Village population grows

Damn. While I disappear off 6,137 miles from civilisation, little Mrs Ordinary Life pops her sprog.
Obviously, we knew that this was coming, but we weren’t absolutely sure when.

But just as dawn was breaking, things happened.
And those things were announced to the world just 1 hour and 59 minutes later:

Kaylin Elizabeth born at 5.50 am!

This, of course, is what little children do. They mess with your inner clock. They tug on your internal hour hand. Without the intervention of modern science, you can be assured that babies will be born in the early hours of the morning or during the penalty shootout at the end of a really exciting FA Cup semi-final replay.

It is great training for the months and – dare I say years? (yes, I dare) – years that follow.  At no point in its first 5 years of life does a child wake up, check the clock (and for clock, read presence of daylight) and think “Hmm – maybe it’s still a bit early. I’ll turn over and go back to sleep”.

No. They wander into your room and demand entertainment and food. And if they are too young to wander into your room, they stay where they are and demand entertainment and food. Each night, we line the route between Alex’s room and ours with rusks. Our landing is now an Ouminefield. (Note: that joke only works if you’re South African and you have consumed a bottle of red wine before reading it, sorry).

But no. In he comes and before I know it, Handy Manny and his seven trusty tools are singing their half-English, half-Spanish songs about fixing Mrs Portillo’s stove while the boy spreads crumbs across the bed. So I head to the kitchen in search of coffee and end up crunching a roomful of breakfast biscuits down the stairs. And then people wonder why I’m grumpy in the mornings.

These are the challenges that Mr & Mrs Ordinary Life have to face in the coming years. They are fortunate to have me doing reccies for them 4 and 1½ years ahead. Indeed, the only bad news for them is that I will be telling the truth.

But for the moment, many congratulations to Pammie and her husband.
And welcome Kaylin Elizabeth.

I told you it was going to be a boy.

Struispost

Season’s Greetings (mid to late summer) from Struisbaai, home of the southern hemisphere’s longest stretch of white sand beach, a bewilderingly large variety of birdlife and – for this extended weekend, at least – family 6000.
I love the Southern Cape – perhaps because the rolling farmland, rugged coastline and friendly residents remind me of the Isle of Man. But whereas there’s plenty of stuff south of the Isle of Man, you don’t get much more south than here without getting very wet (and then very cold). After all, we’re about 10km from Cape Agulhas, site of the most southerly blog post this continent has ever seen.

We’ve rented a fisherman’s cottage for the weekend and it’s perfect for our needs. It’s really just a base for sleeping and braai’ing, within a minute’s walk of the beach and situated directly beneath clear blue skies. But it’s clean, pleasantly cool inside, nicely appointed and actually rather pretty to look at. I’ll post the details on here once we’ve moved on – it would be both awkward and annoying if a host of 6000 miles… readers turned up looking for autographs and locks of hair like when I was away last time. If you were better at stalking, you’d know where I was anyway.

While the beds are comfy and the air is fresh – usually a recipe for prolonged slumbers – Alex was up dangerously early this morning. While a 5am wake-up call isn’t to everyone’s tastes when trying to get some much-needed R&R, it’s par for the course when you have two small kids. After some negotiation and a couple of sausages from last night’s braai, I took both him and the camera down onto the beach for walk and some quick sunrise pics, Joyanne-style.
And look – I can see the attraction in one way – it was nice exercise, the views were pretty spectacular as the sun burst out from behind the morning clouds and turned the turquoise ocean a deep gold and – save for a couple of fishermen – the beach was ours. But on the other hand, I can also see the attraction of a deep bed, a cosy duvet and a warm wife.
So I’ll be honest: the jury is still very much out on the whole sunrise beach trip thing.

It’s now lunchtime and by some miracle, both kids are fast asleep. Later this afternoon, we’re going to take another step towards cementing our relationship with this beautiful area by inspecting a plot of land near here with a view to purchasing it and – at some stage in the future – having our own little fisherman’s cottage by the sea. I guess that what they call “living the dream”.

Posted from my Sony Ericsson XPERIA X1

The bobsforgood post

I had some business down on the Waterfront this lunchtime and my visit happened to coincide with the 2oceansvibe live webcast from Bob Skinstad’s cell in the Barrow Court.

