Saturday, 5 December 2015


So, it is December already.  Last time I wrote anything, it was May - just heading into Summer and what would prove to be a helluva year..!  

For a start, my Mum turned 80. We celebrated with a Summer party on the Roof-deck, with family and friends from all over the place.

And one present for each of her eighty years - she had never received as many Birthday presents in total, during her entire life...!  What a fun party, what a lot of laughs, love and living!

It also coincided with a visit from family from Australia, healing rifts that had caused a lot of heartache ..... sealed with a fantastic meal at the celebrity haunt and phenomenal luxury hotel in Ascot - Coworth Park.  Happy Family!

PS ... on the same day that the Princes William & Harry were there to play in a charity Polo tournament!  I guess that's just how we roll....! 


We travelled to Stockholm early in the year and then to Turkey towards the end of Summer (well we hadn't seen much of the sun during the UK's Summer..!), as well as a few local jaunts around Britain.

And in August, we welcomed young Leo Michael Glenn-Jackson into the world and I became a fully-fledged Grandfather.  Go figure!  

There are not enough Blog pages in the world to explain what that feels like.  I had no way of anticipating that, no history to base my expectations on - and I'm not sure I can even begin to describe it.

I even had to give-in (eventually) and get reading glasses; mainly because I couldn't see the little guy when I held him near my face...!  :-(

Suffice it to say though, that little Leo has captured all our hearts.  He is the most perfect little guy, so full of love and joy and happiness and he brings with him unbelievable joy.  Just to see his little face crack into a smile, so dolphin-like, so life-affirming .... your heart just fills up and spills out over your cheeks....


And then, in November, following quite literally months of preparation, secrets, hidden communication, travel arrangements and bookings .... we celebrated Julia's 60th Birthday with a surprise party!

On Saturday 14 November, I drove my wife to a local Restaurant (South African cuisine), situated on the banks of a Marina opposite the Windsor Racecourse.  She was expecting to have dinner with our god-children and their mother Sheila.  As we arrived, she was told that the table at the window was still occupied, so would we mind sitting at the Bar, inside the `Shebeen' (a local South African term for a township Bar/Pub).

As she walked through the door, she was met with a wall of sound from friends and family, from around the country - and beyond. Lauren & Ryan, Joe & Kate, my Mum, Julia's brother Andrew and his family, sister-in-law Paula and her daughters Elaine, Claire & Louise (with partner Dave), hairdressers Ali & her husband, old neighbours Helen & Martin, dear friends Debbie & Dave (Debbie had undergone a painful operation without general anaesthetic the day before, just so she could be there!), Gill & Alan from Hayling Island ... and many others. 

Then came her present.  A video containing messages from friends & family from around the world.  Something to get the tear ducts working ... and it seemed to work.

If you have a spare 30 minutes and you'd like to see the Birthday Video (maybe you contributed..?), use the following link and YouTube should do the rest for you...! 

Once Julia's video was complete and she was basking in the love and attention of her fellow celebrators ... she turned around to find a surprise guest - Annie who had flown all the way from Brisbane to be her `surprise gift'.  

More tears and emotion ... it had been over fifteen years (if not more) and Annie had just come through months of battling Cancer.  

A real trouper and a fantastic friend.

And, as it turns out, a fantastic present for a 60th Birthday Celebration!

The celebrations continued for the whole of the next week, with visits to Bath (Champagne Tea at the Bath Pump Room, Supper at Heston Blumenthal's pub the Crown ..... 

....... and a wonderful family lunch at Le Manoir aux Quat 'Saisons ... Raymond Blanc's two-Michelin Star Restaurant in Oxfordshire.

To round off the occasion, the birthday girl even got to meet the famous Chef himself, to say thank you for a wonderful gastronomic experience (after he had chatted to the Duchess of Kent, who was sitting behind us ... of course!  You gotta keep the regulars happy..!).

