Sunshine Blogger Double Whammy

Right, so…

sunshine-blogger-award

I got nominated for this award twice, pretty much on the same day 😉 I’m so grateful that others find material worth reading on my blog 😉 and that they’d like to share me with the world out there 🙂 I always get really nervous with these kinds of things, but I’m going to attempt to ‘do it right’ 😉

Sunshine Blogger Award Rules

  1. Thank the person who nominated you and provide a link back to their blogging site.
  2. List the Sunshine Blogger Award rules and display the logo on your site.
  3. Answer the Sunshine Blogger Award questions.
  4. Nominate 11 other bloggers and ask them 11 new questions.
  5. Notify the nominees about their nominations.

As I mentioned, I got the award twice. So I’ll try and keep my answers short…but be warned, this will be a long read…. and you’ll know far too much about me by the end. So not really much different to my other blog posts 😛

FIRST NOMINATION :

Thank you to My Forty Something Life for the nomination. If you’re forty something, it’s definitely worth checking the blog out. I’m even tempted to try Yoga 😉

The questions (and my answers) to that nomination are as follows :

  1. Why do you blog? To reach out to others and hopefully connect, because I love to write, to try and make a difference with my voice, to be an encouragement
  2. If you were stuck up a tree for an hour or two…what would you do? Just sit and appreciate the view. I don’t get a whole lot of ‘down time’, so it would be a special moment for me 😉
  3. What is the funniest thing you heard today? No one else is awake yet, but I read this and it made me laugh : ”Here, I bought you a calendar. Your days are numbered now.” 😛
  4. What makes you smile on a regular basis? Pretty much everything 😉
  5. What is the one (or two if you must) thing you can’t live without? Air 😛
  6. Who’s blog do you read that you recommend to us all (it doesn’t even have to be someone you nominate)? Uh….that kinda puts me on the spot, doesn’t it? 😛 I always visit Dr. Eric Perry, PhD – he’s a very popular clinical psychologist, and I like to read his views on things. But that’s also because I am kinda nutty about all things psychology related 😛
  7. What kind of soup would most reflect you as a person? Alphabet Soup 😛
  8. What is your favourite TV show right now? A really old one which I am revisiting – and still loving 😉 Full House My daughter is loving it, but I think John Stamos has a lot to do with that 😛 For once her and I agree on a ‘nice looking man’ 😛
  9. If you have a spare £100 in your wallet / purse…what does it get spent on? A random stranger/beggar and my children (human and fur)
  10. What was your favourite children’s show growing up…can you remember the theme tune…are you now singing it? UGH! YES! (Thanks for that 😛 ) Good old Barney.

SECOND NOMINATION :

Thank you to Jesusluvsall for your nomination 🙂 A man of faith who lives his life serving others, and that’s more than blog worthy 😉

The questions (and my answers) to that nomination are as follows :

  1. If Jesus were to knock on your door, what would you think? If He knocked, then I probably wouldn’t actually know it was Him till I opened it, so my thought upon hearing the knock would be, “Who needs me?”
  2. This week is Thanksgiving Week in the USA. What are you thankful for? In all honesty, everything. Even the difficult times and difficult people I encounter. And yes, I AM being honest. Sure, it makes me tired, and I get hurt. But I learn along the way. And it makes me different, and better.
  3. Where would you like to travel to in the world. I gave the long answer here. The short one is USA!!!!
  4. What is your favorite snack food? salty crackers and a variety of cheeses 😉
  5. Do snack while you blog? No. But I do drink copious amounts of coffee 😛
  6. What is your favorite season and why? Winter, winter and winter 😛 Yes, I live at the coast in sunny South Africa, so our winters are never colder than about 40 degrees F – and I was told for years that that’s why I love Winter. Then I went to the UK and faced a different kind of cold – ‘proper’ cold. And I still thrived in it. And that’s why I love Winter – I thrive in cold and gloomy weather. Strange, but true. While others just want to stay in bed, all toasty and warm, I am at my most productive when it’s cold. In our Summer heat, with high percentages of humidity, and no air conditioning, I just don’t get anything done. My energy is sapped and those are the days where I am the one who would rather just be on my bed 😛 I also exercise a lot more in Winter – not because I am preparing for a ‘Summer body’, NOT AT ALL. But simply because those are days where I actually have the energy to do so!
  7. What book has meant something to you lately? Kathryn Cushman’s ‘Waiting for Daybreak’. Not the type of book I usually read – if I’m not reading crime thriller murder mystery, then I am reading self help/growth books. But something made me pull this one out of my bookshelf. It was a gift from a friend who passed away last year – I never read it when she gave it to me. I’ve only read it recently, at a time when I needed it most. Amazing how things like that happen, isn’t it 😉
  8. Who is your favorite singer? No. Just no. Because I have too many 😛
  9. What is a favorite blog post of yours? Share a link Mine personally? One I have written? Hmmmm….. I have a few – and they’re all about where I live. I have linked them to each other, sort of. But please read them – a great guide to South Africa 😉 Mostly the differences between here and the US. And it will also explain my spelling 😛 One of a Kind; Can you speak American? (highly recommended 😛 ) and South Africa’s Tummy
  10. I am a disaster cooking in the kitchen. Would you trust me in your kitchen? Yes. Because I think it would be fun 😉
  11. What movie have you seen recently that you liked? Nothing new, I’m afraid. I watched ‘You’ve got Mail’ for the umpteenth time the other night – it’s a firm favourite with me because one of my dreams is to own a bookstore exactly like Meg Ryan’s in the movie 😉 (I don’t usually watch romance, so yes, it really is all about the books 😉 )

And that’s all folks 😉

Now for my nominees (you do not have to participate). Their questions will follow :

Winning 40
Rest and Chaos
millenniallifecrisis
Fractured Faith
Cynthia D. Griffin
Encouraging Grace
The Happiness Nerd
Fun with Philosophy
Herry Chic Counsels
juantetcts
Paul – A life worth giving

Your questions (total randomness):

  1. What is your favourite quote?
  2. If you could share a brief word of encouragement with someone, what would you say?
  3. Do you like to ‘dress up’?
  4. Are you an animal lover? If yes, favourite animal?
  5. What do you think is your best physical feature?
  6. If you could ask your president/ruler of your country one question, what would it be?
  7. If you could visit only one place anywhere in the world, where would it be, and why?
  8. Coffee, tea, or neither one?
  9. Pizza, cheeseburger, or salad?
  10. Sweet or savoury?
  11. If you could be good at one sport, which one would you choose and why?

