Friday 30 November 2007

My First Christmas Gift

My first Christmas gift arrived in the post today. Amel sent me a card and a really cute and pretty gift Christmas stocking all the way from Finland!

I have put it up on the shelf in my bedroom. You can see it here, but it's much prettier than it looks here with a lacy brocade material for the "sock" and a ruched satin trim.

Thank you Amel! It was such a lovely surprise. :-)

Monday 26 November 2007

Continental Markets

This month there have been two Continental Markets in our are and we've been to both because they are so much fun. I must admit... if anyone had told me ten years ago I'd find walking around in rain at freezing temperature "fun" I'd have say "NEVER!" One thing I have learnt in Scotland is that weather doesn't have to be perfect to be fun. In South Africa I left the beach and went home if it got below 24 Celcius and I ran for cover when it started raining. Here it took me about a year to get used to the fact people stay out in the rain and it took me two years to think of 24 C as a hot summer's day!

Even so the two Continental Markets were cold. The first, in Inverness, was windy cold, but the second, in Elgin, was just plain FREEZING!

...and we still had fun both times. :-)

The Continental Markets are outdoor markets with goods from Europe mostly. I say "mostly" because at the Inverness one there was a very nice Chinese lady who sold me a turtle pendant and I have seen Turkish stores in other years. The markets are held in Summer and Winter. The summer ones have more flowers, the winter ones more food. Oh my... such wonderful food!
In Inverness we mostly wandered around looking and eating, but this weekend in Elgin we went Christmas shopping... and eating. ;-) The stores offer you free samples, which works! You try something amazing and delicious and you want to buy it. We bought until our money was gone.

The photos I took were at the Inverness market. It was dark at Elgin (we got there around sunset 3:30-4:00) so I never took any photos.

Inverness Market from the middle looking down towards the river Ness, then up towards the Eastgate shopping centre.

This store was so pretty I had to take a photo. All the crockery on the left was poppies, in the middle were flowers and farm animals and on the right (off the photo) were mugs wih dogs and cheaper ledt-over mugs. We bought some of the cheaper coffee mugs. They have fruit on them - pears, strawberries and plums.

A Dutch store selling tiny pancakes with toppings of cream, caramel, choclate and other tasty things. They were delicious. I could eat a mountain of them.

At the Inverness market we had German Wurst sausages on rolls for lunch and then later we had a French dish of potatoes, cheese, onion and bacon. Very creamy and tasted amazingly good. At both markets they were selling everything from sweets, dried fruit and biscuits to sausages, pickles and cheeses.

At the Elgin market we bought French cheeses, fresh baked (portable oven) French bread and biscuits, sausages from... somewhere, Polish apple and pear cider, Greek olives stuffed with chili and garlic and Turkish delight. I also got some embroidered towels for Christmas gifts.

Then we went home and ate a bit of everything...


It was freezing cold in Elgin, but we stayed anyway because there was a band playing great music and everyone was having fun. My feet were frozen and my hands hurt from the cold, but I still had a good time. The band had a fiddler who played some lovely pieces and then their drummer did a solo, which my mom enjoyed as she loves drums. We left only because we still had to get some groceries before heading home, but I must admit that next time I'll dress warmer!

Friday 23 November 2007

Thursday 22 November 2007

Roar for Powerful Words

Random has awarded me this award. Thank you Random! :-)

The rules are:
The people given this award are encouraged to post it on their own blogs; list three things they believe are necessary for good, powerful writing; and then pass the award on to the five blogs they want to honour, who in turn pass it on to five others, etc etc. Let’s send a roar through the blogosphere!

Random's three things were great and I'm reprinting them here..

Three Things I Believe Are Necessary For Good Powerful Writing:
1. The desire
to write
2. Discipline
3. Knowledge of random things

Now mine...
Three Things I Believe Are Necessary For Good Powerful Writing:

1. The passionate need to be heard
2. Honesty - being true to your own voice
3. Discipline (Random's right! writing is hard work)

Now for handing the award on to five others...
I want to dedicate this award to those people I know who I feel truly deserve (or need) this award, regardless of whether they blog or not. So I'm cheating and adding some folk who don't blog, but truly deserve this award.