And now it is time to start preparations for Christmas.  Our second in the new home ... and the first for grandson Leo.

Life - its a funny old thing!

Friday, 1 May 2015

May Day - Bank Holiday Weekend

So, welcome to another `May Day Bank Holiday' weekend.

In SA this was (in my experience) celebrated more for it's Labour movement associations, whereas in the UK, while still an important element of the Union/Labour movement, the weekend holiday is probably more associated with the long weekend away from work ... trips to the coast (often in the rain), traffic jams on overcrowded motorways ... and DIY home decoration...!

On that basis, I may be slightly ahead of the curve!  Because I'm not 'in contract' at the moment, I have time on my hands ... and that fact, combined with a burst of lovely warm weather recently, resulted in a week of intense physical activity sprucing-up the Roof Garden.  

I know ... who knew ..!!!

Since we moved into the Apartment, given that we moved in just as Winter was firming-up it's icy grip on the weather, we have had to leave the roof to its own devices. 

Some of it's pots were full of dead, waterlogged plant remains; woodwork had been left untreated and was warping from the rain damage; and the seat cushions had been left outdoors for at least two years and, while the 'water-resistant' covers were OK, the insides of the cushions were a rotten mess of sponge and other material.

Not great!  And therefore time for Roof Garden Man to make an appearance ...

 So, as the Bank Holiday approached and the weather turned, yours truly was off to the DIY store purchasing decking stain, wood treatment, paint brushes, masking-tape, etc .... while also being 'encouraged' to visit the Garden Centre on a few occasions (...!) to provision the new daffodils, rose bushes, shrubs, soil, pebbles, etc, etc ...!

It is worth pointing out that I am not a 'physical labour' kind of guy (I know - shocked right..?). 

My normal life involves sitting at a computer, or in meetings with loads of suits and techies, so eight-hour days, bent double over an orbital sander, or stretched-up against a fence with paintbrush in hand ... these are atypical.  And boy, did my body let me know ...!

Nonetheless, a flurry of activity followed:
  • almost a whole week to dig-out the root-bound mess in the old pots, clean them out, reposition and re-fill with pebbles, soil and plants; 
  • a few days to repair and renovate the automated sprinkler system;
  • two days of sanding-down and a further day painting a `statement backdrop' and staining the wooden fence; 
  • repairing warped wood and screwing-down loose panels .... 
I'm getting tired just writing about it ..!

How about the fresh, new look once the fence had been painted ...

Of course, it is still unfinished  and is waiting for a nice statue, or Buddha, to liven up the purple backdrop ... and the lovely, sparkling candle lamps that were purchased in Turkey last year (with this in mind) have yet to be hung ... but we have not yet been graced with the family/friends for an evening on the roof (the weather is still a little chilly at night).


As we move forward with the Garden - and start planning the BBQ's and Sundowner sessions in the new Terrace, I take a few moments to pause and reflect.  Two of our very dear friends - one in South Africa and one in Australia - are both dealing with the shocking news that they have discovered Cancerous tumours.  

Both are being treated and fighting this bastard disease, both have families who are rallying around them (but, I know all too well, are suffering all sorts of torments themselves) and both are facing it with a dignity and positiveness that I admire greatly.

So, to Heather and Anne (and your families) - you are in our thoughts and a little part of our Garden is dedicated to you both.  As Nature bursts out in bloom and lightens our little garden, we shall keep you in our hearts and hope that you too will blossom.

With much love........

Friday, 20 March 2015


The birds are singing their little hearts out and the bees are waking up and searching for flowers and whatever nectar they can find.

The buds grow thick and swollen on the bushes and trees, little green shoots struggling to loosen the bonds that keep them warm and cosy inside the stems and tree trunks.

The rain, wind and winter weather is struggling to still make its presence felt and the animals (and humans) are getting frisky.  

Oh yeah ... Spring is here baby...!