If you made it through, thanks for reading 😉

Purple People Eater

No. I don’t eat people.
Eating people is still illegal in South Africa.
Not that anything being considered illegal makes anybody less inclined to do it these days. Even if it was legal, I still don’t think I’d eat people…
But I got the nickname anyway…and here is the tale as to how this ‘little lady’ earned her Purple People Eater stripes.

Continue reading

Wonderful Words

In my last post I addressed some interesting South African foods. The one before we looked at the differences in the words we use here in South Africa, as opposed to words that are used in America.

There are just so many of these wonderful words, and silly differences, that I could probably write posts for a month and still not have them all covered. But I will make small efforts, and today’s post is one of those.

Takkies  – pronounced ‘tacky-s’
I sometimes forget myself when chatting with my friend in Kansas, and every now and then I revert to South African words. I sent her an email, saying I was taking the children shopping before the schools started up again, because they needed school shoes (they wear uniforms here) and takkies, for sport. Thankfully, the use of the word ‘sport’ helped her to identify what I meant. Takkies is the South African word for sneakers/trainers.

Sucker
If we’re talking slang, then this is most definitely the word for a gullible human being – but I don’t think our country is alone in that line of thinking.
When I offer my daughter a sucker for consumption, I am not offering her the opportunity to eat a gullible human being (yes, cannibalism is illegal here too), but instead I am offering her a lollipop.

Shebeen – pronounced ‘sha-been’
This is the name given to an illegal drinking establishment. If the bottle store (we call it that, you call it a liquor store) is closed, and you’re feeling mighty brave, then you can always find alcohol at a shebeen – although it’s almost double the price of what you’ll pay at the store. It is, after all, what has to be considered a ‘convenience outlet’. The brave part comes in because these are normally located in rural locations, in the middle of an informal settlement, and ‘the party’ is always more than a little rough.

Packet
When you go to the store and are paying for your purchases, they will ask if you’d like a packet. If you have too many items to carry out, this may be a good idea, because what they are offering you is a disposable plastic shopping bag to place said items in. We have to pay for our packets (it’s not a lot, but still), and so it’s always a good idea to store them up at home, and take a few with you the next time you visit the store. I also happen to think it’s better for the environment if we’re re-using as much as possible as opposed to purchasing them each time, just to throw them out. And while I’d like to say that I do this all the time, I am afraid that being human tends to show up in my life sometimes, and I forget!
You can purchase a rather costly canvas shopping bag at the store though, which will last a lot longer than the plastic packets do.

Now now
This is more of a South African expression than a ‘word’. When we say, ‘I’ll do it for you now now’, we mean, ‘I’ll do it for you soon’. We’ll be doing it sooner than ‘just now’ (see the end of this post for that expression’s explanation), but won’t be doing it immediately.
As mentioned before, us South Africans are a strange bunch when it comes to time.

Donga – pronounced ‘don-guh’
When I was still in junior school, we paid a visit to a local game park, and stayed the night. That night, armed with torches, we left the campsite for a night walk, to enable us to hear ‘the sounds of the bush after dark’. Halfway down the dirt road, we were all told to please keep to the right, as there was a huge donga on the left. The strange thing about this word is that it is a Zulu word (one of the African languages of our country) and it means ‘wall’; but when using the word ‘donga’ you are actually referring to a huge ditch / gully type hole. So if I ever blog about a huge donga in the road, or in my yard, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Lekker –  a slang word which has Afrikaans origin, pronounced ‘lack-er’
This has nothing to do with being in lack of anything, so if someone tells you your shirt is lekker, please don’t be offended. The English translation of the word is ‘sweet’, but when we use it in a sentence, or as an exclamation, we’re pretty much saying it’s ‘very nice’. When I was in high school, I used this word a lot – it was cool; I was young; slang was in. Thinking about it now, I am actually surprised at how little I have used it in the past decade. This does not mean I am no longer young and cool. 😛 A lot of South Africans still use it though, so you need to be made aware that it’s not insult, should you ever visit 😉

Stoep – I’m not quite sure about explaining how to pronounce this one, so you can listen to it here. The Afrikaans language is a lot like Dutch, and so the two are often ‘together’ when it comes to sounds and translations – but if you scroll down and listen to it in Afrikaans, you’ll hear that the ‘oe’ sound is a bit shorter.
The direct translation refers to a ‘sidewalk’, but in South Africa we actually use it to describe a front or back ‘porch’. So if someone invites you to come and have coffee with them on the stoep, they don’t mean you’ll be sitting on the sidewalk sipping coffee. They’re referring to their porch – although if they’re trying to be posh (or just prefer being purely English) they may invite you for ‘coffee on the patio/verandah’.

