*** Africa ***

Moving from Africa after living there for 23 years has left me a little nostalgic this morning.

Some things I miss:

Sunshine. Heat. 
Colour.  Here everything is grey and muted. Everything looks and feels the same.
Thunderstorms. The sound of heavy rain.  Yellow light after a thunderstorm.
Flowers.  Jacarandas. Hibiscus. Bougainvillea. 
Baobab trees, Palm trees. Coconuts. Fynbos.
Penguins, seals, dassies, monkeys, camels
South african sense of humour and openness.
Friends I've known 'forever'.
Tings an times, Cool Runnings
Space. Gardens.  Pools. Nkwe. Harties.
Braais. Biltong.
Sitting on the ground.  People here do not like to do that.
Pap. With cheese. Or sous.
People carrying things on their heads.

Some things I don't miss:

Paralysing fear. Being petrified of rape, murder, mugging, armed robbery, hi-jacking.  Every day. All the time.
People wanting to burn everything if it doesn't work.
Nothing works.
No being able to drive a car. i.e. being stuck. Everywhere. All the time.
All the political nonsense.

Oppikoppi. Img from tailsofamermaid

 Penguins (Photo by Charles Fred)

Barber sign (Img by Sallyrango

Fruit and colour. (Img by Charles Fred)

Ingemaak. Geskenke. Tamaties. (Img by Charles Fred)

Ostriches. Funny birds. (Img also by Charles Fred)

Classic (Img from here)

The amount of time and money spend here. Hmmm. Runnings. I miss you so. (Img from here

 Another Cool Runnings (Img from here)
 Jacaranda city :) [Img by Frikkieawesome]

Harties (Img from here)

 Skillz. Marabastad. (Img by Anthony Comyn, have a look at his photography site here)

More head carrying in Marabastad. Also by Anthony Comyn

On the Koppi at Oppikoppi. (Img here

More purple prettiness. Img by Anthony again, here

Space. I miss space. Img by Justin Lee

Diani Beach. Kenya. Paradise. (Img here

Penguins in the beautiful Cape. (Img here

Cool ass sail boat. Diani beach. (Img here

Sunset colours. I remember the colours in the sky. Everything but grey. Img by Justin Lee.

The infamous Tings menu.  Full of little gems and delicious food. Img from here.

And now for the reasons I left.  Be warned.  All disturbing on different levels.:

(Article here)

(From Louis Theroux "Law and Disorder in Johannesburg")


*** chickens, still ***

I posted a chicken video about three years ago, similar to this one- only this time round, since it is a production of/for Mercedes Benz TV, the image quality and such is far superior.

Chickens are freaking amazing.  I will get one someday and I shall name it Henry.  And I will never eat Henry, I'll just bob him around.  Maybe I will call him Bob. Yes, maybe.


..."life of a stranger who stole my phone" blog

I came across this blog the other day. The gist of it is that the blogger went on holiday to Ibiza and someone stole her phone, which automatically uploads any pictures taken on said phone to her Dropbox- ie she gets all the phone thief's photos, which she consequently uploads to said blog, with very amusing commentary.  Have a read through it, I find it endlessly entertaining.


...my beautiful little garden...

When I moved to London I lived at my friend's for four months, more specifically I lived in a little corner of his livingroom under a foosball table.  All my belongings were piled on the top of some abandoned staircase in his flat.  I then moved to a tiny three bedroom flat, shared by five, with no livingroom. My room was next to the crummy kitchen where the ceiling had been removed due to mould, and never replaced; and our toilet had a hole in the wall (for a non functioning fan), which made the temperature drop to almost unbearable in winter. Welcome to London, hey? 

I've lived under far worse conditions though, but the point is not how awful our flat was, but rather how nice our "new" place is (a lovely three storey semi detached house in East London). We've lived here for precisely a year now, and besides it having much more space all round, we also have a little garden.  When we moved in it was a bare patch filled solely with weeds.  A year later and it is sporting a decent lawn instead.  Our flowerbeds are buzzing with bee activity and our concrete patio is covered in pots full of vegetables.  It brings joy to me everytime I see it.

I love summer. And I love gardening. I am obsessed. So much so, I'm sure I irritate the crap out of gardening non-enthusiasts (if you aren't into this sort of stuff you may as well stop reading, because to follow are a whole load of delicious plant pictures and vegetable talk).

These are our tomatoes. Not yet red, but happily budding away and making little green fruit. We tried growing tomatoes last year, but we planted them way off season and they all perished.  I'm very jealous of people living in hot climates, everything grows so easily. Here it's far more challenging to get things growing. We persevere nonetheless.  For the moment we have ten tomato plants. Can you believe it?