As my friends and family in the southern hemisphere start to `welcome' the shorter nights and gloomier mornings, the cold starts to creep in towards evening and the tendrils of smoke curling out of chimneys (rather than day-time Braais!) give the game away ...... here in the northern hemisphere, we are getting ready to welcome Spring in all her fresh, blooming, frisky, fabulous glory.

The animals are the first to stir ... little Field Mice uncurling themselves from their long sleep and wriggling their little noses in the morning air. 

Little Grey Squirrels screech and cackle and chase each other up and down the tall trees, flinging themselves from branch to branch in frighteningly gay abandon (in the old-fashioned sense of the word, you understand), all fire, brimstone and shimmering tails.

And the cold slowly starts to ebb away and the sunshine starts to grow in intensity (not that we saw much of it this morning as the Eclipse progressed virtually undetected in London behind layers and layers of cloud).  

As someone tweeted this morning, the Eclipse was the most British thing ever (together with a photo of a tree, bare of all its leaves, arms stretched out to the dull grey sky surrounding it...!). The sun is shining now though, almost sniggering at us as we think how amazing the Eclipse would have been if it had been as clear as this .... Grrrr!

The sheep are ahead of the game - little white balls of fluff, prancing around the fields with their mothers, hurling themselves around the green pastures.

Every now & then they shoot upwards, their little stick-thin legs projecting them upwards, almost as if the muscles were acting on their own ... shocked expressions on their faces ... with little bleats of pleasure and surprise echoing around the field.

The cold weather hasn't entirely left us, to be fair ... and it was even colder up north recently when we took a long weekend break to Sweden.  A Christmas present between Julia & I and daughter & son-in-law Lauren and Ryan (each couple gave the other couple their holiday and we all went together..!).

As we were driven into the centre of the city, I peered out of the window at the little rivers and canals which were frozen solid ... just waiting for a couple of kids to strap their skates on and meander through the town.

The port was free of ice, but still had neat piles of snow dotted around public places where the streets and Squares had been cleared to allow access by people & cars.  The boats were mostly tied-up alongside the Archipelago's quays, `battened-down' and waiting for their Winter down-time to end.

It wasn't too bad until the wind came across the water, cutting through any loose clothing, or gaps between scarf & hat .... tears squeezing out of frozen eyes and searing their way across your face.  It was fun though.  And we discovered an apparently Swedish custom of having a Brazier located outside (some) restaurants, fed with chunky split logs and burning away ... great for warming hands and faces (and butts) ... Cool!

We also tested some of the local cuisine and I can confirm that Elk steak is fantastic ... while Ryan gave the thumbs-up to Reindeer steak (all Rudolf jokes have been banned ...!). 

And we discovered that Sweden (or the Scandinavian countries at least) appears to be the home of a familiar figure. In many of my Mum's drawings, a recurring theme appears of Gnomes ... little people with pink, rosy cheeks and conical hats.

I first came across them in childhood stories read to me by my Mum & Dad - from a large coffee-table style book with illustrations & stories of Nordic/Scandinavian characters ... gnomes, trolls (not the internet variety, although equally repulsive), fairies and such...

Well, walking down a street in Stockholm's `old town' and guess what we came across...!  

We had a few moments and I passed on greetings from my family to his ... and then we meandered off to find another Cobbled Square, or visit the  Royal Swedish Palace to see the Crown Jewels ... I forget!

 With the sound of birdsong dancing through the apartment and the (thankfully) warm evening of the first day of Spring enticing me to sit on our new balcony - amongst the tree-tops - and the lazy evening sunshine drifting down through the emerging leaves ... I will sign-off once again with the Swedish salutation you may choose to use over your next glass of wine (or appropriate tipple).


Friday, 13 February 2015

Happy Birthday Grandad

So, here we go again.  "Another day older and deeper in debt" as the saying goes.

