Last year we spent Christmas with the Fletchcocks, with them travelling up to Edinburgh. This year we made the trek south to London.
A lot of the fun this year was that Jethro was fully into Santa Claus. Last year his understanding of the event was a little sketchy. He knew something unusual was happening, but didn’t really comprehend why it might be exciting.
This year, Xmas trickery installation is complete.
The random photos of tofu have gone missing. I don’t think much of value has been lost though.
I also recorded some audio of the excitement. From a quick review of the 17 minute clip, it seems to be mostly the adults rambling on like idiots with the occasional exclamation of excitement from small child Jethro. Editing is required.
The Fletchcocks visited us in December for Christmas celebration times. These are a few of the photos I took.
I am conspicuous by my absence. There are photos of me at this occasion in existence, but they are stowed within the walled garden that is Facebook. I’m not sure what the privacy settings on that gallery are, but at the very least you need to log into Facebook.
If you haven’t forgotten what I look like, having no Facebook account is unlikely to be a problem for you.
Little Neil, being me, is actually all growed-up now. I suppose that, despite what I like to think, I’m not all that happy about being 30 years old. This conclusion is obvious when one considers that I hired a jumping castle for my 30th birthday party.
But so what? Jumping castles are awesome!
If you couldn’t make the party because you’ve gone overseas (or just never made the migration to Joburg) I missed you. The more jumpers on the castle, the merrier it would have been.
Not only was there a jumping castle, we also had Zoo Biscuits, Chomps, Creme Soda, and Sparberry. Adam and Nadia seemed to think that Pick ‘n Pay’s No-Name brand Creme Soda and fake Raspberry soda didn’t cut it. “It just doesn’t taste as good,” they (especially Adam) argued.
“Elitists!” I labelled them.
As retribution for my venemous attack, they left behind the bottle of Sparberry they brought. Now I have a full bottles of both varieties of imitation raspberry drink—disgusting. Why didn’t people drink the stuff? It was a 3-year-old’s party. At least the Creme Soda was polished off.
Even 3-year-old children cannot survive on crisps and sweets alone, so we also provided a vodka-soaked fruit punch. To this day the remains of it lurk in the fridge, although about two-thirds of it was consumed on the day.
Hamburgers were prepared as lunch. Since 3-year-olds should not be allowed near fires, the grown-ups cooked the burgers on the braai. By grown-ups I mean, my dad Tony and Angie’s dad Bill. None of my friends complained about the burgers, so good work Dads!
The jumping castle provided plenty of laughs, but kids these days have such short attention spans that they were quickly looking for something else to do. Fortunately the party organisers had prepared for this eventuality by arranging for incredible party games—with incredible prizes! Of course, along with the short attention span, these kids have become so cynical and they disputed the magnificence of the Made-in-China Bought-at-Crazy-Store plastic toy prizes. I guess they all want cell phones or something.
Game playing did take place, and the worthy games master, my mum Annie, made sure that no cheating took place. We had Pass the Parcel (won by Jenny) and Pin the Tail on the Donkey (won by Rachelle). The parcel was thoroughly wrapped as only Mum could do—layers within layers within boxes within other boxes within more layers. Every seemed to expect the prize to actually be in the parcel, and so it wasn’t long before they were complaining that the “incredible prize” was most likely to be a small piece of fruit, or possibly a nut of some sort.
Pin the Tail was no less tricksy with my mother at the helm. The donkey was twisted and turned and cunningly rearranged so as to fool the participant. Expecting such trickery, I pinned the tail on the donkey’s neck. The trick for me was that there is no trick. Very Zen. Thanks Mum.
On the cutting of the birthday cake, I was compelled by those gathered around to make a speech of some sort. Boy did they regret that. I think I make good speeches, but I’ve never been too fond of impromptu speeches. They need to be prepared. Plus I was fairly tipsy by this point in time.