I think I’ll finish today with this:

You’ll hear a lot of Afrikaans being spoken in a lot of parts of South Africa. And there’s a phrase you’ll hear a lot, because us South Africans can be quite polite when we want to be.
It’s the Afrikaans way of saying ‘thank you’ – ‘baie dankie‘. It’s pronounced ‘buy-a dunkie’, but when said quickly to ears that are not accustomed to the words, it can often times sound something like ‘buy a donkey’. My step mother is British, and she says that when she first came to this country, she was confused as to why everyone always told everyone else to buy a donkey, when a simple thank you would have sufficed. Eventually a friend explained it to her, and her confusion disappeared, and has laughed about it ever since.

So I am explaining it to you, so that if you come and visit, you do not feel the need to seek out a farmer to purchase an animal 😉

South Africa’s Tummy

There are so many more word differences like the ones mentioned in yesterdays post that I definitely want to touch on some more of them in a later post. But as I rummaged about in my kitchen in search of something to eat, I started thinking about the foods in my country. I’ll mention some that are considered ‘traditional dishes’, but I will also mention some products that are ‘exclusively South African’ – although with the internet being what it is, I am sure you could find somewhere to purchase the products, if your stomach so desired 😉

Koeksisters – pronounced ‘cook-sisters’. (An Afrikaans word) These are truly sinfully delicious, if you have a sweet tooth. I can usually only manage one or two, but my daughter could eat a whole bag of ten in one sitting, if I allowed her to. They’re about 4 inches in length, and are made of dough, which is braided/twisted and then deep-fried. Once the deep-frying is done, they are dipped into a cold, sugary syrup, and are best served/eaten straight from the refrigerator. I know someone who makes the best ones I have ever tasted. They’re crisp on the outside, and soft and juicy on the inside. As you bite into it, the juice/syrup runs down your fingers and into your hands. If you eat another, you’re guaranteed the stickiness will find it’s way to your forearms. Eating them can be a messy job, but someone has to do it! 😉

Biltong – Similar to beef jerky, but not. I always use the beef jerky reference, simply because biltong is also a form of dried meat. But I have a feeling that that is where the similarity ends. I’m not sure though, since I have never had beef jerky.
There are different variations: Kudu, Beef, Venison….and recently I found bacon biltong. It’s not quite the same taste as the traditional biltong, but it was rather delicious – it is bacon, after all. Biltong is air dried for 3-7 days, and then doused in vinegar, before adding salt and various spices. The biltong is dehydrated as one large strip of meat, and you can either buy it as a whole, or ask to have it sliced. It is probably the most delicious ‘savory snack’ of our country – but can be on the expensive side for us…not so expensive for you, and you have the exchange rate to thank for that 😉

Ouma Rusks – (Ouma is pronounced ‘omar’, without the ‘r’; and is an Afrikaans word which translates into ‘Grandma’.)
Rusks, I think, may be the South African word for this treat. I did a google search and I think it’s similar to what Americans might call ‘Biscotti’.
This particular brand of rusk has been around since 1939, and it has yet to disappoint. There is nothing quite like a cup of coffee, and a buttermilk Ouma rusk.
It is essentially double baked bread dough, and comes in a wide variety of flavors – the most recent addition being ‘condensed milk’ flavor. A box of those lasted two days in my house – but then again, I don’t buy rusks very often, so when I do, my children just can’t get enough of them!

Amarula – Amarula is a cream liqueur with an alcohol content of 17% by volume. It’s made from the fruit of the African Marula Tree – which we also call the Elephant Tree…and sometimes is referred to as the Marriage Tree. Sugar and cream is added to the fruit, to create a delicious tasting alcoholic beverage.  It won a gold medal in 2006 at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, and I have read that they are trying to break into the American market, but I don’t know how long ago that was – so by now, it might be something my American friends could purchase in store? I am not a big drinker, but I have tasted a glass of Amarula, with crushed ice. It’s smooth, and definitely enjoyable when sipped slowly. At Christmas time, my friend gave me a box of Amarula chocolates, and I have to say, they were every bit as delicious as the drink itself – minus the alcoholic content. The best part was that my children didn’t care for the ‘fruity’ flavor, and so I could eat the whole box alone.

Mrs H.S. Balls Chutney – Although the name brand is slightly disturbing (and was selected way before my time, so my generation had nothing to do with it), there is nothing disturbing about this condiment, other than its addictive taste! What I love most about this particular brand is that it was a recipe that got shipwrecked…and survived. And the shipwreck? It happened right here, in the seas of the town where I live, in 1852! In doing some research, I was pleased to discover that there IS in fact a US range – so I won’t have to go without it when I visit 😉 I am still more inclined to go with the ‘Original Recipe’, but enjoy the Peach Chutney too. I don’t eat it a lot, but always keep a bottle in my refrigerator, because there are those times…oh yes, there are those times!

Bunny Chow – No, you will not be eating a rabbit. So if you ever see this and order one, in the hopes of some form of rabbit stew, then you will be disappointed. Originally created in the province of Kwa-Zulu Natal here in South Africa, it’s a delicious meal that can be found all over South Africa. It consists of a hollowed out loaf of bread (although I buy the smaller version if I do get it, which is usually a quarter loaf of bread – and still never manage to finish it all)  filled with curry – the Indian kind, although not always too hot. A lot of places will let you choose your filling when it comes to the ‘burning your mouth’ possibility, and you can opt for a mild curry filling. I prefer to have it hot! 🙂

Afval  – another Afrikaans word, pronounced ‘uf- file’ (although I found it difficult to tell you how to pronounce that last part, and I still may be wrong. I know how to pronounce it, but trying to explain it is sometimes tough).  This word translates into ‘waste’.
I have to mention that I have no personal experience when it comes to the taste of this dish – I don’t eat livers, hearts, kidneys, or anything of that sort.
This particular dish is made from the stomach lining and trotters of lamb. It’s either served curried or stewed, and I have been told that if you are a person who enjoys oxtail, then you’ll enjoy this dish too because the meat is very tender and tasteful.
if you ever happen to visit South Africa, and taste it, please let me know if my information  on the tastiness of the dish is correct. I’m afraid that tasting it is not a sacrifice I am willing to make, even for the purposes of this blog!

