The Rejuvenating Effect of Small Towns

13530793_10157173065070094_1707521580_nI live in Port Elizabeth these days, but up until I was 17 years old I lived in the teeny tiny town of Molteno. Don’t know where that is? No worries, neither does the rest of the country! Maybe it’s just me, but coming from a small town makes it seem weird as hell to go on holiday to a small town. That’s just nuts, man! Holidays? Holidays need bright lights, or something. Or the sea, at least. No?

13522519_10157173066300094_141075267_nLately I must admit to feeling a LOT differently.  Is it age? Is it that the time I lived in Molteno and the time that I have lived in Port Elizabeth are about to become equal? I don’t know…but I’m falling in love with the small towns around our country, and while I don’t think I will easily go back to small town life, I certainly am enjoying indulging in it as a visitor from time to time. There’s beautiful architecture to be found – especially the churches and old municipal buildings. There are quirks. There are sweet people. There are exceptional views. Rolling mountains. Vast plains. Fresh air.  Starry skies beyond your wildest imagination. Silence. *sigh*

It is no wonder that these small places get visitors from city folk so often. This last weekend (gosh it’s already a new weekend and I’m only getting around to this now!) I moseyed on through Jansenville, Graaff Reinet, and Nieu Bethesda and despite their smallness I do kind of wish I had had far more time to take all they have to offer in. They are life and energy of a different sort. They offer sensory pleasures that our cluttered city minds sometimes forget to indulge in. They are a feast for body, soul, and mind.

And I really should make a point to explore all of these little places more often…

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Flamingoes in the Bay

DSCN4658I had a bit of a daft experience last week. Every time I drive back into Port Elizabeth from the Grahamstown side of town I peer through the car window and look longingly into the Cerebos salt pans, searching for flamingoes and wishing I could get a closer look at all those beautiful pink spots and photograph them to my hearts content. After returning from our trip to Port Alfred a couple of weeks ago, the husband and I actually tried to get closer – much to the polite annoyance of the security guard at Kouga – but we failed.

DSCN4681Well, last week when we set out on our little #larteradamsroadtrip I didn’t expect for there to be flamingoes on the menu, but as we drove along the road between Port Elizabeth and Redhouse, we came across the salt pans situated on the side of the road and guess what? FLAMINGOES! And yes, I know maybe it’s silly, but I didn’t know they were there so it was kind of exciting to stumble upon them by accident. Of course, I finally got to photograph them and made an absolute mess of the whole thing because it was really cold and windy outside so I just shot them from the car. Them’s some bland pictures!

It’s ok though. I know they’re there now, and I’m trying to get to know my town better, so I’ll definitely be back there to explore a little more closely. Next time I might even look up some interesting facts to share with the kids so that I don’t have to just point and go “Look at the pretty birdies, guys!”

Flamingoes, you guys!!

It’s so damn cool!

 

Exploration and Good Vibes with the Minis

13467745_10157159166085094_1899616964_oCan I tell you a bit of a parent shame I have? I enjoy being away from the kids. And I really like that Ty and I don’t have any kids together because it kind of means that we get a parent break regularly. These breaks keep me sane. Sure, we miss the kids a little. But it’s a nice missing. It makes the whole “should I have another kid” question super complicated and tough to answer, but that’s a story for some other time.

The thing is, because our children have two families, it tends to be a little too easy for Ty and I to indulge in getting away as a couple – or just staying in as a couple for that matter. We do take the kids with us on a little holiday from time to time – but it’s one of those things that only comes about if timing works out properly. Obviously we don’t like to take away from the kids’ time with their other parents because that wouldn’t be fair, but let’s face it: when it comes to getting away, the biggest reason for leaving the kids behind is that it’s a LOT easier to get the most out of a vacation without them. Setting aside the fact that taking the kids with tends to more than double the costs of getting away, the biggest difficulty when it comes to family travel is that sometimes the kids are assholes. And yeah, I know we’re not supposed to admit that kids are assholes, but they are. And often, after you’ve spent a whole crapton of money that you can’t afford on a family trip that you only sort-of want to take, at least one of them will turn into a sulkmonster (or similar) and kind of spoil the break for everyone. This is a thousand times worse than when they are just being jerks at home. For me, at least. (more…)

Review: Me Before You

Me Before You
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’m supposed to be doing something else right now but instead I’m kind of just staring into nothing and trying to think about how to assess this book.

