Damp Squibb

Admittedly taking a drive out into the Jozi countryside on a wet and rainy Friday afternoon for a long lazy lunch, is not the brightest thought ever, but who doesn’t grab the opportunity to spend an afternoon with a really nice person when such things don’t happen frequently enough. So off we went. The first hint that we should have turned around and gone home  may well have been the four sets of traffic lights that were out of order and having to navigate the acting four-way stops, pretty much taking your life in your hands when factoring in rain, wet roads and Jo’burg drivers. My driver, at least knows his stuff so I felt pretty safe crossing the deluge. Neither of us are good at taking notice of hints to we trundled on and eventually arrived at our destination.

I am pretty sure that when the sun is shining the place looks delightful but it looked a little bedraggled and forlorn in the wet weather, the cheerful smile of the somewhat dim security guard on the gate did nothing to lessen his Lordship’s impatience with signing in, especially since the guard never spoke, just stood outside the window of the car grinning, with his book in his hands, getting wet and still smiling at us. Poor guy was just doing his job of course, just not very well.

20150424_152847The restaurant looked lovely, thatch roof, the decor simple and rustic with a fabulous display of African Masks on the walls.  All the tables were set with cloths and fabric napkins artfully arranged. There was a welcoming and delightfully warm fire burning in the grate. Unfortunately the staff were not quite as welcoming and the five of them standing at the door, barely smiled.  Fearing that we were disturbing them, I asked if they were still open for lunch, to which they replied, yes, when maybe seeing as the entire 250 odd, seater restaurant was empty,  they should have replied, no. That was hint number two or maybe we were just a little late for lunch at 13h30.

We ordered two Rock Shandies to drink and looked at the extensive menu, it appeared to have a really nice variety and a little something for everyone. He ordered chicken livers peri-peri, and I opted for a delicious winter option, oxtail! Two minutes later the waiter arrived back to say there were no chicken livers, this message delivered with a cock crowing in the background. As sickly as he sounded, they obviously had no intention of slaughtering him for us, for lunch.

His Lordship changed his order to a halumi and orange salad that sounded delicious. I asked the waiter to make sure that they had halumi, the kitchen did, apparently. So we leaned back, and enjoyed our really fabulous rock shandies, they really were well made and truly delicious.

The highlight of the meal, a perfect rock shandy

The highlight of the meal, a perfect rock shandy

Lunch arrived, the salad looked colourful and interesting with plenty of crispy batter coated halumi cheese and lots of greens. My oxtail smelled good but tasted a little bland. It was perfectly soft and tender but needed salt and pepper and a little added Tabasco sauce and was a little short on gravy. It came with a good helping of rice. Me, being a bit of a traditionalist would have preferred mashed potatoes and the odd butter bean.  I glanced at His Lordship, who had started to laugh. Turns out the halumi was deep fried Danish feta, one third of the salad was gone. I called the waiter, who said he would go check with the kitchen, he left and never came back. By now half the salad was gone. Then the deputy manager came over and I told him the same thing, this halumi cheese is actually deep fried Danish feta, so he said he would go and check with the kitchen. Of course, he never came back either, but eventually the general manager came over to the table, two thirds of the salad was now gone. He also said he would take the problem to the kitchen. At this point the two of us were almost rolling around on the floor, laughing. Amazingly, he came back!  The kitchen had made a mistake. Of course they had, there was no way they were telling us that there was no halumi cheese in stock, and because of this he was not going to charge for the salad, which was now finished. That was very sweet of him given that the plate was now empty barring the dressing floating around on it.