Wednesday 11th February began as many previous birthdays have. Quiet, not a big fuss and a few lovingly wrapped presents from my wife, along with a cup of tea in bed.  Followed by a 'Balloon in a Box' from the God-children...!

With the possible exception of 1990, when Nelson Mandela was released from prison on this day; or in 2012, when I was able to celebrate the first 'cancer-free' birthday.... this was pretty standard stuff.

Its a funny thing - when you are faced with your own mortality, you start to live your life slightly differently.  Before that, it is as if life is just something you live. It is your birthright. 

Often consumed in a mad rush to finish school, get a degree, get a job, get laid, get married, make a fortune and be successful ... it rushes by.

Once you have had a medical professional quietly and seriously talking to you, giving you statistics and probabilities, discussing options and outcomes .... once the shock wears off and you (eventually) process it all, you start to look at things really differently.  

Staring at a tree waving in the breeze; watching the birds floating on wind eddies and swooping down to feed on some seeds (helpfully placed in the garden by my Mum..!).

Feeling the sun on your skin, baking down on a summer day at a Wine Farm; settling down under a parasol to lazily pick your way through a Picnic Hamper feast, wine sparkling in a glass with little beads of moisture tickling their way down the glass (in the days when I still did...!).  

The look of a spaniel with his head cocked to one side, staring at you with all the love of a Bobba (Jewish Grandmother), or squealing in delight as he paints your earlobes with his wet little tongue (never mind that he only saw you three hours before) ..... 

....... these things take on a huge new meaning.

Life goes from black & white to Supernova, high-intensity, full-colour HD.  Little things start to become HUGE .... and big things don't always have the same scale any more.

Hence, when I arrived for my birthday dinner at a lovely restaurant in Bray (Heston Blumenthal's centre of operations for the foodies among you), I was savouring the pleasure of celebrating with my family.  My Mum, Julia, daughter Lauren & husband Ryan, son Joseph and his fiancee Kate. Special, right?

To fully understand the impact of the unfolding events, it is helpful to know some of my history. ..... It was many years ago - and I was still a very young man - when my partner at the time discovered she was pregnant.  To cut a very complicated story short, for a variety of reasons (most of which were out of our hands) the baby was lost.  His mother named him Michael before she laid him to rest.

It took me almost twenty years to get the chance to discuss it properly with his mother and explain how much that had affected my life.  We are close friends to this day.  However, for this and many other reasons, I never had a biological child of my own.  

I have two children now - Lauren and Joe.  Although they are not my biological children (their father passed away three years ago), it is better than that - they have both chosen to take me as "their father".  

It is difficult to explain how special that makes me feel.

Some readers will know that I was asked to 'give Lauren away' at her wedding to Ryan.  These are deeply moving emotional moments - words cannot really do them justice.

So, back to the Birthday celebrations in the restaurant in Bray - lots of laughter and chatter, a few presents next to the table - to be opened later - and an amusing conversation with the endearingly crazy Italian waiter, about people who he has served in the restaurant (Muhammed Ali - favourite. George Clooney, with a house nearby, so far not visited...!).

At which point I decided to read my birthday cards. Again, a fairly standard procedure, usually undertaken between drinks orders and the main course.  If I'm honest, I was expecting some tickets to a concert, or a weekend getaway. 

Opening the card, I was amused to read the cover, poking fun at my advancing years.

And then I opened the card and my world tilted ... like a bad porno movie when someone kicks the camera by accident!

Even writing this days later, I struggle to contain the emotion that literally pours into my heart.  It isn't big enough to hold it ... it wants to burst like a water-balloon dropped from the roof of a school.

I'm going to be a Grandad...............!!! 

The faces of my darling wife Julia, Lauren & Ryan and my Mum were enough to tell  me within a fraction of a second that they had no idea what was in the card.  In fact it took some minutes, filled with tears, laughter, screams and yelps of joy, to be sure that everyone around the table knew exactly what had just happened. 