So basically I complained that everyone liked me too much because they had all accepted my invitation (almost no-one declined it), thus destroying my budgeting for the party and rendering me insolvent… but it was worth it I quickly added, realising how piss-poor the preceding sentiments sounded. But if you cut through my issues with spending money, you’ll see how I was actually really pleased with the turn-out. Hopefully everyone who was there had a lot of fun. I know I did, and the fun would’ve been diminished if it was me alone with a jumping castle (fashioned after a clown, so in fact the fun would have been creepified).
Although I ended up not hiring a clown, Dave provided a clown service absolutely free, and provided a beautiful demonstration of how to use the jumping castle in a most exciting manner. Thank you Dave!
There was also the incident of the destruction of my son’s favourite soccer ball, and I have the ruffians Quinn, Gareth, and Chris to thank for this. They devised a number of peculiar jumping castle sports, and one of them seemed to involve the ball. The ball rebounded off one of their heads, struck a rosebush, and deflated. Their excuse-making is best illustrated in pictures. The rest of the party pictures reside on Flickr. Click here to see them
There is a lengthy story to go with this too, but lengthy stories take time to write (hell, uploading and titling the photographs took long enough). Plus, I received many gifts and need to thank all the nice people who gave them to me. Hopefully, a longer story will be forth-coming. But if not, the photos tell the story well enough, I think.
If the longer story never emerges, perhaps this notice I gave to my neighbours might help you piece it together:
A party is happening at No. 14 on Sunday, 9 August, starting at 1pm. We are celebrating Women’s Day!
Not really. It’s a birthday party. But we may also celebrate women although that wasn’t the original intent of organising the party.
I don’t expect it to be too disruptive, but there will be music and a jumping castle. Noise from my home is likely to be elevated above normal Sunday afternoon dog-barking levels.
Roughly 35 guests are expected, so you may find the road inside the complex becoming a little congested. I hope this will be bearable for one afternoon.
If you find yourself becoming incensed by any aspect of the activities taking place at No.14 on Sunday, please let me know. I’m a reasonable man. I’ll make you an offer you can’t refuse.
Angie and I recently went on holiday to the northern lands. Admittedly, living in South Africa one would need to visit Antarctica to visit southern lands. We had no choice but to head north. We kept going north until the plane landed at Heathrow, London.
My tale of Europe and Associated Islands is broken into a number of parts because I have much to say, and internet readers are given indigestion by significant chunks of reading material.
It helps when the words are nicely broken up by pictures. I will apply pictures to the equation and hope to keep the readership entertained.
We visited three cities (London, Budapest, and Edinburgh) but used one of them as base camp (London) from which we launched our other excursions. Expect a slightly non-linear tale as I relate this Tale of Three Cities, ordered by city.
Do not expect any further intentional references to the works of Charles Dickens. I detest Dickens.
People in London are in quite a hurry. I’m not entirely certain why, but it is quite clear that they are. They must have heartless corporate cutbacks to implement, or corporate slave duties to perform, or some other very important tasks that cannot wait a moment to be polite.
It should be clear by now that London isn’t my favourite place and us going there to visit friends hinged on us going somewhere else that wasn’t London. Yet, meeting up with absent friends is always good, and is so good that even the inherent blerghness of London could not sour it.
Our base camp in London was at Wendy and Saul’s place, and the day after we arrived (and recovered from the flight) Wendy organised a social gathering of all the humans we know, living in London (or who happened to be be there at the time). This gathering is best illustrated with a photo essay of sorts from the balcony of their place:
Angie snaps one of (from left) Frances, Rachelle, Lisa, and Wendy (and herself, reflected in the glass of the door). Complaints regarding your appearance to be addressed to the photographer. Neil snaps Angie, Rob and Lisa. There is also a good view of Wendy and Saul’s rather deformed gas heater on the left.
Unknown photographer includes Michael and Neil (an other previously mentioned persons)
Louise with malformed heater-head as a hat
Long exposure after sunset with camera balanced on the balcony ledge.
Alas, late-comers were not included in the photo-shoot (people like Jocelyn and Saul). They were there. Honest. Scott was also there, but who was Scott? Who indeed (his knee is actually in one of the photos). Rachelle summoned him for torture at the hands of her friends. Most unsporting of her.
