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

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wednesday, 26 January 2011: Look who's visiting!

Look who's visiting Thatchwick at present? A grey hornbill pair and their rather large chick. The grey hornbill is a resident of the thornveld and is a common in the northern part of southern Africa. A nesting pair of hornbills is uncommon in a suburban garden in Pretoria.

I have encountered hornbills passing by during the last two or three years - stopping usually for a scratch around my compost heap. But this time, they are here to stay and doing very nicely on a diet of Hills omega enriched pellets for elderly dogs! A bag of Hills JD diet for Tristram costs me a sizeable amount each month and now the expensive treat is being shared by my honoured guests.

Early mornings after our walk, I am summoned by the loud: "Phee Pheeoo Phee" and the pellets are placed on the wall at the kitchen door, much to the chagrin of the 0live thrush pre- invasion was sole privy to this treat. On this wet summer's day, a morning snack was required and the birds were remarkably tame, allowing me to approach the wall and take photos of Junior feeding just behind the bay tree.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Friday 14 January 2010: What's your working style?

Today I enjoyed the unaccustomed treat of an early morning breakfast meeting at Bugatti's with colleagues eager to describe a recent fact-finding tour of US campuses. In contrast, my usual journey to work is to cross the dining room from my bedroom to my study. I flick the start up button on my PC , throw open the study doors onto the veranda and allow the fountain's babble of water drown out rush hour traffic rumbling past the walls of Thatchwick.

At 6.30 am this morning, pleasantly expelled from my insular workaday world , I was amazed at the individual 'offices' rapidly set up on nearly every table. Waiters took orders for bacon and eggs, waffles and juice, coffee and croissants while laptops flickered to life, Blackberries appeared, diaries opened and briefcases overflowed with papers and files. Then the 'offices' filled up as a companion or two arrived, similarly equipped for that 6.45 am meeting.

Where does everyone come from? Are conventional offices too quiet, too sterile, too much like routine? Is it the bacon and eggs over a latte, so much more attractive than a quick bite in one's home kitchen? Do ideas sprout more effectively in the anonymous buzz created by just-as-busy strangers? Being alone in the crowd?

I am fascinated by idiosyncratic working habits. Churchill wrote or dictated a couple of thousand words a week sitting up in bed. Marx was more conventional and worked in tomb-like silence (I would imagine) in the British Musem from opening to closing. Alice Munro wrote in 'slivers of time' while she did loads of washing and watched over toddlers. And your working habits?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

6 January 2011: End of the summer holidays

The long summer break has come to an end, at least for me. I returned from holiday to my home office - just a step a way - on Monday, 3 January. There were no exotic locations this year; but as you can see, a good time was had by all, right here at home in Pretoria.

Two dogs, a boy and lots of crystal clear water are a recipe for success. Catherine's best school friend, Natasha, and hubby, Egmont, and children travelled from Jo'burg for a day of good food and renewed friendship here at Thatchwick. Natasha was like a 'third' daughter to us when our own girls were growing. How nice that she still wants to spend time at her second home.

Jethro had a chance to try out his spiffy floral swimming trunks within the careful shelter of Mom's arms.

Galahad is an avid swimmer, with or without company. But the presence of two small friends made him grin with special pleasure. Trist prefers to keep a safe distance from the splashes. As a puppy, he was taught, of necessity, to swim in a chilly pool during winter. The experience put him off for life.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

4 January 2011: Midsummer Christmas

Our forebears bequeathed us in Africa the images of Christmas amongst snowdrifts, with holly bedecked halls, Yule tide logs and heavy, rich Christmas cuisine. At last we are developing our own style of midsummer Christmas suitable for a hot Highveld day with late afternoon thunderstorms to cool down the air.

Surrounded by the palms on my sister-in-law's patio, sunlight played on the table as we waited for the starter. Turkey and cold gammon were served with old-fashioned favourites: Ouma Ray's potato salad, Carla's choice of carrot salad and bowls of tossed greens. Dessert was cherry trifle and it was washed down with a crisp savignon blanc, merlot, juice and jugs of ice water.

Jethro made Cath and Carla smile.

And the two cousins struck a formal pose for Jethro's first Christmas ever.
Carla and Reinhart sorted the presents just to be sure that the piles were accurate.