Category Archives: family and friends

The Advent Calendar




I too get overwhelmed leading up to Christmas, starting with the Advent Calendar, which I make every year. I have great memories of my mom doing the same for my sister and me and hope that my girls will remember this too. They look forward to “what are you doing this year Mommy?” so no pressure at all! I have to think of a new way to present and create it every year. Last year we had chopped off the top of our cherry tree which I decorated with pottery robins and little parcels and even some fake snow.

I don’t think they realise how long it takes to wrap 48 individual chocolates. I was tempted to wrap a pair of knickers, for effect, with no chocolate hidden inside. Or maybe a dishwasher tablet with a note to remind them that it might be a great idea for them to unpack the dishwasher without me having to prompt them 5 times!

Thinking of it, this might be the best idea of all, have an advent calendar with notes on what to do, to make life easier for all in the household? The more I think about it the more appealing this sounds.


However I did end up sitting on the floor of my study with brown wrapping paper individually wrapping 48 chocolates and other little enticing bits after which I attached a pretty red and white ribbon and then another ribbon which had to be taped on securely. I will be hanging these little parcels all individually marked for the owner to be and with a number so there is no misunderstanding and hopefully all will be “fair’. Anyway these will be hanging off our existing wall hanging (picture will only be able to follow after the 1st December).

Even though I feel that it takes me forever to do this (and it does) I love the morning of the 1st December as my girls cannot wait to get downstairs to see what is waiting for them. And every year they are delighted…..what more could I want?

After all this effort G shakes his head and says:” surely you could just go and buy an Advent calendar?” He simply doesn’t understand sentimental, does he?


love to all



The Hamster!


It is my daughters birthday tomorrow and she will be turning 8 years old.

The one thing she would love more than anything else would be a pet, preferably a dog! I would love to have a dog too, however I also know that a dog needs company and many days I’m out of the house for more that 5 hours and it would just not be fair.

We have thought about a cat, however after long discussions and deliberations G and I decided that she will be getting a hamster!

G did all the research, which ones bite and which ones don’t ( I bet you they all bite ) and I went to the pet store to do the final selection. Our hamster was booked and paid for, all I needed to do today was go and collect him. The cage was already assembled in the garage awaiting its new owner.

Off I go to the pet shop, make sure I purchase all the other bits and pieces to make sure he will have a great start in his new home. The hamster (he does not have a name yet, A will have to name him) is placed in a box with a little of his bedding and straw and lifted gently into my car. We put him at the passenger side on the floor just in case I would need to brake suddenly.

Off I drive, remembering to turn the heating onto window and away from the floor, as I didn’t want the little fellow to roast! He was scratching around his little box, so I put on classical music for some additional calm and chatted to him all the way home. It is not a long journey, only about 10 minutes.

I arrive home and still talking to the hamster tell him that I will go inside to prepare the cage with his bedding etc, to ensure he has a smooth transition.

I add all the straw (what a mess) finally figure out how to fill the water bottle, fill his bowl with food, which promptly fell over, and am now ready to rehouse our new friend.

I get his box out the car and tell him all about his new home. I gently open the box in direction of the cage opening as  I’m a little concerned he might be darting to freedom. I don’t really want to put my hand in the box either so gently, gently move all the straw and bedding out to discover………….. NO HAMSTER!!!!

My heart sank, of course I looked again, you know how you do, because you just cannot believe what you are seeing. The sad thing was there are no hidden areas in a box, are there? Unless you know of a magician. What I did discover was a rather large hole on the side of the box.

Oh no!!! Where is he? He had to be in the car. But where? I needed help, quickly. Luckily for me, our neighbour is a fireman, ok this might not fall in his job description, and he does work shifts. I didn’t care even if he would be asleep I ran over and rang the door bell. Thank goodness he was home and happy to help. After retrieving his gloves, as hamsters do bite, he dashed over to the rescue.

