Posts Tagged ‘Idle chatter’

We’ve been in PE for about four months now and are slowly making the transition from inland big city mentality to coastal town lifestyle. Many are the differences between the two places! One of the most obvious is in the traffic: a favorite topic of conversation in Jhb, it hardly warrants a mention here, so I guess I’ll have to make mention of it in this blog if I want to discuss it with anyone at all…

First of all, kudos to the drivers in PE: all things considered, they are possibly the best drivers in the country. For one thing, they understand and apply the rules of the road – what a pleasure to be driving in a place where they know what to do at a traffic circle (hint for Jo’burgers: it’s not a four way stop). For another, they are unfailingly courteous and consistently let one in to the traffic stream when you indicate rather than taking it as a sign that they should accelerate to cut you off! The only frustration I have is that they are often slooow and apparently don’t believe in the concept of a fast lane.

I’m sure a good part of the behavior is related to the fact that traffic jams are, well, non-existent. Unlike Jhb’s efforts to be world class in every sense, PE operates on the basis that you should never spend more than 15-20 minutes in the traffic. Ever. Imagine my amusement when the local traffic report, instead of going on for a good five minutes about problems, described the biggest hazard of the afternoon as “a hot chick jogging along Main Drive”! For those of us all too well acquainted with the frustration of crawling commutes, it’s hard to imagine the difference it makes. People just don’t get nearly as upset in the traffic because, hey, you’ll get where you’re going in five more minutes anyway. And I’m sure this plays a big role in contributing to a generally more relaxed attitude to life. It’s easier to be friendly when you don’t start your day getting all wound up by your trip in.

Lastly, a word on taxis. I continue to ask a simple question: where are they? You barely see any on the road (yet to see more than two at a time) and those that are around stick to speed limits and indicate before pulling over at places convenient for other motorists. A complete disgrace to the profession, I’m sure.

Driving, then, has been an unexpectedly pleasant surprise, which is a not uncommon motif for experiences down here.

— Posted From My iPod


The longest journey

Posted: April 22, 2010 in Uncategorized

Farewell, faithful companion. Gulliver travelled his final journey today after 14 years of regularly escaping from the front gate, terrorising the neighbourhood cats and generally imagining himself to be five times bigger than he actually was.

Gully rolling on the grass

A house is not a home without pets. If you disagree, you’re entitled to your opinion – you’re just wrong, that’s all. Countless studies bear testimony to the value of animal companionship in providing comfort and joy to all kinds of people in all kinds of situations, to the extent where it’s even becoming a recognised form of therapy. Some of us need no convincing, though, and I’m grateful to be in that number.

Of course, my youngest is now reminding me that this was also the marker for the acquisition of his puppy. I don’t think my furniture is going to survive the teething process…

A long silence in terms of posting on this blog I see! All the reasons for that will hopefully soon become apparent, but I can say that at least one of them was simply being out of the country.

Our family finally got round to getting our passports for the first time earlier this year and, after an invitation to visit from some friends in Gaborone, Botswana, decided to put them to use. Physical circumstances mean that travelling anywhere has challenges, so I was curious to see what crossing a border would add to that.

As it turned out, the extra challenges in a trip to Botswana are few indeed. The road through to the Kopfontein border post via Zeerust is easy and uneventful – well, unless you decide to rely on TomTom, in which case you’re liable to end up on 50km of dirt road! I guess I saved a toll of R69 going up, but my confidence in technology was somewhat shaken – as was my car…

The border post itself was quick and painless, with the officials about as friendly and helpful as could be expected. The similarities between those on the South African side and those on the Botswana only confirmed my belief that government officials are all cloned on a farm somewhere in the Free State and then exported all over the world. Anyway, Gaborone itself is a mere 20km from the border which means that our international trip was 94% on South African soil. It just doesn’t get easier than that for those living in Johannesburg.

Driving through to the capital after coming from Zeerust, what really struck me was how it was so very much…the same. Same vegetation, same landscape, same languages and even a very similar feel to the city. How artificial are our borders, I thought, how irrelevant to the ancient earth upon which we scurry briefly.

Anyway, impressions of our closest neighbouring capital were positive. It all looks in pretty good order, the people are friendly and, bar a few eccentricities (traffic lights only letting one out of four streams through at a time, not two) it’s pretty easy to get around. Our friends took us on a couple of tours around the city and the neighbourhood and it was fun to be able to see what their world looked like after only hearing about it.

And, it being Botswana after all, we just had to visit a game reserve nearby to see some real wild animals! At least the inhabitants of Mokolodi (less than 15km out out of the city) were obliging and we got to see plenty of giraffe, warthog, the ubiquitous impala and a few other animals. Sadly no rhino or leopard, despite my 5 year old’s insistence that he saw them before they darted off after making eye contact with him.

It struck me as slightly odd that we should dash off to the reserve to watch animals when we already have so many opportunities to do so. But there’s something about admiring creation, something about the appreciation of beauty, that never grows old. Part of what makes us alive, I guess.

Oh, and it was hot! Temperatures over 34 degrees every day, which made me very grateful for the air conditioners everywhere.

So that was our trip to Botswana. All in all, a successful little venture and now we can at least say nonchalantly “Oh yes, we did a quick international trip last weekend…”

I can’t resist sharing this great story that my wife sent me…

He just bought a new boat & decided to take her for the maiden voyage.  This was his 1st boat & he wasn’t quite sure of the exact  Standard Operating Procedures for launching it off a ramp,  but figured it couldn’t be too hard.
He consulted his local boat dealer for advice, but they just said  “don’t let the trailer get too deep when you are trying to launch the boat.”
Well, he didn’t know what they meant by that as he could barely get  the trailer in the water at all!  Anyhow, here’s a picture below.


