The Winds of Change

There are big things happening in life right now. Things I can’t really talk about, not until the end of April. And while I’m concentrating so hard on not talking about those things, I’ve run out of space in my head to concentrate on anything else.

So bear with me. In two weeks, all will be revealed and then there will be lots to talk about for the rest of ever!

In the meanwhile, let me sum up the weekend and following week, upon which I am about to embark:

dinner at la boheme
drop off old passport at DHL
pay DHL one thousand bucks to pick up new passport in Pretoria
pop in to Scar for first hair appointment in a year
long hair, totally care
easter lunch
eat chocolate
eat more chocolate
head to Avant Garden for some carnival fun and culture
probably buy stuff
complimentary Swedish massage at 12 Apostles spa
hello decadence!
lunch at Woodlands
sleeeeeeep
catch-up drinks with old friends. Loading Bay?
ooh, truffle fries
yoga
gym
more yoga, more gym
probably (definitely) go to work a few times
pick up passport
please sweet cheesus pick up passport
Swan Lake at the Artscape
be mesmerised
pack
unpack
pack again
board plane
off to Austria!

Stomp and Sip: Backstage at Beau Joubert Vineyards and Winery

“Caramel popcorn!” Claire shouts gleefully. “I taste caramel popcorn.” Toomuchloveliness, sitting on her right, nods enthusiastically. Baas, the Beau Joubert viticulturist, sits on my left. He cocks an eyebrow and takes a sip of the Sav Blanc in question. He doesn’t seem entirely convinced by the caramel popcorn hypothesis.

Saturday dawned warm and sunny in Cape Town, after a week of premature winter rains. Beau Joubert had invited me to join them for a stomp and sip day on the gorgeous farm near Stellenbosch, which lies at the end of a long oak lane. Hence their ‘Oak Lane’ wine range. Clever, no?

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We were told we would need to work for our lunch and they weren’t lying. Baas handed us each a crate and a pair of shears and gave us twenty minutes to fill it with bunches of the plump, purple grapes which hid amongst the rows if vine leaves in front of us. He may have said something about watching our fingers because the scissors were sharp. Listen, he wasn’t kidding. I took a nice chunk out of my finger and fairly shortly afterwards gave up on my crate. If it’s full enough for Simba, it’s full enough for me.

 

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A tractor came to carry our (heavy) crates down the hill and we all traipsed into the cellar to watch this super interesting contraption at work. The grape bunches are fed in one end of the machine, the fruit stripped off the stalks and the branches spat out one end while the grapes sent off to the big tanks. The light in there wasn’t great, but I attempted a video and you’ll get a pretty good idea of the process.

The big tanks holding the grapes are about chest height and big enough to swim in, which is exactly what happened next. Foolishly, I had (legitimately) left swimming things at home so I stood on the sides snapping pictures in the gloomy light and trying not to get caught in the inevitable grape fight which broke out. Any photos from inside were utterly useless but Nikki is both braver and far more talented than I am, and she got close enough to get some pretty great shots.

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Finally, we got to the important part. The part with the drinking and the eating. My favourite part of any day. I’m not a big wine drinker, despite having parents who wine lovers and who spent much of my childhood in the tasting rooms of various wine farms, while I played on the grass outside with the farm dogs. Happy years. Natalie is much better at wine than me, so if you’re looking to get into this fine art check out her myth-busting tips here. Despite my inexperience, I was really chuffed to be part of the first group of people to ever taste their newly bottled sparkling wine. It needs another year or two in the bottle before it will be ready for sale, at which point you should jump for a bottle because it is amazing.

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Me, I was just happy with a plate of good food, endless cheese and great company. Super thanks to Beau Joubert for hosting us, it was a really beautiful day. Next year, I’ll be the first one on that tank! Thank you to Andrew, Lydia, Baas Ian, Christian and Elzanne for a being such good sports and gracious hosts.