We slowly started to remove any items from the car, and we have a few,  ( I even found things I didn’t know I had lost) shook out the umbrella, just in case. After a what felt like ages we found him between the boot and the back row of seats, however there was no way we could get to him. So my neighbour suggests we move the seats, which we manage to do without  squashing the little rodent. He is moving about, not having any of this. I dash inside to get a piece of apple, food always helps, right? Any way after many back and forths he runs to the driver side and to the peddles. I had visions of him disappearing behind one of them ,but luckily he didn’t. I managed to scoop him up before he got there and together we placed him in the box and finally in his new cage.

I would like to say that I’m sipping a G&T while typing this, I certainly need one, I’m too old for all this excitement, but can say that little hamster is sound asleep in his new home.

All I hope is that A will be as delighted as we hope she will be, and the hamster will be in the cage as we left him.


Sending you all my love from Ascot



Friday Juice


Dear Gia

oh yes another lovely day today.

It started with me going to my first yoga session. G has been going for a while now and has been urging me to go too. I have been going to Pilates classes for about 2 years now, but I still cannot touch my toes nor can I stand on my head. My core muscles have definitely improved and I do feel a difference in the strength of  my back, but it is the flexibility which I really would like to improve on.

So off I went this morning , the session was 1 hour 30 minutes. It reminded me a little of when I first started an aerobic class way back when, everybody was moving to the right and I was moving to the left.  As I noticed this, I moved to the right too and everybody started moving to the left. Boy, saluting the sun and pretending to be a dog is not as easy as it sounds, nor looks. Nevertheless it felt good and I even worked up a sweat. I will be going back as often as I can, but as we start our school holidays next week, it will have to wait till then.

As I had invited some friends for  lunch I decided to make another juice, today it was a juice to help with fatigue, I needed this one after my work out.

You need to juice

1 orange

1 apple

1/2 beetroot

1 celery stick

a hand full of kale

delicious and refreshing too. We had a lovely lunch and I enjoyed just looking at the sun

A and I are off to Cheltenham tomorrow morning to celebrate an old friends 80th birthday. We will be having a high tea in a lovely cheltenham Hotel and will dress up for the occasion too.

M and G are staying in Ascot to go and watch the PGA Golf championship in Wentworth, which is just down the road from us.

Here is to a great weeekend for all of us

Lots of  love

E x

Dawn Chorus


15 May 2012

Dear Gia

good golly we have just had thunder and lightning!! I love it, we don’t get that many storms here in Ascot. I love it when the sky turns black, the wind starts to howl and then the rain drops to the bottom of the earth. The best thing about it all is that I’m sitting at my desk, nice and warm and dry. Within a few minutes it is all over, just as well as I need to go and collect the girls from school in 10 minutes.

I thought I would drop you a quick line today.

I have been waking up most mornings around 4.30am, guess why? The birds are singing in the trees. We call it the dawn chorus, at that time of the morning I would like to call it the dawn raucous!! Boy oh boy, I do love birds, but they can make a lot of noise. Thank goodness for double glazing, once the window is closed I can go back to sleep.

G solves the problem by putting the pillow on his head, I wonder how he manages to breathe?

One day I will have to record the birds and research which birds they are. At a second thought maybe not.

Hope you are having a good day

Lots of love

E x

Ela’s letters from Ascot


11 May 2012


Dear Gia


It’s Friday and the sun is shining, well a little more that 5 Minutes anyway!!!!!

We have had so much rain I’m seriously surprised the Island has not yet begun to sink. Now that I’ve got my rain catcher in the sink, I don’t need it anymore.

Oh dear I’m becoming more English than the English talking about the weather, so to more important matters.

It was my birthday this week, thank you for your wishes, I had a great day. The girls and G brought me coffee in bed, with lit candles, loads of lovely presents (all of which were on my wish list 🙂

I spent the rest of the day baking and cooking. Have you ever tried Beetroot and Tomato Soup?

I got the recipe from the South African Ideas magazine, May 2012, see if you can still get a copy, the soup was delicious! I also cooked a Watercress soup as well as a spicy butternut soup. It was so grey outside I had to bring some colour into the home. The table looked great too, orange table cloth, red and pink roses etc. I will send you a picture.

