Tuesday, December 30, 2008

I survived! Barely...

Merry Christmas Bloggers! Sorry, it's late, I know, but better late than never!
As the Christmas period draws to a close, one seems to always find one's thoughts wandering to just how over-socialised they have been over the last week and just how over-fed they have been within that same time frame. I, in particular, have been running around from function to function, all of which require a great deal of eating, and it's really taken its toll...
...or so I thought...
Last night I didn't sleep very well. I'm currently house-sitting for my cousin and her husband. They recently moved into a new house, which is enormous by the way, and have yet to actually move in, in the sense that all of their worldly possessions are still in boxes, strewn across the floor throughout the house. While this doesn't bother me in the least, the sheer size of the place does somewhat. It is just so big, and everything gets all creaky at night! To add to the sense of unease, last night it rained, while I watched a movie called 'Turistas' about Brazilian organ trafficking, which didn't ease my nerves at all, and thus, I didn't sleep very well.

Normally this wouldn't be a problem, I'd just go about my day feeling tired, potentially grumpy, and hit the hay early the next evening. But today, my parents and I had decided to go on a 7km hike at an amazing place north of Pretoria, called Tswaing Crater. It's a meteor impact crater with a salt-lake in the middle of it. It's really beautiful and, apart from the foul-smelling salt lake, very interesting.

The amazing part about the whole thing was that despite my lack of sleep, recent over-eating and complete absence of exercise I managed to do it all with ease! I am most impressed with myself! The only down side to the day was not taking enough water with and the resulting headache that I now endure. That, and the fact that my mother nearly passed out from exhaustion...


Fooling around with the camera in the car on the way there

The view from the crater rim

The plaque of Dr. Eugene Shoemaker, a brilliant scientist, according to the plaque anyway...

A typical, dramatic, stunning and beautiful South African scene

The view from the bottom...

For all your previous-drunken-night-can't-remember-how-I-got-that-cut brawl needs...Puncher repairs! :D

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Nostalgia and the embarrasment of the past...

So, this morning, my parents and I went over to my grandmother's for tea, as we do on Sundays. Somehow, we got round to discussing photos and in the process, began looking through some of my grandmother's old photos. Here is a selection ranging from the ridiculous, to the beautiful...

Believe it or not, these beauties are in fact part of a Church acting ensemble! And they are in fact all women!
This is in fact a photo of my grandmother some time ago. I thought it was quite striking because:
  • She looks rather beautiful and sometimes, I think anyway, it's hard to imagine grandparents looking anything other than wrinkly and old.
  • She's got the look of a Hollywood starlet, riding the crest of her own wave of fame... :)

This is a pic of my great-grandmother. Apparently she didn't have much of a sense of humour...you wouldn't think so, would you?

Here we see a rather cute picture of my great-grandfather, doing what dad's do best...pushing kids around in a wheel-barrow! Go great-grandad!

I just like this one because the puppy is cute :D

I think we can all agree that we are, if only just a little, glad that the 50's and 60's have ended...The really scary part:
The one on the right in purple with the disturbing unilateral nipple-stand is the BRIDE! The side-kick is her bridesmaid.

Finally, this is a picture of the Namib desert in Namibia, taken by my father on a family holiday. It's bleak, barren and beautiful...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The most random shopping trip ever

My mother is of the opinion that one should do all their grocery shopping on a weekly basis. Generally, this happens on a Friday evening so that the rest of the weekend is completely uninterrupted, but occasionally, it has to happen on a Saturday morning, as was the case with 'The most random shopping trip ever'. I took a series of photos on my phone during the trip to give you a taste of the weird things that we encounted on this trip...

The first thing that should have pointed to the odd nature of this excursion was the fact that the shopping centre was hosting what they termed, 'Adventure Christmas!' It was basically a whole bunch of games and fun things to do in the parking lot of the shopping centre. It included rock climbing (pictured here), a mechanical bull, paintball and some other stuff. After all, what is Christmas without a good game of paintball?

As we turned down one of the aisles, my sister shrieked and pointed out that this doll has no pants. She failed to notice that the child-doll-thing at her feet has no face whatsoever...

For some strange reason, management of the store obviously felt the need to comfort shoppers when they buy eggs. Thus they created the 'Safe Zone', an area where all buyers of eggs would have sanctuary from the harrowing and dangerous world of the egg aisle...

