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Thursday, 26 April 2012

My Bonnie lies over the Ocean

Well, it finally happened. One more step in the Grand Plan of the Universe fell into place. My beloved Liz has arrived safely in America, and judging from a conversation I had with Dena, her daughter, yesterday afternoon, none too soon. But that’s another story, and one to be told by another writer.

I drove Liz to the Airport on Tuesday afternoon. We had just topped up with fuel in Colchester when her phone rang. It was British Airways asking whether she could make the check in by 2.30 p.m. rather than 5.00 p.m. as her flight had been delayed and there was no guarantee of her making her connection with Quatar Airways to Doha. Fortunately we had decided to leave Martindale early (at noon) so we were able to make it. She was fined R3,000 for overstaying the last date of her visa – if she doesn’t pay it while in the States she will not be allowed back into the country – what a difficult decision to make!

So, now I am alone for a while – hopefully not too long. It’s now all down to selling the farm, and I’m hoping that the people who came to view on 19th will come through. Technically I’m not completely alone. I have Katie our White Shepherd, (you may remember her dad passed over in late January) and Bob and Jack, the two cats, to keep me company. We have someone who has offered to take the cats, and indeed Katie, but it is still our intention to send her over to the States just as soon as the farm is sold.

I keep on finding little notes hidden away throughout the house. Just little things like “I love you” and “I miss your touch” and, this is the one I like, “I love you more today than yesterday. I will love you even more tomorrow”. So far I’ve come across six of them. Thank you Liz, and I love you and miss you and can’t wait to talk to you on Magic Jack in a couple of hours’ time.

I received an sms from Michael jnr earlier today. He was coming to collect his Toyota Land Cruiser on Friday. He is still coming, but will probably arrive late Saturday evening with Andrew, one of his climbing friends. I’ll prepare his favourite dish, parsley chicken, anyway. That can always be heated up if they’re very late.

Love you Princess 

Saturday, 21 April 2012

South Africa - don't get ripped off!

Way back in November of 2011 I published a blog post entitiled "The two G’s – Gullible and Greedy", and a couple of days ago I had to do some research that backs up just how greedy many South Africans are. I still have an old cell phone - a Nokia 6020 - which has served me well over the years. I'll wait until I get to the States before upgrading, for reasons that will become obvious by the end of this post.  About a week ago I noticed that I was having to charge the battery on my phone every day. Obviously, I thought, the battery was packing up and I would need to replace it. So I started doing some research and discovered the same battery priced at £3-68 in the UK - that's about R46 at today's exchange rate.

I started looking for the same battery here in South Africa - the first website I went to ( ) listed the battery at R421 - wow that's a 900% increase. Two other websites I checked were R262 ( ) and R283 ( ) only 570% increase on the UK price. Now when you consider that all of the batteries, whether here or in the UK, are manufactured in China, how on Earth can those SA prices be warranted? There should be government legislation preventing such blatant profiteering.

As it happened I didn't need to purchase a replacement battery. Liz suggested switching off the phone and removing the battery, which I did. I placed it back in the phone and recharged it. Guess what! The phone has remained fully charged for 4 days, and shows none of those original symptoms. Thanks Liz - gonna miss you after Tuesday.

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Friday, 13 April 2012

Fine Food? Hogwash!

I have decided to start a campaign - a campaign against Fine Food, and have found a suitable acronym for it - OFFAL, but am looking for suggestions for the three empty words, perhaps someone could help me there. Here in South Africa (hopefully I won't be here much longer, but will be winging my way across the Pond to join Liz) there is currently one of those ghastly television series for Top Chef. The judges appear almost as phony as the food. I am probably biased in my opinion, but am equally sure that there are others that hold a similar one.

Fine Food - those dishes where there is more plate than food, dishes that are meant to look good and are priced way beyond the pocket of the average man in the street. To me, food is food, and I believe that there is nothing better than a good, tasty plate of food at the end of the day.  I pride myself in being something of a cook, and can produce a good sit-down meal for a table of eight that I guarantee will be enjoyed by all and sundry. I'm talking about Sunday Lunch, about that special dinner for a group of convivial friends. In my personal opinion any good cook should be able to produce a meal where the diners get to help themselves to its various constituents. I'm talking about dishes such as:
  • A whole poached River Spey salmon served with new potatoes, young peas and carrots with a green parsley sauce
  • Hungarian Goulash
  • Beef Stroganoff
  • Spaghetti Bolognaise
  • Poached Chicken in parsley sauce
  • Roast Rack of Lamb served with a freshly made mint sauce
  • Roast Sirloin of Beef  - of course with Yorkshire Pudding
  • Roast Suckling Pig
The list could go on, but I'm sure you get the idea. If I wanted to impress someone (which I wouldn't - I'm far beyond such desires), the last place I would take them would be to a Fine Food restaurant or a Sushi Bar. I would rather cook them a meal to remember and serve it with a good wine.

I have another gripe. I have visited and eaten in more countries than the fingers and toes on my hands and feet. I have even eaten with royalty, but I have to assert categorically that I have never found Brussels Sprouts that taste and look as good as mine. I would stake my life on that. Yes, I have a secret little recipe, and it will probably go with me to my grave.

What ever happened to the family restaurant? Fine Food? Pigswill!

© Michael J. Mason 2012

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

The Migratory Season is upon Us

Some of this blog may only make sense to people who read my posts back in November regarding our visiting swallows. It seems that the Migratory Season is about to arrive. About three weeks back our two parent swallows announced to the world the arrival of three offspring, and they have been carrying out flight practice over the last three weeks. It has been an eye-opening and enlightening three weeks. Where there were two swallows swooping low over the garden, now there are five. One entire morning was spent in teaching the young to fly high in the sky, yesterday how to cope with strong winds.

Every day at precisely the same time the family of five arrives back at the nest after a day's training. They perch on the wire I had erected 2 years ago before, one by one, entering the tunnel that leads to their nest for the night. One of the young took a little time to master alighting and entering the tunnel, but is now a master. As autumn approaches I am expecting them to have, one day, flown away, just as my wife is to do in a couple of weeks.

Yes, Liz is returning to the States, and in 2 weeks time will be jetting over the Pond to pave the way for our relocation. She will be staying with her daughter, Dena, who was good enough to pay for her ticket. Thank you Dena and Andrew! Liz will be changing her still-official (in the USA) name to mine, and then applying for my spousal visa. Unfortunately I still have to sell the farm. Potential buyers who came to view it on Sunday have just phoned to inform me that it is just a little too far from Grahamstown, where they have a business. They have, though, offered to take Jack and Bob, our two cats. I will wait until Liz has left before taking up their offer. I want to be ready to up and leave when the time comes.