G goes to a yoga class on a Wednesday night, so invited some girl friends for the evening and we really had a lovely time. I’m very lucky to have met some lovely ladies and we all enjoyed ourselves.

I had also lit loads of candles ( a little atmosphere, ne?), our home looked great.

The next day our neighbour, a gentleman in his late70’s, knocked on our door. He was carrying a rather old and loved lamp. He told me that he had noticed that we had a candle on the kitchen windowsill the previous night and thought we might have a problem with our electricity and would like to offer help and his lamp.

I was so touched, but had to explain that I was only trying to create some lovely light with my candles and that we had no problem at all. Oh, he said “just trying to help” Isn’t it so wonderful to have such caring souls as neighbours? Admittedly they do spend a lot of time at their window, but I love the fact that somebody is looking out for our welfare.


I’m planning to have a great weekend, I hope you are too!


Lots of love

E x


coming home from being at home


Dear Gia, 17.04.2012

We had such a great time visiting my family and friends in South Africa. Three weeks seamed like a long time, but visiting “home” can never be long enough. It was very difficult and emotional to say goodbye this time.

Here we are back in the UK after an eventful flight home. We left Cape Town on time, however arrived in Dubai over an hour late. I already had our boarding tickets to London, they stated a boarding time of 1.45 am and we landed at 1.30am! We got out of the plane as fast as possible and wouldn’t you know it? Yes we were at the other end of the terminal. It felt like we had arrived at Gate 1 and needed to get to Gate 213. I grabbed hold of our hand luggage and told the girls to RUN. Which we did. We finally arrived at our designated gate and were told that the flight was just about to board.

After a little while we were told that there would be a slight delay as other connecting flights were still arriving. Then there was a delay due to a technical fault and no idea for how long. So I got the girls settled (It was around midnight SA time). A. promptly went to sleep while M. tried very hard. Then a further announcement: we had to change planes as they couldn’t get the technical problem fixed. We were offered a McDonald’s meal voucher (yippee, A. has a real problem with the smell of airline food and tends to throw up at the smell of it, so McDonald’s was just what we needed)

Anyway, I had to wake up A. and ask her to walk with us, it was impossible to carry her and our hand luggage etc. I got her to the gate entrance where she sat on the floor and refused to move! She wanted to sleep and that was that. A very kind gentleman noticed my dilemma and offered to find a buggy (that’s a pram to you and me). We settled A. in the buggy where she promptly threw up. Thank goodness I had raided the aircraft sick bags before disembarking. So we finally arrived in the UK only about three and a half hours later that scheduled, but it did feel like a very long night. This flight did not compare to the time when we were stuck in Dubai due to the volcanic ash cloud, but that’s another story I’ll tell you about sometime.

The calendar tells us that we are in the season of Spring, which is my favourite time of the year, and it’s exciting to see all the flowers and new blooms. I love the surprise of not remembering where I have planted bulbs and squeal with delight at every new little sprout emerging from the ground.  As I normally leave the planting of the bulbs to the last minute and end up doing this in a hurry, the surprise is rather great.

You might have heard that we now have a hosepipe ban in the UK! Hard to believe, I know, and it is raining cats and dogs today! How can there possibly not be enough water in a country which has so much rain? Ok, let’s be fair, we have had a really long dry spell during this last winter.

You can imagine the Brits with their beautiful gardens. What will they do? The fine if caught is £1000!!!!!

I’ll tell you what I’m doing! Die Boer Maak ‘n Plan, is what a South African would say. I have bought a “bak” which I have placed in the kitchen sink and am catching all the water used while washing veg and fruit, even the coffee pot, including the coffee grounds. I then take the water and throw it into our garden.

The neighbours must think I’ve finally gone batty, but hey, I’m South African after all. I bet you our garden is going to look better than ever before, with all the goodness from our kitchen.

Need to dash to collect the children from school.

Lots of love from Ascot

E xxx