Our Joseph and his beloved Kate chose this opportunity to announce her pregnancy.  And in some magical, special way, to gift that surprise to me - as the only Grandfather that young Leo Michael is going to have (that's him in the picture above, by the way...!).

My full-colour life just got  bit brighter.  My son suddenly became even more of a magnificent, insightful, kind, generous man.  The gorgeous Kate glowed with contentment and pride, managing to burrow even further into my heart - something I didn't really think was possible.

My wife, my daughter, my son-in-law and my Mum haven't stopped beaming and are all moving about in a haze of joyful tears, excitement and - lets be honest - shock.  And, while I'm not one for the esoteric, I am sure that, if my Dad is able to look down on us all, he is smiling the contented smile of a Great Grandfather who has just realised that his legacy is safe; the example he set as a man, a husband and a father will be taken forward .... his family's world has been set right.

Hey Dad, I'm gonna be a Grandpa.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Robins and Rainbows

Well, four weeks into the New Year and I'm staring out at a panorama of greys .... the bright, grey, London winter sky; the various shades of grey of the trees, wood stripped of leaves and just the slightest hint of green made by the little patches of moss that grow up in the branches when winter's freezing fingers strip away the foliage.  

Even the evergreen bushes have a grey sheen to them, catching the reflected colour of the sky above.  And this morning I watched as a grey squirrel burrowed into the grass, reclaiming his prize - some nuts or a bulb that he secreted there so many months before.  

Although I'm not a big fan of the grey squirrel (I prefer the red squirrels that are now only found in the northern regions of the UK), I can't deny that they look cute, especially when they shake their tails, which shimmer like silver dresses on a ballroom dancer, or when they chase each other, streaking up & down the trees, jumping from one to another and shrieking their excitement..!

One of the regular features of our UK winters - and a bright, colourful, fiery orange/red contrast to the rest of the grey surroundings - is the humble Robin.  They flit in & out of the lower bushes, protecting their little nests and feeding their young from the scattered seeds & nuts, especially under the ubiquitous 'Bird Feeders' that so many of the British place in their gardens.

They are exquisitely happy little creatures and I frequently get into conversations with them -  the Robin tilting his little head back and his neck and chest quivering as he warbles, tweets and trills, cocking his head in surprise and outrage when I reply with a rather sad whistling imitation ...!

For both Julia and myself, the Robins hold a more poignant, special place in our hearts - as we both lost a parent late in the year and were surrounded by Robins in the aftermath (funerals, etc), so they have become the virtual embodiment of our respective Mother & Father. 

We engage them in conversation and they make us smile with their happy, cheerful tunes, often jumping along the ground, or on a fence, right next to us as we move about the garden.  

I had a long conversation with an especially plump and colourful fellow last week - as he sat on my Mum's dustbin outside her flat.  I think he was after some seeds - Mum goes out every day with various bits & pieces to feed the birds.

However, with the strains of Mr Robin's song reverberating in my head, I had pause to think of some other colourful injections into my life during the cold and grey.  More specifically, special friends - who bring colour into the drabness of winter.  Our own special rainbows!

On Friday evening the children came over for dinner.  It had been meant as a chance to catch-up with ALL the children, Godchildren included.  Unfortunately the G/c had to cancel at the last minute as their Grandmother was ill ... so we went ahead with Lauren, husband Ryan and Joseph (whose fiancee was on a business skiing trip!).  Immediate family.

For many years now we have been blessed with the services and friendship of a lady called Naseema, who provides cleaning services to Julia & I, as well as my Mum and even Lauren & Ryan (among other families).  She has become a good friend over the years and, in the last months & weeks of my Dad's illness, she was one of the few people he felt comfortable with (despite the fractures in his mind, he always remembered her and was happy if he could hear her in the flat as he sat trapped in his immobile body and splintered mind).