Would it be enough for me to just go “huh?!” and leave it at that?

I’ve wanted to read a Jojo Moyes book ever since I spotted my first one in a book store at Canal Walk which was probably a thousand years ago. For one, her name is Jojo…immediately that made me curious. For another, her book covers are always kind of pretty. Neither of those reasons are worth much when it comes to choosing books though, so I’ve always just kind of bypassed her.

Then this book became a crazy kind of famous. Which is dangerous when it comes to choosing something to read – especially for me. Because instead of judging the book by whatever criteria I usually judge books on, I end up judging it against its fame. And that’s not right. But I can’t help it.

Firstly, I admit that this story was not at all what I expected. I thought “Me Before You” was going to be a sort of empowering story about marriage. I have no idea why. And I was keen on that kind of story. I’m married. Empowerment it good. I like those kinds of stories. Especially when my empowerment levels are low. I was expecting a book that I was going to paint pink with my highlighter. I expected to find lines and lines of wisdom to make note of.

There was no empowerment. There was no wisdom.

Of course this is not the book’s fault. It was I who somehow got the wrong impression about what I was picking up. My fault.

But here’s the thing: It was just fine.

Once I erased the expectations and went, “oh, ok, not what I expected but whatever” – it was only fine. And fine is fine. But I don’t understand why this book is so famous. It’s weird to me. I predicted the ending from about a quarter way in, which I tend to do a lot, and at least this wasn’t a mystery novel, but still. It just didn’t have any sort of profound impact on me, which it seems to have had on a lot of people.

What I can say is that I did enjoy it enough to read it quickly and it took me out of a book slump that has lasted for months – although this is the first time in months I’ve had some down time to actually read so that might have something to do with getting through it. These sorts of easy novels that demand little of us are actually a godsend sometimes and obviously there is nothing “wrong” with them, I just can’t help feeling a little “un-edified” by it all. It was kind of a little silly. I feel like it was supposed to have an impact but it just didn’t quite hit the spot.

I could go a little dramatic and ask if my “spot” is broken, but I know it’s not. I do particularly like it when books make me think though. Or at the very least nod along in agreement. Or offend me, perhaps?

I suppose it did get me thinking a little though. Like about why this kind of book does so well while others that have completely blown our minds seem to remain a secret from the rest of the world. Is it because of the content? I suppose assisted suicide, like dodgy BDSM with billionaires, is kind of controversial and perhaps interesting if it’s not something you’ve contemplated before. I suppose the presence of money is nice. It caters to that spark that likes to dream about what we would do if we won the lottery.

Otherwise I don’t really know.

Do you?

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I need to tell you about feline leukemia…

IMG_20160301_104616Yesterday I had to do something that I have dreaded the thought of for probably most of my life: I had to hold my beloved pet while a vet put him down. I won’t even go into how much it sucked or how much both my husband and I cried. That part you can use your own imagination for. You’ve probably been through it yourself, or if not you’ve probably thought about how hard something like that might be. You don’t need me to describe it for you.

What I do want to talk about is something else. I have learned a crazy amount over the last 24-48 hours about cat health.  Jonny died of feline leukemia which it seems he probably contracted from his mother when he was born. It lay dormant for these last 18 months or so, and then completely floored him over the weekend. On Thursday he disappeared on me which stressed me out completely though I tried to be reasonable about it because he’s a cat. On Friday I found him but he seemed grumpier than usual and I started to worry that he was a bit depressed due to a feud he’s been having with the neighbour’s cat. On Saturday I fetched him from the kitchen and he lay with me in bed all day while I played on my blog and watched tv and kept warm. On Sunday he pretty much did the same thing. It was cold. So it seemed reasonable. The other kitties were doing it too! Just like right now as I write this. At around 1am on Sunday he urinated all over me and then started to breathe really hard. By 2am I couldn’t handle it any more and made Ty call the vet. By Monday afternoon it was time to let him go. (more…)

Dear Man in My Life: I Won’t Defend You

 

The news of Brock Turner’s lenient sentence after he was caught raping an unconscious woman is all over social media today. It started trickling in a while ago, but now to say that it is gushing all over the place would be a bit of an understatement. He raped someone. There’s no doubt about that.

And he’s going to jail for it for only six months, because the judge felt that a harsher sentence would negatively impact the rest of his life.

I don’t have anything to say about this that hasn’t already been said.