His Lordship still gave the waiter a nice tip and off we went. Both deputy manager and general manager were standing at the door doing something with their backs to us, neither one said thank you or good bye or please come again, we got the hint this time. Our departure made us feel just as welcome as our arrival had as we ventured off home back into Jo’burg traffic in the rain.  Sadly, this well known lodge and conference venue with restaurant in Muldersdrift won’t be seeing us again

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Easter in Zandspruit

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A very special thank you goes out to everyone who contributed marshmallow Easter eggs this Easter.
You helped to make the children of Zandspruit happy, if only for as long as it takes to eat a marshmallow egg. Their smiles make collecting the eggs such a worthwhile project that we will continue to repeat year after year.
Special thanks to Dee Mullan for making distribution happen
Thank you so much for your generosity, it’s so very much appreciated

Black Dog Summer

Miranda Sherry Black Dog Summer

Miranda Sherry
Black Dog Summer

Miranda Sherry will take you by surprise. She is this gentle, beautifully spoken, pretty blonde whose path intersects with mine in a class we sometimes have the privilege of sharing. I cannot tell you how wonderful it is to read a book written by someone you actually know on a casually social basis and enjoy it. It would be dreadful for me if I had read this book and thought, eeeeuuuuwwww, how do I fake my way through this, but reading it was not like that at all.
For all that looks can be deceiving Miranda, looking very much an unassuming and gentle soul has written a tale that doesn’t spare you from the harsh realities of crime and life in South Africa. Yet, at the same time the book enchants you as all the threads come together and suck you into the story.
I am not sure what genre to slot this book into, I don’t think that it really needs to be put into a box but for the purposes of this review, shall we say it is an incredibly dramatic suspense thriller or something of that sort.
It took me a little while to get into but once I was in, boy, was I in, and I spent the entire night reading to finish the book.
The writing style is elegant and easy to read. The story poignant but visceral. It is told mostly from the point of view of Sally, the deceased mother of teenager Gigi as she watches her former world in slightly detached fashion. Is it a ghost story? No, well, I don’t think so, but is very much a South African story.
I did have a little giggle because the Silverman family pops up in this novel, not the same branch of the family as in A Beautiful Family by Marilyn Cohen De Villiers, but Silvermans none the less. I got to wondering how come the Silvermans have become the only Jewish family to have achieved debut novel literary fame twice in the last couple of months 🙂

I don’t know if you heard Miranda being interviewed on Classic FM a couple of weeks ago, I did. She read a couple of pages of Black Dog Summer on air and that beautiful voice is a perfect accompaniment to her novel, in fact, I think that is the voice I heard in my head whilst reading her book!
Miranda Sherry’s debut novel is well worth a read and welcome to the new South African talent on the block.

Miranda will be coming to chat to us at Indulgence Cafe, Northcliff on the 15th of November at 2pm. Feel free to come and join us.
FB event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1494981960758865/

Oh My Aching Heart, Gareth Patterson

Gareth Patterson's  My Lion's Heart

Gareth Patterson’s
My Lion’s Heart

As I read the final page of this book, I remembered why I read fantasy and fiction novels most of the time; they provide an escape from the hardships of life in general. They create doorways to worlds that don’t exist, they open your imagination to lands of mystical beasts and magic, to wondrous creatures and they pretty much always end happily. One cannot say the same for reading life stories and autobiographies, not all are pretty and not all end happily and some just leave you shaken and stirred, sans the olive.

Gareth Patterson’s autobiography, although being steeped in the harsh reality of life in the African bush does not fail to evoke the images of lands of mystical beasts and magic and wondrous creatures, which is all the more heartbreaking for it’s sad reality. I spent many pages of the book with tears running down my face. Maybe I am just a really sensitive soul but Gareth writes so honestly that one cannot fail to take on his pain as ones own. I felt it, I cried when he cried, I walked with him when he walked with his lions, I sat with him when he looked after cubs, I sat in the back of the Beetle as he motored around Africa and I held his manuscript close to my chest as the lost plane traversed the skies in the dark. I shared his heartbreak and I wondered how he had managed to not go insane.

