Friday, February 1, 2013

Au revoir Dots.

It has become completely apparent during the past week that trying to write 2 blogs is insane. What was I thinking? Well I know what I was trying to do: Neatly compartmentalise my life - family over here, cooking over there, big ribbon on top.

In trying to work out how I was going to manage all of this and turn the new blog Island Family into a sleeker more professional looking animal, I ended up doing an inordinate amount of reading of blogs and about blogging. Some very good blogs in fact. Almost one of the first ones I read in a post called "10 things you need to know about successful blogging" or suchlike, was NEVER under any circumstances START A SECOND BLOG, when you already have one that works.

Well that certainly gave me some food for thought.

Anyway this has been one of those weeks where one does a lot of thinking on the meaning of life and all that, and I came to the conclusion that my life isn't in neat boxes (apart from the books in the garage, as yet still unpacked) I am time-poor (along with money-poor. Bang goes that Post Modern theory on balance) and the world does not need another food blog. I also happen to love writing my blog about the family and living on this rackety island, so to hell with potential Ukrainian Internet Stalkers (no offence to my Ukrainian readers if you are not into internet fraud) and other privacy concerns.

As I'd already mentioned previously, I have a terribly over-active brain and only about another 50 years left to live - so I sort of want to do it all. The upshot, dear readers, therefore is that in my new, consolidated blog  (everything from here has been moved there) you're going to get me whinging on about the housework  interspersed with chocolate chip cookie recipes and lots of pictures of children sailing. It's kind of how my life rolls.

I have every intention of shamelssly promoting Island Family, so just like a normal blog, in other words. Please feel free therefore to 'follow' and 'like' and all that other Social Media-speak as much as you wish. Tell a friend. Share on Facebook but most importantly - please make comments, even if it is to tell me that the recipes dont work or I shouldn't swear at the children but I need comments if I want to grow this blogging career of mine.

So thanks for reading me here and all the lovely comments on Facebook, and it's au revoir to 'Joining the Dots'  and hello to Island Family. Just a click away.

Bye for now. See you on the other side

Monday, January 28, 2013

Monday Morning

We are well and truly back into our weekly routines now and we're starting to find some rhythm with the bakery too.  I did a bit of juggling last week with the new food blog kicking off and ended up posting it most nights past midnight, but that too will find it's own pace in time.

The weekend was busy with parties and entertaining. On Sunday James went on one of those very special days: An island treasure hunt where the boys go from island to island looking for clues and treasure. They went to Fallen & Broken Jerusalem, Dead Mans Chest and Salt Island - having to snorkel in from the boat with clues been tied to masts of sunken ships and the like. Thrilling stuff as you can see from their beaming faces.

Happy Boys and Birthday Boy Sam

The boys and I love to listen to music in the car, especially on the drive into school in the mornings. Today we put on a new CD and Shosholoza sung by the Drakensburg Boys Choir came blasting out of the speakers, which had us choking up with memories of South Africa, and then to almost finish us off (tears were running down my face by this time) was Johnny Clegg's Asimbonanga  which is a hauntingly beautiful song about Mandela ("we are all islands") when he was still imprisoned. We decided that it made us heartsore for Africa, not homesick - as home is here, but what a wonderful start to the week.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Island Family

OK, I've done it. I've just finished one of the first of  many "to do's" on the 2013 List and have finally set up the bakery blog. It's dead simple as I've had enough of tinkering around with flipping blog settings and whatnot, so it will be gussied up in time. For the moment then, here it is ...'Island Family' (click here for link).

The plan is to have daily updates with lots of ideas for food, fun and anything else that is currently taking up space in my over-active brain or on the menu.

The other idea is to start migrating readers (now over a 1000 ) on to Island Family, which is meant to be shared and promoted (please feel free!) and then to password this blog for privacy reasons. I've always felt a bit ambivalent about this blog being open (as I've often alluded too) so once Island Family is up & running properly, I'll give everyone lots of notice and then make the changes. I'm also not a great fan of mixing things up and am increasingly becoming averse to Happy-Christmas-Buy-My-Jewellery-type blogs  and so would like to keep things separate for all our sakes.

This is not the 'baby' of which I had spoken of earlier. That new arrival - like most first babies, seems to be  taking it's time.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Sports fans

So, we had a rather fab weekend.

Both Georgie and James were racing in the Martin Luther King Regatta on St Thomas over the weekend, and it was the first time Tyler and I had managed to go along and support the boys at an international regatta, as we usually just work instead.

Sailing in another country is not quite like packing up the soccer kit and driving over in the school bus.  It requires logistics spelt with a capital L and squibillions spelt with a capital $. As eight kids were competing from the BVI, we managed to organise two bareboat catamarans from our new sponsors The Moorings  to haul all the boats, sails, kit, dinghies, sailors, coaches, parents, siblings, wine, beer, crisps and 500 towels for three days over to our sister US island.