But this morning his father defended him, saying something about the sentence being pretty steep for just twenty minutes of action. He believes his son should not go to prison at all.

So to the men in my life, I want to say this:

If by some awful turn of events, you find yourself in this kind of position: I will not defend you. I will not be sad that you have been arrested. I will not be upset that you are going to jail. I will not mourn the loss of your future.

I will be upset that you raped someone. I will be devastated that you altered the life of another human being. I will be disappointed that I was wrong to ever respect you.

I might still love you. I might still visit you in prison. I might even “welcome” you home when you get out. Maybe. Depending on exactly which male in my life you happen to be.

But I will not defend you.

I will never again trust or respect you.

I most certainly will never refer to your violation of another human being as “just twenty minutes of action”. And I will not tolerate anyone who does.

Because fuck that noise.

 

Google Turned Me into a Spoiled Puppy Today

Google totally sent me a present!!!! #Google #GoogleZA #competition #prize #mygoogleza

A photo posted by Nadine Rose Larter (@queen_nayes) on

A little while ago I kind of entered a competition on a Facebook friend’s blog which asked entrants to share their stories about how Google has made their lives a little easier. Of course, Google is something I use daily for a plethora of reasons, but I decided to share how Google is kind of the reason that I am managing to get to travel a little more these days. You see, how, without Google, would I ever have discovered awesome sites like Booking.com or ended up getting in touch with people like Aftab from Glimpses of India or learned about all sorts of flight apps and cheap airlines that make travel possible?

For my efforts Google sent me this beautiful huge box filled with all sorts of fun tech-savvy treats – including a Sony Xperia Aqua Dual phone! I’m completely blown away. And so excited to start playing around with the camera on it. Daft I suppose, but these days I’m having way more fun with phone cameras than I ever have with my Nikon. Granted my camera still has its place, but it weirdly pleases me to no end that so many beautiful images can be created with just a smartphone and a couple of photo apps.

Have a happy Monday, friends out there! I hope today includes at least three small sparks of happiness for you. And if the happiness doesn’t find you, I hope you are proactive enough to go and find it yourself!

Everyday Should Be My Birthday

imageI’m about to dive into a pile of books right now. You see, I have this habit of buying pretty much any book I spot that has a circus/carnival theme to it. I LOVE carnival stories. So much so that I’m finally ready to work on one of my own. But, until I do, these are my inspiration. Well, some of my inspiration at least. I’m almost positive that I must have more than this. This pile looks so small, doesn’t it? I’ll have to fix that….

But really I should do this every day. Instead of wishing I could do it every day. Hmmm. But the problem with reading is that you know if you get “too” stuck in a book it’s difficult to come out and do all the things that demand doing. Like husband (giggle) and laundry and dishes and….wait…why am I arguing that I should be doing dishes rather than reading again?

Oh yes. Societal pressure. And the ever so slight chance that my mother-in-law might visit without calling first.

—>*insert laughing winking face here*<—-

Have a great weekend, fellow readers and internet dwellers. I hope it is dotted with many of the things that make your heart smile. Like wine. And cake. And books. And ALICE!!

Guess Where I’m Going Today!

It’s finally the 27th of May, and no, I haven’t been looking forward to today all year because it’s my birthday, but because ALICE COMES OUT TODAY! *bounces around a bit*

The Kids and I and the Husband are going to check it out tonight. We’re even IMAXing it, which is a splurge, but Noah hasn’t been to an IMAX movie yet and I’m totally pretending that it’s my first time too because my first time was really The Matrix 2 or 3 or something and I’d prefer for it to be Alice so we’ll just call that last bit a practice run.

This year we’re all being kind of spoilt with Burton movies. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children comes out sometime in September as well. This means I’ll be going to the movies twice this year! I actually can’t even remember the last time I went to the movies. I’m pretty sure I can’t afford popcorn any more, but that’s ok. I’ll just sniff really hard when we’re in the lobby and pretend that I had some.

The point is: YAY! Alice!!! And happy birthday to me.

