My mum and I then travelled down to Hermanus where I’d booked a unit at the Esplanades for two nights. It was a last-minute booking and I was surprised to find accommodation available and at R375.00 per night for two people. The Espalanades is right in the centre of the drop, just behind the craft-market that has now been housed in semi-permanent accommodation. It sounded great because it meant we didn’t have to find parking and could walk wherever we wanted to go. What I hadn’t expected was that it would rain for both the days we were there. My mum has difficulty walking and in the rain it is ten times worse. So, we were more or less confined to barracks which turned out to be far worse than expected. Though in retrospect, the price should have given it away.
We were in the ‘Mews’ a fancy word for stables, which I suppose is appropriate for the season. The room was actually like a yard that has had a roof put on, using materials from the Pep Stores equivalent of building suppliers. There were no windows, just two sliding doors and a hole in the ceiling with a fan-type thing to prevent us suffocating. And given the weather, we were forced to spend a lot of time there! On the positive side, we could watch the end of the SA-India cricket match and discovered some programmes on SABC we hadn’t been aware of. In particular, a series involving paramedics called 'Trauma' which unfortunately has now ended. We were also forced to watch Oprah. One of my favourite programmes and people, an opinion not shared by my mother, who usually makes snide comments on the odd occasion I watch it at home. This time, there were no snide comments, just some vague questions about who Witney Houston is and why a whole programme was dedicated to her sad past involving wife-beating, hadn’t it been all over the news and weren’t they back together? She was confusing Chris Brown with Bobby Brown, which I suppose is not that difficult given their surnames. Only realising that now, so maybe I should have been more patient when the questions were coming. Anyway, the highlight of our stay in Hermanus was stopping off at Perregrine Farm Stall in Elgin. Buying some Duncan roses we can ill afford and freshly baked whole wheat bread and a mushroom quiche.
The animals and house were fine when we returned. I was so worried about being burgled, I’d hidden my laptop way back in one of my mother’s cupboards. My sister and her husband had fed the animals. But our DSTV, which had been giving us trouble for about three months, was still playing up. The picture breaks up so badly it’s not worth watching which is a disaster when watching tv is your main source of entertainment. Whenever we’d mentioned this to other people, the response was ‘oh ours does that too,’ and no advice on how to fix it was forthcoming. But the situation had become untenable and I took the decoder to a Multichoice outlet. Your decoder is old but fine, I was told, it might be the alignment or something that sounded like FNB or FND??? You need a technician, but none are working now, so maybe we can send one on Monday (three days away). Previously, I’d phoned Multichoice Customer Service and punched in the smart-card number to be told, ‘you have entered an incorrect number.’ Same with the id number. I’d slammed down the phone having been through this type of thing with Telkom when my ADSL was on the brink. This time I phoned a satellite company and left a message on their voicemail. They phoned back the next day (new year’s eve) to my surprise and sent someone around. The technicians spent less than 2 minutes at our house, the cord that connects the decoder to the satellite dish was loose! I was furious! R350.00 for something so simple. I wish someone had told me what was wrong. I could have fixed that cord! Well, you live and learn so if your picture is jumping around and breaking up, here’s my FREE advice! Check the cable on your satellite dish. The only equipment you need is a ladder!
New Years day lunch:
I’d convinced my sister to have it at our house because I do like hosting and cooking, as some of you know. I’d planned a cold sea food starter, I’d bought smoked salmon, calamari, fresh hake and smoked snoek at Lusitania in Hermanus and had some prawns and clams in the freezer. I’d make my own hollandaise sauce and we’d braai some ribs, boerewors and a beef fillet. For dessert I made a lemon sorbet to be served over Spanspek.
I went out to buy a metal braai at Checkers and was happy when the weather report said the wind would die down on New Year’s day. Nothing was said of the rain that came down all morning ! Though there was an apology from the weather service saying they had miscalculated the movement of a cold front etc. Etc. So I had to re-calculate, as well.
The cold starter became a sea-food soup with a tomato base and prawns and clams floating about. My first attempt at Boullibaise!! It was delicious. Next course, the smoked salmon mousse I’d made – not so nice because I’d left out the apple sauce the ‘Cook and Enjoy’ recipe book had told me to include. Sounds crazy, but essential to counteract the bitterness of the snoek and lemon juice.
Apart from the rain, the other thing I had not counted on, was that one of my guests would arrive in a foul mood and even refused to greet anyone and just sat around looking sullen. ‘That fillet is going to take an hour to cook!’ someone said and the pressure was on. ‘No, only twenty minutes,’ I retorted but the fact is, we all just wanted the meal over and done with. I almost threw the fillet at the sullen person!
I’d done some internet research on the topic (how to deal with anger in others) and it had said to acknowledge the person’s mood as a way of de-escalating the situation. Of course we did the opposite, pretending the person wasn’t there all the while wanting to shake them into some degree of politeness. The lemon sorbet had hardly been served when they left, leaving more than one other person with a head-ache.
Luckily our DSTV was working and my mum and I could enjoy a lovely programme on Andre Rieu, the Belgian violinist stroke show-man that has made Strauss waltzes popular again.
HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU ALL.