Mile High Living

Zombie Breakfast
As established in the post Happy Expat Wife, Happy Expat Life, I’m rubbish at drawing.  Sweetpea has kindly contributed this doodle of a sunburnt zombie family waiting forever for their breakfast eggs (or brains) to boil.

There are a few quirks to mile high living.  I covered the zombie skin we get in Jo’burg’s crackling dry winter months in the post High Altitude, Dry Altitude, but there are are other things about life on the Highveld that you might be interested to know about. 

Dry Altitude

In addition to zombie skin, dehydration is something to watch out for. Unlike more humid climates where you find that your sweat glands have sweat glands, the dehydration here is stealthy. Because your sweat evaporates so effortlessly (rather than running down your back or into your eyes) you probably won’t realise how much moisture you’re losing. Dehydration IS very real though, so be sure to drink plenty of water, especially if you are enjoying any of the local wines or craft beers.  If you don’t, you will look AND feel like a zombie. Continue reading

Ladies who Lunch

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It’s what you think we expats spouses do all the time, isn’t it?  Go out for lunch and have a jolly old time. Well, yes, sometimes we do.  Here is a group photo of our international ladies social club taking a morning walking tour, followed by – you guessed it – lunch.  It took place on a weekday when our children were at school, our husbands at work and in many cases a house helper was doing the cleaning or ironing in our homes.  I know what you’re thinking….

It’s an easy life.  Perhaps when these ladies get home they will find that the electricity has gone off, or the water….or both.  Perhaps they are in the throes of packing up to move with uncertainty and upheaval ahead.  Some of their husbands have left the country already and have started new jobs in new locations.  The wives will pack up and follow in the coming weeks.

They are lucky to be going for a jolly morning out, rather than working.  They are lucky not to HAVE to work, it doesn’t mean that they don’t want to work, it means that they are not allowed to work.  These ladies have degrees, professions and skills.  There is the qualified and experienced occupational therapist who is manically jumping through hoops trying to gain the South African equivalent qualifications, so that MAYBE she MIGHT be permitted to work for the few remaining months before she has to move again.

They’re all smiling and happy.  You can’t see this of course, but I know that they are smiling.  It was an enjoyable way to spend a morning. However, with every outing, there’s almost always a new lady.  She might be feeling really lonely, culture shocked and slightly terrified to be out in Johannesburg’s inner city for the first time.  From a distance she is part of the group.  Her hands are occupied with her camera prop and she paints on a smile and probably, by the end of lunch she will feel less lonely.   Continue reading

Walk on the Wild Side in Joburg

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Okay, so it’s more of an amble, lazy stroll or perhaps just a mooch on the wild side if I’m honest, but if you head on down to The Sheds at 1 Fox in Ferreirasdorp, Johannesburg, you can wander round the studio and admire the crème de la crème of 2015-2016’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition.

The images are stunning and include battling bee eaters, ethereal insects, an army of soldier ants and surreal (and yet in actual fact real) landscapes.  Some images are mind bending and it can take a while for your brain to decode what you are seeing.  Other images are so beautifully and creatively composed that it’s humbling to realise that the very youngest photographers are only 10 years old.

It was blissfully quiet when we visited, presenting the opportunity to take our time and enjoy the exhibition.  Understandably, no photography is allowed inside the gallery space, so you’ll have to drop by in person to appreciate the skill, infinite patience, ingenuity and star aligning luck involved in capturing these amazing shots.

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There are a selection of glossy photography books, magnets and postcards for sale at the entrance.  Prints must be ordered from the Natural History Museum in London.  The exhibition runs until 31 August 2016, you can find out more HERE.

Action Barbie’s Failsafe Focaccia

It’s possible that this will be the first and only recipe I’ll ever share with you, but it’s a goodie and has been a lifesaver over the years. I’m a reluctant cook and love to have a few cheeky tricks up my sleeve. When I say I’m a reluctant cook, preparing a meal for guests generally involves either not inviting them in the first place and appearing to be deeply antisocial or inviting them followed by a tiny meltdown, a sense of impending doom and dirtying virtually the entire contents of my kitchen cupboards.

The end result is a kitchen which looks like it’s been hit by a tornado.  I also look like I was in the kitchen when the tornado swept through, frazzled, ruffled, food stained and crazy eyed.  If I’m lucky, there will be a passable meal for our guests at the end of the kitchen chaos.  …See why this could be the one and only recipe?

Despite constant gentle reminders from my culinary superior husband to ‘tidy up as you go along’ and that ‘prior planning and preparation prevents p*ss poor performance’ and that I should ‘cook with love’ I still get my oven mitts in a twist almost every time.

When we lived in Lagos, the selection and variety of restaurants was limited, so dinner parties were a popular form of entertainment regular form of torture. To make hosting a dinner party more challenging, Lagos was a particularly tricky place to find all the ingredients to complete a recipe.  This added to the torturous drama of producing a fabulous dinner. At one point we expats gals got together and shared our most ‘Lagos Friendly’ recipes, ones that were tasty and that you could reliably get all the ingredients for (or at least enough of the ingredients to make a decent go of it).

Action Barbie’s* Failsafe Focaccia is one of those recipes, it is in fact one of the most impressive tried and tested recipes I’ve ever got my mitts on.  It is dead simple to make, it smells and tastes divine and so far I’ve been able to source the ingredients wherever in the world we’ve been living.  Win, win, WIN.

So, here’s how to make it… Continue reading