Monday, 31 December 2012

2012 Review

As the year is closing to an end, it is only natural that I make my own revision of the time that passed. Overall it was a very good year with more ups than downs. In the top 3 highlights of the year I’d say the following in chronological order: I got a new position at my current job in August; we went to see the London 2012 Paralympics in September and the trip to South Africa (part 1, part 2 & part 3) in November.

Apart from that, we had lovely holidays this summer in Sardinia, a road trip to Devon on the Jubilee bank holiday weekend and my various trips to Greece during the year. Maybe my memory isn’t that great and it only goes back to summer and I can’t remember much that happened beforehand. Or maybe the beginning of the year was generally quieter than the second half.

In numbers:

  • I turned 31 in 2012. I currently weight 79 kilos and my BMI is slightly over 25. I need to work on that.
  • I blogged 77 times in 2012, almost the half times compared to 2011 and less than half than 2010. I fear life gets in the way...
  • I celebrated 3 years with JJ, one year living with him
  • I’ve been in my current company for 1 year and 5 months
  • I read 16 books according to my kindle without counting some printed books and lots of graphic novels. The ones to remember are ‘Dance with Dragons’, ’Dracula’ and the 4 first instalments of the Malazan book of the fallen decalogy(?). 
  • I mostly played Skyrim and Mass Effect 3 on my computer. I’ve also enjoyed Dishonoured, X-COM and Torchlight 2.
  • I had 3 very different long stay noticeable guests with the first in March being by far the most difficult one

Has this year made me a wiser or better person? Don’t really know, hopefully. There is no way to measure that, is there? I hope I’m turning into a more stable, comfortable in my own skin person. I also hope I’m building better foundations for my / our future, while making experiences and memories that will last. I’m learning there is no really need to worry about ‘what ifs’ and ‘would haves’. Try to accept some things that can’t be changed as they are. As a friend of mine used to say: ‘life’s too short to be anything but happy’.

That's me at a very young age. We still have that blanket... :-)

Friday, 28 December 2012

Post Christmas

I had a really lovely Christmas holiday. I spent it with JJ, just the two of us. Thankfully, he isn’t working this whole week, so we stayed mostly at home together and avoided the very bad weather, exchanged presents, ate a lot, watched television and played Wii Sports. Since there is absolutely no public transport on Christmas day and there was a tube strike on Boxing Day we stayed locally. We had the lights of our Christmas tree on and candles lit throughout these days. It was nice, peaceful and relaxing. We cooked a lot as per custom. We had stuffed chicken since we prefer it to turkey. There were just the two of us, so there was no need for a massive big bird anyway. What was excessive though was the quantity and number of the side dishes. Oh well… We’re still consuming the left overs.

It was so tranquil that I had troubles getting up the following morning to go to work. The heavy rain wasn’t helping either. I am however in a good mood. The streets of the City were empty and the traffic noise was kept to a minimum. People at work were mostly in good mood and no major crisis occurred, i.e. I wasn’t that productive. In addition lots of people are away on holiday and the office was mostly empty.

I generally like this time of the year, right before New Year’s, because there is a sense of anticipation and of new opportunities. I’m not talking about silly New Year’s resolutions that last probably for a week or two. I’m talking about considering the good and bad of 2012 and planning a bit ahead for 2013.

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you're having a nice day today no matter what you believe or don't believe in. I hope you're spending it with your loved ones. 
I'm in London with JJ. The weather outside is really abysmal with heavy rain and hail during the night. I hope there aren't major disasters or floods.
I have loud happy music on, while I'm playing the happy sous chef. We're preparing huge amounts of food. I don't know how much of that we'll manage to consume. I expect the afternoon to be lethargic on the sofa watching movies or competing on some silly game in Wii.  

Merry Christmas - Καλα Χριστούγεννα!!

Monday, 17 December 2012

Becoming paranoid or cautious?

The world is supposed to end this Friday, which kind of sucks, since we’ll be missing the weekend. Why couldn’t the world end on the following Monday? Although to be honest, that Monday is Christmas Eve and it’s only half a day at work, which means that everybody will be in holiday spirit and not much work will be done. Apart from very emergency issues, the rest of the day will be spent chatting, gossiping and mindlessly browsing the internet. I think there will be a Christmas party for the employees’ children in the mess room, but I’ll try to stay far away from that one. Then it’s Christmas. Can the world end at the end of next week?