Be sure to check out their website, they also have a stunning cottage and are close enough to Cape Town for a quick weekend getaway which won’t break the petrol-bank. You can find them on the Old Polkadraai Road in Stellenbosch, near La Provence.

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And Our Motto is Truth

I got in trouble in high school.

Well actually, I didn’t get in trouble per se. Ever, actually. But my whole grade did. Quite often in fact, over our five-year convent career. Most of the time it was silly little things. We figured out that if you turned the Coke vending machine off at the plug and back on again, the prices reset themselves so that instead of paying R4.50 for a cold can of something (the good ol’ days), we only had to pay 50c.  Took the teachers a while to figure that one out but, man, were they pissed off.

Silly little things like having water fights on the lawn during break and coming back to our classrooms dripping water and mud everywhere, fat grass stains all over our pale blue skirts.

Some of the things were more serious than that. There were a few instances of shoplifting and inappropriate drunken behaviour. Bullying, mainly of the teachers. We were quite nice to each other, funnily enough. But there was one teacher who wouldn’t teach us unless the principal sat at the back of the classroom. And another who threw a desk across the room in absolute frustration. Another put up with two hours of solid torture every week and to this day, I don’t know how she stood it. Nasty things like pouring condensed milk in her handbag.

They didn’t know half of what went on under their noses but they didn’t much like the bits they did know, understandably.

All this happened between grades eight and ten. By grade eleven we had calmed down some and by Matric, we were proving ourselves to be a very intelligent and driven group of girls. But the damage had been done and the teachers, particularly our principal, never forgave us for those tumultuous beginning years. There were a handful who were very supportive of us, who saw our potential and appreciated our spirit but they were few.

Our principal’s favourite threat had to do with her letter of reference that she wrote for each Matric student when they left the school. We weren’t going to get ours.

“Every university, every company is going to ask you for your letter of reference and none of you will have one,” she’d tell us while we all stared transfixed by her perfectly triangular thighs.

I’d fret to my mom at night about how I hadn’t done anything wrong, I deserved my letter of reference. I imagined a lifetime of doors slamming shut in my face, of wondering which of my sympathetic teachers might write me a letter instead. It wouldn’t be official, would my chosen university notice?

If only I knew.

If only I knew that I would be asked for that reference letter exactly as many times as I’ve been forced to write in cursive.

Never. Not once.

I did end up getting the reference letter and I think I even read it. It’s probably stuck in a drawer somewhere, shoved in there the day I got home from our Valedictory mass (the one our principal tried her damnedest to have cancelled.)

So this is the lesson, kids: No one cares who you were at school. You’ll be okay.

Come Back to Me

Words have betrayed me.

When there was nothing else, I always had words. Now there is nothing.

My hands move to type. They hover uselessly over a keyboard and they wait. They wait for something to happen, for something to move them. Nothing happens. They hover a moment longer, hopeful always. Eventually they find the mouse and click out the screen. The blank page saves to drafts and there are several blank pages there now.

Nothing happens.

The world is full of words but none of them choose me.

20 Things I Still Don’t Know at 25

Here’s what I don’t know.

