Charlie's Bird

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

Archive for December, 2013

Searching for time

There are not enough hours in my day for all the things I’d like to do. Things that I find life giving and sustaining. I’m dying to just spend some time talking to my husband, baking more, playing more with Thandipants, reading, sewing, running… I’ve gone from wishing for an extra 6 hours a day, to hoping for 8… But alas, that isn’t going to happen. Unless I sleep even less than normal, which given that on an average night it is only about 5-6 hours that I do sleep, wouldn’t give me many more. Ai tog…

With this run up to Christmas now, things have been busy! Work has been hectic and I have really had to just reign myself in a little. Some of those homemade Christmas gifts are not going to happen in time; the house might not be as neat and tidy as it could be; my plans for the big event (Christmas Eve with all Charlie’s family and my parents at the beach house, since you were wondering) might not be as militarily planned as usual. (Sorry Nigella and Delia, my lists and timings haven’t been finalised!) And, I’m beginning to think that it might be ok… Sadly my running really has had to take a back seat, and that’s probably to my mental detriment, but I will pick it up again now that I have some breathing space. So really it might just be ok…

How do you all manage your time during this crazy season? I’m not a great delegator, maybe I should start? (Control freak in me is screaming hysterically right now!)

Early morning on the beach

Thanks to AE for some incredible pictures on the beach, one cool Saturday morning.

ALAN7970 ALAN8103 ALAN8121 ALAN8146 ALAN8157 ALAN8165 ALAN8171 ALAN8233 ALAN8235 ALAN8253 ALAN8319 ALAN8322 ALAN8323 ALAN8438 ALAN8487 I love this girl…

Christmas Cookie and Craft Beer Swop

…isn’t that alliteration impressive, my English teacher would be impressed!

Ok, so last night Charlie and I hosted a (soon-to-be-annual) Swop. The book club girls all brought 6 packets of biscuits, and then each of us went home with 6 assorted packets; and the boys each brought a 6 pack of craft beer, and again, each went home with 6 different beers to taste and enjoy!

It was great! Everybody went to so much trouble! The biscuits were beautiful! I made ginger bread hoses, filled with sweeties, and with a roof encrusted with chocolate coated popping candy, and candy floss smoke rising out a chimney. Check it out!

So we sat around the table, sharing some good food, memories and some wine. A great start to the Christmas season!

Foodie delights

…ok, so after a rough weekend on call, (well, rough Monday, not so much weekend) I am a bit shattered. An old varsity mate visited with her family – so nice to catch up again! More on that later. A highlight of the festive season happens tonight – a soon to be Annual Christmas Cookie Swop – my book club girls are descending on the house with bags of cookies to swop and trade. Yay! The boys are doing a craft beer swop, so they have been sourcing and chilling too! Anyway, I will give a proper report back on that tomorrow.


So I am finally going to share my experience at Luke Dale-Roberts’s The Test Kitchen, which we ate at while in Cape Town. Bear in mind there is about a 3-4 month wait to get in, so this was a long time planning. For those that don’t know this restaurant was voted the best in SA this year, and Luke was voted best chef in SA in 2011 –  some pretty impressive credentials. Anyway, our meal was incredible, and I doubt I will ever eat such incredible stuff again.

The menu was magnificent! We arrived to a bottle of MCC and a little amuse bouche. 299 There was a billionaires shortbread – a parmesan biscuit, topped with foie gras and chocolate , dusted with goldleaf , a peppered mackerel in a pastry case and a beetroot pickle, with beetroot jelly and pine nuts, served in a Japanese mint leaf – delicious, delicate.

Next up was some bread 313 There was a pretzel stick, a baguette and a country loaf, served with home made jersey butter. really tasty bread, all with unique tastes and characteristics.

There was another little amuse bouche – a home dried tomato, served with an aubergine puree and goats cheese mousse. 314 If this is how the meal begins – well! Bring it on!

Then it was the first actual course – Pickled fish 317 ceviche with a lightly curried sauce, with carrots in various forms.

Next up I had this 319 Foie gras with a cinnamon poached guava, halva coquette and pulled biltong.

