Saturday, 29 November 2014

Pancake Weather

In South Africa we make pancakes when it rains.
Directly translated, we bake pancakes.
These are not American pancakes, neither British nor French.
They are neither crumpets nor crepes.

They are pancakes.

This afternoon Riyadh had a brief trickle of rain.  It rains, you make pancakes.

You start off with the batter (a family recipe) which has thickened in the fridge for at least 3 or 4 hours.   You NEVER make the pancakes with freshly made batter.   It's simply too runny.   The gluten needs to develop so that the pancakes are soft and not chewy.

You take the cold, thickened batter out of the fridge, turn on the heat and get a heavy pan ready.   Stir the batter thoroughly and add a bit water if its too thick.    
Family tip:    add a teaspoon or two of sunflower oil to THE BATTER.    

While you are waiting for the pan to heat up really well, mix white sugar and ground cinnamon in a bowl or jar.   Get a large plate ready and sprinkle the cinnamon sugar on the base of the plate.    When the pan is sizzling hot, add one ladle of batter to the pan, and swirl gently until a perfect pancake is formed.

The perfect pancake has a frilly lace edge with bubbles rising in the middle.  


The finished pancakes are stacked in the plate with a sprinkling of cinnamon sugar on each pancake.

The sign of a master:    the batter and the cinnamon sugar (nothing being measured beforehand) will be finished at the same time.

If you don't have any caramel treat in your grocery cupboard, cook condensed milk in its UNOPENED can in a saucepan of water for 2 hours.   

Add the finishing touches

Enjoy with coffee and listen to the rain on the roof.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Window = George = Greek

My town, George

was proclaimed by the Earl of Caledon, governor of the Cape Colony on St George's Day, 23 April 1811, and named after the reigning British monarch, King George III.   Adriaan Geysbertus van Kervel was appointed the first magistrate.   One of Van Kervel's first acts as magistrate was to dig a furrow to supply the first thirty six plots in George with water.    An 1819 map shows the original furrows and storage dam where they remain to this day in the Garden Route Botanical Gardens.    My house is right there.   If only they had supplied 40 plots...

The Georgian era is a period of British history from 1714 to 1830, during  the reigns of the kings George I, George II, George III and George IV  (with the sub-period of the Regency, defined by the Regency of George IV as Prince of Wales during the illness of his father George III). 

The style of Georgian and Regency houses was based on that of classical Greek architecture. The proportions and dimensions were details based on the instructions used by ancient Greek and Roman architects. These were available in printed books, and easily available to all architects of the time.   This style of building was influenced by the Grand Tours, but the houses were often necessary to keep the many antiques they had bought, and turned into large collections.

Classic Georgian Features

Georgian properties were light and very spacious, with large windows that showed off pale colour schemes and plenty of woodwork. Unlike the Victorians, the Georgians tended to go for a subtler, more sophisticated room.
Window shutters were extremely popular, and many front doors had a filigree fanlight with a canopy overhanging. The window openings were likely to be double-hung sash windows and chimneys would be found on both sides of the home. The doors often had a fanlight.

Tony and Sharon from the UK did the impossible with their Georgian house.   Take a look.   

When I bought my house, it was neglected but well lived in.

 Taking care of an old house whilst living on another continent is hard, practically impossible, without help.   So is dealing with builders.    Alterations or renovations cannot be done during a short holiday.    It has taken nearly 5 years, but at least the windows are taken care of.

In Afrikaans "house warming" is called "roof wetting".   You need wine.    Celebrating (not yet completed) renovations.

Like Tony (in the video), I didn't want to put in new windows and remove the old wood, rather just had it fixed to protect it from further decay.   
What a testament to the builders of yesteryear - according to a local sash window expert, my windows are still in perfect condition - original glass and pulleys intact!

Thank you, Greece!

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

The last resting place of the travelling white hat

I loved my white sun hat.

It offered glamorous protection from the sun.
It could be folded or rolled up into my handbag or hand luggage.
I washed it in the washing machine.
It was the perfect accessory for my Dior sunglasses.
It travelled well.
And it loved the sea as much as I do.

You live on Hong Kong island, you go on water.
You go on water, you have wine.
You want champagne? Go on Aqua Luna.

My hat was still new here.   And very white.

Water is water.   Sky is sky.   Sand is sand.    Earth is Earth.

My hat lapped it up!

My first visit to Phuket 2011 - many years after the tsunami.   I need more tops!
Phuket again, July 2013.    Leaving Hong Kong.   Took my hat with me.

My pool in George has JC le Roux.   The Westin in Macau has Pina Coladas.
I need more swimsuits!

Lamma island, Hong Kong.
Stormy waters.
Small but powerful waves.

I lost my beloved Dior sunglasses (above) there that day.   The sea took it.   With one mighty wave.   Thank God my hat was spared.

My hat and I relocated to Saudi Arabia a year ago.
The waters of the Farasan Islands in the Red Sea are just as beautiful as any other island.  I walked along the water's edge and collected coral and shells in my hat.   Unfortunately I do not have that photo any more.   But I still have the coral and the shells!

I preferred to stay on board and keep an eye on the drinks.

And then I found the photo!

The mud from the Dead Sea stiffened the hat into a starched dome but it was super-soft after the salt was rinsed.    My skin felt great too!

The hat went into the desert and thought it was the biggest beach it had ever seen.

Proof that the desert was once the sea

Victoria Bay, South Cape, South Africa
Land's End.
Where we always waited for the Choo-Choo.

After nearly 3 months  of winter in George, my stop-over in Dubai (en route to Riyadh) was wonderful in August.

And then I took my hat to Crete...

It never wanted to leave.

So I left it there.

I'll be back.

Saturday, 18 October 2014


More than an island, Crete invites you to walk from its high snow-covered White mountains to the edge of the sunny and blue Libyan sea. Creta has everything: Tranquil blue sea, mysterious caves and traces of the past, including those of the Minoan civilization, stately Roman remains and frescoed Byzantine churches, spectacular orchids, aromatic plants, extended olive groves, and places like the Lasithi Plateau and the majestic Samaria Gorge National Park with the unique and amazing geology, picturesque villages, historic cities, architectural monuments since Venetian and Turkish conquerors, fabulous local gastronomy …Crete has it all. 


Urginea maritima

Origanum Onites - Origanum Sauvages (Wild)

Psarantonis - Lyre player

Thymus Capitatus - Wild Thyme

Ant carrying dried marjoram flower

Bulb of Urginea Maritima

Origanum Microphyllum

Wild Thyme  - now safe and sound in my kitchen in Riyadh and still releasing its fragrance when I open my stroller.

One ledge too narrow

Tsikoudia  (Raki)

Raki in the battle against wrinkles! 

It can become the basis of a mask, especially beneficial for the skin

Raki, the famous Cretan drink, accompanying appetizers and good company, seems to beneficially affect and a cure against wrinkles. Mixed with myrtle flowers, experts say, it can create a mask that combats the signs of aging and leaves the skin smooth and clean.

What you'll need:
-2 handfuls of myrtle
-A clay jug with raki

How to:
-Ground the flowers of myrtle in a mortar
-Put inside the jug with raki
-Leave the mixture for 7-8 days until it becomes a concentrated juice and put it in a clean container
-This oily juice creates the perfect solution to get rid of wrinkles in a natural way and get a smooth and glowing skin
-At least once a day apply it with a little cotton ball slightly all over your face. Then wash and you are ready!

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