School principal’s letter to Zuma

Jacob Zuma South Africa National AssemblyA Cape Town’s high school principal’s open letter to South African president Jacob Zuma has gone viral. Here is the text:

Dear President Zuma

It’s two years to the day when Gareth Cliff, a local media celebrity, wrote an open letter to you. It caused quite a stir at the time. And as I was thinking about what I was going to say to the Class of 2012 of my school, his letter came to mind. As I re-read it I realised it was about time for another one. Not quite as controversial perhaps but nevertheless another open letter borne out of my desire to see the 200 matrics that we’re about to send you, fulfil their dreams in a positive, dynamic South Africa.

My name is Stephen Price. I am the Principal of Bergvliet High School here in the Western Cape. Some would describe this school as a ‘former Model C school’… a description generally used to justify why other schools are underperforming. But that is another discussion.

You see, right now I am addressing close on 1000 teachers, parents and pupils at the Valedictory Service of the Class of 2012 of my school. It is a special occasion, full of excitement and expectation, of joy and sadness, of hope and trepidation, and it will be a day for them to remember. Their last official day of school. I’d like to tell you a little bit about them. But, before I do, consider this. Continue reading School principal’s letter to Zuma

Still here, just!

What a month!  Moving house, cleaning old house, cleaning new house, people to stay, Daniel to wear out, us Parents to work out what to do with the space and stuff, new baby to prepare for…

We’ve just three weeks to go until the predicted due date of bairn number 2 and there is a still a list of things on the To Do list (does it ever reduce?) such as sorting out the family room carpet, painting the kitchen, family room and our bedroom, removing a large set of built in wardrobes, sorting out new baby clobber and collecting buckets of apples.  This past week we’ve all had colds and been in bed as soon after 9pm as possible.  Tiring times, indeed.

I’ll bung some photos in the gallery when I have a moment.  This was just a short note to let you all know we are still alive and well in Newtyle.

Mother’s Notes

Amy put this together to record some Daniel-isms.

I thought you might all be interested and amused in some of the things Daniel is saying the moment.  Most of his words are very good but the ones he pronounces in his own sweet way are sometimes quite funny.  He talks about the ‘lawn moaner’ and his ‘tooter’ (scooter).  He likes to go out in ‘air feet’ (bare feet).

He still calls any deer / antelope that he sees a ‘din din’.  He calls sheep ‘baas’ and sometimes ‘seep’.   When we were away last week he kept pointing out ‘eagles’ to us (any big bird).

He’s learning to put -ing on the end of words, so he talks about ‘walking’ and ‘watching’ and also ‘upping’ (when he wants picked up). He also knows about making words plural with an ‘s’ which means he talks about ‘mans’ as well as ladies.

When we put him to bed at night he often says ‘bye’ and then ‘later’.

He says ‘hi’ to almost anyone or anything – including bees, ants, woodlice and beetles.  He’s always interested in bugs and animals having food, and if you ask him what they eat, he says ‘food’ or ‘oats’ or ‘stones’. Continue reading Mother’s Notes

How to Vote

How to vote – the web gives a lot of advice as do the papers.  Daniel and I went to vote and he obviously felt strongly about the discrimination against dogs in the playground.  Nice and simple – he likes dogs and he likes playgrounds so why shouldn’t dogs have the same access.

Voting for dogs

7 years in Tibet

On 11th February 1990 a world and nation changing event happened.  On 11th February 2003 a life changing event occurred.  Yesterday Nelson Mandela celebrated along with the world the 20th Anniversary of his release from prison.  Yesterday, seven years ago, I left Cape Town and boarded a plane to London.  Today I have been in the country seven years.

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Here we are then.  Seven years.  Wow.  Sigh.

What about some numbers?