To be honest, I don’t think the world will end. Maybe, I’m being too selfish believing that I will not die this Friday, or maybe too optimistic. In any case, I have planned to do my Christmas food shopping late this Friday to try to avoid the weekend hordes of panicking consumers. My local big supermarket is open till midnight, which is very convenient. I’ll go home, have dinner and later that night, we’ll get ready and instead of going to a bar, we’ll go food shopping. On Christmas day, it’s going to be the two of us, so food shopping will be somewhat easy, even if we will stuff ourselves with food, as expected.

Anyway, what I wanted to talk about is ‘prepping’. According to the Google dictionary, prepping is ‘preparing oneself for an event’. During these modern times, prepping has a new meaning and it concerns people getting ready for an apocalyptic event, i.e. the end of the world. There are some people really serious / fanatical about it. They believe that a disaster of that proportion will soon happen, whether it is a zombie attack or a civil outbreak or a spreading killing virus, and they have made preparations. They have escape routes from their houses, evacuation packed bags with necessities, a destination where they believe they can isolate and support themselves for weeks, even months, and they train themselves in first aid, hunting and various other similar self-preservation skills.

My self-preservation skills are almost non-existent. Even in the most user friendly forest, I wouldn’t know how to survive. OK, maybe I would try to find a water source and some shelter for the night. But that’s it. I was never a boy scout and I don’t think I would be able to light a fire without a lighter. If the zombies came, I would be one of the first to go. To be frank about it, that wouldn’t be a very bad thing though. Who wants to live in a post-apocalyptic world anyway? Have you read the ‘World War Z’?

However, some recent events made me thinking. Without taking the situation too far, wouldn’t be a good idea to be somewhat prepared? I’m not talking about the zombies or aliens coming. I’m talking about more real everyday stuff. For example, if a natural disaster occurred, like hurricane Sandy that left so many people without electricity for days, do I have the proper equipment at home to sustain myself for these days? Do you?

So, I made a mental list of things needed. In case the electrical supply was down, the supermarkets remained closed for some days and we got stranded at home for a few days. It would be good to have some candles or source of light, lighters, some lasting cans of food, water and a small bottled gas cooker like the one my grandmother used to use to make Greek coffee. Am I taking this too far? Is this just the beginning of me turning into a crazy prepper? OK, that’s not a proper word, but anyway, you know what I mean... Will I start looking into conspiracy theories and wait for the dead to rise?

Friday, 14 December 2012

The most hated word in the industry

Working in the IT industry, I know that there is something whispered on the higher floors of a company, that the low level minions should not hear. And that thing is ‘outsourcing’. By that term I don’t mean only hiring one or more contractors to finish a project or help someone’s job. I’m talking about the phenomenon of uprooting a whole team or department and replacing them with cheaper labour in a distant country.  

This trend is not of course something new. I can remember from my early school years, living in the northern part of Greece, small industries moving to the other side of the borders, to Bulgaria, saving millions of that old forgotten (?) currency. I heard conversations after conversations about the bloody taxes imposed by the government that pushed small companies away to a country just a few kilometres away, where labour was cheaper and taxes were lower.

The company I work for at the moment has its headquarters in the UK. There are of course local offices in various corners of the Earth, including the South and South East Asia, which are popular destinations for outsourced IT departments. There are minor helpdesk departments in these offices, but till now they weren’t responsible for anything major. However, there is a new discussion going on in London, about how the non-profitable IT department should improve effectiveness but cut costs at the same time! I really love it when managers and directors become all poetic like that and announce these major ideas!

Anyway, there is a storm brewing. A colleague of mine has already been sent to investigate how and if the company can set up an office of developers somewhere at the Indochinese Peninsula to save some money from hiring developers in the UK. This prospect is scary, since lots of the people I work with will no longer be needed and their cheaper replacements will be easily found. I’m not sure if my position is threatened. I’d like to believe that ‘not yet’. I’m not a full time developer per say. I work in a special division, close to the decision makers of the company here. So, hopefully, I’ll be alright for a year or two? However, there is that can of worms that now opened and the future is unpredictable.

I’m not going to leave you on a pessimistic tone though. It’s Friday after all and I’d like to change the subject and the tone of this post. A few days ago, I had my anniversary with my beloved boyfriend!!! We’ve celebrated three years of happily being together and a bit more of a year of living together! I can’t believe it’s been three years already! Time flies when you’re having fun. He’s my partner in crime, my rock in the storm and best friend. Love you so much ‘JJ’.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Back from South Africa Part 3...