Sheep’s Head – Yes, you read that right. And it’s popular. But again, it’s something I have never tasted and probably never will – not like this anyway. You get served the entire head of the sheep on your plate, after it’s been cooked for several hours in the oven. I am told that the meat is, once again, full of flavor and extremely tender. I’ll leave it to you to decide!

Frikkadel – pronounced ‘frick-a-dell’.  This is something I do eat, and my son says I make the best ones, but I think that’s just because he wishes I would make them more often. They’re basically just meatballs – deep fried balls of minced meat, combined with grated onions and carrots, bread crumbs, a little bit of whisked egg, and herbs and spices. They are sometimes served with a sauce, but not usually. Smaller balls are often found on what we call a ‘snack platter’, which is pretty much what it says it is. A platter with various ‘small’ versions of foods, for snacking purposes – and usually supplied for entertainment purposes. Sometimes, I will make a snack platter for my children for supper – I can hide the vegetables in the makings of the platter, and they get happily consumed 😉

Amasi – pronounced ‘uh-maas-i’. It’s basically fermented milk, and I am told it tastes a lot like cottage cheese or plain yoghurt. I have never tried it as a drink on its own because it has a tendency to have a lumpy texture, but it is very popular amongst black South Africans. I have, however, used it in a recipe for ‘traditional bread’, and it certainly didn’t affect the taste negatively in any way!

Umngqusho – this is one of my favorite ‘black South African’ dishes. I don’t have a clue how to tell you to pronounce this word, so I will just say that an English way to ask for it if you’re ever here is to request ‘samp and beans’.
There are so many different variations, but the base ingredients are stamp mielies/samp (which are dried corn kernels that have been stamped and chopped until broken into pieces) and sugar beans. The best way to make this particular dish is by soaking the samp and sugar beans overnight. The next day, you begin the cooking process, adding onions and butter and often times a ‘soup meat on the bone’, for added flavor. The cooking process usually takes about four hours, then it’s ready to be drained and consumed! I cook mine with the meat in it, but when I serve it up, I keep the meat out of it. I add extra butter and salt, and have been known to overindulge – in other words, it’s something I will always have a second helping of! It can be quite filling though, which sadly rules out a third 😉

There are so many other foods and branded products that I have yet to mention, but I hope you enjoyed the ‘taste’ of South Africa’s food variety for today!

Can you speak American?

A year ago, almost to this day, my daughter was watching yet another American movie that had some dancing in it. She again announced her hearts deepest desire: to attend a school like Juilliard and become a dancer. She currently has lessons in three styles of dance, and is very good. But I could never afford a school like that, or the costs involved with getting us there for her to try either. So all I can tell her is to keep practicing, keep dancing, and be dedicated – and maybe one day she will have her dream. She’s ten, and there’s time.

She has added a few other dance schools to her list, and our discussion prompted the retrieval of that list, and a request to google some of them. I didn’t have anything that needed my immediate attention, and my daughter usually trumps all anyway, so I agreed. We spent the next hour googling, reading and watching. And then the question came that horrified me, “But mom, do you think I could speak American?”

In that instant, my heart stopped and I wondered if I was so useless at being an educator to my children that my own daughter didn’t know that English was the language spoken in America, a country I love. Now, in my house, when my children ask questions that I don’t fully understand, I always say three little words.
“Please explain yourself.”
This time though, seeing the horrified expression on my face was enough, and she quickly added, “I know they speak English, mom. Most of them anyway. What I mean is, some words are different. Do you think I would be okay there?”
And then it made sense to me.

I’ve already explained the difference in spelling here, and in that post we also discussed that when you’re in South Africa, a ‘barbeque’ becomes a ‘braai’. We’ve watched enough American movies, and I’ve learnt so much from my American friends – knowledge which I take every opportunity to impart on my children – that I could, in confidence, reassure her that we would be okay. In fact, I often find myself ‘speaking American’ in small ways – but most especially when I speak to an American 😉 So here are some small differences, which you may or may not already know:

Petrol / Gas : I touched on this here, but will repeat – when we refer to gas, we’re talking about the stomach kind. We put petrol in our cars. And we go to the garage, or petrol station, in order to do this – not the gas station or filling station.

Robot / Traffic Light : I have the pleasure of knowing an American who lives around here. She finds this particular one very amusing. She says that when she first arrived, she kept looking around for Rosie the Maid – the robot from the cartoon ‘The Jetsons’ – on our street corners. She actually missed seeing a landmark upon her arrival, because on the drive in someone told her, ‘If you look to the right at the robot, you will see….’, and she spent all her time looking for ‘the robot’. So when we say robot, we actually mean traffic light!

Sweets / Candy : Around here, we all know that candy refers to things like M&M’s and jelly beans and all those sweet things. We also know the saying, “Like taking candy from a baby”, and of course we’ve heard of ‘Halloween candy’. But we still call it ‘sweets’, not candy. When we go to the shop (store) I’ll ask my daughter if she wants some sweets – and she’ll pick out jelly babies or something like that. To ask if she wants candy will take her a while to figure out what it is I am actually offering her.
By the same token, the word dessert is not used very often around here – although a restaurant will offer you a ‘dessert menu’. We refer to it as pudding – and by definition pudding can be either savory or sweet. But where I live, we are always referring to the sweet variety, and whether it be cooked, baked, chilled, served hot or cold, with or without ice cream or cream – it’s pudding 😉
A chocolate/candy ‘bar’ is simply a ‘chocolate’.