  • 1 lovely wife
  • 1 fantastic son
  • 4 jobs (getting better)
  • 2 cars (getting bigger)
  • 4 bicycles owned (3 having been stolen)
  • 4 rented properties and 1 owned and now sold.
  • 1 Ancestral visa, 1 Spouses visa, 1 Residency visa, 7 Schengen visas, 1 US, 1 Canadian
  • ~6 sick days (maybe more…)
  • some grey hairs but not enough to make a difference (do they make a difference)
  • 1 beard since July 2006
  • 0kg lost or gained
  • 127 posts on my blog

Making Tea

Us McDonalds, we like tea.  We drink a lot, a LOT, of tea.  Maybe not as much as Louise from Yorkshire but still a lot.  I recently had two weeks leave over Christmas and New Year and in 13 days I reckon I swallowed about 50 cups of tea.  We also had about 30 people through the flat over that time and while not all of them drank tea – some drank coffee and others just plain hot water – those that did had different ways of making it.

Our way – the right way – is a well established ritual laid down over almost 80 years.  Both sets of grandparents had Morning Tea and Afternoon Tea.  The Bates side tended to use mugs or beakers while the McDonalds had cups and saucers.  Both set a tray, used a teapot with a cosy, had a sugar bowl and individual teaspoons.  Special occasions on both sides demanded cups and saucers. (Also, the fact that many of us have worked for Cape Town City Council might have something to do with it.)

The immediate family was a little more relaxed but there was still a way to “have tea”.   The tea must be hot hence the cosy.  There were outcries if the cosy was forgotten although I think they mainly came from Dad.  The pot must also be warmed before making the tea with a little boiling water from the kettle.  Again outcries, again Dad, if it wasn’t done.  Then 2 bags of Five Roses in the warmed pot and the boiling water poured.  Our metal pots (the small one – 2 cupper – and the big one – 5 cupper – both now retired) had untouchable handles if properly done.  Another good reason for the cosy.  Then five cups with a choice of medium and large and a shared teaspoon.  Milk in a plastic sachet in a jug and the sugar bowl with ladel.  Milk was always poured first into four of the cups.  A finger each for Mom, Ross and Kevin.  Bruce got three fingers as he likes it milky.  Dad has his black.  A ladel of sugar each except Dad although in recent years he has taken to having a few granules to take away the bitterness of the tannins.  I am sure that ladel has been responsible for most of the tooth fillings in our family.  The remainder were possibly due to koeksusters or condensed milk or bad tooth hygiene or something.  Maybe mince pies.

If it was a working tea – i.e. we were playing cricket on the lawn or watching it on TV – then it was taken downstairs in the playroom.  If it was an after dinner or special tea then it was upstairs in the lounge.  Either way, the tray had to be set, the pot warmed and a cosy used.

There was also an unspoken signal that emanated from somewhere that told us when to pour the tea.  Tea always has to brew for a period to ensure that special reaction (“Aaah”) when sitting back with the perfect cup.  Often it was Mom: “That tea is going to be poison if you don’t pour it soon” (possibly why Bruce likes his weak and milky), or one of those silences that occurs on the quarter hour in any conversation.  Once it was poured and everyone had settled back with a suitable biscuit or scone or piece of fudge there was a collective, appreciative sigh as the first sip of tea was savoured.


Swimming with Daniel

Styling baggies!Happy days! Yesterday was another first for us and Daniel.  We went swimming at Wimbledon Leisure Centre.  The water was a bit cool just to be wallowing but Daniel didn’t mind too much and splashed just like he was in the bath.  Amy is going to sign up for some baby sessions in the teaching pool (warmer water!) and get him more used to the whole thing.  The leisure centre in Dundee is very good and I am sure we’ll be spending some time there in the grim of winter.

The pain of loss

Is numbed by copious quantities of anasthetic.  When I was ten I went to a birthday party of a friend of Kevin’s.  The family was English and spared nothing in laying on the party.  A particular delight were the bowls of chocolate eclair toffees – blue and gold wrappers, hard outside, creamy inside.  I managed to sink my teeth into one so hard that when I tried to open my jaw my back molar was wrenched out with a crack.  I remember taking out the toffee and seeing my tooth embedded in it.  I haven’t thought about it much in the last 22 years – the annual trip to the dentist, maybe – until today.

Disclaimer: Before clicking on the photos to see them in all their gory please be aware that you might be offended and put off from visiting the dentist.