The evening proceeded late into the night, with a impromptu dinner at an Indian restaurant (London practically is a part of India) followed by dancing festively (and Saul’s traditional shooter generosity) at a nearby London cocktail bar. I haven’t danced like that for ages and it was good because it was holiday and I didn’t care.
I cared the next morning when it was necessary to get up, pack, and catch a flight to Budapest having only clambered into bed at 3am. Almost five hours sleep was woefully inadequate, but somehow we survived.
Next time on waffle group:
Join us again next time for the Hungarian leg of the holiday or possibly more of London, or arbitrarily a slice of Edinburgh. That non-linear story-line is quite a kicker.
I might even ignore it altogether and rant about the lack of pavements in South African cities (they have plenty of pavements in London).
It was my birthday yesterday, and I received many frogs.
Thanks to everyone who sent me a message-carrying frog.
As most people won’t understand what the hell I’m talking about, I should probably attempt to explain myself
A tiny frog lives inside my cellular telephone. Whenever someone sends me an SMS, it croaks. I call this “receiving a frog.”* This isn’t an accurate term for what occurs as I do not receive additional frogs when people send me messages. Regardless of this, the frog does croak and it is as if I have received another frog since I cannot believe the frog is still alive in the phone after all this time (with no source of food or water).
Other methods of communication were also used in conveying happy, well-wishing greetings to me. Amazing, ground-breaking technologies such as Electronic Mail and Telephony were utilised.
Others used an inexplicable phenomenon known as the Face of the Intertubebookwubwubs, you young whippersnappers!
Some used Spoken Word Propagated through Gaseous Medium Interface (SWPtGMI, pronounced SwiptaGimmee)
Thank you all for your kind words and well-wishings. Quite a few people like me quite a lot. It never ceases to amaze me because I’m quite a grumpy bugger.
* Actually, Angie called it this but I immediately adopted the term.
Sunday was a most curious day of inept piracy on the low fresh-waters of the Lake of Zoo.
Latter-day pirates, especially in landlocked provinces like Gauteng, are something of a rarity. In order to spot them, it is best to seek out bodies of water where boats and other watercraft may be found.
Zoo Lake may seem like an unlikely spot to find such miscreants, but in fact it is not. Numerous pirates converged on the Lake this Sunday past. I and my kitchen-wench were amongst them.
We dressed in the manner of pirates, and converged upon the lake. Or rather, the others dressed in the manner of pirates. We dressed in the manner of witches and daemons.
We set upon the boats and attempted to row. Herein lies the ineptitude of the pirate dressed in the manner of a daemon.
Rowing is all backwards, and counter to the intuition.
Still, the pirate/daemon/witches eventually came to terms with the treachery of reverse-backward rowing tricks.
Alas! Witches and daemons are not pirates at heart, and partook of less rum than those who rampaged across the low fresh-waters, terrorising children and geese alike.
The rum turned the pirates unruly, and they strayed from their noble cause of ransacking the lake of litter to ransacking fellow pirate/witch/daemon vessels of supplies. Witches lost hats. Daemons lost arcane powers of patience.
‘Twas verily a morning well spent, and had we witches and daemons been more inclined to drink, ‘twould a well spent afternoon have been too.
Easter weekend. Angie and I booked two nights (Saturday and Sunday) at Goblin’s Cove. We’ve been there before. It was weird then. It’s still weird. But we like weird.
(I also note that imageshack has eaten the photos on the page that links to. Stupid imageshack).
This time, however, there was a freaky crazy psycho woman running the psychedelic coffee-shop. She didn’t like bees.
The way she pulled her raven-black hair back made her look very severe.
The way she carried around a can of insecticide and a lighter made her seem a little crazed.
The way she used the flame from the lighter and the spray from the compressed can of insecticide made her seem a little pyromanic.
The way she incinerated the bees dispassionately made her seem evil.
Then she closed in on the table near us, where bees were happily investigating the sticky tablecloth. They weren’t bothering us. Psycho-woman was, especially as she waved the can and lighter about.