Tomato Sauce / Ketchup : The first time I heard the word Ketchup, I was about fourteen. I don’t remember what the exact scenario was, or who exactly said it, but someone at school used it in an oral speech for marks in our classroom, and it threw me. He said, ‘It wasn’t ketchup on his shirt, it was blood.’ It sounded like he said, ‘catch up’, and because I was so unfamiliar with the word it made absolutely no sense why his shirt would be trying to catch up, and have blood on it. This particular guy lost marks for using that word which made him rather angry, because as it turns out his wealthy family had just returned from a holiday in America, and he was very proud of his new word. I was a bit embarrassed to be approaching this ‘cool kid’ and asking what it meant, but I had to. When he explained to me, as if I was the least intelligent being in school, stating that it was the American word for tomato sauce, I was not only fascinated, but relieved that his little speech now made more sense. It helped me greatly when I watched an American movie a few months later, and didn’t need to be concerned about the hamburger and it’s need to have to ‘catch up’.

Costume / Bathing Suit : One morning, I phoned (called) my ‘local’ American friend and asked if she wanted to go to the beach. She did, so I told her to grab her costume too. There was silence on the other end of the phone, and then a big sigh. She told me, ‘I don’t have any fancy dress clothes yet, I have just arrived.’ I laughed and made the adjustment, ‘I meant your bathing suit’, to which she laughed and we hung up – and never did get to swim anyway because the water was too cold that day. We’re certainly weird, because we also use ‘costume’ when we’re talking about dressing up for a fancy dress, or the outfit worn for a part in a production of a show/theater. I guess you have to think about the situation to know which costume we’re referring to.

Washing Powder / Laundry Detergent : I do not do laundry. I do, however, do copious loads of washing. I also spend time hanging washing on the line, and taking it off again, because tumble dryers are not very popular around here. We had one growing up, but I have never had one in my home as an adult. The one we had when I was a child in my mothers house was seldom used, due to its large consumption of electricity and our ridiculous rates thereof – which are worse now. It goes without saying then that I purchase washing powder, not detergent.

Chips / French Fries : Again, we’re weird. If I tell you I ate a packet of chips, I am usually referring to eating a bag of potato crisps. However, I may also tell you that I made chips to go with the meat we had at supper time, and I am referring to something entirely different. In this case, I would be meaning French Fries. If you go to a take-away place around here, and ask for chips with your burger, you’ll get french fries. But if you ask at the local store where they keep their chips, they’ll lead you to the display of countless bags of crisps. Unless you say frozen chips…then you may just wind up in the frozen section where you can buy french fries to purchase for home and cook yourself.

Scones / Biscuits : My new friend was telling me the other day that he needed to eat something, but wasn’t sure he wanted to wait the twenty minutes or so it would take to bake the frozen biscuits he had. Wait, what? Frozen biscuits? Of course, Google is my best friend in cases like this. A quick search revealed to me that he was talking about something we call ‘scones’. Although we don’t buy them with a frozen option, I don’t think. If you go out to tea around here, and you ask for a biscuit, you will get a cookie. Because that is what we call cookies here. It’s a biscuit. Even an Oreo cookie – it’s referred to as either simply Oreo’s, or you may be asked if you’d like an Oreo biscuit with your coffee. So a cookie is a biscuit, and a biscuit is a scone 😉 Tea or coffee with fresh and warm scones, served with jam (jelly, see further down, please) and cream, or cheese, is usually a delightful option when out and about.

Cooldrink / Soda : When we ask if you’d like some cooldrink, we’re not referring to a drink that looks ‘cool’ (although you will be offered ice) and may be sporting an umbrella in a colorful sugar rimmed glass. We just mean soda. Plain and simple. I have to also mention here that if we ask if you would like some lemonade? You’re getting soda, and it’s usually Sprite. I have never tasted ‘proper lemonade’ of the lemonade stand variety – pink or yellow. I really should try and make some one day, just to be able to taste. I think I shall add that to my list of things to do this week.

Serviette / Napkin : There’s a South African comedian who does a very funny example of this – but he can be rather offensive, and so I am not going to link him in here. But I’ll do a brief explanation of the difference in these words, to us. Over here, a napkin is shortened to the word ‘nappy’, and this is what we call a baby’s ‘diaper’. You change a baby’s nappy, but wipe your mouth with a serviette. So you can imagine how this can become strange for us if we buy takeaway food and get offered a napkin to go with it. How bad is your food?

How’s it (Howzit) / Hello : This is a funny one, because many South African’s use it. Although we say it fast and it sounds like ‘howzit’, and it’s usually meant purely as a greeting, as opposed to being a question actually asking ‘how is it’.
We also have a tendency to use ‘is it’ a lot – but not as a question. It usually take the place of ‘really’, or ‘uh huh’, and comes out sounding like ‘izit’.

Jam / Jelly : Around here, jelly is what Americans would probably call ‘jello’, so you can imagine how confused I was the first time I heard about a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Google once again came to the rescue, and since I happen to really like peanut butter and jam sandwiches, I was happy with its definition.

Just now / Later : I often confuse my American friends when I use this term. I’ll say it without thinking and mention that I am going to fetch my daughter from school just now. This does not mean now, or immediately. It actually means soon, or later, or in a short while. But never immediately. Yes, us South Africans are a confusing bunch.

