• where i’m at

    How do you say you’ve been lost to someone? And that perhaps you’ve been lost for a very long time? Sometimes you get glimpses of home and shards of yellow light shine back onto the places you’ve been and the things that have happened to you and just for a moment you understand the beginning(…)

  • it may not always be so

    Sometimes one needs a long walk and a little poetry to begin the day. it may not always be so; and I say that if your lips,which I have loved, should touch another’s, and your dear strong fingers clutch his heart, as mine in time not far away; if on another’s face your sweet hair(…)

  • crystal barn

    I’ve been meaning to pop into Crystal Barn, situated a mere 2kms down the road from our farm, for a while now. The beautiful old vintage car in the driveway sparked my curiosity a few months ago and on Saturday morning, I decided to stop in for a quick breakfast on my way into town.(…)

  • for now

    I have been so QUIET. My apologies, but the loud noises and skittish brain activity in my head have not been translating well onto the keyboard and screen lately. I guess I could tell you news – about settling back into life in the real world after the trip of our lifetime; about having to(…)

  • travel diaries – barcelona

    Ahhh… Barcelona. Our little unexpected surprise. Our laat lammetjie. About two months before we due to leave for Europe, my very clever and scheming husband discovered that if we changed our return flights home from Heathrow to Barcelona (but still laying over in Heathrow) we would save enough money on airport taxes to afford an(…)

  • letters with flick – a(nother) post note to “how do we fix this”?

    So a while ago, I wrote this post (How Are We Going To Fix This?) about our situation in this beautiful country of ours and how we need to address and chat about that big blue elephant in the room: RACE and PREJUDICE. I emailed my friend, Felicity, in Zimbabwe, to ask her opinion on the(…)

  • studio ellessi

    I’m not one for buying souvenirs… Eiffel Tower key rings and snow balls just don’t do it for me and the only souvenir I have in my home is a shell from Mauritius with our names engraved on it… which we mostly bought just to get the haggler to leave us in sunbathing peace. When(…)

  • the never-ending weekend

    1. lunch at the oyster box on thursday with the mum-in-law before she heads back to england 2. breakfast with the my cousins and aunties for mama bear’s birthday at hartford house on friday 3. so much red wine with my dear friend, erika 4. a misty saturday spent in bed with a book and(…)

  • rotten from top to bottom

    I am reading The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. Have been at it for quite a while now as it’s by far the best book I’ve read in a long, long time. I re-read passages and chapters. I don’t want it to end and I’m slowing down as I near that last page which will signal(…)

  • food for thought

    My husband sent me this yesterday. It really hit home. I’m so very guilty of this and I know you probably are too. We can’t get rid of cellphones, but perhaps we need to check our patience at the door and slip those smart phones away for a few hours if we’re out for a(…)

where i’m at

How do you say you’ve been lost to someone? And that perhaps you’ve been lost for a very long time? Sometimes you get glimpses of home and shards of yellow light shine back onto the places you’ve been and the things that have happened to you and just for a moment you understand the beginning and the end and your heart sees that this silly middle is just a part of the journey and then you know… you know so very, very well that you will return there.

But then it’s gone.

And the tears fall because you can’t bring that glimpse back. You can’t bring back the peace that makes everything, all at once, so lovely and so certain and so safe.

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it may not always be so

Sometimes one needs a long walk and a little poetry to begin the day.

it may not always be so; and I say
that if your lips,which I have loved, should touch
another’s, and your dear strong fingers clutch
his heart, as mine in time not far away;
if on another’s face your sweet hair lay
in such silence as I know, or such
great writhing words as, uttering overmuch,
stand helplessly before the spirit at bay;

if this should be, I say if this should be—
you of my heart, send me a little word;
that I may go unto him, and take his hands,
saying, Accept all happiness from me.
then shall I turn my face, and hear one bird
sing terribly afar in the lost lands.

ee cummings

onelonebird

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crystal barn

I’ve been meaning to pop into Crystal Barn, situated a mere 2kms down the road from our farm, for a while now. The beautiful old vintage car in the driveway sparked my curiosity a few months ago and on Saturday morning, I decided to stop in for a quick breakfast on my way into town. I fell in love almost immediately  – from the tree-lined avenue to the gorgeous gardens and the bulging-at-the-seams antique shop. Modelled on the famous Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Crystal Barn is a delightful assault on the senses. Multiple rooms in a renovated farm barn lead on from one another as you make your way through the shop to the cafe and courtyard. Every room is filled with colourful antiques, textiles, furniture, cutlery, crockery and countless other treasures. The decor is a mixture of Indian and French Country – and beautiful sari fabric has been transferred onto the walls and floors, a refreshing and clever alternative to wallpaper and mats. I fell in love with a blue quilt and some amazing light fittings in the shop – my entire Christmas list may just be ticked off at Crystal Barn!

