The End of our French Adventure

The Husband’s sojourn in France ended on a high note.
Even though he doesn’t exactly have a mop of hair to manage, he can’t go more than a week without getting a haircut. Our two weeks in France were no exception. And so, on our second last day (miraculously, a non-cycling day), we took a walk into the village of Fayence in search of a “coiffeur hommes”. This coiffeur hommes was not manned by an 80-something year old Frenchman with a pair of shearers and a shaving bowl. Instead, we were greeted by an attractive 40-something Frenchwoman with some sort of modern hair-cutting machine that The Husband approved of. The hairdresser couldn’t have been friendlier and The Husband even tried to practise his French on her but the real clincher was when she paused, looked at him in the mirror and said, “You know, you look a bit like Bruce Willis.”
Well, The Husband was in seventh heaven. The hot French hairdresser had made his day.
Buoyed up by his new-found mean man looks, his confidence in practising his French that evening was up too. He decided to practise a sentence on the waiter at our favourite Fayence restaurant. We were thinking of ordering the crayfish risotto and wanted to know whether the crayfish was served in its shell. I wasn’t entirely sure how to say this in French so I translated it literally from the English: “is the crayfish still in its shell?” It didn’t sound entirely right but I was at a loss as to how to phrase it any other way and so I taught The Husband this literal sentence in French. He, very bravely posed our question to the waiter. But the waiter beautifully finished his sentence because, you see, in French there is a wonderful word which means “out of its shell”. “Decortique”. Isn’t that just so neat and beautiful? Sigh… French is such a beautiful language.
After our last dinner under the stars on the terrace of our villa, we retired for our last night in France, before waking up the next morning to a 24 hour journey back to SA. We had to check out of the rented house by 10 in the morning, even though our flight from Nice was only at 4pm. When I say “our” flight, I mean myself, The Princess and her nanny, Charity. The Husband had found out a few weeks ago that he had to fly straight to London for work. I was terrified and decided I had nothing to lose by asking the French granny at the check-in desk whether there was any chance Charity could be up-graded to business class? Pretty please, with a swish of creme fraiche on top? Of course, there was not a frigging chance of that and so The Princess and I were going to be all alone sans daddy and sans nanny on the long haul flight from Paris to Jozi. Oi.
We had a six hour layover in Paris where The Princess fell asleep once only on Charity’s shoulder, lulled into slumber by the soothing music in Sephora. She promptly woke up 20 minutes later and was as wired as anything for the rest of the night which is precisely what I had been afraid of. Our flight was only leaving at 23:20 and I figured by then she’d be hysterical if she hadn’t slept. I was praying I’d have no-one next to me in the two-seater configuration but it was not to be. The flight was jam packed. Luckily, the guy next to me was a father of two kids under the age of five and was the most chilled neighbour you could wish for. A Brazilian engineer living in Maputo and building a mine somewhere in Mozambique, he kept on telling me that everything I apologised for was “no problem, no problem” in his thick Portuguese accent. And when I think back to my tolerance for babies on planes, I should be ashamed of myself. A tiny peep out of any kid on an aircraft in my former life and I would’ve shot the “pathetic” parent the blackest look ever… How the tables turn.
Fortunately, The Princess reserved her two hysterical screaming fits to nappy changing time in the bathroom. The first time, the well-meaning stewardess who was holding her while I mixed her bottle, told me she thought she’d heard some butt thunder. There was nothing but pee but The Princess was still outraged at being dragged into that tiny bathroom and placed under those bright lights and boy did she let me know it.
The next morning, just before breakfast we really did have a Code Brown on board. Of course, it would be one of those Code Browns that had smudged all the way up The Princess’ back and soiled her vest, so we had to do a full clothes removal and re-application. NOT a happy princess.
That aside, though, she really behaved well. I was too terrified to “abandon” her in her little bassinet as I was certain that would produce screaming, so she simply slept in various positions on my chest all night and I think the two of us actually got a fair amount of sleep. She must’ve sensed her mommy was panicked and that she needed to behave.
When we finally got our bags and met our transfer company, the idiots hadn’t sent a safe baby seat for The Princess, so we were off on our next adventure: The Princess’ first train journey aboard the Gautrain. The Princess is strictly a one-poo-a-day girl but on very, very special occasions she has been known to poo twice a day. Today was one of those occasions. With ten minutes to spare until the departure of the Gautrain, we had our second Code Brown on board. It was too bad, though. There was no time for a nappy change. We had a train to catch. And so it was that The Princess, Charity and I, boarded the Gautrain with a monumental whiff wafting about us, for the final leg of our two week adventure.
Twenty minutes later, we were home AT LAST. And what fine weather we have come home to! Summer is upon us. The Princess and I celebrated by taking a stroll to Tasha’s in all our summer finery. Long may it last!

Babytalk by Boys

The Husband has never quite grasped terminology that has traditionally been associated with more "feminine" things. For example, if I'm wearing a skirt he likes, he'll say, "Nice dress!" No matter how hard I try to explain the difference between a skirt and a dress, it just doesn't sink in – to him, a skirt is a dress and a dress is a dress.