There are many more little differences that you may (or may not) find interesting, and I am sure I will come back to addressing some of them in a future blog post. For now though, I am going to give you a break from all the reading, and hope that you didn’t find it too boring. I need to think about going to the ‘shop’ ‘just now’. 😉

South Africa and the Welshman

My father is Welsh. I was born and raised in South Africa, with a South African mother – but I am part Welsh. Some people tease and say I shouldn’t say that out loud, but I’m proud of the bit of Welsh blood in my veins. 😉

It posed a slight problem for me when Wales took on South Africa in the Rugby World Cup a few months back. Rugby is something similar to American Football, although there are some key differences, but I won’t mention them all here. When I asked ‘one of the guys’ what he thought the biggest difference was between the two, he said that Rugby is played by ‘real men’, because they wear no protection gear. I found that rather amusing!
I was invited to watch the Wales vs. South Africa game with some friends – and as is SA tradition, we accompanied the game with a braai. (Rugby is big in South Africa, and a braai is essential to the pleasure of the game.) If you’re unsure about what a braai is, then please see my post relating to that here.
I was in trouble with my friends the moment I walked through the door – I wore red, for Wales, as opposed to the green and gold of South Africa. I teased and said, ‘I wear my heart on my sleeve’. One of the couples told me, ‘I couldn’t lose’ because I am part Welsh and part South African – I think it’s the first time I have ever been in a win-win situation 😛 Wales did in fact lose that night. But the braai was good, and so was the company, so I had no real reason to complain.

But braaing, and rugby, and my blood are not what this post is about. This is about a visit I received from my father, accompanied by my Welsh cousin, and some things about SA that my cousin inadvertently brought to my attention to teach you something about my country.

My cousin, Dai, was the first member of my Welsh family that I had the pleasure of meeting. He’s a strange little man, with a great sense of humor, but he curses regularly, so I will omit that from this post.
I was most excited when I heard my dad was coming for a visit, and bringing along someone from his rather large extended family. (My dad has three brothers and three sisters.) So excited that I cooked a roast for their arrival. I’d like to say I have great culinary skills, confirmed by my cousin as he commented on the roast potatoes being ‘the best he’s ever had’. Unfortunately, as it turns out, my dad confirmed that our potatoes are in fact quite different to the ones they grow in the UK, and so it had nothing to do with my cooking. At this point in the conversation, I learned something new, because I didn’t know you got different types of potatoes. You’re never too old to learn, I guess.

The evening was spent discussing how things had changed since the last time my dad had been for a visit. Of course, the increase in crime had to be addressed – I needed to make my dad aware of certain factors that were now very different, so that he could take the necessary precautions when out and about with my cousin, if I wasn’t with them. Of course my dad can be a bit stubborn, and insisted he’d be fine.
Dai seemed to be taking special note, and had already commented (and been enlightened) about all the security bars and gates on the windows and doors. (Also in my previous post, along with the fact that we don’t have air-conditioning.)
Now is the time to mention that my dad and Dai visited us in one of the hottest months of Summer. That night, while preparing for bed, I went in to the spare room to check that Dai had everything he needed. I found him closing all the windows. To my amusement, when I told him he needed them open for the air to circulate in the heat, he replied, “And let someone stick their hand in and slit my throat. Not a chance. I’d rather overheat.”
Now while that may have been a very slim possibility because crime is bad, it definitely was not high in probability. But since I couldn’t convince him of this, and we had obviously scared him with what to us was ‘normal’, I left him to sleep in his hot box – but did give him a free standing fan for the night.

The next morning, as I struggled to wake up (it was, after all, 06:00) and was making myself a second cup of coffee, Dai came rushing out of his bedroom, muttering a string of expletives. When he saw me standing there, he apologized, and then asked, “But what is that?” At first, I wasn’t really sure what he was talking about. And then I heard it. I laughed out loud, at his expense of course, and received a well-deserved glare in return. When I could catch my breath, I took him over to the window and showed him. It was a bird, called a hadeda ibis – although we just call it a ‘har-di-dah’. And it’s possibly the most annoying bird ever – which says a lot coming from me, because I love birds and the different melodies they have. But this bird has no melody. It’s loud, and annoying. It’s a screeching “haa-haa-haa-de-dah” call, and we often joke that they’re afraid of heights, because they make the most noise when they’re up high, or flying. Their favorite time to ‘cry out’ is early in the morning, and it can be rather frightening on your first morning in this country, because you’ll be convinced someone is being murdered outside your window. You get used to it eventually, and so sleeping late does not pose a problem – but if you’re a visitor? Then it’s a different story! Not only is their sound alarming, but they’re rather ugly! They’re big birds, with a very long beak, and are mostly grey and black in color.
If you go here and listen to sound 1 and sound 2, you’ll get an idea of it’s screech. It’s great preparation for a planned trip, but the real thing is still much more frightening 😉

On a trip to town later that day, there were a few other things that fascinated Dai. I needed to stop for petrol for my car (same thing as gas, but when we use the word gas, it is never in reference to our cars, but rather to our stomachs). As I sat waiting patiently at the petrol pump, Dai looked a bit confused. He asked me, “Are you wanting me to fill your car?” I was the one who was then confused. A chuckle from my father, and a quick explanation made everything all right, and Dai spent the rest of the time at the petrol station in open mouthed awe. In South Africa, you don’t put in your own petrol (or pump your own gas). There are men (and the occasional woman) employed by the petrol station to assist you. You have to wait patiently for one of them to be available and approach you. You then pop your petrol cap and tell them how much you want them to put in, in currency, and off they go. When they’re finished at the pump, the petrol attendant will usually also offer, “Oil and water? Tyres?” I guess in some ways we’re spoiled – but it’s job creation, and I’d hate to think how our already rather shocking unemployment rate would rise if they were all suddenly put out of work!

