Rose Tinted Specs

By Jac Dowling

All in all it’s been a pretty good month so far, apart from the extreme heat and humidity, which knocks Durbs into a cocked hat. I’ve spent a good deal of time with my nose in a book or wallowing in tepid pool water. Mind you, one shouldn’t complain. Upcountry they’re experiencing the worst drought in living memory with a consequent massive crop and stock loss – our cricketers appear to be similarly drought-stricken and the England team will be toy-toying all the way back home! So why is my month turning out to be a good one?

After months and months of angst I had a cataract removed and new lens inserted in my seeing eye. Bingo, suddenly the Danger Point lighthouse came into sharp focus across the bay, ships are visible on the horizon, dolphins and whales have form and clarity and I can see almost as far as Cape Point when driving. Previously this was a problem as the end of the road tended to have a hazy appearance and street signs were illegible. Today I got the all-clear and will soon be collecting new prescription specs.


Then, to add to my happy month, the Hermanus Times gave me a centrehermanus_times spread in colour, which they’re hoping will act as bait for others to write in with their travel stories.

Yesterday I had to take the car for an oil change at Superquick which has recently changed hands. It was with some trepidation that I booked in and sat down to read my way through their mound of Getaway aimagesnd Time magazines. We knew the old franchisee well, lovely man who helped everyone and I thought no-one could possible take his place. Wrong.

They couldn’t have been more welcoming, friendly or efficient. There were several of us of a similar age waiting for things to be done; so often one’s made to feel a bit of a ‘nana and a nuisance because of age, hair colour, lack of fleetness of foot (!) and other things
which tend to catch up. Not so here. They did a great job and I’m came home with a grin from ear to ear.

So, to date only good things have happened in my small world. My specs, when they arrive, will make an even greater difference to the way things are viewed – and they will definitely be rose tinted!


Food tube, cupcake wars, a veritable feast

By Sue Trollip

When one of your favourite chefs (Hello Jamie Oliver!) hits food tube it’s impossible to stay calm. Perfect poached eggs, heavenly pancakes, the recipes go on and on.

I decided to try the pancakes, I’m a big fan and these are a healthier option.

So this is how you do it…

And this is what I got. Too delicious.


While I am vehemently opposed to reality TV, I manage to justify watching cooking challenge shows. (They’re not the quintessential reality TV show, I tell myself, because there’s no time for back stabbing and scheming. There’s only time for cooking.)

So, after spending many a delectable evening watching The Great British Bake Off I was excited when my niece introduced me to Cupcake Wars.

A plate of cupcakes.

Tim Burton inspired Cupcake Wars

I haven’t tried the cupcakes yet, but watch this space.

Nom nom nom.

Dominoes through Melbourne

by Susan Roberts

Last weekend saw the city of Melbourne come to a standstill as a 2 kilometre line of dominoes nudged each other along a picturesque route through the city centre. The event happened due to the generosity of an octogenarian lady who has become known as Melbourne’s Arts Angel – Betty Amsden.

This is the third public event sponsored by this awe-inspiring philanthropist and patron of the arts. Miss Amsden believes that if you have two pennies you should give one away, and this is the tenet by which she has lived all of her life. She’s never stopped giving away her pennies, and Melbourne is both literally and figuratively the richer for her generosity.

The dominoes project was organised by Arts Centre Melbourne, in conjunction with a UK organisation known as Station House Opera – the brainchild behind the original project, in which events like this have been held in several major European cities. This was the first of these events outside of Europe.

Much to the delight of all Melbourne’s residents, Saturday 6th February dawned warm and the weather was kind. The sun shone and gentle breezes helped to keep the rising temperatures at a comfortable level as interested onlookers poured into the city to wander around, watch the careful arrangement of the dominoes, and choose their favourite viewing spot for later that afternoon.

From 1 pm onwards, 300 volunteers began their task of setting up over 7000 concrete breeze-blocks – each weighing 8 kilograms – throughout the city at meticulously measured intervals, in specifically arranged places. These turquoise Tee-shirted volunteers were everywhere to keep an eye on the lines of dominoes, and to ensure that no one tripped or fell over them. They were also a happy, chatty team, and fielded thousands of questions with endless patience, smiles and obvious enthusiasm.


Every 7th or 8th domino lay on its side in case of an accidental triggering at any point, and as the starting time drew near, the missing blocks were carefully placed, and the final lanes and streets were closed to traffic.


A slight delay on the 5 pm starting time allowed two or three trams to complete their commute up Collins Street, and then the last few breeze-blocks were placed on their marks across the road. An appreciative roar from the crowd outside the City Hall let the rest of us know that the fun had started.

The first domino tipped out of the City Hall’s window onto the pavement of Swanston Street, and the game was on! The ripple effect continued across Collins Street and beneath the trees of the City Square, over a Venetian style bridge and a table belonging to the nearby Brunetti’s Cake Shop, into the historic St Paul’s Cathedral and down the centre aisle where the dominoes tipped gently onto a specially prepared plastic sheeting to ensure no damage to the century-old mosaic floor tiles. Out of the door, across the road and into an arcade the movement went, followed by the crowds from Swanston Street.

Down another lane they rippled, and upstairs (yes, up stairs!) into the library and through a window into one of Melbourne’s iconic laneways, before clattering down into the subway and along one of the train platforms at Flinders Street Station. Across the pedestrian footbridge over the Yarra River and into another shopping centre, the dominoes took yet another leap of faith from a high balcony onto the paving alongside the river.

Along the water’s edge, up over benches, tables and other obstacles the dominoes rippled, before climbing up a spiral staircase and into the Hamer Hall, up more stairs and out of the foyer into the Arts Precinct, curling in and out of the ornamental Black Waves, and across one of Melbourne’s famous green areas up to another jump, and around a curve into the foyer of the Arts Centre. Up more stairs to the final jump and a huge domino splattering finale in front of the Opera House.

Roars of applause and cheers heralded the end of the event, and then 300 volunteers set to work to clean up and re-stack the breeze-blocks, and to sweep the streets and pavements free of breeze-block crumbs. For the hard workers, there was the reward of a party at the Arts Centre – with special guest Betty Amsden herself.

And what happens to the breeze-blocks? In the weeks to come they will be donated to a community building project. Thank you, Betty Amsden!


The Upsides and Downs of granny-hood

by Penny M

(not for readers with sensitive stomachs)

Let’s just say that somewhere between my own children and now, I developed a phobia about snot. I remember attending a lecture at the South African Writers’ Circle once to listen to a children’s author. Forgive me, his name escapes me, probably because he spent a great part of the session focussing on the book he had written for children on the subject of SNOT. I won’t allow myself to think of all the descriptive words he used to describe it. Even writing this, my stomach is churning.

Imagine then, this granny (actually NanniPen) tasked with the care of a bright, three year old with a grotty cold (which she incidentally shared with me) – yuck!!! I’ll leave most to your imagination – just think yellow, string, goo and all those other revolting words that man put in his book for child appeal. My little angel takes great delight in whizzing towards me, gunge flying.

The good news is I survived. I could probably win a trophy for the world’s fastest tissue application known to children. I just hope the award doesn’t come with future fans or a book launch.

On a lighter note, yes there are always lots of those, I did a full night shift in the same bed with my precious who has just graduated to Big Sister status. At 5.30 a.m., the cat came to tell us she had caught a lizard. My ward swapped her night nappy, heavy with nine hours of wee, for daytime panties instead of another nappy and told me to get up. When I tried to coax her back to bed for another little sleep, she said, “No, NanniPen, put your glasses on and wake up, it’s morning!”