After meeting and chatting with the lovely owner, Sarah, and exploring every possible nook and cranny – each one more captivating than the last, I settled in for some delicious breakfast in the cosy restaurant. I munched on some nom-tastic creamed egg and salmon served with corn fritters and I cannot wait to return for a slice of one of their flour-less cakes – they looked amazing! In fact, I almost returned on Sunday to taste their legendary carrot cake, but thought I would save myself for next weekend when Andrew and my cousin will be joining me. I could hear almost hear cousin Noo swooning all the way in Durban when I sent her my snaps of the shop decor. After breakfast, I had a little wander around the accommodation, and fell even deeper in love. Each room has it’s own unique, massive Balinese-type wooden door, treated in different shades of distressed green and blue. If I didn’t live two minutes away, I would seriously consider a little sneaky escape away! And, and, AND – even more exciting than cake and coffee and pretty bric-a-brac right on my doorstep is that Crystal Barn is in the process of building their very own wedding venue! Judging by the exquisite taste which Sarah rather clearly possesses, I have a feeling that it’s really going to be something special!

Crystal Barn is situated down the Fort Nottingham Road on the D290 and is a must-visit next time you’re in the Midlands. The shop is open only on Saturdays and Sundays from 9am to 4:30pm, so make sure you pencil it is your diary. I’m definitely there first thing this weekend, where I will be not-so-subtly pointing out some items on my Christmas wish list! Beyond excited for this little gem and the renewed sense of faith its given in the place we live in. Funny how a touch of colourful creative genius can do that.

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for now

I have been so QUIET.

My apologies, but the loud noises and skittish brain activity in my head have not been translating well onto the keyboard and screen lately.

I guess I could tell you news – about settling back into life in the real world after the trip of our lifetime; about having to tighten the purse strings and turn down invites as we start paying off those euro debts (woooorth it);

I could try and explain the strange lovely shock of my landscape as it turned suddenly from ancient buildings seeped in history to fields of luminous green and massive gum trees;

I could tell you about the miserable weather we’ve been having up here, the days on end of constant drizzle and cold followed by howling winds which sweep over the earth and suck her bones brittle;

I could tell you that the farm is on the market and that our lives might be forever changed in a couple of months time or that we could be right here, business as usual, and I don’t think I need to explain to you how unnerving that can be;

I could tell you that we have a new orphan calf – her mother had to be put down after her uterus pro-lapsed for the fourth time in as many weeks… I could tell you that I refuse to name this baby or feed her myself, as I know that I will become too attached, and that farm life has made me a little weary of falling in love with sweet young things which will only grow into steaks and chops to satiate our endless human appetites;

I could tell you how frustrated I’ve been with life and the mindset of so many people in this area and I could tell you exactly how many times I’ve wanted to blast myself in a rocket right out of this small town hell…

… but then I catch the African sunset on a drive home and as I watch the crimson orb sink below the ragged and noble line of the Drakensburg mountains, my head shakes hands with my heart again and I know deep down in the toe-tips of my soul that this is exactly where I am supposed to be.

For now.

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travel diaries – barcelona

Ahhh… Barcelona. Our little unexpected surprise. Our laat lammetjie.

About two months before we due to leave for Europe, my very clever and scheming husband discovered that if we changed our return flights home from Heathrow to Barcelona (but still laying over in Heathrow) we would save enough money on airport taxes to afford an extra three days in Europe. So we booked a Ryan Air flight from Rome to Barcelona, where we would spend the twilight of our European trip. I’m so glad he discovered this, because Barcelona was probably my most favourite city in Europe (okay maybe a very, very close second to Amsterdam). Barcelona is friendly and green and pretty and much cheaper than anywhere else we had visited. The buildings and architecture and street style made me fall head over heels in love with design and fashion and art and the delight of an artisan item of clothing all over gain. And TAPAS! And SANGRIA! And sexy Spanish men and women! To be honest, Barcelona was never been on my bucket list, but I am so, so, so very glad we met.

Barcelona Grid

The People

Um… how do I put this eloquently (insert creepy wide-eyed, tongue-out emojicon)… the Spanish are incredibly yummy. Both the men and women ooze sexiness. Olive skin, dark curls, brooding looks, big perfect smiles… you gets me? They do not, however, speak English. Not in a nasty, unfriendly I-can-speak-English-but-I’m-not-going-to-speak-English-to-you-because-you’re-a-tourist way, but a I-literally-can’t-speak-English-way. Hand signs become very important! It would probably serve you well to learn some basic Spanish phrases before you get to Barcelona. The people are friendly with a wonderful sense of humour and are super helpful (if they can make out what you’re actually asking of them). We’ve heard since we’ve been back from friends who have visited Barcelona that pickpocketing is rife in the city. We never saw any thing of the sort or any shenanigans at all, in fact. We rode the notorious Yellow Line on the Underground without incident. As in any major city in the world, keep your stuff close to you. And don’t hobble around in stilettos carrying a Chanel bag and rocking Versace glasses and expensive jewellery. You will be targeted. It’s just common sense. We also were probably unlikely to be bothered because we resembled stinky hobos in our unwashed clothing as we neared the end of our trip!

