Charlie's Bird

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

Archive for June, 2013

The sisterhoods

Over the years I have been a member of some awesome sisterhoods – informal groups united by a common experience. The most memorable was probably the Sisterhood of the Crack – a motley bunch of bitterly single girls who would meet for Bloody Marys and Champagne breakfasts to bemoan the state of our relationship lives. We had heaps of fun – sharing our mutual depression and sadness at the unfairness of how we were treated; the name coming from the idea of us standing at the edge of the abyss, staring into the deep dark crack of self loathing and misery, and choosing to turn around and walk away from  it (after an appropriate amount of wallowing and alcohol).

Then there is the Sisterhood of the Bubble- bound by our childhood and school experiences; there is the sisterhood of bloggers, the sisterhood of girl doctors…

These days I am part of another sisterhood, so informal that we do not have a name nor do we meet, but we are bound by our common denominator – infertility. And we drink much less. But I really just want to pay tribute to these girls, who with the raising of an eyebrow, with one probing question, break down my defences and help me figure out the mixed signals I get from my brain and my body. Make no mistake, I have the greatest cheerleaders any girl could ask for, but this small group of girls (and boys) deserve a cheer themselves today. Thank you, my sisters in this hood. You always know how to ask the questions, state the obvious and how to allow me time to process where I find myself.


…ugh, getting annoyed today – with the bad drivers, people filled with their own self importance, a broken flash drive, the incompetence of some people I have to interact with. With the expectation of perfection… If only I could settle for less…

Anyway, enough of a whinge. How are you all? Its been a funny week. The days have been full, but the wards not so much. I’ve managed to work on a few projects in the evening – some scrapbooking, and most importantly, Charlie and I are plotting a holiday – to Namibia! I am so excited about it, I cold burst. We have wanted to go for years, but whenever we have started planning, something has come p to sabotage us, so this is our year. So I welcome any advice, tips and insider stories you might have to offer! We plan to fly into Windhoek, hire a 4×4 and then do some driving, covering both the south and central areas with a stop in at Etosha. Anyone been before? What are the must sees in your opinion?

Winter Warmer

Ok, so this weekend, there was some time for cooking. And because it’s winter and the nights are getting colder, it was time for some oxtail. Historically oxtail was considered a cheap cut, something not everyone really wanted to eat. Thankfully those days are over, and aside from 1 non-vegetarian I know, all my omnivore friends eat oxtail, and love it! Recipes like this are a little rough, you need a bit of cooking common sense and initiative, I can only give you rough ideas on quantities etc, it really does depend on what you have in the fridge, what you can buy from the store, and most importantly, what you feel like eating.

20130625-101123.jpgOk, so I used 1.5kg of oxtail, enough to feed a hungry family of 4 with left overs for everyone the next day. I used an onion, 2 cloves of garlic, some bacon, some leeks, carrots, baby potatoes, fennel, celery and pumpkin and butter beans in my stew.

So we start with the oxtail, roll in seasoned flour ( flour with salt, pepper, mixed herbs and English mustard powder added to it), then brown  in batches in olive oil over a medium-high heat. Do not overcrowd the pot, then you will just boil it up – yuk! 20130625-101147.jpg

The next step is to fry off the onion, a clove or 2 of garlic and the bacon, until the onion is translucent and the bacon is looking cooked.

20130625-101157.jpgThen add the oxtail back into the pot, and add your stock mix. Again, a rough recipe, there are no hard and fast rules. I used about 750 ml of beef stock (I really like the NOMU fonds, albeit they are a tad pricey), about 400 ml red wine, some chutney (about 2 tablespoons), about 3 tablespoons tomato paste, a generous dose of crushed black pepper, 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary, one of the fennel bulb tops and some dried mixed herbs. You could add Worceshire sause, soya sauce or balsamic vinegar. Whatever takes your fancy. Pour this over your oxtail, making sure its all covered, if it isn’t add some more stock/wine, and after bringing up to the boil, reduce the temperature and simmer covered for 2-3 hours. Mine simmered for about 4. Stir occasionally and just keep an eye. Remember the longer it simmers, the more and more tender the oxtail. 20130625-101207.jpg

About an hour before serving, add the veggies – I left the baby potatoes whole, cubed the butternut, quartered the fennel bulb, left the baby carrots whole, sliced the celery and let that simmer for an hour. Just prior to serving I added a can of drained and washed butter beans, heating through. 20130625-101223.jpg

Serve with rice or mash, or as I did with Rosmarino pasta (looks like rice, tastes likes pasta-yum). Some sharp English mustard ont he side is delicious. Oh, and some crunchy fresh baguette to mop up the juices.

