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...