AKB

The Architecture

Burning eyes and sore necks and happy hearts and inspired spirits. This is how you will feel after a wander around the streets of Barcelona. The city pays homage to famous architect, Gaudí, who designed much of the architecture during the latter part of the nineteenth century. His work is unlike anything you’ve ever seen and if you see one attraction in Barcelona, make it the Sagrada Familia. Don’t wait in the ridiculously long queue – prebook your ticket and timeslot online and go in the entrance on the Career de Provença side – much better! The church is amazing and totally worth the visit – if you can afford to, hire audio guides. And go as early as possible to avoid the masses. And be prepared to be gobsmacked by the impressive pillars and stained glass windows and decorative statues. I can’t even explain. Here are a few of the gazillion pictures I took in there:

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Just a little way up from the Sagrada Familai is the Sant Pau Recinte Modernista Barcelona, a hospital first built in 1401. In the late nineteenth century, renovations to the hospital (sponsored by Catalan banker, Pau Gil i Serra) began to accommodate a booming Barcelona population. It was eventually completed in 193o and features a whole network of underground tunnels linking the separate buildings which were used to wheel patients between buildings safely and undercover. After another eighty years of medical service, the hospital was declared a World Heritage Site and after some extensive renovations, the lovely gardens and certain buildings are open for the public viewings. It’s like a little city within a city and wandering around the different blocks was quite the experience. So much mosaic work, so much beauty. It really was a great last minute stumble-upon. Also, you get a massive discount if you’re 29 and under and they don’t check ID. Just saying. That’s a lot of leeway. Use it. Lose it. Up to you.

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Picasso

I actually get a lump in my throat remembering our morning at the Picasso Museum. Not because it was a particularly out of this world amazing museum or gallery (which it is, actually) or because I got to see so many of his amazing paintings in real life (which was also mind-blowing, actually), but because it made me fall in love with art again. And I suppose “art” is a loose term – what I mean is I fell back in love with drawing again. When I was about fourteen, I went through a bit of a rough patch and with the help of our very talented art teacher, Miss Beatty, I learnt how to draw. Drawing with pencil and pastel and charcoal and chalk was my absolute favourite and it provided a great source of comfort to me during a tough time. I have no freaking clue as to why, but I dropped Art in standard eight. I really should have continued with the subject – I think perhaps my life would be completely different to what it is now. Seeing Picasso’s paintings and his range of styles and his obvious love for his work made me wonder back to that little girl with the big, sore heart who used to spent hours drawing in her sketch pad. Needless to say, back home, I’ve bought a sketchpad and started (rather tentatively) to draw again. I’m getting my eye back in and I’m messing around with patterns and I’m loving it.

As for the museum – get there really early to avoid queues (especially if it’s raining) and book tickets online. You are not allowed to take pictures of any of the artwork and they have cameras everywhere, so don’t even try sneaky it (like my husband did). There are also audio guides, which are really useful – especially if you have no clue about Picasso.

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Food

After a bit of a disappointing culinary adventure in Italy, we were not expecting much of Barcelona. It’s amazing what happens when you are not placing expectations on people/places/events, because we were pleasantly surprised! Bar for a disgusting brown “paella” glop at a place right next to the Arc de Triomf (yes, there’s one in Barcelona too), everything else we had was delicious. Tapas! Oh, the tapas! I have a new found love for aubergine, and even Andrew who always professed his hatred for the poor purple plant, has bought and fried up some aubergine chips since we’ve been home. The drinks are much cheaper in Barcelona and if you tip and flirt with the HAWT  nice barmen, they’ll often fill your wine glass way past that nasty little line which usually ensures your five euro glass is finished in three sips. We stayed on a street just off Las Rambla and all the restaurants we tried served decent to freaking-amazing tasting tapas and dishes were priced from about 2 to 7 euros each.  As you can imagine, we ordered lots of the two euro dishes and a couple of the seven euro dishes! Our favourite place in Barcelona was hands down (and a BIG thank you to Emma for the recommendation) a dingy little champagne and carvery bar called La Champañeria. There is no sign over the door, but it’s down a little street called de la Reina Cristina – you’ll know you’re there by the massive wooden door, legs of meat hanging everywhere, serviettes strewn all over the floor and happy people spilling out of the crowded bar onto the street. We tried to go there on our first (and only sunny) day in Barcelona and arrived at about 3pm. It was far too packed and we weren’t in the mood for jostling to the bar, and so we decided to come back the next day. The next day was grey and drizzling and we headed on over to the bar after we had been at the Picasso Museum. We arrived at about 11am and stayed until 3pm – it was empty when we arrived and by the time we left we could barely make it to the door for the masses of people (and slight  inebriation). So, do you want to know the consumption count?

