Cross Buns

By Hazel Bond

Hot Cross Buns I






“I have hot cross buns for tea

Won’t you come have some with me?”

I said I would and so I went

On this small pleasure truly bent.

“They’ve been a little time in thawing.

I took them from deep freeze this morning.”

She said, while spreading butter thick.

I saw it was inclined to stick.

“I do so love a hot cross bun,”

She said and then, “I’m glad you’ve come.”


I thanked her for the tea and talk.

I thanked her for the buns, of course.

But manners did prevent the mention,

My friend was guilty of deception.

Each cross was plain and very clear.

Sultanas popped up here and there.

The buns were really nice and spicy,

If, indeed, a little icy.

But though, three times, she mentioned how

She loved a hot cross bun, somehow

The only thing that they were not

Was hot!





Green are the hills

By Sue Trollip

Two years already, a scary thought, a happy thought. Truth to the adage that while some things change some stay the same. And everything’s the same. And everything’s different. English first language, with so many varying accents and still people who don’t listen with their brains. Words like ‘tardy’ and ‘vacation’ instead of ‘late’ and ‘holiday’.

I’ve been watching Gary, Tank Commander, it’s silly but I enjoy those thick Scottish accents. Half the time I’m laughing because I have no idea what has just been said, ‘You ken when you just don’t ken?’ Then there’s Death in Paradise set on a fictional Caribbean island. And something about those accents that stirs my imagination. Pina Colada, lapping waves, hot sun, juicy fruits, what’s not to like – except all those deaths.

I am learning to speak at a slower pace, to understand that blank look in someone’s eyes. That when I’m telling my boss, who is new in town, about the danger of bears, he thinks I am a strange foreign woman who is afraid of bees.

And I’ve realized in this dramatic semi-desert I now call home, that it’s quite alright to miss the green green grass of the motherland.

The Mooi and the Truckee


By Jac Dowling

This month . . . what? A momentary lapse of cogniscence, a Senior Moment? Could be either because I’m currently in a state of suspended agitation / anticipation / anxiety with finger nail devastation as evidence. The reason being the imminent (or otherwise) arrival in the UK of Very Small Person #4. We’ve had two false alarms to date, but the little chap seems quite comfy where he is, with no immediate plans for a grand appearance.

So yesterday evening I installed myself on the stoep and concentrated on thoughts of a tranquil nature. Autumn sunset washed across the rock face in soft peach and bronze, two buzzards spread their wings against the light as they soared in search of prey, and several paragliders drifted across from the jumpsite just above us.  Their wings blended  into the dusk in shades of orange, cream, scarlet and apricot.   All just so perfectly peaceful until the ubiquitous hadedahs screeched into view and ruined everything.   Even the mossie family, now six in total, left the bird feeder in disgust and haven’t returned.   The pigeons remained grounded and did what pigeons seem to do every couple of months – except we never see a baby pigeon.

Paragliding looks, from our aspect, to be a perfect antidote to stress. Floating up and down under a safe and colourful wing, most of the time extremely safe. But not always so. We’ve had one bloke pull his lines too vigorously and land in a schoolyard nearby, as school was coming out. His wing covered a bakkie, his thigh bone appeared somewhere under his armpit. Bad news. Then we had a learner land up in a gum tree, same schoolyard, same time of day. I offered to call the fire brigade with a long ladder, which kind gesture was immediately refused due to cost restraints. Poor guy hung between a branch and a very sharp spike while the instructor yelled at him not to get his lines tangled . . . never mind the state of his nether regions.


by koko-tewan

There were three occasions on which mountain rescuers were called out to help gliders off ledges on the mountain face. One of them was on a naughty holiday -his wife supposing him to be at a conference somewhere in the Middle East; that must have taken a bit of explaining since his injuries were pretty extensive and the eventual rescue involved an army helicopter which eventually got him down to the school playing field from where he was taken by air ambulance to Cape Town.

More recently a rookie glider was up on his own, lovely green wing glowing in the late light, when he suddenly disappeared. We drove up the mountain to see if he’d crashed and, looking down, saw him almost, but not quite, impaled on one of Eskom’s spikey sub-stations, right next to the cemetery. Which is next to three churches and a synagogue. So, had the worst come to the worst, he’d have been well situated – and his wing remained intact. Good news.