My carrots in a pot... They are taking quite long, but I can see tiny carrot rots at the end of the plants. I wonder if they will mature though, they don't seem to like growing in captivity much. And also a pretty wooden box i picked up from the trashpile at Roman road market and repurposed it into a plantbox.

Bushy brassicas. The colour of the leaves is amazing, almost brilliant blue.  I think we have a purple sprouting broccoli, a cauliflour and possibly a normal broccoli. Can't wait to see which is which- they look pretty much the same to me and I lost track of what I planted where.

Here a bunch of other things we have growing: 
1. Plums!! We were fortuante enough to already have a plum tree in the garden when we moved in. 
2a. Basil
2b. Lettuce (a bit sad looking, we are a bit belated in picking it, since it is the last of our lettuce crop)
2c. Spring onions. Finally... I think a planted these about 7months ago and they are only picking up growth now. 
3. Vines. I love them. They are so resillient. Ever winter they die off, but come back with a vengeance in spring, giving us an endless supply of leaves to make dolmades with.
4a. Bell peppers. Can't wait to try what they will be like. I have never grown peppers before.
4b. A pretty purple aubergine flower.  The plant only ahs one flower, but it is magnificent.  I hope it is happy and pollenated and there is a little aubergine growing under its closed petals. Mmmmm.

Parsley. Yum.

My potted cucumber. I also think cucumbers aren't that happy in pots, but at least I got to pick a cucumber today. The only one (so far).

Chillies! Our house is generally obsessed with chillies.  We started off with one "grow your own chillies" in an ugly silver bag from the 99p store, which have supplied us with a steady flow of cayennes for the past few months.  This success (and insatiable love for all things chilli) has inspired far more chilli planting.  At one stage we had 50 or so seedlings (some of which we still have, others my housemate has re-homed). Varieties this time include jalapenos, habaneros, chocolate habaneros, scotch bonnets, hot wax and twilight.  Our landlord, who is from bangladesh ( I think) noticed our enthusiasm and brought us a naga plant. Naga being one of the top hottest chillies, with a scoville rating of 855 000 - 1 400 000 (cayennes are between 30 000 and 50 000), so we will have some mega hot ones coming up. Hopefully.

And beans. Broad beans, purple climbing beans (stunted growth because of drastic slug attacks) and borlotti beans.  The broad beans were massively attacked by blackfly, but we still got a semi decent crop.

I also got some house plants to green up my room.  I don't have ideal growing conditions indoors, so I got some succulents and some other plant that isn't too fussed about its conditions.


*** makey makey ***

Here's a little device that turns almost anything into a touchpad.  The video demonstrates various ingenuities such as a banana spacebar and piano stairs.  I can foresee that this will be yet another item that I will end up purchasing- just to be used once or twice and then stored away neatly on my ikea shelf (which at least has turned out to be one of the most invaluable purchases yet). But such makeymakey amazingness can't be resisted, can it? Here's the link to their site in case you have the buying bug too.


*** brownies, the eating kind ***

I've been off work for the last couple of days because I had a terrible allergic reaction to eyelash tinting- but that is a story for another day.  For the most part I was unable to do anything really, today though having better eyes, I baked some brownies, which are dee-licious.

The original recipe is from Jamie Oliver, "bloomin' brilliant brownies", but I adjusted the recipe slightly to my taste- for one I added less butter, and also half the sugar.  I find most dessert recipes I come across these days use borderline ridiculous amounts of sugar.

Here, the recipe:

200 g unsalted butter
200 g dark chocolate
50 g chopped pecan nuts
80 g cocoa powder
65 g flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
180g caster sugar
4 free-range eggs (keep them chickens happy!)

1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees.
2.  Melt butter and chocolate in a large bowl over hot water, mix in the chopped nuts once melted.
3.  Mix together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and sugar.
4. Add dry ingredients to chocolate mixture and mix in the eggs.
5.  Pour your batter into a greased/lined baking tray.
6. Bake. I baked mine for 15 minutes, but I suppose ovens will vary.
7. Stuff your face with chocolatey goodness

I was a bit lazy to take process pictures (that, and my kitchen counter is quite ugly), but here two more pictures of the end result in our pretty garden.


*** fruitmashup ***

I found this lovely video during my evening browsing (what's with all  my video-ing lately, huh?).  Anyhoo, here's a lovely concept by Ogilvy

As per AdvertisingAge, "Two Fruits are better than one, so why not try a Pinegrape?"

[Screenshots from the youtube video "Fruit Mashup"