The last part of our journey was back in Cape Town, for the last few days of our holidays, before travelling back to London. We were a bit tired from all the miles we had done and ‘JJ’ wasn’t feeling amazingly well, so we decided to take it a bit slow(er). He either got a virus somewhere along the way, or something bit him causing him to feel unwell. We visited a doctor the following morning, just to be safe. He prescribed some heavy antibiotics that generally did the job. So, we were ready to go again.

I found it so strange posing with Christmas decoration 
while wearing shorts and t-shirts

That same day, JJ’s parents had their wedding anniversary. So, we decided to spend parts of the day together. We got onto one of those ‘hop on/ hop off’ buses that travel you around the city with an automated guided tour. I believe this to be a very nice and not tiring way to visit a town, perfect for his parents and a slightly sick JJ. We didn’t have to worry about traffic nor parking. We simply sat down; listened to the guide and saw the sights of the city. Later on, we had lunch in the amazing V&A Waterfront, where we did some shopping as well. That day ended with us, JJ’s brother and parents having dinner, in a local, very nice fish restaurant.

At a local market in central Cape Town 

Clifton Beach 

The following day was dedicated to visiting Stellenbosch and Frankshoek. These are villages right outside Cape Town, famous for their wine. There are massive wine yards and farms where a visitor can taste amazing good quality wine with local deli products. We had lunch at a farm in Frankshoek with some of ‘JJ’s old friends from school. The quality of the food there was amazing and the wine outstanding. We stayed in the farm for almost 4 hours for ‘lunch’. We had a three course meal and a number of bottles of their wine. We had to taste varieties and different years of production, just to make sure their wine is as good as they claim!

Enjoying gourmet food.

A weaver at work making amazing pieces of art

The last day we spent it mostly with JJ’s family, packing and some last minute shopping at the local mall. Saying goodbye to them was emotional, difficult and touching. They invited both of us back to visit soon. I was touched at the way they said it. We invited them both to London as well. We even suggested arranging a trip to other European destinations, like Paris, or even a trip to Greece.

The waterfront

Overall, I had an amazing time in South Africa. It’s such a beautiful and diverse destination. The rough sea, the big mountains, the breath taking valleys, the beauty of the garden route, the number of stars in the sky and the sound of wild animals are among the things I will never forget.


There are of course problems in the country. To put it mildly there is ‘some’ corruption in the government, high unemployment rates, lots of uneducated people, crime and vast deprived areas around every village or city. Visible from the main roads are areas where people live in abysmal conditions in shacks with no running water or amenities. As a precaution we always had our doors locked while inside the car and never left stuff in open view inside the vehicle. We didn’t have any problems, but we avoided certain areas of Cape Town. The people we met though in almost every shop or petrol station were very polite, joyful and friendly. The whole trip was an unforgettable experience and South Africa is a destination I highly recommend. Apart from the flight tickets, food and accommodation is very reasonable as well. We stayed at really nice places and had amazing food with wine while in SA.

 Sadly the end of our journey

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Spo Meme

The good Dr. Spo over at Spo-Reflections created a meme and invited others to play along. Here goes!

……..… is jolly good fun ! (fill in the blank) — riding a bicycle
Tea, wine, or champagne? — Since it’s really cold outside, at the moment I’d prefer some tea
How left handed are you? Not much. But I think that my left arm is stronger and I carry more things like bags using it.
The loudest item of clothing I have ………….. I don't usualy go for loud clothes. I might have to go with a pink jumper I have for this one.
The Best Friend: who is s/he? —  If I can’t say my partner, then it’s my ex housemate
I’d rather eat rats in Tewkesbury than…… —  huh?
How many of these have you done?:
1. Been to an opera — Many, I can’t really put a number to it. My brother’s best friend used to work on Opera productions and we used to get tickets, almost for free. So, we used to go quite frequently.
2. Read a novel by Dickens — I don’t think so. But I have 1 in my kindle, the ‘Tale of two cities’ on my ‘to read’ list
3. Drank Bourbon — No, I don’t think so.
4. Been to Key West — No
5. Visited The Stratford Festival of Canada — No
6. Spiders give you the heebie-jeebies. —  Not really. I actually like them.
7. Been to Michigan — No
8. Rolled down a grass hill. —  No
9. Ate Synder Pretzels — I had pretzels, but I don’t know Synder Pretzels. Is that a flavour or an origin?
10. Used the word ‘rubbish” in the past 30 days. —  I don’t think I have…
11. Worn a bow tie – Nope, never
12. Have a set of Viking horns — No, but I’d love some.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Back from South Africa Part 2...

