Be my Valentine


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Why do we make such a fuss of Valentine’s day?


Why not? I would counter question. Yes, it is a commercial “foefie” and yes, there are people who go totally overboard with expensive jewellery, hot airballoon trips, spa days, kilograms of chocolates and overpriced bunches of roses.


Even at school the kids were celebrating Valentine’s day – wearing red and pink and treating their teachers to little gifts of handpicked flowers, home made biscuits or creamy chocolates. It was so heartwarming to see all these innocent little ones, dressed in their Sunday school best, hugging their friends and excitedly discussing each others’ outfits. Cailin even got a little teddy bear in a gift bag, from a not-so-secret-admirer. She just wants to be friends, but the poor boy lives in hope….


Valentines’ day gives you an opportunity to show the one you love, that you really do value them. That they fill a special place in your heart and in your life. Because, let’s face it, we take each other for granted at the best of times. And, from my own experience, husband and wife have two different lives during the week. While I am doing grocery shopping, sorting washing, planning dinner, running errands and being “mom’s taxi”, my husband is managing staff, attending meetings and planning budgets. In some ways our lives are worlds apart and at the end of each day, we have to bury our stresses till the next morning. So we are a bit like passing ships in the night.


In my single days Valentine’s day, for obvious reasons, had a very different “feel” to it. In high school, on the morning of Valentine’s day, we would post a Valentine’s card in a cardboard postbox placed in front of the hall. Throughout the course of the morning, these cards (and little gifts) would be delivered to our classes. Sadly, I remember the total disappointment and disbelieve, when, on many occasions, I got nothing. No anonymous card decorated with red hearts, no red foil wrapped chocolate heart, no fancy fabric rose or pink helium balloon.   It was of course even worse when my best friend broke the record for most cards received in our class. Nothing like feeling like the ugly step sister. Oh boy, life and love can be so cruel.


At least as I got older, Valentine’s day became a lot more exciting. The days when little gestures were oh so romantic! A handwritten note with a white teddy bear left on someone’s desk, a fresh rose delivered via a friend. And then the overwhelming joy of actually receiving something! The disbelieve when the guy you had your eye on actually likes you back.   Or the knot in your stomach when the bunch of flowers is signed by “an admirer.” And finally, when you find the person who is your person, there are candelight dinners and romantic movies with popcorn and slush puppies. Cards are exchanged with words of undying love and ever after commitment. The stuff fairy tales are made of. And you don’t mind paying for overpriced roses or fancy restaurants.


Now that the girls are old enough to also understand Valentine’s day, it is so much fun celebrating this day of love with them. It is also important for them to see that their parents love each other and spoil each other. But they also need to realise that it is important for mom and dad to spend some time as a couple too, as that is what they were before they had you! So last night, we had a family dinner, with chocolates and candles and fancy cutlery. Before kissing them goodbye to go off to the theatre.


Out on a school night? Such rebels.


Moving on


Why does it hurt so much? When people move on.


The reality is that at some point, all of us do.   Whether it is changing jobs, moving to a new country, getting divorced, starting a new hobby, buying a motorbike. Change is inevitable and at the best of times we don’t even know when that opportunity for change is going to come our way. Sometimes it comes suddenly and you have to make quick decisions and trust that your 6th sense is guiding you in the right direction. Other times it is something that you see in your distant future and when it gradually comes closer and closer, you make well thought through decisions and still have time to change direction.


Many moons ago, 2001, to be exact, we met our very good friends, James and Judy. Living opposite each other in a block of flats next to the Thameslink railway, we became friends who spent nearly every weekend together. Being South African too, there was already a connection. Missing our friends and family back home, and going through tough times in a foreign country, having friends like them was like an anchor in a stormy sea. But three years later their Australian visas were granted and we had to say goodbye. Driving back home from Heathrow airport, my heart was in a thousand shattered pieces. I realised that was what it must feel when someone close to you passes away. A feeling of utter loneliness, sadness and a tumbledrier of mixed emotions. I could not stop crying – our friends were starting a new life without us. Part of me was so angry too – did our friendship mean so little to them that it was so easy for them to leave us? Which was of course very stupid of me. And totally irrational. It was also the reality that we would have to start all over again, and look for new friends.


Returning to South Africa in 2009, was never an easy transition either. Our old friends had moved on and again, we had to build new friendships. It takes time and doesn’t happen overnight. But Yolande and I bonded instantly, our 2year olds, being friends at nursery school. Even though we lived quite far away from each other, we had weekly pizza-and-wine playdates and we shared secrets, tears of joy and sadness and had many memorable moments. When she therefore gave me the news, in 2013, that they were moving to Cape Town, it felt like a part of me had died. There was that awful feeling AGAIN! One of indescribable loss and a sadness I was convinced would never ever go away. No more Friday afternoon playdates, or a quick cup of coffee at Heathway Centre. My word, I don’t know how many tissue boxes I emptied.