Our economy leaves a lot to be desired. But it goes without saying that this is a huge advantage to overseas visitors. Everything seems cheap here, when you’re bringing in dollars and pounds and doing direct conversions. For us, it’s all expensive. But I’ll go into that another time, because it needs another post all of its own.
Needless to say, Dai was continuously surprised as we made our way from store to store, and was amazed when we got home to find how much he had bought ‘for so little’. This is also about the time where he took up chain smoking, and I don’t think we’ve braaied so much expensive meat in one sitting ever before, or since.

Dai became very interested in the vast amounts of bead work being sold on the side of the road by street vendors. This opened the door to explanations about the different types of African culture, and their beliefs. Bead work is one of the most important symbols in African culture. Beads are made from a variety of things, and their placement in a string is of great importance. Africans can tell if their fellow African recently lost a loved one, or are of wealthy importance, which tribe they are from etc. by the beads that are worn. Of course, I also had to tell him about the ‘witch doctors’ scattered all over our country. A witch doctor (traditional healer known for witchcraft) is a huge thing in African religion among the black people, and very real – except that around here they are known as ‘Sangoma’s’. They create lotions and potions and powders, (from things I don’t even want to begin to discuss) and can ‘cure any ailment, including love sickness’.
That night before dinner, I spotted a bottle of baby powder, and got a brilliant idea. I placed some in a piece of paper, and then folded it up carefully. At dinner time, I put it next to Dai’s place setting, and then called everyone to come and eat. Dai noticed it, and asked what it was. I told him,
“It’s a powder for you to drink.” Of course, I wouldn’t have let him actually put it in his mouth. He looked confused and asked why. I smiled mischievously and replied,
“In town today, an African lady noticed you. She asked me to give you this powder tonight, and by tomorrow you will be madly in love with her.”
The look on his face was priceless, and he flung the paper on the floor, jumped up, and looked like he might take flight at any moment. We all burst into fits of laughter, and even my dad had to wipe the tears from his eyes.
My cousin Dai now calls me ‘Miss Love Potion’. 😉

I am sure there were a few more things that happened, but I can’t recall them now. I enjoyed my little trip down memory lane though, and hope you did too. And maybe you learnt something new?

One-of-a-kind

South Africa is where I hail from. You probably know this already.

What you may not know is that my country has 11 (yes, eleven) official languages, and quite a few unofficial ones. I am fluent in two of them, mainly because they were the two that were taught to me at school. We take English as a first language, and Afrikaans as a second language. Depending on which region/province you live in, you have the option of changing that second language to the African language of your location. When I started high school – Grade 8 – we took an extra subject which was the African language of Xhosa, which is the African language of my region. Admittedly, I don’t remember too much of this year of language studies, but do remember the basic words and so am at least able to greet someone and ask how they are in their native language around here. The problem comes in after this, because they assume I can speak the language and rattle off a sentence to me of which I have little to no understanding. This always results in laughter on both parts when I admit, in English, that what I said is about the extent of my abilities to speak their language.

I find it amusing typing blog posts on here, because I think the ‘spell check’ is set to American spelling. Yes, we spell differently. My friend in Kansas often teases me that we’re just wrong – I often think we are 😉 I do know that we spell the British way – and since I have some British blood in me as well, I guess I can’t be too upset about that.
We apparently like the letter ‘u’. It makes its appearance everywhere that it doesn’t belong! 😛 Honour, neighbour, labour, behaviour etc. And yes, these are now underlined in red in my editing 😉
We also prefer ‘re’ to ‘er’ – perhaps the ‘er’ makes us think of medical tragedies?
Litre, metre, meagre. Of course we ‘get it right’ when it comes to words like monster, disaster, sober, etc.
There also appears to be an interesting problem with Sammy Snake – the letter ‘s’.
We say defence, as opposed to defense; pretence as opposed to pretense.
There are many more differences, these are but a few examples. Isn’t it strange that we all speak English, and yet spell it differently?

The reason I addressed the languages (and then got a bit off topic with the spelling) is because I wanted to share an advertisement that is currently running on our television networks. I don’t usually like television advertisements – they annoy me and most times I am left wondering what the product had to do with anything I have just watched. This particular advertisement has me smiling every time it comes on though. I will post the link to it later, but will go into a bit of detail first. It’s an advertisement about foreigners who visit our country, and gives great insight into the quirky things about South Africa – mostly good, but also some bad, in a delightful and pleasing way! It’s an advert by an insurance company, promoting that you need ‘one-of-a-kind’ insurance in a ‘one-of-kind’ country. So this blog post is pretty much based on Sanlam’s brilliance!

In South Africa, especially if you’re doing a tour of the country, you will likely come across a sign that says ‘Hippo’s Crossing for 3km’. If someone ever shows you a picture they have of this, it’s real! I need to stress though that there are no hippos, lions or elephants in my backyard. (Although apparently, when I was about five years old, I told my mother there was an elephant living in among the banana trees at the bottom of our yard.) They also don’t roam down the street where I live, or sleep in the shade of the trees that line our main road.
The above may just be possibilities in North Africa, but I live in the South – and there are some very big differences between the two, which I may address in a later blog post.
The hippo crossing signs are in a town practically built on top of a wetland park, with an estuary that is home to about 800 hippos. So a hippopotamus roaming the streets is not actually a common thing either.
We do have plenty of safari type parks that are home to many wild animals who are living in captivity, and yet in such a way that the animals probably don’t even realize they’ve been captured, or in some cases, rescued. In two different directions from my home, both about twenty minutes drive away, there are animal ‘parks’/game reserves. At the one, I can have an elephant interaction, or just sip a cup of coffee and watch as zebra, giraffe and buck play on the hills not too far away. At the other, I can stand two meters away from the lazy Tigers, as they cool off in their pool, on the other side of the fence of course; and if there have been any new cubs born before my visit, I can go into the ‘cub cage’, with a member of staff, and play with them.
Two years ago, I had a six week old white lion cub, weighing approximately 60 pounds, lying in my lap. She was one of four cubs in the ‘cage’, kept there till they get a bit bigger and were more able to hold their own, for protection purposes. A cubs hunting instinct kicks in around this time though, so they only allow children in who are of a specific height or above. My daughter qualified; and since the cubs aren’t too dangerous, while my son and I held lazy cubs in our laps, we watched my daughter with great amusement as she played with one, and was being hunted by another. Of course the staff member intervened before the cub sprang, just in case.
We don’t have shark cage diving here in my town, despite the fact that I live at the sea. But if you’re up for that, it’s an experience you can encounter in the Western parts – Cape Town area.

