Charlie's Bird

living the dream with Charlie and Thandi and chirping all the way back to the nest.

Archive for November, 2012

Longing…

…shoowee, somehow this has been a very long week, and I am very glad to now be here, on friday. I am not on call this weekend, thank goodness, and we are heading to the beach house to continue Pops’ birthday celebrations. Sadly, it doesn’t look like the weather will play ball, but it will be good to unwind. Tonight we will eat at the sporting diner, and the rest of the weekend will happen as it happens. I hope to finish up my crafted christmas gifts and maybe play a few rounds of scrabble…

The week really has been bsy, 9 babies in 4 days – made for a rough time. There’s been lots on, our staff christmas function, Pops’ birthday, and I’m trying to get back to my regular gym schedule. I even have rib splints – you know, like shin splints, but way worse. Yesterday I even battled to sneeze! Anyway, I am sure after today’s session I will be fine.Thandi’s shots yesterday have made her a bit of a grumpy pants last night, and she was a little warm when she woke up at 04h30 this morning – crikey! I’m hoping she has a better day today.

Anyway, I wish you all marvellous weekends!

Too

…busy, too tired, too grumpy. Poor people around me… This will pass.

Happy Birthday to me Pops! 75 years young today!

Chocolate and Wine

…pairing is quite difficult to do! Traditionally chocolate is seldom paired with wine. The combination of sweet and oily versus acid and tannin often does not work well, but we were pleasantly surprised by the combinations we found. I (actually Charlie) did some online research and found a Leopard’s Leap chocolate pairing, which we considered and modified according to the chocolate we could source. And this is how it went…

LL Unwooded Chardonnay – Lindt white chocolate with a hint of vanilla  This combination got a thumbs up of approval. The chardonnay was light with summer fruits – pears particularly, and the team found that the chocolate softened the wine, accentuating the fruit.

LL Sauvignon Blanc – Lindt Intense A touch of Sea Salt This wine was well received with fresh salady flavours, but the comment was the chocolate made it taste salty…

LL Pinotage Rose – Lindt Extra Creamy milk chocolate This combination was also well received with many surprised at the deliciousness of the wine, and how the chocolate complimented it, making it all rather divine. It tasted creamy and smooth.

LL Lookout Cabernet Sauvignon-Shiraz-Cinsault –  Lindt Intense Orange Now this was one I was concerned about. Invariably orange and chocolate is often a disliked combination, but again we were pleasantly surprised. The wine was nice, and the nuts and the orange in the chocolate brought out the wood with citrus notes. Lots of oohs and aahs.

LL Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot – Lindt Mint Intense Dark – again an interesting combination. We didn’t think much of the wine, finding it a bit bland and boring. The chocolate didn’t do much for it, the mint being overpowering and dominant. However, we all agreed the chocolate itself was delicious!

LL Cabernet Sauvignon – Lindt Caramel Intense Now this was my personal favourite! Yummy wine, delicious chocolate that worked together so very well! The wine had strong wood and tannins, which the caramel softened and sweetened, bringing out the berries. A really good combination, my personal favourite.

LL Shiraz – Lindt Chilli Dark Can I just say for the record that I am over this whole chilli chocolate combination. Most of them are poorly mixed and are just gross. Saying that, with trepidation I tried this blend, the wine was tasty and the chilli accentuated the delicate spiciness of the Shiraz. so, considering my bias, I was surprised.

LL Family Collection Shiraz-Mourvèdre-Viognier – Lindt 85% Dark This wine was well received, with most people enjoying what is clearly the top of their range (it was the only bottle with a cork!) The chocolate is however dark and bitter and many people did not enjoy the combination. I found it reasonable, the chocolate taking a while to melt in my mouth, and bringing out the wood and tannins, leaving my mouth quite dry. The other recommendation here was the Lindt Intense Touch of Sea Salt which we then all tried to. I found it a pleasant enough combination, with the lighter chocolate enhancing the wine far more subtlely than the 85%.

It really was a great experience that we all seemed to enjoy. We were all initially a bit skeptical, but landed up being surprised and really enjoying it. Some tips on tasting, first taste the wine and get an idea of the flavours. Then take a bite of chocolate, let it start to melt and soften in your mouth, then sip another mouthful of wine and see how the flavours mingle, change and grow. Enjoy!

I am struggling

…today, with what to write. I fear I will be unmasking myself today, which I never intended to, but I am so angry about something that happened, and the injustices in this world, that I will have to do some naming and shaming, which will, no doubt, give my game away.