These are my five nominations:
1. The "clan" - for being brave enough to allow every voice in the group a chance to be heard and claim their own power. You are ALL top of my list!

2. Dennis - for being a powerful writer who sometimes needs reminding that his own personal voice is as important, and should be as powerful, as the words he writes.

3. Victorya - for weaving such power into her present by having the courage to expose the vulnerabilities of her past.

4. Minna - for thinking she is a murmer when she's really a roar that makes the Earth smile and the angels sing.

5. and Robb, whose voice has roared across continents and news media in the unending effort to bring about positive change for the country he loves.

Thursday 15 November 2007



Photo by Clara Natoli

Last week an old school friend managed to hunt me down on the internet. (Hi Sheri!) We haven’t seen each other in a long time, but writing to her felt just like it used to when we wrote notes to each other in High School. Okay... I “wrote” notes, she typed them. Most of our written conversations happened when she was in typing class and supposed to working! ;-)

Someone else I know found an old lost love from High School online last week, but in her case the surprise was less appealing. Her move-star look-alike ex-boyfriend is now a little saggy, a lot chubby... and bald. She had been planning to try to arrange a reunion - now she’s not so sure!

Some reunions are wonderful - you get to catch up, you chew over all the old memories and you remember why you liked each other so much in the first place. Or, like my other friend, you realize some dreams are better remembered from afar. ;-)

Seven years ago my High school sent out letters inviting us all back for a school reunion. I’m not a fan of forced reunions. I declined their invitation, but I did answer their request to “give them my details for their magazine”. That letter has been on my mind today, as I was busy exchanging info with my long-lost friend. I was rereading (saved on my computer) and thought I’d share it here. Some of it is too personal to make any sense in a general blog, but most of it would probably fit anyone’s high school memories.

Hello everyone!

I doubt that many will remember me, I certainly tried my best NOT to be remembered back in those days! At the end of my 5 years at High School I doubt if even a dozen people really knew anything about me, but it never bothered me, I knew me and that was all that ever mattered. I was never sent to detention, not because I was good but because I was never caught out. I never saw the point in deliberate rebellion.

I have no regrets. I never liked school much, but then why should anyone? It’s a most unnatural state. I would be very depressed if I were sitting here now writing to say that those were the best years of my life. And to all of you, please PLEASE, if any of you really do feel that High school was the best years of your life… GO OUT AND CHANGE YOUR LIFE! School was a foundation, not a vocation. Remember the happy times, forget the lousy ones, and move on. How sad it must be if the only triumphs we were ever to have were from our school days. I do hope that most of you have grown more than that. I know I have.

When I sat at the final assembly I remember looking around at everyone and feeling a deep sadness that this time in my life was over, but I felt no urge to try and prolong it nevertheless. Life is all about change and it’s subsequent loss and that is something that is better embraced than denied. I have no desire to know what has become of those I knew back then. They are my past, not my present and most definitely not my future. I walked out of School with no dreams or wishes, strange as that may sound. I always wanted life to be an adventure, a surprise, and as such I had no fixed paths for my future. And the past 20 years have been all I could have hoped - terrible, wonderful, boring and bizarre but never EVER predictable. I have done things that the schoolgirl me never imagined, experienced joys she had no notion of and suffered calamities way beyond her basic fears. They have made me who I am today. I like who I am today, I like what I have become and what I stand for. Who can ask for more than that?

What of the past 20 years? If I were to write at length on what I’ve done I’m sure it would bore you all, I know it would bore me! Who really cares anyway? At school I was most likely remembered for what I did rather than what I thought. That makes it seem appropriate now to end by being remembered for what I think rather than what I’ve done.

So to all of my year classmates - God bless, good luck and go well. I hope you all are living lives you enjoy, even if they’re not the ones you were dreaming of back then in High School.


Sunday 11 November 2007

For Remembrance Day...


