksisters (just ordered some from Ouma’s Kitchen) so will keep you updated. Certainly Ouma’s Kitchen is the cheapest of those I’ve found and just the name inspires trust. Will HAVE to review her stuff!

The SANZA Shop

St. Marcus Fine South African Foods

Ouma’s Kitchen

Guest Post: Johannesburg Contrasts

As promised, here is an interesting post from Jade from Now that I’m no longer 25… I know that I wish I was still under 30, gosh, I never creaked back then. Or put my back out opening the bin. Pah. Anyway, Jade visited South Africa and it really had an impact on her. I found her views really poignant. Enjoy…

Jade getting to know the locals...

I’ve only been to South Africa once so far but it is a country which has played on my thoughts since. I was both appalled and intrigued by my trip to Johannesburg. My return to the UK left me wanting to find out more about the country and its history.

I felt as if everything there was unusual and out of place from my common surroundings.

I travel quite a lot and I’ve never really had that feeling of such different surrounds, behaviours and attitudes.

There was definitely something different about being in South Africa, and Johannesburg in particular. Usually when I return from a trip I’m eager to blog about it and share my photos and stories, however, with this trip I took 6 months to describe what I thought of Jo’burg.

On arrival at Johannesburg the immigration staff were laughing and joking with each other while having a quick scan though my passport, a slightly different approach to the US customs officials!

I travelled by pre-booked taxi and I was amazed at the size of the city, it felt like one of the largest cities I had ever been in, this was both exciting and intimidating.

It was quite disorientated travelling from the airport which is quite unlike me, I usually have a pretty decent sense of direction.

I found Johannesburg both terrifying and compelling at the same time and I realised how little I know about a country in which there have been memorable and important events within my lifetime. I had heard stories about Johannesburg and seen snippets on the TV, for example, so I did arrive there with quite a lot of preconceived ideas.

I was staying with family too, so I had a different view of the city and the day to day living situation compared to if I’d been there as a lone tourist.

I passed by a township and I couldn’t even comprehend it having seen it with my own eyes, it was like watching a movie. I can’t even being to imagine what it’s like to live in those conditions. I did notice there seemed to be a strong sense of community, with groups sitting, chatting and laughing together.

I always find that no matter where people come from and what living situations they are in, almost everyone like to interact and laugh with someone else.

For many people there seems to be a constant thought or threat of something happening; with many people choose to live with electric fences, gates and panic buttons. This is so very different to what I’m used to in Scotland, not being able to walk down to the local shop or walk around the city is completely foreign to me.

I suppose if you grow up with these surrounding you accept them but I think I’d struggle to live like this and accept it as a normal way of life.

I couldn’t believe the difference between the wealthy people in Johannesburg and the people in the townships. In some ways there have been many changes since the overthrow of the apartheid government, but then again, there is still a long way to go.

I was really lucky to be able to visit Johannesburg and experience it, I’m glad I did and I would love to go back but I don’t think I could ever live there. I did have a really fun and interesting trip and it was great to catch up with family.

I got a glimpse of the beauty of this country, visiting the Elephant Sanctuary and also learned a lot more about what life’s like for some people in Johannesburg and the amazing contrasts that exist every day in this huge city.

Tamsin’s note: It really is a country of contrasts and a lot of work still needs to be done, but things are really changing for the better. And just look at that sunset. Oh man, that’s one of the things I crave from home.

Only in South Africa

These are some images from an email that’s doing the rounds at the moment (if you click on the images you’ll be taken to the credited site) and that made me a) homesick (don’t laugh!) and b) cry with laughter.

Before you think that’s just a funny sticker, I’d like to remind you that this is the country where a man was pulled over for driving his taxi using a spanner instead of a steering wheel. NOT an urban myth.

That one is my personal favourite. Just. Too. Funny. For the lovely English humans that visit my blog, “kak” is an Afrikaans swearword and it’s closest English equivalent is “shit”.

My Person

Definition: Your Person is someone who understands you completely, who ignores your crappy bits, gets your moods, loves you for you who are, and never judges you. They can be a friend, a lover, a sister, a brother – anyone who will drop everything and stand by your side when you need them.

Even when it’s just to moan about new bloodthirsty shoes that eat feet.

I have a Person. This post is for her because she constantly amazes me as a friend. We met online in 2005 when I was lost, lonely and freshly pregnant. I had been in the UK for three months, had no new friends, and felt completely terrified by everything. We met on Babyworld and I liked her from the moment she sent me a rude email. Something to do with lots of shagging in a Beeb show.

We emailed constantly, forging bonds, sharing pregnancy ups and downs, and generally taking the mickey out of everything. You see, my Person is not only strong, kind, caring and consistent, she’s also very wicked. I have a fondness for wicked.