Four bottles of cava (champagne) – at 6.50 euros a bottle, it was cheaper than a draught beer at any Italian restaurant we’d been to. We took advantage! If you’re not as piggy as we are – a glass of champagne was about 1.20 euro – the rosè is delicious!

Two Hot Chorizo Bocadillo (another recommendation from Emma – kinda like a small roll with meat)

Two Plates of Cheese 

Two Plates of more Hot Chorizo – they gave us free black pudding with this one

One plate of Parma Ham

All in all, our end bill came to about 37 euros – not bad for a day of decadent eating and drinking. It was probably THE most fun we had in Europe in terms of drinking and eating out. Amazing how not feeling completely ripped off makes everything feel so much more fun! The barmen were friendly (totally not English-speaking though, but great at guessing), everyone around was in a great mood and it was just wonderfully festive. There were no tables or chairs – the vibe is to stand at the bar and drink and eat to your heart’s content. As mentioned before, the floor is littered with serviettes and crumbs, but it all adds to the ambiance! So delightful. We took many drunken selfies and sent them to all our foodie friends – and that is the true sign of a good hangout.

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I so wished we had stayed in Barcelona for longer than two days. My little heart fell so in love and I’m dying to return again, to see more Gaudi, to drink more cava and eat more tapas and explore the Spanish countryside. Not to mention the beach. I didn’t even know Barcelona had a beach until we got there! Luckily we have return tickets next July… :0

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letters with flick – a(nother) post note to “how do we fix this”?

So a while ago, I wrote this post (How Are We Going To Fix This?) about our situation in this beautiful country of ours and how we need to address and chat about that big blue elephant in the room: RACE and PREJUDICE. I emailed my friend, Felicity, in Zimbabwe, to ask her opinion on the subject and to perhaps write a post for me and this blog on her views on the whole Africa/Colonistaion/Where Do We Go From Here? situation. I asked Felicity because, hey, we’re being honest here – she is one of the few black friends I know who I have a history with – we have sat and chatted at length about the way the world works, we have marched together and drunk together and she is just a lovely person whom although I haven’t seen for years, I trust with my life and soul. I also know I can trust her to be honest and straight with me.

To cut a long story short, Flick never wrote me that post. She reckons my post (and my asking of her opinion) has set off a massive undertaking of ideas and thoughts that she reckons she’d need a book to explain (I’m waiting. Patiently).

While I was overseas, far away from home and the problems we face on a daily basis, a friend sent me this post called Dear White South Africans, written by Ntsiki Mazwai, which spread like wildfire and which was (in a very small nutshell) about Heritage Day and how re-naming it National Braai Day is a slap in the face for black Africans. To be honest, when I first read this post, I completely agreed with the author –  she has some very valid points, especially regarding the language part. While I grew up on a farm and was rather fluent in Zulu as a child, I lost this skill as soon as I started attended public school. I regret this to this day and I am determined to learn Zulu again. The more I re-read the post (and I read it a lot) though, the more I became a little frightened by the aggressive undertone of the piece. So I sent it to Flick. This is our Facebook conversation following said article.

Listen, I’m not saying what either of us have said is right or wrong, but we began speaking about race and Africa and we engaged in a no-holds-barred conversation about how both of us felt. I want you to read this and I want you to participate in this conversation because talking about where are IS THE ONLY WAY WE’RE GOING TO FIX THIS. So don’t be scared about how you feel – it’s how you feel! – it’s the world we’ve born into, it’s the prejudices we’ve packed into our little life backpack since the moment we took a breath in this place we call home. Read our conversation, leave a comment, leave an opinion, engage or not, but seriously, it’s time to talk. Let’s express what we’re all feeling, with no judgement or hatred. What’s done is done. It’s time to fix it.

Keri Bainborough:

http://ntsikimazwai.wordpress.com/2014/09/24/dear-white-south-africans/

Hey Flick – what do you think of this? Just been sent it. Xxx

Felicity Sibindi:
I read it.. then re-read it. As a black person, I can fully understand what she is talking about…. just last Friday I was ranting at how white Zimbabweans look down on black Zimbabweans who speak with an indigenous accent not realising themselves that the Zimbabwean white person English accent is weird on its own anyways. And it is so easy to get mad at a group of people who sit across from me in a restaurant and look down their nose at me for being the only black person there…. it grinds.. it pisses on my batteries and I can feel where Ntsiki’s anger is coming from. HOWEVER, I don’t think her delivery is useful at all. This is something I have noticed about the whole race rhetoric in SA, it is very aggressive… the anger is so close to the surface that it makes it impossible to have a calm and reasonable dialogue. Ntsiki’s piece is a put-down-smack-down that is not useful. She makes valid points, but they stop meaning anything when the motive is to slap back so to speak. She needs a little more Mandela and a little less Julius. We need to be able to look past our own hurts and speak to the bigger picture.