Naseema is a Muslim lady, devout in her faith and a peace-loving, good humoured mother of three and wife to a lovely man. Husband and wife come from an area split when Pakistan gained independence from India, so they have families in different countries separated by a few miles (but in practice very separate).  They have experienced trouble and division (religious and political) in their lives, yet they epitomise the behaviours claimed by many of the principle religions .... love, family values, peace, generosity of spirit, charity ..... the things most of us would like to be associated with.

Anyway, for some time Naseema has been offering to cook for us - a proper, home-cooked Indian meal.  Unfortunately my wife has extremely sensitive tastebuds and avoids chilli and curries, but she eventually decided that this would be a wonderful opportunity for us to share some of Naseema's generosity.

Well, Friday evening arrived and Naseema and one of her daughters arrived ... talk about bearing gifts & goodwill..! 

Samosa, kebabs, roast chicken, lamb curry, chicken curry, freshly made Naan bread, Pilau rice, Biriyani and a variety of accompaniments.  What a feast..! More than enough for all of us .... and bags of food carried off home by the ever-hungry younger family members.

And it struck me that this simple act of kindness is such a special thing.  It didn't only bring the most wonderful flavours and aromas into our home.  It brought colour and fun and variety (truly the spice of life..!) and shared something intimate between two families (the food had been prepared for the whole day by Naseema, as well as her husband and children).

And in a Charlie Hebdo world that is being battered by religious fanaticism, it highlighted for me (once again) that most people are just like you and me.  They want to live peaceful, happy lives.  Lives with family and friends, where we celebrate our differences as well as our similarities.  Where a simple gesture of kindness is met with a reciprocal act, a smile, a laugh, or a shoulder shared to spill some tears.

I know that Naseema has swapped tears with my Mum - they have developed a mother-daughter relationship (Naseema's Mum died on the Indian subcontinent a few years ago, not long after Mum lost my Dad).  I know they practice different religions too, but when you strip out the customs, the theatre, the 'perceived wisdom' of often none-too-wise religious leaders, they are pretty similar at their core.

Love, respect, support, charity ......

And so, as I ponder on another of life's little gifts, the grey of winter seems a lit less grey, a bit brighter, a bit more colourful.  In this case, the colour of a Sari, a bowl of rich, red saffron stamens or a pile of yellow/gold rice.  And popping their heads out of the snow - some snowdrops and a few VERY chilly, buttercup yellow Daffodils.

Friday, 2 January 2015

Starting 2015 with a Bang..!

I have a bit of time on my hands .... as you can probably tell.

Anyway, it is the start of a new year and so i decided to revamp the Blog slightly.  Maybe reflect some of the energy I am detecting from friends and family .... everyone getting excited about what 2015 is going to bring!

So, with a slightly electric new look - and one of my Mum's positive drawings - I am looking forward to a fun, friendly, frantic & fantastic year.

I am told by those who have a really positive outlook on life and are always 'half-full' (rather than my usual 'just about in the middle' viewpoint), that this promises to be a really good year.  For myself and my family, I am pretty sure that will be the case - new jobs, engagement(s), new homes .... all looking good.

For the poor souls who have no option but to scratch their survival from the bomb-ravaged hell that is Syria, or the unfortunates who have to live a semi-life under the scourge that is ISIS, the millions in Africa, North Korea and numerous other repressive regimes .... I can only hope for them that their lives improve.

For those who suffer illness, my fellow cancer fighters, the aged and infirm - I'm right alongside you in your battle.  And, as the numerous fundraising challenges (who can forget 2014's 'ice bucket challenge'?) attest - so are millions of other people around the world. Don't give up guys.

And to all my poor friends & family in South Africa, who suffer the slings & arrows of incompetent leaders and have to battle without basic infrastructure like electricity, or any sort of half-decent postal service .... believe me, it could be a lot worse .... but our thoughts, prayers and sympathies are with you all!

So come on 2015 .... SHOW US WHAT YOU'VE GOT ...!

