Still me

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

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Eating in 

Dining, lunching or breakfasting with friends at home is increasingly uncommon these days.  We travel a block from our lovely homes to drink a cuppa with friends at a coffee shop. We spend rands and rands on restaurant cuisine instead of making use of our own kitchens. We sit in crowded malls or under umbrellas on the pavements instead of in our own gardens.

In these heady days of early retirement I have made a point of asking friends home and setting a table somewhere on the verandah or the lawn. March days are mild and pleasant in Pretoria and after the summer rains, our gardens are lush and green.  This Friday I took out an antique tablecloth that I had forgotten I possessed, the silver and pink dinner set and my aunt's ivory handled, engraved silver knives and forks. The meal was simple: French tuna quiche (a recipe for dummies - the secret is in using whole cream to beat with the eggs), a panini  from my favorite deli, a tossed salad with lots of  avocado, finished with a dessert of organic Greek yoghurt in elegant champagne glasses topped with nuts and raw honey. The friends  - Noleen and Petro (Salome missed the picture)  - and I have shared decades teaching together at the university.  The conversation never waned from  noon till 4pm. There was no waiter to hurry us, no loud music to talk over, no menu item  that disappointed and best of all, no bill to pay.

Eating out is a fun luxury but eating in is better. What do you think?

Wednesday, March 22, 2017


The third Saturday of the month is the Irene Garden Club. Irene is an old established suburb in Pretoria and the garden club has been going for many years. Some silver-haired members remember the days when they took  their babies in prams to club meetings.

I discovered the club on Facebook in October 2015.  It was with some trepidation that I phoned to enquire whether the club would consider members 'outside the area'.

"Oh course", said Lucia, the vivacious, dynamic Chairlady. "I live in Faerie Glen."

Since then I have been an enthusiastic member of the club and recruited four other keen gardeners: Chris, Isobel, Ermilinda and Janis.  Last year we viewed several gorgeous gardens, listened to talks on  bulbs, vegetables and container plants, among others. A hot topic of conversation was how to garden in the drought. Pretoria had water restrictions for more than a year and the spring rains were late, sending us all into a panic.

"Should I replace my roses with succulents?" asked one anxious member.

"Just wait," I cautioned. "The rains will come."

In January 2015,  I had two rainwater tanks installed to harvest the rain that falls on the corrugated iron garage roof and the kitchen roof, two of the three sections of the house without thatch.  By October 2015 my tanks were completely dry. Happily although the summer rains were late, they came in abundance and the largest dam in Gauteng, the Vaal, rose from 63 % to 103% in just over a week in February. My tanks constantly overflowed and my water bill has been greatly reduced since their installation. When I have an overflow, I use rain water for domestic use inside the house - just not for drinking. A pale blue pottery jug in my bathroom contains the day's ration for hand washing.

On Saturday we had a talk on different kinds of gardeners right on the lawn of Lucia's Faerie Glen garden, a pretty, relaxed garden setting.