And this argument that white people are European… ughh… it is annoying… and complex. I believe white Africans are African… there is a HUGE distinction between white people who grew up in Africa and those who grew up in Europe. The history is centuries old and so legitimately it is difficult for the ordinary white African to trace their steps back to wherever their ancestors came from, and they shouldn’t have to. After all.. Africa is a continent made of movement. I am Ndebele living in Zimbabwe, for example, but my people are originally Zulu and Sotho… we moved.. historically… the movements of the Bantu are a clear case… no-one in the world “belongs” anywhere… the Americans are immigrants, the Scandinavian countries are rich in histories of movement, Asia, Eastern Europe.. everywhere.. we all moved.. at some stage.. at some time… sometimes for good.. .. most times for bad. So illegitimising white Africans is unnecessary and petty in my opinion. It’s the Julius rhetoric.. this is not constructive.. its just made to instigate violence and anger.  That being said however… the refusal to learn indigenous languages for example, because they aren’t “important enough” is wrong… and that is non-African (or anti-African) behaviour. So as a white African… it would be, and should be, normal to speak a local language. This is not to deny learning English or Afrikaans, however if you live and grew up in an area – the local language should be what you speak. The duality of claiming to be African as a white person, and at the same time looking down on local languages, is unacceptable and pisses off black Africans. That is quite straight forward. The same applies to dual citizenship… claiming to be African and holding an ancestral British passport as a lot of my friends here do.. its just plain annoying, man. It says, “I’ll be African so long as its fun.. then when things get rough.. I’m gone.” So (*big heavy sigh) these are the things that inspire Nstiki-ites. Thing is… people still haven’t dealt with their emotionsthe forced rainbow nation was psychologically damaging to South Africans.
A REAL Truth and Reconcialiation Commission needs to be held, not the fiasco Tutu did in the ambiance that was Mandela-time.
Otherwise the bickering will continue.
Hugging you!!!

Keri Bainborough: (having just arrived home from Europe)
Agreed! With everything you have said. Thanks for that Flick. Sorry for the late reply.
I agreed with a lot of her points, but I thought she executed it very aggressively, and to be honest it made me feel that I don’t want to live here anymore. Too many people – quite obviously – don’t want me here. I feel uncomfortable in my skin and in the country of my birth. And I’m tired. I want to live somewhere where I can contribute to society and be appreciated for it. Ugh. Maybe I’m having a bad day… post travel blues.
Lots of love xxx

Felicity Sibindi:
Keri, I totally understand post – travel blues and the back to reality feeling. Don’t worry, things will settle, they always do. In terms of not wanting to stay in SA or feeling that there are too many people who don’t want you in SA or Africa in general, well… that, my dear, is entirely up to you. You, you have one life, be true to yourself. Having said that however, I am just going to point out a few things to balance the equation. I hope I don’t offend you, I am just trying to show you the other end of the scale. This is also NOT to make you feel guilty. I think a lot of white people think black people want to make them feel guilty and don’t realise that there is a difference between being conscious of ones privilege and… feeling guilty for something you didn’t personally do. I will debunk the privilege thing. I, for example, am middle class black – I went to private school, I speak the Queen’s English and I easily relate to my white colleagues. This gives me a HUGE edge over my cousins who grew up in the location. As a child, this led to a lot of resentment between us because they felt I was trying to be white and I thought they were just jealous. Thing is, in reality I DO have far more opportunities than them. I get chosen before them in job interviews; I get a better paying job; I get to make enough money to travel for fun; I live in a bigger house; I can afford hobbies like photography. These are situations where I get to enjoy things partly because I work hard for them, but also partly because I sound “whiter” than them and therefore I am more easily employed. A woman who works just as hard as me, who is just as intelligent if not more, but speaks “bad” English would not land the same job. And that is where the anger and resentment comes. Yes, I work hard for my shit, but I do have an advantage and it is not like I chose to be born middle class, as much as my cousins didn’t choose to be born poor. In the same way, we don’t choose to be born black or white – it is not an achievement to be born a certain colour, however the world works in such a way that it appears so. As much as I am “rewarded” for my private school accent, white Africans in general get “rewarded” for a lot of things that they didn’t work for. We still live in a world where white privilege is everywhere and it is to a higher degree in Africa. You just might be so used to it that you don’t realise it. Being a black student at Rhodes, for example, is a completely different ball game to being a white Rhodent, but I bet you didn’t see it (while you were there, in that situation). I am just generalising here. Sometimes when I sit with my white friends at a restaurant and the waiter ignores me, they don’t notice it because he will be super nice to them. When doing my Masters in Germany and I was friends with an Australian girl, I had far better German language skills than her, but everywhere we went people were rude to me for not speaking German, but never once gave her flak for her inability to speak the language. Basically, what I am trying to say is that even though you might feel unappreciated in South Africa, you are living in a country where its still far much easier to be white than black. Also, in order for one to contribute meaningfully anywhere in the world does not require ideal conditions – the best contributions are from difficult spaces. It is not the duty of black South Africans to “want” you – do you “want” them? Living in a nation is co-existing - no-one needs to be grateful to another for being there just as in a family you don’t “want” your brothers and sisters – they just happen to be your brothers and sisters! Finally, coz damn.. this was a messy message… think about your post-travel blues. Now imagine yourself as a maid in a white family household. You go to work in the morning, the house you work in has electricity, nice food, nice cars etc. Then at the end of the day you go home to your one-bedroom shack with no electricity, no water and a gutter for a garden. That post-holiday blue you are feeling, try doing it daily. Okay, I hope that somehow made sense… I wish I could sit down with you over a cup of tea. This stuff is difficult and so many people get hurt for nothing. Keri, you are strong, you are real… you are not the type of African who bails out when the going gets tough… well I don’t think so anyways. I am super proud to have you as a friend and I would be sad if you left…. but at the same time…. one life… do as you Hell…. I might even join you one day… just make sure you are leaving for the right reasons.