The road trip that followed was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Overall, during our stay in South Africa, we did around 2,200 kilometres, most of which of course were done during that road trip. We had to travel to the Addo Elephant Park, which is very close to Port Elizabeth, but far from Cape Town, so far that we had to book hotels on the way there and back. That wasn’t really a problem, but part of an adventure. We spent quite a few hours in the car almost daily, but the scenery was great.

Between the Western and the Eastern Cape, I don’t know about the rest of the country, there are some massive mountains following the coast line. These mountains block lots of clouds from passing through inland. So, there is more rainfall in one side than the other. That means that the side closer to the beach is green and is called the ‘Garden Route’. Driving through there is like driving through Austria. There are lakes, forests and breath taking canyons through that route. It’s really beautiful. The other side of the mountains is drier, less green, with vast areas covered only in very low grass or bushes.  Since we were driving to Addo and back, we decided to take both routes. We drove easterly from the north and westerly from the Garden Route. It was so interesting to see the difference.

On the way to the Addo Elephant Park we stayed in two places, Oudtshoorn and Knysna. The first as a town wasn’t that amazing, but it hosts some amazing cave formations (Cango Caves) and a very interesting Animal Park, but the second is a very picturesque town by a lagoon next to the sea. In Oudtshoorn’s Animal Park we spent the greater part of a morning looking at beautiful animals, serpents and birds. This is where for a small fee I met and petted a cheetah. The experience was really nice.

Cango Caves

The animals were brought up in captivity since pups and they were used to people. So, guests were able to pet them. Being pure felines, during the heat of the day, they were simply dozing under a shadow. They liked being treated and petted, so they were simply happily pouring. I was instructed not to touch them on their paws, tail and face, especially to block their eyesight. But I could happily caress them on the back of their head, back and belly, which I happily did. The cheetah was happily dozing off while being treated to such attention.

When we finally arrived in Addo Elephant Park, we found out it was definitely worth the drive. We had booked a chalet for two nights, a sunset game drive (between 6pm and 8pm) and a sunrise game drive (between 6am and 8am). We didn’t know exactly what to expect. We hoped to see some animals, but we didn’t really want to be disappointed, so we hadn’t had our hopes high. Thankfully, we were wrong. Even upon our arrival to the chalet, when we walked on the veranda, in the front of the house, in about 30 meters away, there was an elephant munching happily on the surrounding bushes. We were so surprised we wanted to scream, but we didn’t, so that not to scare the poor creature!

So happy to see the elephant outside our door

In front of the chalet, 2 meters away there were the electric fences to keep the animals away, but after that the vast area of the Park stretched. There were over 25,000 hectares of wilderness with a variety of small and big creatures for us to discover! It was something I will never forget. The next two days after our arrival, during the guided game tours and during our own driven tours, we saw a variety or animals, mammals, insects and birds. We saw kudus, elands, bushbucks, elephants, dung beetles, eagles, cranes, jackals, buffalos, zebras and even lions!!!!

An amazing picture JJ took

Especially during our own drives through the well-marked roads of the park, we had the time of our lives. The map we had with us marked the various waterholes where the animals gather, so we tried to visit all of them. In-between we were slowly driving around and checking movements between the bushes and photographing animals. Randomly running into an elephant in the middle of the road eating from a nearby bush or galloping zebras is not something you easily forget. The excitement we were feeling exploring the area and discovering its beauties was great.

So cute...

A random encounter while we were driving in the Park

A very close encounter. He was hungry, we were waiting... 


A kudu...

On the way back, we stayed in village called Wilderness where we put our feet in the Indian Ocean. It was so warm but we didn’t go any further. The waves were massive and we didn’t know what we’ll find deeper. We did enjoy a very nice stroll on the coast. The road trip ended with some whale watching in Hermanus! Unfortunately, JJ wasn’t feeling that well and just to be on the safe side, I went on that boat trip on my own. Since it was so late in November, most of the whales were gone. After they give birth in that area, they travel thousands of kilometres southbound to feed. We managed to find some though. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get very good pictures. The sea was a bit rough and I was concentrating more on staying upright on the boat. Looking at whales though is something very exciting nevertheless…  

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Back from South Africa Part 1...