By the time one has finally arrived it does take quite a few G & T's to restore ones faith in humanity, but this weekend was definitely the way to go. We may just have the new equivalent of the Barmy Army (The Parent Posse?) in our devotion to support our children's quest for world domination in small boats. On tropical islands, mind you - I would feel slightly less enthusiastic about the Isle of Wight, for example.

The Supporters Tents BVI Style
Lots and lots of time is spent watching this from bobbing dinghies (a small price to pay):


And then one supports ones children by yelling things like "Trim your sails" and  "JIB NOW!" and "Arrrghhh what are you DOING???" and also "EEEkk watch out for number 84 STARBOARD" etc and then one mutters "good grief I need another beer it's so stressful" to ones equally stressed out fellow parent supporters.  

This carries on the whole day, with various breaks for lunch (not the big sailors, they - poor sods get lunch in their boats so they can carry on racing).

Then they all come back to the yacht club, talk strategy with the coach, hang out on more boats and then do it all again the next day.

The sailors are then rewarded with prizes and showered with kisses from their grateful parents who've all had a rather excellent weekend supporting them, catching up with friends and reading Jilly Cooper. The parents then very heartily endorse youth sailing as a wonderful family sport and eagerly ask when and where the next regatta is going to be. For the children's sake, of course.

As you can see it's tough being a racing parent, but someone has to do it.

(Thanks to Nadia for the brilliant photos. Our boat dropped their camera in the sea)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Make the apron

Pinned Image
The famous apron 'pin'

We have been without Internet access for a few days which was quite interesting. I went cold turkey for the first few days and felt quite anxious about missing anything important but then it soon joined all the other things that I don’t really miss like American TV, over-priced boutiques and Mr Delivery (not to be mistaken for Dudu, Woolies, Waterstones and Burts Bees all of which I miss very much).

I’ve decided that my new year’s resolution after all the usual ones of cutting-down-alcohol-losing-weight-yada-yada, is to spend less time online. I’m still deeply addicted to Pinterest but do recognize it as the ultimate ‘virtual reality’ which encourages procrastination of the worse kind: I’d much rather ‘pin’ a gorgeous artisanal-looking apron than make the damn thing (even though it goes onto my "To Make" board) which I did end up starting to make this weekend, as I had a lot more time - ha! Funny thing is, is that my 'artisanal apron pin' is by far my post popular repinned- pin (I do realise that I'm speaking double-dutch for some. Please bear with me) which must mean that most people are just like me ie. armchair artisans.

I also love the chattiness of Facebook and all the gossipy goings-ons, but really a couple of times a week is sufficient rather than a couple of times a day (I think I've now seen enough of everyones holiday photos, lovely as they are were and I see the skiing ones are starting now). Anyway let’s see how we go. I'm not promising anything, but ever the quest for squeezing more time out of the day.

We’ve just about recovered from Christmas: The house is back to normal (although I have been allowed to keep The Saint for 2 full days a week now) and we’ve had a small respite in the Bakery for the past couple of weeks. The Family is now ‘expecting’ however and we are preparing for a new member of the Family. Sorry for being so cryptic but we havn’t signed any of the final documents yet, but when we do – we are off on a new adventure and the due date is soon!

Boys are racing this weekend (Copy:Paste) and we are going over to St Thomas to watch them and to do some shopping (for the new arrival) which is exciting as we’ve not been able to support them up until now.

January is deepest ‘Mid-Winter’ here in the islands and last week was blissfully cool – bordering on chilly, in fact. On Saturday night I was in leggings, a long sleeved TShirt and my fluffy lambskin slippers which I’d not worn since 2010. GracieBoyCat immediately attacked them (one of the disadvantages of being blind and horny) as he thought they might finally be his Teenage Sweetheart. They are now looking a little worse for wear, but I did enjoy flopping around feeling all Winterish, sleeping under blankets, watching movies in bed and making casseroles for supper. Amazing how the small things in life make one happy. Slippers, how sad.

PS When silly old Blogger is working properly again I'll post a picture of the said apron. Bet you can't wait. Shall I post one of the slippers, too? Life must be slowing down here in the islands, although it dosn't feel like it on the ground

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Happy New Year

Georgie's Lego Candelabra
We had a really lovely New Years Eve at home with a fabulous meal set with all the linen, crystal & silver and then some pyrotechnics on the balcony. Most of us managed to last out until Midnight, but some of us had to be woken up to be informed that it was the new year. Then we carried on sleeping and had a super lazy New Years Day doing absolutely nothing. I cannot remember a day when we all did nothing but sleep, eat and read.
Today is the last day of our holidays (the Bakery is already open) and I thought I'd better do my post now as I already have that slight tight throat and queezy tummy feeling which comes with a To Do List the length of my arm. I can also see that my temper is already shortening again. Holidays, whilst very welcome are also a little bit cruel, as just as you are starting to relax and the deep purple shadows are fading under ones eyes, it's back into the maelstrom again slightly off-kilter for having switched off a bit.  Many people are already back at work so my Blackberry is pinging and I'm currently working on the bakery accounts. There are cupboards to tidy, school clothes to sort out, fridges to clean and the usual mound of washing. I have to keep reminding myself that these are the Wonder Years, but they are - really!