As we were waiting at the tills to pay for our shopping my sister and I confirmed that the shopping centre was just a tad on the confused side. After all, how many store managers can claim to play host to the Christmas Bunny?

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Sodwana! Diving! Sea-sickness! Pills! Happiness! :D

This past weekend, I went to Sodwana bay to partake of my final, qualifying scuba dive, and have an all-round awesome time. And I am pleased to announce that I achieved both goals!

The trip down was really great fun! Helen and I spent the majority of the trip chortling away, as we do, while Jenny and Megan (our trip-mates) tried to zone out and ignore us in the front seats. Several key themes would emerge during this drive that would alter the direction of our holiday completely, including the emergence of Helen's narcolepsy (discussed here...) and the overriding theme of conversation that would emerge at random during discussions throughout the following 4 days...taxidermy.

We arrived in Sodwana in the late afternoon, excited, tired, amazed at just how hot it was and generally confused as to why the reception desk was being manned by a Dan Brown novel and not by a person. A little walk around the dive charters camp bumped us into the operator, Eve, who was very nice and checked us in. She then lead us around and explained all to us, including giving us a tour of our accommodation for the next 4 days. Helen and I selected bunks immediately (a VERY hasty decision which I would regret soon thereafter...) and after some dinner cooked in the communal cooking area, we went to bed. After all, we were due for our first dive the next morning and were all very keen and needed to be well rested.

That night, as I ascended onto my bed, the top bunk - Helen, had the bottom one - I immediately realised what a mistake the bed selection had been. There are more steady chronic drunks out there than that bed! It swayed with every bowel movement or breath of both Helen and myself! So, eventually, at about 4AM, I decided to give up on the bed and dismounted to sleep on the floor.

As it turned out, this was probably my best decision as the floor wasn't moving and happened to be the coolest part of our furnace-like room...

The next morning, after a great deal of confusion surrounding whether I had fallen out of the bed or leaped from it in sheer desperation, we all got up and got ready to go diving. We were due to dive at 10:30, and so thought it best to get to the beach by 9:30 at the latest.

Eventually, we left for our dive at 11:30. I would be lying if I claimed that I had been anything short of anxious about this dive, it being my first-ever ocean dive. None the less, I boldly helped push the boat out into the surf, scrambled into the dingy and held on for dear life as we scooted over the waves into the open ocean...

The boat ride out was SO cool! I loved it! It would soon emerge that this was one of the best parts of going scuba-diving, an opinion echoed by both Helen and Jenny. And, apart from one incident where the skipper nearly killed us all, it was great fun and one always felt at ease with having your life in the hands of a hairy old sea dog (...well, only one of them could really pass as a hairy old sea dog, but there's very little drama in describing them as ripped blonde kids in their twenties taking a gap year...).

Eventually, we found our place over the reef and, after being helped by the skipper to don all the gear (an exciting new experience in itself - we were all used to having to struggle and do it ourselves), we dived. I lasted about 34 minutes on my first dive, and following a 5 min ascent to the surface, I was helped into the boat by the skipper. I soon realised that I, in fact, was one of those unfortunates that suffer from sea-sickness. I was given a lollipop by the skipper and I then learned another valuable bit of information: NEVER take the sweet! It makes things SO much worse!

I felt progressively more and more ill while diver after diver emerged from the depths to sing the praises of those who came up with the idea to go under water with a can of pressurized gas on their back. In truth, the diving experience was fantastic, something I'll never forget, but at the time, the sheer amazingness of it all had been overshadowed by my need to reveal my breakfast to the world. After everyone had returned to the surface, we headed back to shore. The ride back was fun (albeit, not as fun as the ride out had been) and as soon as the boat came to a sickening stop on the sands of the beach, I stumbled off and, weight belt and fins in tow, headed back to our gazebo to have a little sit-down.

For all the subsequent dives, I graciously took medication that Helen gave me which worked like a charm! I was due to dive later that day, but hadn't felt confident that the sphincters holding my stomach closed would not stage a coup, and thus opted out. It did allow me to take some great photos of the boat being launched, the beach and the waves:

Our trusty wave-riding, streamlined, balloon...

Look! There's a boat zooming off into the surf!

The beautiful Sodwana coastline