I’m back!!! We landed to a very cold and wet London a couple of days ago but I still have a smile on my face. Our trip was a huge success. I had a great time and an experience I’ll never forget. I’m still sorting out the more than 2000 pictures we’ve taken during our stay, so that might a while.

But first thing first, JJ has a really wonderful family. His parents are really lovely and I believe we got along quite well. They made me feel very welcome and the conversation was flowing without a problem. His mother was always with a smile on her face trying to make me feel at ease. She was constantly cooking for us. From having a full English breakfast in the morning to dinner served with pudding in the evenings, we were offered everything. She even wanted to do our laundry for us. That was a bit awkward, because I was reluctant at first. I didn’t want her close to my dirty clothes and especially my underwear. So, I did object politely at first, but it was a lost cause. She couldn’t hear no for an answer…

Enjoying the view and the lovely weather
Overall, our trip can be split in three parts. The first one was our arrival and first glimpse of the Cape Peninsula, then the road trip and then back to Cape Town. So, at the beginning we spend lots of time with JJ’s parents and his brother. The flight to Cape Town was tiring and it was only natural to spend time with his family, so we mostly stayed in. A traditional South African braai (bbq) was organised and lots of food was on offer. These people do grill a lot. Braai is like a national sport. I’m not complaining though. I loved it. It was delicious. The weather also was so nice. The temperature was in the late 20’s and we were in t-shirts, shorts and flip flops!

a panoramic view from the Cape of Good Hope

The second day we spent it on the Table Mountain and driving around the Peninsula. The views from the Mountain are breath-taking! I highly recommend a visit. It is so easy to take a cable car to the top. Hiking there is about 2.5 hours, which apart from the fact we didn’t have to spare were a bit too much. The weather was a bit clouded and we couldn’t see much from one side of the mountain, but on the other hand, the clouds gave a very interesting character to the surroundings.

Visiting the Cape of Good Hope was a dream come true to me. Ever since I heard about this place in a geography class I wanted to visit it, but never knew if I would. The place sounded so exotic and distant from everything I knew. The views of the sea and the rough terrain from the lighthouse are amazing. We also encountered on the way there, on the road, ostriches and baboons! The first were simply strolling on the tar, ignoring the stopped traffic and all the people out of the windows with the cameras on their hands.

The latter were a different matter. There are signs almost everywhere to warn people about how dangerous baboons can be and it is a punishable offence to feed them. We met a whole family with the dominant male and the rest of the group observing the stopped cars and looking for opportunities. One of them, jumped to open a door of a parked car, looking for food. The driver was shocked but managed to push the animal away. We had kept our doors locked for that same reason. We finished that day visiting a beach with a penguin colony. These are very cute animals. Here are some pictures:

My internet connection while in South Africa was a bit limited and I haven’t managed to really keep track of whatever was happening in your lives, but I’ll try to catch up…

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Reading material

Recently I finished reading a book called ‘Before I go to sleep’. I think it was a best seller here and in the USA. It’s highly enjoyable and well written. It’s about a woman with amnesia, trying to cope with her life and discover her past. There are some secrets buried there and not many things make sense to her. I’m not giving out any big spoilers, but a huge part of the book is about the importance of memory and life experiences. It’s about how our personal history, choices and familiarities really define us and our personalities, that, and the importance of the heroine’s diary. That diary is her source of information and doorway to her past, the same way our blogs sometimes are for us.

I don’t generally have a good memory. I forget dialogs, names and situations. However, I’m happy to have this blog and being able to go back, at least for the last 3 years that I’ve been writing, to check about events and people from my past. I hope to be able to keep on writing, even if I have changed since then and my writing with me. Its nice taking trips back in memory lane for a short while, in order to refresh some memories and relive situations.

I’m in the process of creating some new memories of a lifetime by travelling to Africa in a few days. I’ve done my first round of sorting out things I’ll take with me, last weekend. It’s fascinating separating summer clothes again like t-shirts, shorts and bathing suits when it’s so cold outside, here in London. It will be weird going from 2 degrees Celsius to 30 in two days. Most likely I’ll get a cold when I get back. Hopefully, not when I’m there...