I’m now proposing to resume my efforts at achieving a state of total tranquillity, wait for tonight’s show of wings, and hope that our little chap arrives safe and sound and soon. And that no-one lands up in an adjacent gumtree in the immediate future.


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Legal at the Library, and Other Free Books

By Susan Roberts

I don’t suppose there are many people in this day and age whose prime motivation in acquiring a local driver’s licence is so that they can join the nearby library, but then – I’m not like most people and never have been.

I still have my South African driver’s licence, but in Australia one’s driver’s licence is the main source of identification for everything – from registering a new SIM card to boarding a local plane to joining the municipal library. Once I realised that a licence from Vic Roads would open the door to books as well as cars, I knew that this was an item I desired even more than a bank card.

The process to convert to a Victoria driver’s licence was fairly painless, largely because the staff at Vic Roads are friendly, patient and efficient, and my little plastic card with my name, mug-shot and address arrived in the post last Friday – just one week after I handed in my paperwork.

Over the weekend it dawned on me that, come Monday, I could visit the library and sign up to a whole new world! So that’s exactly what I did. Like most places in Australia, the staff were friendly and efficient, and before long I was all signed up and legal. Access to books was finally in my sweaty little paws!


The next hour flew by as I poked around bookshelves, DVD shelves, audio book shelves and… Oh, just everything gloriously associated with the goodies that bookworms like me get excited about.

It got me thinking about libraries in general, and how much they have changed over the years since I first joined the children’s library in Pietermaritzburg back in the late 1960s. Back then it consisted of only books – fiction on one side and non-fiction on the other – and I went through both sides like Scheherazade’s husband wanting more and more stories to satisfy a thirst for books that staggered even me.

A year or two later the children’s library moved across the road into an old church hall, and after I’d exhausted their collection I was allowed to move into the grown-up section in another building around the corner. In 1975, all the scattered parts of the library moved into brand new premises behind the City Hall.

What an Aladdin’s cave it was with everything under one roof at last! Four or five storeys high and full of reading matter; air-conditioned, quiet, with soft carpeting to deaden the footfalls, and cushioned seating for those who had no pressing engagements elsewhere. Of course, during my school and university years, I made sure that I spent plenty of time there. It was right next to the central bus terminus in the city, so it was always convenient to pop in, even if briefly.

One of the most fascinating places in that new library was the newspaper and magazine section, upstairs next to the reference section. One could not check these items out and take them home, but had to read them there. And read them I did – magazines about theatre and film became my guiltiest secret along with newspapers from other cities. The Star and the Pretoria News were always easier to get to because local newspapers like The Daily News and The Mercury usually had a queue of people hanging around, waiting to browse the sporting news, job advertisements and horse racing tips.

Libraries today are a little different. For the past ten to fifteen years, I belonged to the municipal library in Durban, and I enjoyed borrowing books, videos on VHS, audio books on cassette, and sometimes even large print books when I couldn’t find the ones I wanted in the normal section. As time took its toll on my ageing eyesight I borrowed more from the large print section, and I also started borrowing DVDs once the technology moved forward from video tapes.

I have always loved listening to audio books in my car, and as each successive car came with updated players, I made the move from cassette tapes to CDs about the same time that my library did.

I no longer drive a total of an hour each day to work and back, so I’ve fallen out of the habit of listening to audio books, but the rest of the pleasures still apply. In Australia, the latest technology allows you to do things in a library that I’ve never even heard of, let alone understand. I have no idea what “kits” are and I wouldn’t have the vaguest idea how to download something called Freegal Music songs or Zinio e-magazines, but I do intend to find out!

I love the idea that one can borrow books for free, and I took my first two home from the Narre Warren Library on Monday. I’ve never shied away from buying books, and most of my friends will testify to the fact that my book collection took up a good portion of the space in my various small cottages in South Africa, but it is a relief to know that I don’t need to buy every book that I’d like to read.