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I have hardly slept the last couple of nights due to the thudding pain in my jaw and today I was up early and first in the door at the dentist to try get an appointment.  Surprisingly, they had one free at 9am so I was back home to have a big breakfast (you never know, it might be your last after visiting the dentist) and make sure I flossed, brushed and rinsed well.

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Kids, floss and brush and rinse and visit the dentist every six months otherwise your teeth end up looking like this!

Back in the dentists chair just a short while later he announced that, without a doubt, the tooth had to go.  In fact he had recommnded it a year previously but I was attached it in a funny sort of way.  That all changed when it started messing with my ears.  Cotton pads with orange gell, steel tools picking, needles dribbling foul fluid down my throat – soon I was numb.  The nurse gave me a pair of goggles to wear in case there were splatterings of gore (said my vivid imagination).  She told me I would feel no pain only a heaving, wrenching movement.  Implement #1 went in followed shortly by #2.  Heaving and wrenching ensued.  Implement #3 was fitted in and soon there was a tinkle in the metal tray and a wad of something jammed into my jaws for me to bite down on.  For those of you who know me well you know I can’t handle the thought of needles and anything breaking bits of me off.  I was drenched with sweat, white as an Englishman and shaking like a kid on the back of a bike.  Some of it was shock, some of it was adrenalin and some was from the glucose rush from the Mars Bar the dentist popped into my mouth at the end of the session.  I made it to the waiting room where I had to stop for a short rest before making my way out into the sunshine and back home.

Mostly for South Africans

I got sent this via email and posted it here as a reminder 🙂  I don’t know the author but thanks anyway.  It made me laugh, hopefully you’ll enjoy it too.

Do you remember yesteryear?

I’m talking about the time of….

Hide and Seek in the park…or the dark…or anywhere. -remember aan-aan or on-on for the English ppl

The cafe down the road, Hokkies, Donkey, skipping and handstands, backyard cricket with a tomato box, Kennetjie Housie-housie, 5 stones, jumping the river, building a swing from a piece of rope tied to a tree, tennis on the street or swing ball in the backyard.

Remember when there was a season for everything, before playstations and cartoon networks, computers…
The sound of the fish or fruit & veg vendor in his van.
Wicks bubble gum for a cent! Chappies, Rollerskates, BMX, go-carts (vaantjies)…

Wait, can you still remember…

Getting up at 3 in the morning, sitting under a blanket at the back of a bakkie to spend the day at Wolwekloof/Sonesta/Kogels baai, Antoniesvlei?
When around the corner seemed far away and going into town seemed like going somewhere, and your ma made you “dress up” for the trip.
Going to Cape Town to do Christmas shopping.
When you go to Cape Town you had to visit the gardens

Peeling skin in summer. Sticky fingers and sand in and on everything & getting stung by a blue bottle (ouch)

Cowboys and Crooks, Rover, Stingers, Slides & climbing trees.
Bok-bok, marbles, yo-yo’s, tops, lyntjie…10 Hocks (remember the Am I – No, Am I – No)

Walking or riding your bike to school – no matter what the weather!
Walking home and spending the bus fare.
Running till you were out of breath. – the thought of that brings back memories

Laughing so hard that your stomach hurt.

Jumping on the bed….. Pillow fights. – can u remember a bomalakiesie

Spinning around, getting dizzy and falling down.

Being tired from playing… Remember that? -wish I could go back

The worst embarrassment was being picked last for a team.

Paper water bombs and clay “lats” were the ultimate weapon.

A piece of card in the spokes held by a clothes peg transformed any bicycle into a motorcycle. – or a guava juice bottle

I’m not finished just yet…… Continue reading Mostly for South Africans

Esmerlda is gone!

Our new carIt’s a bitter-sweet moment in the life of us.  Esmerelda has been sold for the princely sum of £25.  She was in a bad way at the end – no battery power, unable to start, immobile for the last few months of her time with us.  However, the family that have taken her on have a P reg Astra so Esmerelda will be in good company.

That’s the sweet bit.

The bitter part is that I got a £100 parking fine for parking the Efficient Baxter on a yellow line after trying to resuscitate Esmerelda last night.  There’s a 50% reduction if I pay within 14 days and together with the £25 for the car it means I only have to pay the council £25 for the privilege of selling my own car.