When I sat in the dark at 2am fretting about how pregnancy was changing my shape. Worrying that my Husband would lose interest in me. Worrying that I wasn’t going to be good enough. My Person was on the other end of the computer telling me to stop being a twat.

Four years later we have the kind of friendship I treasure and I would like to tell her, “Thanks.”

Thank you for not minding that I am the most paranoid human being on the planet. For accepting that part of me and yet never assuming that any of my fears are based in that paranoia. You take every one of my worries seriously.

Thank you for making me laugh so hard that I weed. I was nine months pregnant at the time, but still…

Thank you for never, ever judging me. Well, you might have, but you never said anything, which was nice.

Thank you for remembering my birthday even though I never remember yours. For always posting my daughter a card. For buying my 40th birthday card when I was only 36. You have a year to go, honey. Finally that card can come home. I may actually frame it.

Thank you for completely getting my insane brand of humour and for hours of giggling like we were teens.

Thank you for calling me fatty, you horrible stick insect.

Thank you, Person, for staying in my life and making it richer every single day. I trust you, a gift I don’t give easily, and I wish you every ounce of joy on the difficult path you have chosen. I am right here when you need me.

Hello Africa!

I am beyond excited. In fact, I think the emotion I’m feeling is so far beyond excited that it needs an entirely new dictionary definition. I am going home. For the first time in three years I am going to South Africa on holiday to see my family, my friends and, of course, the ephelants.

It’s been a rocky few years with me promising my friends and family that I’ll be going over, “in August”, “sorry it will be next year”, and so forth. The delightful recession, losing my job and other such factors always stuck their foot in and prevented us from going. I was fed up, tired, upset and gutted, but the time wasn’t right.

But, like all things in this world, my mantra “this too shall pass” came true and today I bought three return tickets to Johannesburg in December. It is the most exciting thing in the WORLD for me. It makes the long hours, the hard work, the homesick sniffles all worth it. The day we touch down and I breathe in that African air – rich with dust, sun, warmth and all things that make it home.

We’ll be having a summer Christmas. An oddity for the dear friends I’ve made in the UK, that’s for sure, but a normal one for me. I’ll be sure to make you a boerwors roll on the braai!

And, in honour of this fabulous day here is one of my all time favourite versions of Toto’s song, “Africa”. It’s awesome.

The Great Escape[s]

It appears that exotic pets around the world have received a memo – Escape And Scare The Natives. I am finding it hilarious.

So, on Tuesday Panjo the tiger escaped from the back of his owners’ bakkie in South Africa. While on his way to the vet, Panjo broke free from his cage and went off to explore the surrounds of Pretoria. It wasn’t the fact that there was a 140kg tiger running loose that got me but rather the news coverage that surrounded it.

The radio stations in SA were all chatting about there being a tiger on the loose the same way you might discuss some tea leaves having come loose. The online coverage was hysterical. My personal favourites are this one from the BBC where they felt it necessary to point out that tigers are not native to SA. HAHAHA. And this one where they talk about him having a bottle on the sofa like a baby.

I guess I just found the fact that the owner was really worried about Panjo’s cuts and bruises very amusing. Not because I want a tiger to be hurt, no no, but because it’s a TIGER. These animals roam jungles and kill us with a pat of their paw. And we’re worried about him wandering around the bush for a few days?

The second animal that has decided to amble off into the wild is a pet boa constrictor in Essex. 

What is with these people and their insane pets? A tiger I can kind of understand. I mean, tigers are cool and a pet tiger is somewhat awesome. But a pet boa constrictor? Can you even train it not to eat you?

Again, I am demonstrating my dark sense of humour by finding this entire article hysterically funny. I started giggling at, “bathroom window”, and was almost crying by, “It is possible the breeding season could have encouraged the reptile to go out hunting and it may have left the town“.  I am aware of the fact that  laughing about a rogue boa constrictor is A Bad Thing, but I’d like to assume he will be found, won’t have injured any Yorkshire Terriers, and will be safely home before long.

However, on a slightly more arachnaphobic note, I have often wondered whether any of those completely insane (in my opinion because I am terrified) people who collect deadly spiders have had any escapes? What would happen if someone accidently knocked over a glass case with a hairy nasty in it? What would happen if they knocked them all over? I mean, that can happen. Anything can happen.

Would these spiders get loose, breed and start a reign of terror in a country that is not prepared for toxic spiders? Would they die because the weather conditions are not ideal? I know this thought gives me the creepy crawlie terrors. I can only hope that this “accident” happens in the middle of winter so any escapees freeze to death.



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