Funny thing is, he followed the instructions perfectly. Somebody (Twain?) said that you should always look for the truth in anything you find particularly funny and I guess here it’s that there was a good deal of assumed knowledge on the part of the instructor – after all, who wouldn’t know to reverse the boat in? We should all think about what we assume the other person knows before giving any advice – or not, as we might rob ourselves of some hilarious moments!

On a last note, what kind of caption could you come up with for this picture?

Gracious thanks!

Posted: August 10, 2009 in Uncategorized

March 2518 – that was the target date for the millionth hit on my blog here at after I’d been blogging for a month and had a total of 163 hits. It’s fun to see that the hits are escalating, though, and we just passed 5,000. The target date has now moved forward to around June 2165!

My gracious thanks to all those who have visited and commented. Thanks, too, to those who take the time to read the posts on Facebook (you lower the hit count but raise the interaction). And also, of course, to Google – without which we bloggers would be much lonelier voices…

— Posted From My iPod

I’ve been laid low for the past week with flu and then bronchitis – along with the rest of Jo’burg, it seems. Our local doctor was saying that he’s never had a week for flu like this one, with seasonal flu hitting hard and coinciding (as these things do!) with the arrival of swine flu in the city. There are so many cases they’ve basically stopped most testing because the laboratories are under so much strain the results don’t come back in a useful time. And Tamiflu is almost impossible to find anywhere.

My eldest son, who also picked up the flu along with my youngest, was tested for swine flu but the results came back clear. Not so lucky were good friends of ours whose kids all got it – families that share stay together, so they’re now all in quarantine. It’s kind of scary when something you read about as being so feared elsewhere in the world is suddenly a reality at home.

It seems the important thing to do is not to panic about the swine flu outbreak, as highlighted in this mail that they sent round at work:

” The H1N1 Influenza (Swine Flu) pandemic continues to make headlines and South Africa has just had its first confirmed death. We are receiving ongoing queries from our colleagues across the Group concerning incidents of H1N1 ‘flu and how the bank should position itself.

It is important that we clarify the nature of H1N1 ‘flu.

· The H1N1 virus is NO MORE contagious than normal seasonal flu
· People who have had contact with confirmed cases of H1N1 flu are advised to stay at home only when they show signs of the illness
· H1N1 flu is NO MORE dangerous than normal seasonal ‘flu.
· Patients who are vulnerable to complications arising from seasonal ‘flu are equally likely to suffer complications arising from H1N1 strain of ‘flu.
· Routine laboratory testing of suspected cases is only required for those who develop serious complications (in line with WHO recommendation)
· Routine washing of hands and hygienic practices are still stressed as the best way to decrease the rate of spread
· The virus has become established throughout the country and community transmission is inevitable.

It is critical that we all take a calm view of this strain of ‘flu. Simple precautions will ensure that our work environment is healthy.

We do not foresee that impact of the H1N1 ‘flu will be any different from the impact of normal seasonal ‘flu.

Issued by: Business Continuity Management”

I guess the statement that swine flu is no more dangerous than seasonal flu will be cold comfort to those seriously affected by it, but perhaps one of the lessons is that seasonal flu can be very dangerous and we often take it too lightly. Stay clean, stay healthy and we’ll move on through.

— Posted From My iPod

A perfect storm

Posted: July 27, 2009 in Uncategorized

Driving into work this morning yielded an unpleasant surprise: all the traffic lights in Johannesburg after the Queen Elizabeth bridge were out for the blocks around my office. Turns out a local power substation caught fire and that caused the power loss.

This would have been bad enough at the best of times but the municipal strike started today and it was only when I was thinking of how the problem was going to be fixed that the implications of this came home. Want municipal workers to fix the substation? Sorry, on strike. Want metro police to direct the traffic? Sorry, on strike. Want auxiliary workers to offer temporay transport and power solutions? Sorry, on strike.

News is that power will be restored only by the middle of the week. I got in well before 7 this morning so managed to avoid most of the chaos, but I don’t know how long that will last. Middle of winter, no power and traffic chaos. Oh joy…

— Posted From My iPod

Something’s gotta give…

Posted: April 8, 2009 in Uncategorized

Sometimes the necessities of life crowd out its pleasures. Much as I enjoy writing here, my timetable for the next three weeks looks like something designed for regular 36 hour days; having only 24 hours available means some activities have to fall by the wayside. This blog, for one. So an enforced leave of absence is unfortunately called for – ciao all you little ones and zeros, see you again when I have breathing space…

Um, Noah…?

Posted: February 27, 2009 in Uncategorized

The Jo’burg deluges continue – yesterday we had 98mm of rain, over 80mm coming down from the heavens in just a couple of hours. Our drains at home just couldn’t cope, but I know a couple of little guys who thought that was great fun.


The last time we had floods like that in our back garden the drains were actually blocked; this time there was no blockage, but they just couldn’t cope with the volume! Time to start looking at those spec for the Ark…


Posted: February 5, 2009 in Uncategorized

What’s the good of having a gadget if you don’t get to use it? My wireless rain gauge recorded 64mm of rain in the deluge that hit Johannesburg yesterday – the most I’ve ever seen on one day! That’s almost the entire annual rainfall of Abu Dahbi – but they’re entering their rainy season now, so anything could happen. Keep us posted, Grant…