Sara moved back to the UK at the end of last year, we all knew it was going to happen eventually. It doesn’t make the goodbyes easier or less painful. Laura moved her son to another school, which was also going to happen at some point. But I expected that to happen next year rather than within two days! When I arrive at school, I subconsciously still find myself looking out for their cars. AON1 and FB registration plates. And then my heart feels just a little bit heavy knowing I won’t see them there anymore. No more quick chats at collection time or cheering together at sports days.


Over the years I have realised that I cannot replace these friends with others. Those times and memories are unique and when people move on, they have not disappeared and it doesn’t mean the end of a friendship. It is only their “place” in my life that changes. And it is a great adventure when new friends enter your circle, because it opens up new chapters with new memories.


All I say is, thank goodness for Kleenex.

In the gym?


Why are there so many men in the gym? At 8 o’clock on week mornings.

Especially “middle-aged men”. By this, I mean men between the ages of 30 and 50, who, at that time of the morning, you’d expect to be at work already. Most of them are on their own mission and focused – if they are not in the spinning studio, they are sweating on the treadmill, swimming laps in their Speedo’s or lifting weights in front of the huge, polished mirrors. These are not men on a weeks’ holiday or on a mere business trip, they are regulars who stick to routines. Same faces, same times.

They have to make a good living, to afford the monthly gym fees and of course the Prado’s, Ford bakkies or two door Mercedes’ they climb into after their workout. (OK, OK, walking on the treadmill is boring and I can see the car park from the first floor of the gym. I am not a stalker, I promise! )  So I often walk and wonder, what careers these men must have, allowing them to be at the gym at these unusual hours.

I can imagine the Ford bakkie driver being a builder. He needs the open back for transporting tools and cement mixers and emergency patio tiles. The double cab space for driving his mates to Loftus over weekends, or for when he picks up the kids from school at lunchtime. And a bakkie comes in handy for those Waterberg hunting expeditions in winter.

The Prado drivers? Let’s think…. Game farm owners? Toyota salesmen? Or provincial rugby players. Brokers – they like their off roaders, don’t they?  The Prado drivers also love the outdoors – an awesome vehicle to launch a boat with.  A farmer- could he be?  And in the state that some of our roads are in, if he travels to towns like Potchefstroom or Bethlehem, he needs a solid car.  He could be an insurance salesman or a rep.  A professional wildlife photographer also needs a reliable 4×4 – needing to drive through rivers and over rocks to get that perfect shot.  And a Prado has more than enough space for all his lenses, battery packs, tripods, etc.

The two door Merc drivers seem to fall in the slightly older age category. They have grown-up kids or no kids, because let’s be honest, kids and two door cars are a major mismatch. No Dad wants his two door’s bumper paint scratched by the metal buckles of a heavy school bag. And they certainly don’t want Simba chips crumbs or red Energade droplets all over the backseat. No way will Mr Two Door Merc cover his leather back seats with seat covers – even if they are custom made. (Let’s face it, I would not either.) An estate agent is one of my favourite guesses. These days, estate agents meet their prospective clients at the property or on a Sunday show day. No more driving your client around, so very little chance of the client messing up the mats with muddy soles or tearing the upholstery with a handbag zipper. My other guesses would be an entrepreneur who owns a boutique hotel, purely because I know of one. Or a retired footballer turned coach, again, because I know of one. Drug dealers….? It is a show-off “industry” after all.  And what could be more beautiful and eye-catching than a C-class Coupé….?

Somewhere in the mix, there surely has to be at least one house husband/stay-at-home-dad. Who has a job-hobby on the side, just to keep the morning hours ticking until he needs to do the extra mural run-around. His morning job-hobby being a programmer or psychiatrist or artist or bookkeeper. And naturally he has to be quite a confident, secure individual who is not threatened by the fact that his job-hobby is for pocket money. That his other half most likely has the high flying career which pays the private school fees, extra murals, island holidays, garden service, etc.

So what do you think? Am I spot-on with my over active imagination or completely off target?

The Why


Why Q and Q?

Questions and questions?

And not Q and A?

Questions and answers?


Because some questions just don’t have answers. Some questions often lead to even more questions. It can be frustrating, but also enlightening as it makes us think, debate, fight, talk, converse.   Would it not be boring if there was always just one answer to every question?

Why do my new trousers not fit? Because you are fat

Why am I scared of deep, dark water? Because you are week

Why are my hips curvy? Because your gene pool is against you

When will I publish a book? Never


If these answers were my reality, I would be standing on top of Bloukrans bridge – without a bungy rope around my ankles.


I invite you to join me on this Q and Q journey. What is your opinion about disciplining children, starting a new career at the age of 40, cheating partners, Donald Trump, pressure on kids to achieve at school in sport or culture, Samsung or iphone, Nikon or Canon, scones or muffins, novels or autobiographies. The possibilities are endless. Sometimes it will be serious and other times it will be funny and lighthearted. Variety is the spice of life.


Let’s go!