Following this was the Pork Belly, with parsley pressed apples, rosemary infused honey, blue cheese cream and crackling. And sorry, I forgot to take a picture before I started eating…

Followed by a palate cleanser – ‘Green’ 324 mint and apple and lemon deliciousness!

Then mains 327 I had a springbok fillet, wrapped in bacon, served with a skilpaaitjie (Springbok liver wrapped in caul), garlic cream, honeyed stuffed beetroot. So incredible, I can hardly describe!

Dessert was next 336Rhubarb Rose – a rhubarb terrine, poached in rose wine and rose water, rose granita, roasted strawberry butter, strawberry foam and clotted cream – indescribably beautiful…

We were then presented with a tray of sweets to finish the meal – a wine gum (made with real wine) a chocolate salted caramel creation and something else, which I cannot remember! And sorry, no photo at that stage of the evening.

Each course was paired with a wine – so very well done, each one complimented the food and the food brought out new dimensions in the wine. Agh, it was just perfect!

If I can offer you any advice – book, go, and throw caution to the wind. An incredible experience! Loved, loved, loved it!


Thoughts on great men

It has now been just over a week since Nelson Mandela died. A week where my emotions have surprised me. We were at The Test Kitchen last Thursday night, and our dinner was drawing to a close, I opened twitter, much to the horror of my husband and was getting all ready to post something about the truly incredible meal I had just devoured, when I saw Debor*ah Pat&ta’s tweet saying that there was frenzied activity outside Mandela’s Houghton home; then the cracker quotes from Mahar^aj saying that all was in status quo at the house; followed by the one that the president was preparing to address the nation… Driving back to Simonstown from Woodstock we listened to his emotionally choked words that our Tata was no more. (Gosh, I still get goosebumps) In the quiet dark night, it was appropriate. In the car we were all lost in our own thoughts and swirling emotions. I was numb, and ever medical thoughts shifted to what had happened, was it pneumonia, the old man’s friend? Renal failure? And then all of a sudden it didn’t matter any more. A giant had fallen. A giant who had given us everything, and more – his freedom, his family, his soul. A sacrifice I can hardly comprehend.

On Friday driving around Cape Town listening to the radio, listening to anecdotes and sentimental tunes on the radio, I cried, I sobbed. For the man who came to symbolise our ‘New’ South African hope was gone. I sobbed for what I fear it means for our beautiful land. Yes, I know he was an old man who deserved his rest, but it felt a bit like that Santa moment. You know its too good to be true that a jolly fellow with a crazy red suit drops off gifts in the night, but you want the fantasy to last, to continue the magic. Similarly, I don’t think I really wanted this moment to come. I cried with relief that his physical agony was over. I cried because I believe he has found that peace that passes all human understanding…

I cried for a family who has to so publically mourn. Grief is hard enough to handle, and I know quite how devastating the loss of my father will be to me, I watched Charlie and his family mourn their Dad this year; and I cannot imagine going through that with the world watching – commenting on social media over who said what, what they wore, did they look sad enough, and ‘OMG, did you see Obama snub Winnie?’ Too much, too much.

Driving home in pouring rain I listened to some of the memorial service in JHB on Tuesday, I was astounded by the words of Obama – no wonder he is the leader of the free world. I cried to hear Madiba raised to sainthood, when he was actually just a man. A man from Qunu, who achieved greatness. To call him a saint detracts from who he really was, reduces his achievements.

I cried for a generation who will not know integrity, who will know corruption, spin and deceit from our leaders. Mandela was a principled  reasonable man; who stood for something, not himself…

I cried for Madiba, MyDiba, Thandi’s Diba, OurDiba…

Enkosi kakulu Tata, lala kahle.

(while I know this is far from the eloquent eulogies you have read already, forgive me this indulgence)


…it has been a while! I had a glorious holiday, staying at some incredible places – if you are travelling in RSA, I can thoroughly recommend as a great starting point for planning an amazing holiday, if like me, you like to escape the madding crowd, embracing silence and peace… No cell phones, no TV’s, no noise, except the wind in the trees, rain on the roof… 096 065 051 048 041Karoo memories!

283 277 230Western Karoo moments, with my monkey in the tree!

393 401 406 441Windswept coastal isolation…

To follow – my Mydiba thoughts, What we ate on holiday!