I also spent part of my weekend reading about South Africa and watching youtube videos regarding the places we will visit, including the Elephant Park. If we manage to see some of the things I’ve reading/watching it will so great. ‘JJ’ bought a proper SLR camera as well and spent the last days learning in detail how to use it.

Going back to some of my older posts of this blog, I found out that I used to post various cartoon strips, like Garfield. So, in order to fight this Monday’s blues, here are some cartoons:


Wednesday, 7 November 2012


(that was written yesterday morning)

Today’s all about politics. I’m not sure what time I’ll be posting this, but maybe the new president of the USA might have been announced (it has). If not, most (responsible) fellow Americas might have or will be casting their votes still. I haven’t finished my homework regarding this, but I feel like supporting the existing president far more. Some of the things I’ve heard of the other candidate are atrocious. Also, in some cases, it’s better the devil you know. So, hopefully it goes well (it has)…

A Greek friend of mine sent me an email that she read that the Queen is very sick and dying! Her source of information is the very reliable American magazine called ‘Globe’. Do you know it? It looks really trustworthy. Of course when I read her email, being the selfish bastard that I am, I instantly thought of my holidays. Would there be a problem with my flight? It’s a constant worry at the back of my head. Oh, it snowed in some parts of England! Gosh, I hope there are no flight disturbances. The Queen might die! Oh, I hope there’s no national mourning and all holidays are cancelled! I know it’s very selfish of me, especially when another human being is dying (even a blue blooded), but I really want to go on this trip…

On the same political subject, the situation in Greece is getting more tense. There are new austerity measures announced by the coalition government for the budget of the new year. The previous measures aren’t really working as sufficient as predicted and tougher laws need to be applied. The national debt is not really shrinking and the situation is not really improving much. The people are generally fed up and this week is all about strikes and protests, especially in the capital but not only. The situation is getting out of hand with public transport and the media not working for the whole week. Hospitals are only accepting emergencies and the lawyers refuse to work for 48 hours. Not all parties of the coalition government agree on every measure and decision taken and there are disputes and cracks on it. Hopefully there will be no schism and elections again.

There are dire social consequences of this situation. Most of the people I talk to have become so pessimistic, almost to a depressive level. It’s so sad hearing young people not having any hope left that all this can improve any time soon, not even in decades. And it’s not only that. There are almost every day now news on racist attacks and fascist comments. It’s a well-known fact that the party called ‘Golden Dawn’ is mentioned in gallops as being third in power. Third! The white nationalists, neo-Nazi racists with no respect of human rights.
I’m sorry. I get a little bit carried away with all this. The stories that I’ve heard made me ashamed of my country’s decadence. Hopefully, the storm might pass and things might gradually improve. I can’t see a light at the end of the tunnel yet, but there must be one, somewhere?

(today. I’m feeling so much better after my yesterday’s outburst)

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Weekend cooking

Or the reason I'll never lose weight... lol...
I'm on the same subject, as my previous post, of food. In most occasions, during the week, JJ does most of the cooking in the house. It's more convenient since he normally finishes work in a reasonable time and he can cook till I'm back from mine. During these days I do the dishes. We have an understanding of splitting these chores. However, I do like cooking and I occasionally spend time in the kitchen, making stuff, that are sometimes edible...

Feta & Spinach pie

Last weekend was a similar occasion. I spent time yesterday making a feta and spinach pie with filo pastry. 'JJ' liked it more than I did, although I have to admit it's not that bad. Today, he was working, so I had lots of time to prepare something. I made a lemon drizzle cake and lamb 'giouvetsi'. That's my favorite ever Greek dish. My mother used to make it as a treat on Sunday family dinners. They both turned up quite well I have to admit. We happily stuffed ourselves (again)


I'm quite happy with myself to be honest. I made a mistake of adding extra flour to the mixture making it dry and tough but I managed to fix it with adding an extra egg. This kind of solutions means I'm starting to understand the basics in cooking. I'm not that great as a cook to be honest, but I can create a decent meal and I do enjoy it. What I fear I lack is a little bit of creativity. As you can see from my pictures, my food doesn't look that amazing. I can't decorate cakes or dishes the way my old housemate or 'JJ' can. I'm not complaining though. I haven't food poisoned anyone...