20130625-101250.jpgFollow that up with something ridiculous – like Milo Macarons…

20130625-101258.jpg(I have finally struck macaron making gold – might have been an accident, but these were magnificent!)


Hamba Gahle

…Tata Madiba. The end is nearing for this great man. And I find myself strangely emotional about it. Last night every time I woke up in the night I scrolled through Twitter, watching for breaking news. A bit macabre, but really, just a concern and a care…

If I think about this man, and what he has meant for our land, I loose my breath. He was part of what was perceived to be by the National Party, a terrorist group, who was hell bent in freeing their people. He went to jail, with dignity and pride, suffered through 27 years of incarceration, and was freed a man of forgiveness, measure and wisdom. From our rocky beginning as a united nation, he captained at the helm and sailed us through those stormy waters. And then he sent that ship forth, as he retired to enjoy his new wife, and this new South Africa. I have little doubt, if he were more capable at the moment, he would have had a lot to say about the current management, how they are disappointing and failing us. How the ideals he fought and almost died for are fading fast… Its a sad, sad situation.

Nevertheless. He is a man, a well loved man. Not a deity, just a man, like you or I; to call him more takes away from what he achieved. And when you think about what that young hot headed lawyer from Qunu achieved, it makes you realise that we all have no excuse for our failings or inadequacies. With far less resources, without the internet, with little public support, with laws restricting him he went on to be the finest statesman our world will ever know. And his legacy will live on – not in his money grubbing biological family, but in his greater family, those of us that respectfully call him Tata.

And so to quote Shakespeare, ‘Good night, sweet prince, may flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.’

Administrative nightmares

….argh!!!! I hate admin! Make no mistake, I love it when everything is filed in its place, all sorted out and neat and tidy, but I hate getting it there! And at the moment I feel swamped by admin! There are bills and general paperwork to sort; there are medical education points to log and file; there are patients to refer and sort and seek second opinions on. It’s a little hectic at the moment. And yes, I do know it would be easier if I did it at the time, filed that bill or called that doctor, but you know how it goes… And I am a terrible procrastinator. And it is now catching up with me.

How do you manage your admin? Or do you just pay someone to do it for you?

Time to

…confess. I was frivolous today. I dragged Charlie off to that little shop in the mall where they sell tiny trinkets, and I bought myself a little trifle for all my efforts last year. (We’ve just had our meeting with the accountant, you see, so finally I got a bit of an idea over my income.) Its oh so beautiful and shiny and sparkly – I feel like a bit of a magpie! Charlie (I think) must think I’m crazy… And I am, crazy for him!

Better now

…not completely, but getting better than I was. A weekend filled with great little stop gaps, seeing Adip, getting to watch John Cleese, Fathers Day dinner at our house, Having some good playtime with Thandigirl. It was all good and restorative.

Friday afternoon ended with a divine massage for Charlie and I, we positively oozed out of the spa and made our way home, where we fed and watered Thandi and ourselves and had early nights all round, recovering from our colds. Saturday morning we jumped into the car, headed off to the neighbouring town, checked in Chez Dip. We had lunch at one of our favourite spots in town (bunny chow for me – yum!), then headed off to a chat with the fab Dr DB (more on that later), a quiet afternoon followed and then after dropping Thandi off on the evening playdate of her little life with Em, we headed off to watch John Cleese. What an experience, definitely a bucket list event. It was nostalgic… not a laugh a minute, he really did a bit of a walk down memory lane, sharing some of his life experiences and then some highlights of his career. The only downside to the evening was that quite early on Charlie and I spotted the cue cards projecting onto screens around the venue, but as he said, he’s an old man! It was really quite an experience. Then it was off to fetch Thandi, finding her playing up a storm, and so happy! She’d really had a great time with Em – Thanks Em’s mom and dad for watching her – you guys are legends! Needless to say, we had our longest lie in ever on Sunday morning!


Sunday after a walk on the promenade and dipping our toes in the sea,

20130618-081337.jpgwe headed off to a special spot down the coast for a brunch. The whales frolicked in the sea, awesome to see. And then it was time to pack up and head home…

Once we got home, I got stuck into a roast lamb dinner with all the trimmings and my folks came over for dinner – yum! Another early night for us, I was still quite congested, and tired.

Monday was a public holiday – yay! So after the morning dawned, we headed off to a little touch farm/play ground just out of town, had a great morning there, headed off to the local Home Expo, had a stroll around while Granny watched Thandi for us. and then after Thandi rewarded s with a 2 hour afternoon nap, we headed out to dinner with my associates, a time to catch up and relax.

And now the long weekend is over, time to work again… Have a great shortened week! Before I go, look at Thandi’s delight, playing with her dad!