While we’re on the topic of free books, I must tell you that my Italian novel Benicio’s Bequest will be free for five days on Amazon next week. For those of you who have joined my emailing list, I’ll announce the exact dates early next week, and those who follow me on my Susan’s Musings blog, Facebook and Twitter will also get a heads-up about it.

So, if you enjoy romantic mysteries but haven’t yet read my third novel and would like it for free, you can download it from Amazon next week. I do hope you enjoy it. As I always say: if you enjoy it, please consider leaving a review on Amazon or Goodreads, and if you don’t enjoy it, please feel free to drop me an email via my contact form on my website or blog, and tell me what you didn’t enjoy. I promise to never take offence at constructive criticism, and your comments may help me when writing future novels.

If you like the idea of free books but don’t fancy mine, then why not pay a visit to your local library and enjoy some time there. It’ll be worth it!

Bee in my Bonnet – Telkom

by Penny Mbumblebee-close-up-1380644-640x480

When I was a fledgling in need of a pocket money boost, I got myself a summer job for Marks and Spencer (UK).  Every day for six weeks, I would catch the train to Newport, on the coast of Wales, and trundle down the road to the store. The fact that such the upmarket chain store had humble beginnings as a Penny Bazaar was both ironic and touching to a young girl so named. Each new staff member underwent strict training prior to being allowed to serve customers.

Amongst other ground rules, I learnt that the customer was always right and that customer complaints were viewed in a positive light as indications of how to improve customer service. Telkom take note, this blog should add value to your bottom line, if only because this customer bothered to kick it.

underwear-1316935-639x852I was assigned to a Supervisor in the lingerie section where my job was to keep the counters and racks tidy. All the bras went together, laid out in their various colours, styles etc. Nighties and pyjamas, underskirts, panties and corsets had their allocated sections. All were easily visible from any spot in the department. This was my introduction to classifications in the retail sector.

Now that I think about it, my flair for the creative was already budding. I aspired to becoming a window dresser, but the shop window was out of bounds and nobody took a sixteen year old seriously.

Fast forward a few years to my second serious job as a private secretary. My boss’s filing system was incomprehensible and I set about restructuring the whole thing so that anybody could find anything with the greatest of ease, using a keyword alphabetical index.

A good few years after that, while employed by a local bank, I found myself the victim of a horrendous filing system. Documents were filed according to a Reference Number which was computer system driven to allocate space in a strong room according to the number of pages. This was all good, provided the system could be accessed for location purposes. However, little thought had been given to related correspondence that couldn’t be filed in the same place due to space restrictions. Instead of clipping this together per client and filing alphabetically, forms were further classified and filed according to the nature of the document, e.g. uplifted due to death, uplifted to return to client etcetera. Instead of one alphabetical system, we ended up with three or four, each sorted alphabetically into bulging lever arch files. When a document was missing, each section had to be checked for clues to its whereabouts.

So why the bee?

A great fan of paperless systems, I opted to have my telephone bill emailed to me several years ago. Until that point, my itemised bill arrived in the post and was easy to comprehend. My call details were all in one place, although admittedly sectioned off into International, Local calls, peak and off peak (if I remember correctly). Not so now on the Telkom website I have been forced to link to. I experience difficulty logging in almost monthly. Once I have accomplished this feat, navigating to a list so that I can determine for example the cost of my off peak, international call is akin to finding a bra in the food section. Account detail doesn’t refer to calls. I tried downloading something called call detail and ended up with a bunch of data strung together in almost unending sentences of Notepad format.

Finally, after approximately ten minutes of precious data time, I found another label for call detail; this was view only. So, imagine my frustration when I find separate tabs for International, Local, Mobile, Other, each of which has to be opened separately!

Come on Telkom, your site might look fancy and give us graphs of usage and all sorts of other stuff, but please can we have a simple itemised bill that can be downloaded in a user friendly format to save to file for future reference.

Your website breakdown fanatics are causing your customers to have other kinds of breakdown on a regular basis. There’s a place for categorisation, but how many sub categories does one customer need? Is this not time for the K.I.S.S. approach?

By the way, you don’t have to change the appearance of your website every five minutes; nobody’s going to be impressed if you keep changing your windows. A less creative approach would be appreciated.


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