Lemon Drizzle cake

What I came across online is the following website. It's called 'Beautiful Pictures of Healthy Food'. The site has clickable pictures with the recipes of healthy dishes. I haven't really gone through it properly, but some of the pictures there look really tasty. I like how healthy food can look amazing, colorful and appealing. If only there was a representative for healthy eating and salads could be advertised like the mcdonalds...

Monday, 29 October 2012

Weekend events

So, how was your weekend? For the bloggers in the States, are you affected by Sandy? I really feel for you. It must be so frightening to feel so powerless against the forces of nature, just waiting for it to pass and pray for the best. The satellite images look so scary… On this side of the pond, things are different. We had some really cold days but nothing too serious. We really felt the winter coming which for me isn’t really an issue. I found my scarf and my winter coat from last year and tried to enjoy it.

It was a bit funny because I met a new Brazilian guy on Saturday. He’s a friend of my ‘Brazilian’, the guy I mentioned in a previous post with whom I still keep in touch. My ‘Brazilian’ suggested I should meet his friend who very recently moved to the UK for a year, to study ‘Design’. It would be good for him to know more people in the city since he doesn’t really know many. So, we arranged to meet on Saturday. JJ had some studying to do of his own and I went alone. Since I didn’t know him, it felt a bit like a blind date, without of course being one.

We had only exchanged a few messages on facebook before meeting. That evening the weather wasn’t very good. There were some showers and it was relatively cold. I wanted to walk around the centre to show him the area. However, being from a part of the world where the temperature is almost always around 25 degrees, he could really feel the cold. He doesn’t even have a proper winter jacket/coat yet. I told him to get one if he wants to survive the winter. We’re on in Antarctica, but still, some nights can really get freezing, especially if you’re not used to it. However, with some minor stops in cafes and bars to warm up and being equipped with my umbrella, we managed to walk around a bit and talk about the area. He’s generally a very nice guy and we might see him again soon.

On a different and far more important matter, I met and talked to my in-laws this weekend! ‘JJ’ Skypes them on an almost weekly basis and he suggested that it would be nice to actually talk before my arrival to their house. Till now, they knew about me, but we hadn’t actually ‘met’. However, I wasn’t really prepared for it. I was doing dishes yesterday morning, waiting for my guest to get ready before going out for a walk. ‘JJ’ was supposed to be studying upstairs, when I heard him coming downstairs while speaking Afrikaans! And ‘Surprise’, he came holding his laptop facing me and told me to talk to them!!!! I was a bit taken by surprise to say the least, but maybe that was better than knowing about it and getting stressed about it. Meeting the parents is a big thing. Meeting the parents of your gay boyfriend whose ideas on homosexuality are still a bit debatable, as far as I know, can be a bit intimidating.

However, it all went very smoothly. I said good morning to them, thanked them for the invitation and we chatted a bit about how excited we are for the trip. They were polite enough, smiling and friendly. I’ve later learnt that they agreed to come along with us while visiting the city one day. I had suggested to JJ that there is a ‘hop on / hop off’ type of bus with a guide for the city monuments. That could be an easy way to see places comfortably and his parents said they might come along!

I’ve also learnt that his mother is planning a massive feast for us on the day we arrive! The bad thing is that JJ told her about some of my different dietary habits, when I told him not to! OK, I have to admit I’m a bit weird when it comes to food. Like a spoilt child, there are common things I don’t enjoy eating like mushrooms, peppers, raisins, olives and raw tomatoes! I know that the tomatoes one is a bit weird. On my defence I don’t mind cooked tomatoes or when they are chopped in smaller pieces in a sandwich for example, but I’m not too keen on having bit chunks of them in a tomato salad.

In addition, I have to say that I eat all these stuff if mixed with other ingredients in a dish. For example if I was given a pizza with small chopped pieces of mushrooms I’d gladly eat it. If the pieces were slightly big, I might pick some out, but have the rest. It’s just I wouldn’t have any, if served alone. Also, I can eat almost anything if I have no other choice. For example, if his mother cooks something that I don’t like, I will politely eat a small portion without saying a thing. I’ve joined the army and I had some really bad food served from time to time. I can survive. It’s just, when given a choice; I would not have something I don’t really enjoy. That is why I told JJ not to tell her about it because I didn’t want to sound difficult or make a fuss out of it, but…

In any case, I’m counting the days to our trip…