Keri Bainborough:

Thanks Flick – I loved reading your reply and I agree with everything you say and of course I appreciate and understand my privilege. I live on a farm so I see the lowest levels of poverty. I see the staff being paid only R2500 a month and having to survive on it (and god knows, it makes me so guilty and I don’t have the power to change it). I see it all every day and I’m not a white girl living in a secluded flat in a big city who only interacts with her black maid once a week and sees a black beggar every now and then at the robot.
I see it and it breaks my heart and I think I want to run away because I can’t see a solution to it. I also see so much fear and anger and hatred here (perhaps I am imagining it?) from both sides (black and white).
You NEED to please write what you have said above for my post because I love what you have said here:
It is not the duty of black South Africans to “want” you – do you “want” them? Living in a nation is co-exisiting, no-one needs to be grateful to another for being there just as in a family you don’t “want” your brothers and sisters, they just happen to be your brothers and sisters.”
THAT IS GROUND BREAKING RIGHT THERE. South Africans need to read this!!! If you don’t write it soon, I may just publish our private message conversation! (which I’ve done)
Thanks for helping me see things with new eyes.
I think Mandela wanted black and white to be friends straight away and to make each other feel wanted, and like you’ve said before, it WAS too soon. One can’t go from hating one another and being taught that the other is inferior, dirty, dumb blah blah (all those ugly racist things) and then the next minute all hold hands and sing kumba-ya. We need to debunk those reasons for hating one another (if that makes sense?) before we can move on.
Ah man, wish you were here next to me chatting right now!!! No tea – gin and tonics please!!! Sending hugs xxxx

Felicity Sibindi:

LOL…yes…GnTs….I NEED one. Go forth and publish love. I should copy paste my whatsapp convos to you yoo . Its such a HUGE topic. But ay..don’t feel bad for the poor. Black or white. Rather do something to help. And I think you are doing it already. You have a voice… a very powerful one. One that the right ears would listen to.

Keri Bainborough:

Thanks sweetheart.

PS: I think that sad message that I sent before came from a place of having really enjoyed being in Europe because for once I didn’t feel guilty about what I had because everyone there is kind of on the same level wealth-wise? But like you said, that’s my baggage. I dunno! Will keep working through it.

But staying here completely for now – I AM African, skin colour and social class aside!
xxx

Yes, this conversation may between a white privileged girl and an educated black middle class Zimbabwean girl (granted this is the dialogue of Rhodes-educated Africans and there are far many more layers of race and social classes to delve into). But at least we’re having it. We were speaking our truths and trying to find a middle ground, a solution. I beg of you to take part – in a non-hateful. constructive way. What do you fear? What do you hate? What do you hope for? What do you wish was different?

Leave a comment below if you will – let’s talk. I refuse to believe that our future is dust and hatred and violence and sadness.

Felicity

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studio ellessi

I’m not one for buying souvenirs… Eiffel Tower key rings and snow balls just don’t do it for me and the only souvenir I have in my home is a shell from Mauritius with our names engraved on it… which we mostly bought just to get the haggler to leave us in sunbathing peace. When we came across the lovely Elles selling her prints and cushions of Amsterdam at a market on our very first sunny day in Europe, I was smitten. Her style is simple and pretty and so individual and after umming and awwwwing for a good fifteen minutes, we settled on these two black and white ink pieces.