So this weekend we had our now annual bookclub weekend away. Although I am not sure we can call ourselves a bookclub anymore, since we don’t buy books anymore… Anyway. We headed to a tiny resort up the coast that I had not previously heard of. It is a camping spot, with some chalets. Charlie, Thandi and I had a chalet. We had heard shortly before we left that this was one of those institutions which that do not allow people of other races through their gates; and it seemed true, especially when you saw their security with the ultrasecret gate code, which got phoned through to you on the morning of your arrival, and the guy in the next door chalet wearing his Boeremag Tshirt, and the fact that the demographic really was starkly white… In this day and age, there really is no place for that kind of nonsense anymore, really. So once I put my annoyance away, and just relaxed into the weekend, it was good to spend quality time with good friends. Friday night we braaied and saturday evening after a wine and chocolate pairing (a whole post over that will come shortly), a general knowledge quiz, we had a delicious potjie. And then the drama began…

Thandi awoke at about 00h45 on Sunday morning, very unsettled (unbeknownst to us, this was happening in other chalets too, small children were waking up, all rather miserable) After fighting to get her to go back to sleep, we eventually popped her into our bed, all rather cramped and uncomfortable. While lying there scratching her back we heard lots of noises of nature, and then human noises, footsteps, running, a few indistinct calls, and then some footsteps really close, a German accented ‘Hello’ and ‘Help’ or 7. Charlie hauled his weary bones out bed and went to investigate…

He found 4 dishevelled, ashen and smokey Germans who were part of a hiking group doing the local Strandloper Trail. The sleep over hut in the Cape Henderson reserve was just in front of the resort, and in the early hours of the morning it had gone up in flames, with many of them loosing their hiking bags, passports, shoes, clothes… They were devastated. At this point Charlie tried to get some help, which was laughable. First 112 on the cellular network, bearing in mind our coverage was patchy at best. They directed him to the East London Fire department – not their problem they said, and directed him to the Amathole Fire Department, who did not know where Haga-Haga (the nearest hotel) was, or Cape Henderson, and did not have a map to look it up. ‘We need an address, sir’, was their only response. At this point after a few  many minutes of frustration, he came in, and we reckoned his best bet was to take them to Haga-Haga, where hopefully there was a police station – we were not sure. On arrival in the sleepy hollow, he discovered there is in fact, no police station there. He tried the hotel, banged on the door, rang the phone number; no response. He tried the hotel’s emergency number – it was turned off(!!!!). At this point, my Charlie rang Port Control East London – the only reliable point he could think of, and got the number for the head of Disaster management in the Metro, roused him at 02h45, and got some kind of a response mobilized. He then woke one of our fellow campers and they ferried all 12 tourists to the Haga-Haga Hotel, where the police would fetch them and get them to some kind of safety. And so, there we were at 04h00, 12 tourists, with their local ‘guide’ who himself didn’t have any emergency contacts either (not sure what kind of a guide that would be), deposited outside the hotel with their sleeping bags; and police eventually on their way from Kei Mouth, a Thandipants eventually asleep, and a rather shell-shocked and tired Charlie and Birdie.

What has happened in this world, when emergency services fail us so dramatically – the next day at 11h00 we finally saw someone from EC parks department making their way to the site – which when we’d been to look at it was still smouldering, with little areas catching again in a very strong wind. The entire site was devastated, razed to the ground… What has happened to us when we casually ignore the burning bushes, which could have sparked a major disaster – anybody remember St Francis just the other day? What has happened when responsibility and accountability mean so very little? How can the guide not have emergency contact details? How can the fire department not know what is in their jurisdiction, and not have a map of their area? How did we become so callous that we pay our emergency workers so poorly, they feel the need to strike? FFS!

I’m a lot calmer now, but very saddened by what happened this weekend. I don’t want to be part of a society that has race as criteria to assess whether you can stay in a holiday resort. I don’t want to be part of a society which is failing its people, its tourists and its land so dramatically. But how do we change it?

The weekend

…cannot start soon enough. It is the most glorious day here, perfect sunshine, a few wispy clouds in the sky, an occasional whisper of a breeze; it is criminal to be at work, I tell you!

What’s on the horizon

…so the week is drawing to its conclusion. I am so looking forward to the weekend! I am tired, it’s been busy and I need a break with some laughs and good friends. We are heading off to a nearby campsite (fortunately I am in a chalet, I’m not the world’s happiest camper) with the bookclub girls and their families for our now annual weekend away. There is lots of fun and games planned – a bar quiz, a chocolate and wine pairing, good food and wholesome family times. Let’s just hope the weather cooperates now! Otherwise, I’m ready to read, play scrabble and drink wine…

This week I have had a chance to scratch my crafty bone and it feels good. I am working on some christmas presents – and they’re going well! Faster than I anticipated. So I am pleased! So there are 6 gifts almost done; 5 others are done, (almost forgot about those); 3 are ordered, so I am well on my way with gifting! On Monday night we have our office party, I need to wrap those gifts, since I am the designated gifter in the practice, and to add my little something for them, just have to decide what it is I’m making for them this year – they’ve had truffles, biscuits, fudge, chocolate bark; might be coconut ice this year.

Have I mentioned before I love Christmas, and what it means? I love being able to remind my significant people that they are important to me, and that I love and appreciate them. I love that family gets together and we get a chance to reconnect – with all that inherent drama(!); I love that it is summer, we spend time out doors in the sunshine, on the beach. There is the spiritual side of things, and it’s the selfless giving; we had Jesus given to us, to teach us a moral code for life; if only we (by we, I mean mankind) could remember that selfless gift more often.

Moments

…that make my heart melt… This morning Thandi was sitting on my lap, facing me, when she stuck her finger onto my chest and said “Perfect!” Aaahhhh… and my day was made! (although I have to concede, I’m not sure she knows what perfect means, but I’ll take it!)