Our new awning
We are looking forward to 2013, not that 2012 was bad or anything, just tough. Our plans are much the same as last year and 2013 will hopefully see the bakery mature.  We will soon start wholesaling with another oven and a van being acquired, although we are enjoying having the little bakery shop. We are also planning our first family visit back to South Africa & England in August (it would have been almost 3 years since we had left) which will be a highlight of the year. There are some other big changes in the air, but these will depend on how the bakery does. 

I continue to enjoy writing the blog despite the fact that our lives don't deviate much from the baking-working-sailing-housework routine. It does mean that we haven't dropped off the face of the earth - which some predicted would happen when we moved here and I know the grandmas like seeing pictures of the kids. I'm still of a mind to password it fairly soon however, but I still need more family and friends to go onto Facebook so that I can do this. Interestingly, although I write this to keep in touch with family & friends off the island, the biggest readership is now on the island. I even had two people (who I didn't know) discussing it in front of me at the bakery (not realising that I was the writer). They were remarking on how my house was always filthy and had possibly missed the slightly self-depreciating tone that I use, but I wasn't going to correct them, was I?

To all our friends - both here and absent - we hope everyone stays safe, healthy and prosperous. Our biggest hope however is either to see you or hear from you so please stay in touch!

 Here's to 2013. Day 2.

Holidays at home. Just noticed the dog on the cushion. Also William seems to only own one TShirt.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Christmas catch-up

We're having a much needed and wonderfully lazy Sunday morning. The children are upstairs somewhere squabbling quietly amongst themselves and still playing with their Christmas presents and T emerged for about 15 minutes and then disappeared, probably back to bed. I had a brownie for breakfast and am still in my nighty. The various pets demanding food or love and attention are being studiously ignored. We may have a swim later, mainly to try and straighten out aching bodies.

The past 6 weeks or so have been pretty brutal, although we got through them somehow. Since we still have not managed to find experienced staff we simply did not have time to start training so close to Christmas. This meant 3am starts and 20 hour days for T, putting us up there with the Chinese Takeaways (which we ate most nights) and T driving past revellers on his way into the bakery every morning.   In the week before Christmas I took leave to help out and the days blurred by in a cycle of pastry making, baking, icing and deliveries.  The boys sort of got on with things and Claudette waged war on the home front, with the kitchen looking like it had been flour-bombed most days and all the machines on constant cycles trying to keep up with everything.   

This is how I did NOT look
Without a doubt the lowest point was having to go to a rather smart party in seriously grubby work clothes - in my case with a 'doek' in my hair, no make-up, tiny shorts, no bra (don't even ask why) and my oldest flip flops. So much for my 500 'pins' I've carefully been curating on 'My Island Style' Pinterest board featuring elegant white dresses, coral jewellery and jewelled sandals. Ha!

Gratifyingly, the Bakery was super-busy and we had a wonderful response to our Christmas list, for which we are both relieved and grateful. On Christmas Eve we made almost 500 mince pies and only stopped when we ran out of mince meat and apart from some gift boxes we had to tuck away for our own presents, we were completely sold out everyday. Tyler went grocery shopping at 10pm on Christmas Eve to make sure we had some fresh milk in the house but we had managed to get to the bottle store for champagne 5 minutes before it closed, demonstrating yet again the  priorities in our household (keep Mommy happy).

On Christmas Day morning the boys were mercifully kept pre-occupied with their stockings which Santa (and Grandma) had so thoughtfully provided. We also woke to a power failure so a great excuse to not to have to do anything apart from just open presents. For Christmas I received 3 aprons, India Hicks Body Polish and alcohol which I'm not quite sure what this says about me, but will all come in very useful!

Luckily we had been invited out for Christmas lunch otherwise it would have been Chinese takeways again, and we had a lovely afternoon in our old neighbourhood eating delicious turkey and all the trimmings and playing charades. We were happy to come home with full tummies and go straight to bed with 8 hours sleep being the best present of all! On Boxing Day we only got out of our pyjamas at lunch time and then suddenly had to pull ourselves together as we had friends over for a braai.

The rest of the week has been beautifully cool and quiet, with me on holiday and not getting through my 'To Do' list and the boys doing science experiments, 'killing' each other on the Wii and spreading Lego all over the house. Tyler and I both scrubbed up a bit yesterday for a very pleasant evening at friends for New Years drinks with the most delicious Jamaican food imaginable. We are planning to have our very first New Years 'At Home' just with our boys, the RoyalVariety Show on BBC, some sparklers and a delicious meal that T is planning. Couldn't think of anyway or anyone I'd rather be doing this with.

Happy New Year to all our family and frinds around the world and hope that 2013 is both onward and upward for all.