Thursday, 1 January 2015

An 'Engaging' New Year's Celebration

Welcome 2015 ... you have shown every sign of growing into a really good year...!

On the 31st December, as the sun rose over the water in Camps Bay, Cape Town, marking the final day of 2014, something special was afoot. 

It had been quite a year, all in all - we sold our flat in London (Battersea) and our home in Windsor. That took a while, as regular readers will know. 

But it all came right in the end and we moved into our lovely new home in Ascot.

We had a few lovely holidays - caught up with old friends in Turkey and family & friends in South Africa and Switzerland (and Julia did some shopping in the US..!)

I completed a consultancy role at Thames Water and took a few weeks off ... then was asked back again to 'babysit' the role again for a few more months.  

And that too came to an end just before Christmas ... just in time to spend some quality time decorating the new apartment and settling-in.  

Julia was in and out of the UK on various business trips during the year, generating loads of dosh for her company and spreading her educational IT around the globe.  She joined a group of Colleges & Higher Education academies as a Governor (on their Board of Governors).  

She is also advising business leaders, government ministers and even royalty on how to use technology to improve education for children (especially girls).  Not bad for a 'Northern Lass' ...!  

My Mum flourished in 2014. It takes a while to get over losing a husband (especially when you've been married & together for over 50 years), but despite the trials & tribulations of family life, she had developed a whole new life last year.  

Organising & decorating 'her' home was a seminal event and the newly recovered chairs were a triumph.  All topped-off by her Christmas present - a lovely large painting of a fox, with a big silver frame, that now has pride of place in the lounge. 

Not to mention the new-found 'career' volunteering for the Save the Children Charity.  Twice a week she manages the shop selling donated clothes, jewellery, crockery, toys, books, CD's, etc.  And massively increasing their turnover .... something to do with a skill in talking to customers!  Dad would be so proud.

Daughter Lauren, an Account Director at a PR company, helped the business develop and grow new business with big brands like BMW.

There was even a trip to New York to develop an alcoholic drinks client.  Not a lot of shopping though!  And just before Christmas she accepted a new job - handling 'Consumer PR' for the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA).   I hear Wimbledon calling..!  #prouddad 

And she and Ryan celebrated their second wedding anniversary and even managed a cheeky two weeks in Croatia to catch-up on some sunshine...!  

Son Joe's business is no longer 'new' ... he and his business partner have been building the company for over two years now and it is coming along nicely.  Watch out Richard Branson - new kids are on the block..! And I'm looking forward to enjoying the fruits..... 

Joe and his girlfriend Kate had moved into their new house in London and set about deconstructing it - and refurbishing the place into a snazzy little two-bedroom London 'pad' (those of you not familiar with the excruciating costs of London accommodation, or comparing to what could be purchased in South Africa, should adjust your mental image accordingly.  No indoor swimming pool, for example).

Anyway, the house is now coming along in leaps & bounds and Kate's 'nest' is looking really cozy.  We all visited them (and the two cats) on Boxing Day - for a lovely, relaxing Festive celebration.  And then they were off for a two-week holiday to South Africa.

Which brings us back to Joseph and the beach at Camps Bay.

After being frustrated in a bid to climb Table Mountain (wind!), Joe & Kate decided to spend the early morning on one of South Africa's most beautiful beaches.  It is a place I know well and I too have spent mornings there watching the sun creep slowly out of the sea, breathing its warmth into the sand and, quite frequently, waking the slumbering revellers too drunk to move after passing-out on the beach..!

In any event, a short trip over some rocks and they settled down to watch the sun ... whereupon he produced a rather lovely ring (if I may say so) and popped the question ... and she said YES!

It is rare that I start a new year off with quite such a spring in my step, but this year we are all skipping.  Joe is the son I would have chosen, if I could have .. and Kate is a beautiful young woman.  A delicate soul and has already captured my heart - and those of all our family. 


And a happy, healthy, prosperous and fun-filled New Year to you all.....!