Angie asked her to please leave the bees alone. She replied that she wouldn’t possibly think of setting them alight near us. She went away, and at least those bees were spared — for the meantime.
As we sat at the table in the open-air coffee shop, situated in a pleasant, tranquil forest, we were unsettled by the just noticeable, slightly sweet, slightly charcoal smell of heavily crisped bees. That smell, and the occasional sound of localised pressure changes in the distance as the oxygen was sucked from the air to help form a bee-apocalyptic fireball.
Everything else was pleasant though.
One of the waiters at the main restaurant (not the coffee-shop) took quite a liking to us. We rather liked him too. There was an instantaneous rapport between us. After lunch (which ended relatively late) he suggested we come visit. After all, he lived on the property, just next door to the restaurant.
So a little later we wandered over and visited our new friend Wikus. He was staying in a house that was designed and built by the same guy who’d put the insane architecture together for the Goblin’s Cove restaurant. We had a look around. Up the spiral stairway. On the creaky, uneven wooden floorboards. Holding onto ropes, because there were no railings where there should’ve been. Incredible place to live.
Wikus told us he was a little paranoid about living there because it had massive windows and no burglar bars, and a not entirely secure front-door. Wikus is originally from Joburg. That should explain it all.
We spent quite a while sitting there, drinking with him, chatting, smoking. Talking politics, talking religion, talking history, talking relationships, talking shit. The restaurant’s cook came over for a little too. Jaco was his name, I think. Wikus and Jaco are both of the age where the big bad old apartheid government conscripted them. Wikus did his national service and then 6 months later, they scrapped it. He never went any place too intense. Nothing too crazy happened. He thinks Afrikaaner nationalism is a little ridiculous, and they kicked him out of F.W. de Klerk’s office (where he was going to be a staff clerk) because he’d been bust possessing marijuana.
Jaco went to Angola. Jaco fought in a war, for something he thought was justified. Jaco seemed like a really pleasant guy (he joined us for about 20 minutes or so, before going to bed). I quite liked him, and I really liked his cooking, but one could see a level of distress underlying the surface. Demons lurking there.
It made me think about who was helping these people. On both sides of the struggle. People who fought in wars and did things they’d never dream of doing today. Who is helping these souls? Or are they just left in torment for the rest of their lives, forgotten by society. The dirty laundry that no-one wants to face up to, let alone clean.
Getting intense. Unintentional. Still, it was an excellent weekend and we met interesting people and experienced interesting things. We exchanged contact details with Wikus. I really hope we don’t let inertia stop us connecting again.
I haven’t seen Tammy for ages. Distances separate us, and neither of us seem to try hard enough to bridge those gaps. She did invite me to her wedding though, but it’s telling that I hadn’t met the groom until the big day — 10 March, 2007.
Tammy looked exceptional, as brides generally do. It’s something about the whole energy of the event of a wedding. People are happy and excited and thrilled for the couple, and they just soak up all that positive energy and radiate it back out at everyone.
Tammy lives in Polokwane, in the Limpopo Province. I’m not entirely sure I’ve been to Limpopo before, but I really think I should’ve made an effort to get there before. It really is beautiful.
Limpopo had this whole marketing thing going down in Gauteng about “Limpopo — Africa’s Eden.” Sounds like the usual exaggerated marketing in your pants. Well, where we went for the wedding and reception, it seemed a reasonable assessment of the situation.
Of course, the thing about a wedding is that you never really get an opportunity to speak at much length with the bride and groom. Things were no different in this case.
The cool thing was that a bunch of people who I knew from university travelled up from Cape Town for the wedding. Did some catching up with the UCT, predominantly chemical engineering, crowd.
Surprising things were discovered — Lisa is married. Sam is in a serious (I think) relationship he didn’t appear to be in the last time I saw him (which was quite a while back when I was torturing myself with post-graduate studies). Mareike is back in the country!
If only the first picture had Mareike in it! I really need to try to be a little less adverse to orchestrating the occasional posed, group photograph.