1256871_orig 7089854_origShe signed them for us and then put them in a big brown envelope and then we carried that damn envelope throughout Europe – on trams and trains and planes and taxis in Paris, Milan, Rome, Florence, Amalfi and Barcelona. And they made it through! The plan was to then try and buy something similar in every city we visited, but we couldn’t find any others we liked or that would go well with these trendy two. Also, we started realising just how we weren’t going to be able to stick to our daily budget if we bought anything other than food and transport tickets! As soon as we got home, we took our prints down to Jeff at Cottage Framing in Pietermaritzburg who has been doing my mom’s framing for as long as I can remember. He said he’d be able to iron out any battle wounds from their tour of Europe and we chose a simple black frame with an ivory mat and thin black indent to give the images more depth and emphasis.

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Within ten days they were ready and they now take pride of place in our living room. I love them – and not just for their undeniable coolness, but for the journey they took with us and the part they play in our memories of an amazing time. Oh, and because they make me look super grown up. I have framed pictures on my walls, guys!!! Next thing you know I’ll be spending my weekends in BuildIt.

Check out more of Elles’s work by clicking here at Studio Ellessi. If any of these prints tickle your fancy, just pop Ellessi an email and she will send them through. I’m loving these two colourful delights at the moment and I may or may not have ordered a third mate to join the other two already…

7297331_orig5307554_origIllustrations all by Studio Ellessi 

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the never-ending weekend

1. lunch at the oyster box on thursday with the mum-in-law before she heads back to england

2. breakfast with the my cousins and aunties for mama bear’s birthday at hartford house on friday

3. so much red wine with my dear friend, erika

4. a misty saturday spent in bed with a book and copious cups of coffee

5. a trip to ardmore ceramics and coffee and cake at caversham mill with nicola

6. a catch up at meander fine wines and an unplanned roast chicken dinner

7. coffee and more catching up at blueberry cafe with jane and laurie and piggies on a plate at the winkel

8. pizza and wine at artisan with chè

Goodness, that is a lot of catching up (and food. and wine). I have a feeling this long weekend might extend into next week, starting with the oxtail for breakfast that we’ve been cooking since yesterday afternoon. Getting back to reality is tough, right?

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rotten from top to bottom

I am reading The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. Have been at it for quite a while now as it’s by far the best book I’ve read in a long, long time. I re-read passages and chapters. I don’t want it to end and I’m slowing down as I near that last page which will signal the tragic end of my momentary heaven.

Whilst in Europe, Andrew and I spoke a lot about everything – from where we want to live and explore, to have kids or not, to just how important money is in relation to a passion for your vocation. We spoke about greed and corruption and how the world population has exploded over the last sixty years, while the resources we need to feed ourselves are all rapidly diminishing before our eyes. We be deep, yo. One night in the Navigli district in Milan, in the middle of a sea of strangers all speaking in a language we couldn’t understand, we got pretty philosophical and debated and discussed the whole point of life. As we often do after a couple of glasses of wine. A couple of days later, I read this passage from Goldfinch and man, it hit me straight in the chest. It was almost exactly what we had been discussing in the Navigli midnight light – except obviously far more eloquently put. I’ve read this over and over again over the last few weeks. I’ve bookmarked it with a touristy-mosaic-printed bookmark from Barcelona and I keep going back to it. It is so sad and so beautiful and the imagery Tartt creates through her words is truly a work of art. Read this. And I dare you to not be moved. In either way.

“But depression wasn’t the word. This was a plunge encompassing sorrow and revulsion far beyond the personal: a sick, drenching nausea at all humanity and human endeavor from the dawn of time. The writhing loathsomeness of the biological order. Old age, sickness, death. No escape for anyone. Even the beautiful ones were like soft fruit about to spoil. And yet somehow people still kept fucking and breeding and popping out new fodder for the grave, producing more and more new beings to suffer like this was some kind of redemptive, or good, or even somehow morally admirable thing: dragging more innocent creatures into the lose-lose game. Squirming babies and plodding, complacent, hormone-drugged moms. Oh, isn’t he cute? Awww. Kids shouting and skidding in the playground with no idea what future Hells await them: boring jobs and ruinous mortgages and bad marriages and hair loss and hip replacements and lonely cups of coffee in an empty house and a colostomy bag at the hospital. Most people seemed satisfied with the thin decorative glaze and the artful stage lighting that sometimes, made the bedrock atrocity of the human predicament look somewhat more mysterious or less abhorrent. People gambled and golfed and planted gardens and traded stocks and had sex and bought new cars and practiced yoga and worked and prayed and redecorated their homes and got worked up over the news and fussed over their children and gossiped about their neighbors and pored over restaurant reviews and founded charitable organizations and supported political candidates and attended the U.S. Open and dined and travelled and distracted themselves with all kinds of gadgets and devices, flooding themselves incessantly with information and texts and communication and entertainment from every direction to try to make themselves forget it: where we were, what we were. But in a strong light there was no good spin you could put on it. It was rotten from top to bottom.”
― Donna Tartt, The Goldfinch

midnight

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food for thought

My husband sent me this yesterday. It really hit home. I’m so very guilty of this and I know you probably are too. We can’t get rid of cellphones, but perhaps we need to check our patience at the door and slip those smart phones away for a few hours if we’re out for a meal with our loved ones. This is written by the owner of a popular restaurant in New York, but I think it can apply to places all over the world. Take a read.