In case you’ve been living under a stone for the past few days, let me explain.
Ex-Springbok rugby player Bob Skinstad has locked himself up for a week to raise funds for his charity, the bobsforgood Foundation. bobsforgood is all about putting shoes on the feet of the 7 million South African children who go to school each day without shoes. That’s 14 million shoes. (I can like to be good at maths.)
So, as the poster says:

Today you can help our local sports hero, Bob Skinstad and his bobsforgood Foundation raise ‘bail’ money that will be used to put school shoes on the feet of underprivileged children across South Africa.

And they’re right – you can. Like this:

I also grabbed a few shots of the infamous Seth Rotherham hard at work in the cell with Bob. Seth is shorter than you might imagine. And he’s not very tall either.
He was mainly busy leaping about from laptop to laptop, presumably sating the needs of Cape Town and South Africa (not to mention the not inconsiderable international contingent) to ‘live the holiday’.

            

At one point,  he obviously detected the scent of another blogger and uttered a low growling sound – I guess it was a territorial thing.
Shoppers all around the mall stopped and there was a moment of worrying silence as he glared straight at me. Somewhere, a pin clattered to the floor. But just then a chick in a short skirt wandered past and his attention wandered off with her.
The mall breathed a collective sigh of relief.
Perhaps, Highlander-style, there can be only one, but there was to be no fight today (and just as well for Seth, since I am known to be pretty amazing with my sword and he was stuck in faux prison cell anyway) and two of the more famous names in Cape Town blogging lived to fight another day.

As recompense for the brief stalking and in recognition of a good cause, 6000 miles… has donated R250 to the bobsforgood foundation and we urge our readers to help make a difference as well.

One way

This was the song that graced most of my time at University in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. I still get shivers down my spine when I hear it. If I had ever managed to compile a Top 10 of my favourite songs ever, this would probably be one of only three songs that would be a shoo-in. I can’t quite recall what the other two are right now, because my head is filled with the sound of the quite brilliant One Way by The Levellers, seen here at Glastonbury in 1994.

I was lucky enough to see The Levellers in Brixton in 1995 as part of their Total Chaos tour and rarely have I seen a band have quite so much fun on stage. The evening was a great success and – despite the tour’s moniker – wonderfully organised, save for the young gentleman that climbed up one of the rope ladders at the side of the stage and refused to come down for the rest of the set.

It wasn’t me.

We can take them breakfast

The innocence of kids. It blows me away sometimes.

Yesterday evening was one of those times. Having picked the boy up from his grandmother’s, where he had spent an exciting afternoon mainly eating, playing snap and eating, we were on our way home via the M3 and then slipping down the Constantia Main Road off-ramp. At the lights on the junction, I saw a mother and her two kids sitting by the side of the road, begging.

Sadly, this isn’t an unusual sight in South Africa, but I have seen this lady here before. She has two daughters – almost exactly the same ages as our two kids (3¾ & 1½, for new readers). And that kind of makes it a bit more personal.
As it happened, I had a small packet of sweets with me which I had planned to share with Alex, but given his gastronomic exploits throughout the afternoon, I had thought better of that idea. Thus, the kids by the side of the road became the grateful beneficiaries of a packet of candy polar bears. Seeing the young girls’ delight at the quickly opened packet and its contents brought a lump to my throat. So I probably wasn’t ideally prepared for what followed.

As the lights changed and we headed home, Alex piped up.

“Why did you give the lady some sweets?”
“Because the lady and her children were hungry.”
“Where do those children live, Daddy?”
“I don’t think they have a home, Alex.”
“So where do they sleep then?”
“I think they sleep wherever they can find some shelter.”
“And where do they eat breakfast?”
“I don’t think they have breakfast, Alex. That’s why they are hungry.”

There was a brief pause in the inquisition from the back seat.
Then:

“I’ve got an idea, Daddy. We can take them breakfast.”

And despite the much deeper issues that lie behind their situation, Alex was right: We can take them breakfast.
And because I’m a great believer in actions speaking louder than words, this Saturday, we’re going to take that mother and her kids some breakfast. Yes, I recognise that this isn’t a solution; I know that it won’t solve anything other than their hunger that day, but it will at least solve that.  

And when u-turn finally get back to me (hello?!?), we’ll maybe be able to help them out a little more.