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Bits and bobs about my life in my lovely home, Thatchwick Cottage, Pretoria, South Africa.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tuesday, 29 September '09: Getting side-tracked in Bloemfontein

Purchasing pot pourri from a sweet scented mix in a battered enamel basin at the Bloemfontein Organic Market on Heritage Day last week.

All things pretty, smelling of lavender and roses under the hot sun.
The syringas are covered in pale mauve blossoms against a blue sky. Goods for sale at the Organic Market related to a greener, cleaner world - bins for recycling, water-wise plants and worms to start one's own wormery. I drew the line at unbleached loo paper. I want to save the world but...unbleached toilet paper looked a little too natural for me!

Somehow I kept getting side-tracked from Green issues. Here are the ice-cream lickin' reasons: Joelle.

And Jaelene. The reasons for my visit to Their World - Bloemfontein (translated from the Afrikaans. Fountain of flowers) in the Free State.
I am rather late in posting. Just back from my short visit. But if you hurry, you will find lots of other interesting corners of the globe and equally nice folk on My World.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Monday, 21 September '09: Coco Chanel revisited

I always loved to dress in a tailored suit, stockings, court shoes and pearls. I rather regret today's casual style where the occasion seldom arises for that kind of outfit. I find the simple oh-so-French elegance of Coco stunning. So, last weekend I could hardly have missed seeing Coco starring another favourite, Audrey Tatou.

The movie received disappointing reviews. 'A film about nothing', one reviewer remarked and in a certain way I did agree. The movie focused on Coco's rather pragmatic affair with French millionaire and playboy, Etienne Balsan, and her passionate and ill-fated love for the English buisnessman, Arthur 'Boy' Capel, who lent her funds to start her first salon. But the beautiful French interiors, Audrey's sensitive acting and the contrast of Coco individualistic dress with the period's overdone style made up for it.

I do realise that movie's aim was to depict the young Coco - before Chanel - but I would like to have known more about her childhood in the orphanage at Aubazine where the nuns taught her to sew and her life during the ravages of WWI. For her affair with the Russian composer Igor Stravinsky I shall have to wait for the release later this year of Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky which stars Anna Mouglalis and Mads Mikkelsen (both actors of whom I am ignorant).

Ah, well! If you have a classic Chanel tweed tucked away, I dare you to take it out of the mothballs. Wear the jacket mached up with your blue jeans and trainers to the Mall and let me know if you get any compliments! Who know? You may even start a trend.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Friday, 11 September '09: Don't disturb! Ladies at lunch

One of life's small but important pleasures are my regular luncheon dates with my girl friends.

Today was a sidewalk lunch with Theresa. Ordering from the menu is easy. After years of lunching together we know each other's preferences, "Two glasses of water. Yes, ice and lemon, please. Two glasses of dry white wine and a tumbler of ice on the side."

And so the conversation begins: our current reading; the biography Theresa is writing and the upcoming publications her solo publishing company will soon produce; the latest in movie going followed by a lively update on each of our adult children. Friendship is toasted with a glass of Two Oceans' savignon blanc and the intricacies of mother-daughter relationships is teased out over fettucine and basil pesto sprinkled generously with parmesan cheese. We offer opinions on the economic meltdown and compliment each other on the canine virtues of our respective Labradors - her eight-month old Benjamin and my aging Trist and Gal. We philosophise about life's seasons (are we in autumn or is it still late summer?) and rejoice in each other's little miracles.

Eventually the bill is divided without a thought. The tip requires some fuzzy arithmetic to ensure our patient waiter receives his due. After all, he has hovered over us for two and half hours and managed to interject the enthusiatic dialogue twice to take our orders. At last we reluctantly part company. Where did the time go?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Tuesday 8 September: Verandah days in My World

It's verandah days at Thatchwick Cottage. So wander up the path and admire the clivias.
Take a seat on the verandah and I will bring you a drink. Iced camomile tea laced with berry juice?

Galahad is happy warmer days are here again.

I love my out-of-Africa stoep as it is known in Afrikaans. This long tiled verandah under the thatch overhang becomes an extension of the house in the long summer months. And it is the best place to watch a summer thunderstorm.
Join friends all over My World to see how the seasons change as the globe turns.


Friday, September 4, 2009

Friday, 4 September '09: The ladies of Cranford

Lace collars, ribbons and eight yards of Indian muslin or taffeta for a new gown present agonising decisions for the ladies of Cranford in the new BBC series available on DVD for hire or purchase.
But the delightful tale of the inhabitants of the small Cheshire village (in reality, the village of Knutsford thirty odd miles from industrial Manchester, England in the 1840’s) is permeated with several darker moments. The appalling medical ignorance of the times meant that death struck young and old without mercy in mid-Victorian England. A rigid class system dictated relationships, especially love matches, and condemned the poor to illiteracy, unemployment and crime. And the pastoral peace of Cranford is continually under threat of progress, in the shape of the approaching railroad.
The series: Cranford is based loosely on the Mrs Gaskell’s novel and two other short works. Judi Dench plays the main role. As the sweet, dithery and generous spinster, Miss Matty, she holds the episodes together. Michael Gambon makes a worthwhile cameo performance as her former suitor, a crusty but kind farmer chasing his peas around his roast beef with a two-pronged fork.

I first read my little second-hand copy of Cranford by Mrs Gaskell during an overseas trip. The minutia of English country life as seen through the eyes of four spinsters and several other eccentric characters soothed the trials of 21st century travel. The humour had me chuckling out loud and the values of kindness and neighbourliness of the Cranford characters touched my heart.
If you have exhausted the novels of Jane Austen, the Brontes and George Eliot, I can recommend the rather neglected Mrs Gaskell. North and South and Mary Barton are both excellent tales, as is her biography of Emily Bronte.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Tuesday, 1 September '09: Happy Spring Day from My World

Today we celebrate the first day of spring although the vernal equinox is still about three weeks away. This year, after a particularly chilly winter, Spring Day in My World has dawned warm and sunny with a high of 30 degrees Celsius predicted. Straight out of the winter woollies into sandals and short sleeves! Spring means my garden is transformed into a spectacle of orange as the indigenous clivia miniata bloom and the tiny lilac blossoms on the buddlia draw the bees.
I divided the clumps of clivia in autumn and have made several new beds. Some gardeners say clivia take four years to bloom again after division. Not mine!

Watering began early this morning.

I live on a busy street - who would guess?

This is better than the gloomy underworld, isn't it Persephone?

Primulas add a note of purple.

The roses are shooting and the compost is rich and home-made.

Visit others in other climes at My World Tuesday.