Our Two Day Getaway to Port Alfred

-Postcard_of_Die_Boschoek_-20000000009471107-500x375It’s Thursday already and I’m only getting to posting this now. The husband and I decided to spend a night in Port Alfred at The Royal St. Andrews Hotel last weekend. I’m trying to get better at just living life and relaxing a little bit on that whole being permanently stressed about life thing. I’ve slowly been putting together a small fund that is exclusively for “life”. Not real life. Life life. The life part that makes you Keep Passing the Open Windows! Funny how having it has made it easier to be strict on the budget where we need to be strict. I’ve even been spending WAY LESS on books lately, which is beyond miraculous. Granted there are still a few places where I need to learn to curb my spending a little better, but at least I’m getting better at trying.

imageSo! Early Saturday morning (almost on time – yay for saved marriages!) we set off and ambled down The Sunshine Coast, stopping at farm stalls, spending too much money on unnecessary things like koeksisters and cheese. Oops! I’m going to have to do a little work on not doing silly things like that too much if we want to do this kind of thing more often! But, we live and learn, right? Come to think of it though… Koeksisters and cheese actually seem quite necessary…

We discovered the sweetest gems between Port Elizabeth and Port Alfred and it was really nice to just go with the flow. We stopped to stroll through a graveyard (because that’s what normal folks do on adventures, right?) and we drove through those sleepy seaside towns that seem almost dormant during the winter months. We gave some hitchhikers a lift because we really should just do that more often considering we have the space! And yeah yeah before you tell me all about this one movie you watched about hitchhikers this one time, I’ve probably seen it. Plus, aside from the usual CSIs and such, I’ve pretty much watched all the crime shows out there. And read all the books. I’m still picking up the damn hitchhiker when I feel like it though.

imageMy favourite part was when we randomly decided to detour into Alexandria a bit and we came upon Maureen Quin’s Scupture Garden. What a beautiful oasis in the middle of nowhere. And how lovely to be able to witness how someone has so gracefully just dedicated their whole life to their art form. Absolutely gorgeous! Did I mention the word inspiring yet? I should have… *sigh*

-Postcard_of_The_Royal_St_-20000000009471114-500x375Our hotel was lovely, though admittedly we could only afford it because they’re currently running a special. You should check that out. It comes with breakfast. Really really good breakfast. And like all the amenities work and you don’t ever look around and think, “wow I wish I was just a little richer so I could do this travel thing on a tiny bit less of a budget” so that’s a bonus when you’re like us.

I have to admit that even though it was supposed to be a weekend in Port Alfred we didn’t spend any time there! We took all day to get there, first of all. And then napped when we arrived because what else are you supposed to do on a Saturday afternoon? But then on Sunday we kind of drove around a bit and the whole place seemed a bit…well…closed. So we moved on to Bathurst where we had some tea and cake and a mosey through their little Sunday market and then we went home.

It was fun but I think we need to do a do-over sometime soon and take the kids with us!

 

Naps & Books

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After a busy day of checking out what the little towns around the Port Alfred area have to offer the ambling traveller,  Im happy to be snuggled up in my hotel bed, fresh from a nap (husband says you cant have naps after 5pm – pffft!) and ready to get stuck into some coffee and rusks and this little book I brought with me. It was kind of tough to decide what to pack to read for such a short weekend trip, but I reckon I made a good choice. A collection of short stories means that I get to do some decent reading without having to worry that my adventure will steal me from my book or that my book will steal my adventure.

Maintaining real life and book life is a balancing act sometimes,  my friends. Now if I can just get my husband to stop trying to discuss the rugby game with me then my content will be complete…

As for the travelling stuff? Ill tell you about that later!

New Instagramming Material

imageI was glancing through my Instagram this morning and holy monkeys on tree swings there are way too many selfies with cats on there at the moment. So… I’m definitely looking forward to a bit of A Short Road Trip with the husband tomorrow because at least I’ll have some new things to take pictures of. Knowing that I tend to enter all the accommodation competitions that I find, a friend pointed out that The Royal St Andrews Hotel in Port Alfred is having just such a competition so I entered it. Then I thought, oh buggerit I don’t have time to win competitions I need to go somewhere NOW so now we’re going there now. If we win then double yay because we’re going on our Anniversary Road Trip in August so we could use it then.

Anyway: the point is that I’m eager to get a little exploring done between here and Port Alfred over the next two days. I’ve been through Port Alfred on the odd occasion but I’ve never really meandered through it much at all. And to be perfectly honest: we need it. Gosh this real life this is an ass boil sometimes and this last week needs to be lanced!

Now if I can just get this slight little flu tickle to GO AWAY! (read that in Moaning Myrtle’s voice please) then I can move on and get packing and be ready to leave here as early as possible in the morning…