Thursday, August 13, 2020

Birding au Balcon

Wondering what to do during lockdown? Let's twitch again! Blaise Hopkinson on the pure joy that daily awaits the sharp-eyed and patient observers at our suburban South African aviaries

Time Travel is for now

Time Travel requires no annoying visas, boarding passes, suitcases to be packed, raids on duty-free, economy class syndrome, fetid morning breath. All Time Travel requires is oiling the mind, sometimes on R600 bootleg vodka provided by my village plumber.

Global Transformation

There’s a whole lot happening in the skies right now – and it’s changing the world as we know it. Let's make some magic, suggests astrologer Linda Shaw

DRD4-7R, the wanderlust gene

As we enter Level 3 Lockdown, I wager that if you tested all the so-called business travellers in planes and cars, many would show up positive for the DRD4-7R gene, having got their papers in mint camouflage condition.

Lessons from the Corona lockdown

Staying at home in the age of the Corona virus lockdown I'm discovering that many of my Facebook friends are virtue signallers, curtain twitchers, conspiracy theorists and pedantic pedagogues … who knew?

Going the extra Nile

Some river cruise vessels are fit for a pharaoh, offering sparkling pools on deck, floor-to-ceiling glass windows, crystal chandeliers, gourmet restaurants, and postprandial belly dancing. Tarek's boat t was not one of them.

Sliding off the tracks

Train to Simon's Town
As Prasa railroads passengers, is it worth paying more for Rovos Rail or the Blue Train? They, too, are subject to signal problems and endless delays. Will Prasa get back on track?

Five Star Flaws

There’s the kettle cord that’s an inch too short to set the kettle on a table, rendering you in a praying position on the floor in order to fill your cup.  The bed post that obscures the flatscreen TV by an inch.

The tipping point

“Knowing where to leave a tip is as important as knowing where not to,’ says Wego chief marketing officer Joachim Holte. “In the UK, tipping for food in restaurants is okay, although unexpected as service charges are included. Yet, tipping for drinks at a bar is just not cricket!”

Hot dates with my Hyundai

Helen Grange recalls great times with her old Hyundai Getz before she had to apply the brakes and sell him on Gumtree, the Tinder for cars,because he became too hot to handle.

Shosholoza Fail

Siobhan Cassidy’s 10-point guide to resisting the South African railway service’s best efforts to ruin what should be one of the most beautiful train journeys in the world.

Taking strain on the train

The menu is printed on a garish yellow laminate sheet, but the fare doesn’t look bad – cream of tomato soup, tender steak, and the “best of South African cheese”.  Alas it’s a cruel tease.

A journey for Mum

I reach Mum, who is in the severe grip of Alzheimer’s. The joy on her face is a sight to behold. We hug and kiss and then the journey back starts. “Where are we going?” she asks. Off to see Bodie and Doyle, Kojak and Arthur from Minder.

Full Speedo ahead!

Going for a thong? Please don't. It always looks wrong!
In terms of horror, the sight of a man in a thong ranks alongside the discovery of a fingertip in your burger or dropping your car keys down a storm water drain. The high-cut posing pouch may promise an adequate lunchbox from the front but the sagging rear view is no picnic!

When you gotta go!

If you are queasy, stay home because you will find every kind of lavatorial arrangement in the course of your holiday abroad. In many Middle East, Far East, Asian and African countries, a squat-and-aim hole in the ground suffices.

Fragrant Theft

By the time the official has unearthed to the passing public’s prurient gaze, the gussets of your unwashed knickers, your extra control compression girdle (with derriere lift) and held aloft –“What ees thees?” – the vibrating hand your husband got you in Copenhagen for your stiff neck, your dignity will be dust

Beware the hot air!

Hot air balloon
So whoof, off we go again, sailing over a lot more savannah. I’ve got the measure of Jan by now, and I detect another slight elevation in his voice as he spots the tall pylon ahead.  Pilots have a patter, of course, and his is still intact.

Goatly encounters

Michael Gebicki comes off second best in an encounter with a goat in India’s green Kumaon region, which squeezes itself into the hindquarters of Tibet.

Hasta la bistro

For others like myself who find foreign menus harder to follow than a Gauteng taxi evading the Metro cops, you'd better get used to adventure ordering, as Google Translate can be unreliable.

Clock shock

We shared this semi-detached abode with our 60-something Finnish landlady who walked around in her bra, as is the summer custom. Indeed, I saw more Swedes in their underwear – business is clearly brisk for tattoo artists – than decent restaurants. It’s a great social leveler.

Mind over water

Our thoughts matter and absolutely affect the atmosphere. Let us be grateful for the abundance of nature. Our gratitude for this abundance can indeed guide us toward a better use of our life-giving resources, and creating industries that produce what we need in abundance without pollution.