  1. What I want to be when I grow up. Eighteen is far too young to make that decision. What did I know at eighteen? Hell, 23 was too young to make that decision. Over six years and three academic institutions I have studied politics, history, psychology, public relations and marketing communications. I still don’t know what I’m doing.
  2. The difference between right and wrong. It’s not as black and white as we’re taught to believe as children. When does the greater good become more important than the individual? When does clearing your own conscience become more important than hurting someone else with the truth?
  3. How to handle criticism. And how to criticize. How to deal with conflict, how to fight with someone and how to stand up for myself. I get red and shaky and teary. I tell people what I know they want to hear, just to make it stop and then afterwards I kick myself for all the things I should have said. I’m terrified to offend and loathe to hurt someone’s feelings, even when they’re hurting mine.
  4. How to file for income tax returns. Somehow, I’ve ended up owing SARS money and I don’t even know how that’s possible.
  5. Where I see myself in five years time. Five years ago, I did not see myself here. In five years time, I could be married. I could be living the life of a nomad in South East Asia. I could be a corporate in Joburg. I could still be living in my parent’s house in Hout Bay. Five years ago, I definitely didn’t expect to still be as dependent on my parents as I still am today.
  6. How to roast a chicken. Woolworths does it better anyway.
  7. Who I’m going to vote for. Is it too much to ask for a politician with a bit of dignity? (Yes. I heard it). From Nkandla to attacking journalists on Twitter to toyi-toying on the floor of Parliament, all I’m asking for is someone with a bit of professionalism and respect. I’m not convinced about Obama’s efficiency, but the guy is a great front-of-house.
  8. If I’m a small town or big city kind of girl. 
  9. If you’re supposed to tip hairdressers. Are you? Someone help me out here. And beauticians.
  10. Which make up brush does what. I even went on a course and I wrote it all down and I still stood blankly in MAC on Saturday, completely overwhelmed.
  11. Which foods are good for you and which aren’t. Every dietitian says something different. Am I supposed to eat plain grilled chicken without the skin, or double cream Greek yoghurt with an extra scoop of butter? I have Tim Noakes at home, telling me carbs are the devil, and my trainer crediting my new found weakness to a lack of carbs. Carbs burn fat he tells me, while Tim keeps feeding me more butter. The more research one does, the more confusing it gets.
  12. If I’m supposed to be reckless and fun, or safe and responsible. I learnt a new word today. It’s called “topophobia” and it means the fear of change. Change is scary and it has always scared me. My mom tells me I get it from my dad; we like stability. So what happens when you get to twenty five and you realise that the path you’re on may not be the right one? Do you risk everything and start from the beginning, knowing you’re falling behind your peers and will likely be dependent on your parents well into your twenties? Or do you carry on, aim for that promotion and that raise and continue building a career in an industry you’re not sure you’re built for?
  13. Which dream I’m supposed to live, because I can’t live them all. Am I writer or a community manager or an entrepreneur. Do I want to run a small hotel somewhere in rural Asia or do I want to join the advertising giants in Dubai? Maybe I still want to be a humanitarian worker or do my masters in conflict resolution, just so I can apply to intern for the UN in Thailand.
  14. How to say no. Hello, I’m a people-pleaser who has a tendency to agree to things without thinking them through which is how I ended driving back and forth between Stellenbosch and Cape Town six times in one day. Or why I’m the girl people call at 4 a.m. when they’re too drunk to drive home and too broke to call a cab.
  15. How to say yes. I really want to see Foals perform tonight but they only come on at midnight and I have work in the morning. I will probably not remember my average Thursday work day in twenty years time, but I might just remember the time I danced my ass off to My Number. As it currently stands, I’m not going.
  16. What kind of music I listen to. My iPod (I don’t actually have an iPod, it’s just a metaphor) contains Edith Piaf, Miley Cyrus, Eminem, Bastille and various versions of Nessun Dorma (which is my favourite song in the world despite the fact that I don’t like opera). I like to think I’m far too liberal and open-minded to pick just one type, which is really a very arrogant thing to confess.
  17. What the story is with Israel and Palestine. I read, a lot. About a lot of things. But I still can’t figure out the Middle East situation.
  18. This thing with macarons. So expensive. So average. Give me a cupcake rather.
  19. How to fold a fitted sheet. I’ve seen the pictures and the YouTube tutorials. I can’t be bothered.
  20. How to deal with heartbreak. Once, twice, three times. It doesn’t get easier the next time round. It takes longer to heal. And you’re never really the same person again. Hearts are like bowls. You can glue them back together but you’re always going to see the cracks, yellow from the glue.

And one thing I do know.

  1. We’re all going to be okay.