A busy NYC restaurant kept getting bad reviews for slow service and so they hired a firm to investigate. When they compared camera footage from 2004 to footage from 2014, they made some pretty startling discoveries. Here is their story:

“We are a popular restaurant for both locals and tourists alike. Having been in the business for many years, we noticed that although the number of customers we serve on a daily basis is almost the same today as it was ten years ago, the service just seems to super slow even when we added more staff and cut back on the menu items.

One of the most common complaints on review sites against us and many restaurants in the area is that the service was slow and/or they needed to wait a bit longer for a table.

We decided to hire a firm to help us solve this mystery, and naturally the first thing they blamed it on was that the employees need more training and that maybe the kitchen staff is just not up to the task of serving that many customers.

Like most restaurants in NYC we have a surveillance system, and unlike today where it is a digital system, ten years ago we still used special high-capacity tapes to record all activity. At any given time we had four special Sony systems recording multiple cameras. We would store the footage for ninety days just in case we needed it for something.

The firm we hired suggested that we locate some of the older tapes and analyze how the staff behaved ten years ago versus how they behave now. We went down to our storage room, but we couldn’t find any tapes at all.

We did find the recording devices, and luckily for us, each device had one tape in it that we simply never removed when we upgraded to the new digital system.

The date stamp on the old footage was Thursday, July 1, 2004. The restaurant was very busy that day. We loaded up the footage on a large monitor, and next to it on a separate monitor loaded up the footage of Thursday, July 3 2014, with roughly the same amount of customers as ten years before.

I will quickly outline the findings. We carefully looked at over forty-five transactions in order to determine the data below:

2004:

Customers walk in.

They are seated and are given menus. Out of forty-five customers, three request to be seated elsewhere.

Customers on average spend eight minutes before closing the menu to show they are ready to order.

Waiters shows up almost instantly takes the order.

Appetizers are fired within six minutes, obviously the more complex items take longer.

Out of forty-five customers, two sent items back.

Waiters keep an eye out for their tables so they can respond quickly if the customer needs something.

After guests are done, the check delivered, and within five minutes they leave.

Average time from start to finish: one hour and five minutes.

2014:

Customers walk in.

Customers are seated and given menus. Out of forty-five customers, eighteen requested to be seated elsewhere.

Before opening the menu, they take their phones out. Some are taking photos while others are simply doing something else on their phone (sorry, we have no clue what they are doing and do not monitor customer WIFI activity).

Seven out of the forty-five customers had waiters come over right away, they showed them something on their phone and spent an average of five minutes of the waiter’s time. Given this is recent footage, we asked the waiters about this and they explained that those customers had a problem connecting to the WIFI and demanded that the waiters try to help them.

Finally the waiters are walking over to the table to see what the customers would like to order. The majority have not even opened the menu and ask the waiter to wait a bit.

Customer opens the menu, places their hands holding their phones on top of it and continue doing whatever on their phone.

Waiter returns to see if they are ready to order or have any questions. The customer asks for more time.

Finally they are ready to order.

Total average time from when the customer was seated until they placed their order – twenty-one minutes.

Food starts getting delivered within six minutes, obviously the more complex items take way longer.

Twenty-six out of forty-five customers spend an average of three minutes taking photos of the food.

Fourteen out of forty-five customers take pictures of each other with the food in front of them or as they are eating the food. This takes on average another four minutes as they all must review the photo and sometimes retake the photo.

Nine out of forty-five  customers sent their food back to reheat. Obviously if they didn’t pause to do whatever on their phone, the food wouldn’t have got cold.

Twenty-seven out of forty-five customers asked their waiter to take a group photo. Fourteen of those requested the waiter retake the photo as they were not pleased with the first photo. On average this entire process between the chit-chatting and reviewing the photo taken added another five minutes and obviously caused the waiter not to be able to take care of other tables he/she was serving.

Given in most cases the customers are constantly busy on their phones it took an average of twenty minutes more from when they were done eating until they requested a check. Furthermore once the check was delivered it took fifteen minutes longer than ten years ago for them to pay and leave.

Eight out of forty-five customers bumped into other customers or in one case a waiter (texting while walking) as they were either walking in or out of the restaurant.

Average time from start to finish: One hour and fifty-five minutes.

We are grateful for everyone who comes into our restaurant, after all there are so many choices out there. But can you please be a bit more considerate – towards us and the company you keep?”

nowifiSource: Craigslist

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Unless otherwise stated, all words and images are copyright to Keri Bainborough and the Midlands Musings blog. Please contact me if you’d like to use any of the text and graphics featured on this blog. Disclaimer