In South Africa, we don’t barbeque/barbecue – we ‘braai’. I cannot find a way to explain how to pronounce this word, so if you’re interested you can listen to it here. It’s the same sort of concept though where we grill/cook meat over an open fire. Most of these fires are wood-burning, and so if you visit here and someone asks you to come over and ‘burn wood’ it may have two meanings: it could mean to either just sit and watch the flames and drink beer or brandy; but most times it means they’re inviting you to a braai. It’s commonly known as a ‘chop and dop’ – although the Afrikaans spelling is mostly used in a written invite – tjop and dop. And this means pretty much what it says – bring a chop/meat to braai, and don’t forget to bring a drink, or ten, depending who you’re braaiing with 😉

In South Africa, we have what we call ‘load shedding’. It has not been so common of late, which is a great relief. It is a huge bone of contention among our people. Basically, it is an interruption in our electricity supply to prevent overloading on the power stations. South Africans are frustrated by this because our country supplies electricity to other parts of Africa, and yet we are the ones who suffer interruptions. These interruptions can sometimes happen twice a day, depending where you live – and are usually for a two hour period. This is made slightly more frustrating by the fact that it is often at mealtimes – and in rush hour traffic times it can have disastrous consequences because the traffic lights are not working.

In South Africa, “The multi-billion rand minibus taxi industry carries over 60% of South Africa’s commuters. Generally speaking, these commuters are all of the lower economic class. Wealthy individuals drive their own cars for safety and convenience. The industry is almost entirely made up of 16-seater commuter Toyota HiAce buses, which are sometimes unsafe or not roadworthy. Minibus taxi drivers are well known for their disregard for the road rules and their proclivity for dangerously overloading their vehicles with passengers.
I have to chuckle when I read that wealthy individuals drive their own cars – while I am very wealthy in many areas in my life, money and possessions are not one of them – and yet, I have a car. It’s an older model though, and only really gets us from point A to point B – but at least it’s roadworthy! 😉
This information was taken from Wikipedia and you can view the rest of it here, if you’re interested. I had a look at some news articles thinking I could post some more ‘factual’ links, but they were all just too negative. I have to add that taxi’s also come in the form of cars, and overloading is probably the biggest problem, next to the safety issues. Sometimes, you can see ten people being transported in a vehicle meant for five. It happens. Not all taxi’s are bad though, but it may not be a recommended form of transportation if you’re visiting.

In South Africa, there is a good chance you will encounter monkeys who will take your food. At my daughter’s school they are prohibited from eating food in a certain area of the school, because the trees that fence that area are filled with monkeys – and when they want your food they can be aggressive to the point of life-endangering. I have not had them in my own home, but a friend who lives not far from me often returns from work to find that they have ransacked her kitchen again – impolitely leaving banana peels all over her floor. She stopped buying banana’s, but they still go back time after time. They can be rather destructive, and she returned once to find cereal scattered all over the floor. She tried closing all her windows when she left in the morning, and came home to a hot box, because that’s what happens in Summer around here. She does find that there’s less ‘monkeying around’ in Winter though.

In South Africa, crime is ridiculous. That’s all I am going to say about that, for now. You are welcome to google news stories and crime statistics if you’d like to know more. I don’t think it would leave you feeling very happy though, so it may be best to just avoid that whole point of interest entirely. Won’t you most likely won’t find in South African homes (although if you’re visiting, the Bed and Breakfasts and Hotels usually do have) is central heating and air conditioning. What you will find, more often than not, is high walls or fencing (electric, or razor wire on top), alarm systems and burglar bars – lots of them, on every window; burglar gates on every door. (Probably better known in the states as security gates and bars.) I think the biggest thing I struggle to come to terms with is that there is no regard for human life, and you can actually get killed, just for a dollar.

In South Africa, cars get broken into and stolen at an alarming rate, like a new trend on Twitter. There are companies, and individuals, who act as ‘car guards’, and their function is pretty much what it says. They hang around, and watch your car while you’re in the store or at the movies. If your car is still there when you come out, and it hasn’t been broken in to, then they would like you to give them a ‘tip’ – in fact, it’s expected. This is usually some spare change, and doesn’t really amount to much. The thing to watch out for is the ones who are trying to fulfill this role while inebriated – obviously they’re not very alert, and can get quite abusive if you point this out to them, or refuse to tip them. And of course, there are the 2% who are actually the criminals!

One more thing I need to mention – what Americans call a ‘truck’, we call a ‘bakkie’. It’s pronounced something like ‘buck-ee’, and refers to ‘little trucks’ – pretty much any truck shaped vehicle below 2 tons. What Americans would call an 18-wheeler? Well, over here, that’s a truck!

All right. All of the above is just a little bit of background, and information, for all of you. It was based on the advertisement and pretty much ‘gives away’ most of its contents (although the clip doesn’t have all the added explanations, of course), but if you still want to watch it, you can do so by going here.