Today is Remembrance Day, but today has other special meanings for me. Today is also "UDI" - the day Rhodesia declared its own independance, but - more personal and more important to my family - today is the day my grandfather chose to pass away. I say "chose" because I have no doubt he picked the timing deliberately, if not consciously.

For you... gramps. :-)


Friday 9 November 2007

Thursday 8 November 2007

Happy Blog Anniversary!

Almost exactly two years ago (late October 2005) Prema asked me to join her on her blog Kombai. She was writing about her Indian childhood, from England, and I would be adding memories of my African childhood, from Scotland. In honour of our journey together (so far) I am posting this in both blogs.

For two years we have compared very different childhoods and discovered that some truths truly are universal:

1. Childhood emotions feel the same in any language… or culture.
2. There is always a spiteful kid or bully at school.
3. You will inherit physical features you rather wish you hadn’t.
4. You will pick up character traits and family mannerisms you rather wish you hadn’t … no matter how much you don’t want to!
5. There are always perfect childhood moments you never forget.


6. You cannot escape family (who you are) no matter how far you travel.

When I joined Kombai I wrote "Dog of the Wind" for my introduction:


Since Prema asked me to join here and write I thought maybe my first piece should be an introduction to who I am. The simplest would be to say "I am a mongrel". For a long time that worried me, but in recent years I've realised there's a lot of joy in being a mongrel.

I was born in Africa in a British colony. At first I thought I was British. Well... for three years I WAS British, but then Southern Rhodesia declared it's own independence and I became a member of a rebellious non-acceptable country instead. Then Rhodesia became Zimbabwe and they took away my nationality. Now I belong nowhere. I thought I was British, but then I did my family tree and found that I had as many ancestors walking Europe and the Middle East as I had in the British Isles. I thought I was Christian, but when I went to school my religious teacher told me my beliefs weren't "right" and researching our family tree led me to distant Muslim cousins in Turkey, one Buddhist, some Jewish family in America and way too many Christian variations to list.

I have thought a lot of things only to find out they were illusions. The truth is I am a mongrel. I have no country I can hold as my ancestral home, not even a single continent I can claim as "mine". I have no single religion that runs through my family history alone. When I look in the mirror I see my grandmother's Irish face, my grandfather's Scottish nose, my father's English hair.. and in all this European-ness I have Persian eyes from some long lost ancestor.

There's a saying in Southern Africa - to be a "dog of the wind". Something homeless and restless, a person who has no roots. I am a dog of the wind and it can feel lonely. For a while it made me feel rather lost, but then I remember the blessings it brings me. If I belong to nothing I can also belong to everything. If I stand with my ancestry on different continents I can be a bridge between different cultures. I can enter many places of religion and find God... at times like that it feels good to be a mongrel. :-)

So I'm going to write from my own mongrel viewpoint. My British-Colonial mixed-up cultural muddled-religious self. I hope it will entertain more than it offends, but mostly I hope it helps to add another layer to prema's wonderful stories of her own culture and childhood memories.

This year both Prema and I became British Citizens. Perhaps no longer “dogs of the wind”, but our childhood memories and our ancestry will always play a part of who we are… and who we continually grow to become.

Thank you, Prema. It has been an honour to share blog space with you.

Community Blogger Award


Amel of Amel's Realm nominated
me for this award.
She says:

This award recognizes those bloggers who “reach out and make the blogger community a better one.”

Thank you Amel, for reminding me of what really matters - people and community. :-)

Tuesday 6 November 2007

Taking a Break - UPDATE

Hi friends and Readers,
It has been over a week since I last wrote anything here - my apologies for that. At the moment I have nothing in my head to put into words, so I'm going to take a break from blogging.

Two weeks ago we recieved the sudden and unexpected news that our landlord wants his house back to live in. Trying to plan packing and finding a new place on top of planning Christmas (gifts, cards, food...) is just too much for my old brain! It has ceased to function in any coherent form.

Thank you for reading me and supporting my blog. You've all been fantastic!
Several friends and readers have asked me to please not stop writing, so I will try my best to keep my brain functioning and my blog going.
((((GROUP HUG)))))
... everyone who wrote to say they care. :-)