I find it nothing short of remarkable that a young man would choose to spend his life living in the wild and amongst the animals that he loved, from the bush to the forest when the majority of his contemporaries would have been hanging out in pubs and nightclubs and chatting up pretty girls. One can only be grateful that there are people in this world who put Mother Nature and the call of the wild above that of material possessions and fast cars.

I cannot say I enjoyed reading this book, it is not the type of book you can enjoy. You will not look back on it as one of your “best of all time reads” but if it doesn’t affect you viscerally then there is something lacking in your psyche. My Lion’s Heart is an incredible read about an amazing man who has selflessly dedicated his life to the well being of lions and to elephants, and in turn to mankind. It is not an easy read but it is easy to read. Gareth’s style is simple and elegant and hauntingly evocative. This book is a sad testimony to the greed of man. A very sad indictment indeed. It belongs on every school syllabus throughout South Africa and the World at large.

Humankind has a tendency to destroy everything we touch in the name of progress (and religion). By encroaching and eroding the natural habitats of these amazing animals we do ourselves and our planet a huge injustice. We ridicule Mother Nature and we insult the Universe. Progress is not the annihilation of species and the hanging of their preserved heads on the trophy wall.  If we do not wake up and lend assistance the the people who go out of their way to help preserve the Kings of the Jungle and the Majestic Elephants of the Forest, as well as our very own Unicorn, the Rhino, then these creatures can only end up as the mythical beings of ages past, and the animated characters of musicals and Hollywood animation.

I salute you Gareth Patterson. Thank you for allowing me into your head, for bearing your wounded soul and sharing your broken heart. And thank you for bringing your lion children to life in my world

Did you Say Coffee???

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So, I was sitting down to write an article about coffee and wondering where to start, when suddenly it occurred to me, with a cup of coffee of course. So I ordered one, and I got to thinking about coffee. For someone who owns a café that makes a whole bunch of interesting coffees I actually know very little about coffee itself so I will steer clear of trying to talk to you about the merits of this bean over that bean, this roasting technique over that roasting technique or even the latest coffee art trends and fair trade.

As much as I love a “good” cup of coffee, I know that my good is completely different to a coffee connoisseur’s good for the simple reason that we have different requirements from our respective cups. My good cup of coffee, has to be coffee at the perfect time of day, as in when I need it. It needs to be fresh, hot and delicious and mostly, it needs to be shared with friends. So for me, I can make a cup of Nescafe (Shush now, it’s my turn to talk) at home with a couple of friends and enjoy it as much, if not more so, than an overpriced cappuccino at a la-di-dah café amongst the hoity toity of Jozi. For me, coffee is not a status symbol but a moment in time. Coffee is the pause button I press to take a little break from the harsh realities of life. It is that five minute sit down before rushing onto the next thing. It is the after a delicious meal round off, with a slow grappa on the side to be enjoyed with good friends as you linger around the dining room table. It is the let’s catch up at the local café with an old friend and the my, how your children have grown moments that it allows you to capture. You may not remember how remarkable the coffee was but you will remember the gentle moments spent with special people. I know I sound a bit of a romantic about a simple cup of coffee but we live such fast paced lives dashing from one meeting to the next or bumping into people in the supermarket just before you dash off to fetch the kids that I really believe that sitting down with a cup of coffee allows you time to pause, rest and reflect a moment. It gives you that moment to mull over a new idea that is lurking in the back of your mind, before you nurture it into existence or lose it forever in the mad dash to the dentist.

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What is a connoisseur?
A person with expert knowledge or training, especially in the fine arts or cooking or wine.
it is someone competent to pass critical judgment. I.E an expert.
‘Connoisseur’ means to be a person with extensive knowledge, especially of the fine arts; a person with refined taste.
A connoisseur is someone that is well-versed and knowledgeable in a field (of study)

I think you get the idea, my cup of coffee is not anything like what a coffee connoisseur would expect, so what exactly are the true lovers of the coffee bean expecting from their cup of Joe? I am not going to even attempt to answer that question for you. I mean, you know what you want from a coffee, a latte, a cappuccino or an espresso (yes, there is no “X” in espresso) but I will direct you to this really fascinating article and you can decide for yourself, http://www.blackbearcoffee.com/resources/87 .
I read this article and I had a good giggle because, well because, I am a simple girl who likes a simple cup of hot coffee shared with good friends and great conversation and on the odd occasion with a dash of Friggin Coffee’s Chilli essence and loads of condensed milk

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This post was written as a guest post for the Friggin Coffee blog http://blog.friggincoffee.com/?p=83

From the Book Jacket to My Parlour, Raymond E Feist

A Raymond E Feist Collection

A Raymond E Feist Collection

I have been fortunate thus far in my life to have met quite a few authors, some starting out, some ending their careers, some good, some not so good, some have been really well known, some have had no ego to speak of and some have had trouble fitting those super-size-me heads through the door. It has only happened once in my entire life though that I have had the fortune to meet an author who changed the genre of books I read and thereby changed my whole life!

I have always believed in faeries at the bottom of the garden, the monster under the bed and that the garden gnomes come to life when you turn your back on them. A world of fantastical beings, filled with magic and wonder is not a stretch of my imagination to perceive. So, it is no small wonder that the first book of fantasy that I ever read, Magician, by Raymond E Feist, changed my life and set my reading on a path all of its own. I have never given up the thrillers, dramas and historical spectaculars but my one true reading love is fantasy and Ray, as he introduced himself to me when he arrived at Indulgence Cafe is the man who brought that spark into my life and introduced me to worlds not bound by the gravity and sense of the one we live in.

Magic, magicians, dragons, royal families, rags to riches, love, betrayal, elves, good and evil, light and dark, Raymond E Feist’s work brings it all alive. He paints pictures with words and weaves worlds that you can picture in your head as you read and become lost in the forests and the mud splattered roads of Midkemia and kelewan. Careful, or you will find you leave your mind behind and end up a little confused about where you are when you close the book and suddenly return, abruptly to the harsh realities of planet Earth.

This man, this Raymond E Feist, has just returned home to San Diego after a whirlwind book tour of SA with his publishers and I was lucky enough, okay, I did have to grovel quite a bit, to get him to come and speak at Indulgence  Cafe on Heritage Day, 24 September 2014, but that’s okay as well because, I know people 🙂  Of all the authors we have hosted at Indulgence Cafe, this is the first one to have had people begging me for seats and places at the event. One family even brought me a box of chocolates to say thank you for making place for them, I was quite humbled and no, I have no intention of sharing. What a remarkable event, with an incredible author.

SA’s own fantasy author, Dave De Burgh spent an hour chatting to Ray about his work, his characters and how he got started. Never before, has one hour passed by in such a flash and we would love to have had them speak for longer but duty and lunch called. Ray is awesome, funny, witty and he was incredibly patient with the fans who brought along entire collections of his work for him to sign. The poor man must have signed 300 books for the 103 people who were at Indulgence Cafe on Wednesday morning, I have to say that I was incredibly impressed with him.

Raymond E Feist chatting to Dave De Burgh

Raymond E Feist chatting to Dave De Burgh

20140924_102034                                                        The 103 Strong Crowd

20140924_110714                                                                The Man Himself

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20140924_112843                                                      The Fan Collections for Signing

20140924_113040                                         The Happy Staff from Skoobs, Theater of Books

20140924_113259                                             The Never Ending Queue for Book Signings

20140924_120155                                                                                       The Patient Author

A Post Chat Laugh with Dave De Burgh

A Post Chat Laugh with Dave De Burgh

For me, little old me, it was a dream come true and something to cross off my bucket list. I met Raymond E Feist in the flesh, I heard him speak and I have the pictures to prove it.

The link to YouTube  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=du7BpOT1R_w

So when is the next one coming out Ray?