I guess terminology for baby paraphenalia has also traditionally the realm of more "feminine" things, which is why he has the same difficulty retaining new baby vocabulary as he has remembering the word "skirt". So when I'm burping The Princess and I ask him for a towelling nappy, he can't fathom that anything besides Pampers or Huggies was ever used as a nappy and so he'll hand me a disposable nappy. Then he'll get annoyed when I throw it back at him and ask for a TOWELLING nappy. Just as I don't think he actually understands the word "towelling", so too has he been unable to learn the meaning of a "muslin", which I guess is a bit of a hard one for boys. In his defence, he picked up "compactum" pretty quickly, which I also had to learn when this whole baby adventure began. (A chest of drawers cum changing table for babys, for those of you who have no need to know what a compactum is). For the rest of the baby paraphenalia, he has simply decided to accept his weaknesses and has taken it upon himself to rename items so that they make sense to him.

For example, he was unaware that the word "Babygro" existed, so he proceeded to name all of The Princess' one-piece outfits a "uniform", as in: "That's such a pretty uniform!" Sometimes, there's a bit of variation on the term uniform and Babygro's are referred to as "suits" as in: "What a cute suit!"

The word "pram" is another one that just won't stick with The Husband, so we take The Princess for walks in her "trolley" instead. Like "uniform", "trolley" also has a synonym in The Husband's unique baby vocabulary. It's sometimes referred to as a "cart". I guess this is his American version – sometimes we push her around in her (shopping) trolley, sometimes in her (shopping) cart.

That's the babytalk for boys in our little family. If you have some amusing boy vocabulary of your own, please post a comment and share it. Happy Sunday!

Childbirth: Leave Your Dignity in the Car

“Leave your dignity in the car”.
That’s what Dr M said when I called childbirth “barbaric”. In my defence, when I said that, she was breaking my waters – technically, that is. In reality, she was destroying my dignity. Don’t ask me why, at that moment, all I could think about was dignity and pride, but that was how I felt at the time.
Granted, all this was self-induced. A full seven days after The Princess’ due date and she was showing absolutely no signs of arrival. In those seven days, I’d had someone rear-end me down Corlett Drive and I’d enacted all the B.S. tricks to get babies to be born: I’d eaten enough spicy food to send Mumbai running to the loo, I’d drunk potions and lotions and herbal teas, I’d gone for walks, I’d bounced on gym balls, I’d visualised my baby, talked to her, written her name on my birthday calendar for 26 March (five days after her due date) and still… NOTHING. And so, on Monday 28 March, at my one week post due date check up, I asked to be induced.
Had I known the kind of pain and indignity that went with induction, I may not have done so. But I didn’t and so it was that I found myself flat on my back in a hospital bed with medics trying to get this baby to make an appearance. After starting the induction process, Dr M told me she’d be back to check on me in two and a half hours.
When she walked in at midday, I could tell by her arched eye-brow that things weren’t progressing as planned.
“Oh,” she said, “You’re reading your book.”
I took that to mean that I was supposed to be writhing in pain with contractions, but at that point, I felt nothing. So yes, while The Husband was out foraging for food, rather than watch the splendid offerings of daytime TV on SABC 2, I was reading my book.
And that’s when she moved in for the kill: the breaking of the waters. Thank God The Husband was out finding food at that moment because I don’t think he would’ve recovered from watching the process. Afterwards, I was holed up in the loo when The Husband called to tell me he was on his way back. He wanted to know why I was crying. The only way I could think to explain the barbarism I’d just suffered was to sob, “I feel like a CAVE WOMAN!”
I also tried to explain my sobs to Dr M.
“It’s just so barbaric!!” SNIFF, SNIFF, HEAVE, HEAVE. “I feel like I’ve been stripped of all dignity!”
And that’s when she told me that when you check in to have a baby, you leave your dignity in the car.
“You’ll get it back when you go home,” she assured me…

Grounded

Officially five days to go until our firstborn is due to arrive. Along the journey, there have been signs that The Husband may be getting nervous. Common examples (once a week, at least) have been:

"Will you still love me once the baby is here?" and

"What are we going to do about my cycling after the baby comes?"

But the real evidence of his internal panic came last week at our final ante-natal class. The trainer was talking about the pros and cons of circumcision, when The Husband turned to me and said:

"What are we going to do?"

I paused for a while before responding. I figured he was either talking about something completely different, or he'd realise his mad mistake if I just gave him a chance. Many seconds passed and he kept looking at me with raised eyebrows.

"Er, what are we going to do about what?" I said.

"The circumcision!" he responded.

I had to literally take his hand, look him in the eyes and remind him that we were having a girl.

This obvious panic didn't stop him from excitedly telling me that he'd managed to get a ticket for the Argus this past Sunday or that he needed to go to Cape Town for meetings last week. Luckily, our gynae calls a spade a spade. Her response to his questions on how wise it is to undertake domestic travel after 38 weeks, was simply:

"Depends. Do you have a private jet?"

I'm not sure what pained The Husband more: the knowledge that he'd been officially grounded by our medical practitioner, instead of his paranoid wife, or admitting that no, he did not own a private jet.

The result is that we are in Jozi and wondering if this baba is going to take after her parents who struggle to be on time for scheduled events or if she'll decide to surprise us and come early. Maybe she'll be a Human Rights Day baby and come on her due date. I guess we'll soon find out…

Don’t Poo Poo Daddy’s Enthusiasm

Ever since I can remember, my biggest fear about becoming a parent has been poo. At eight years old, I remember my father literally begging me to go into the Ladies toilets with my three year old sister to wipe her bum. I don’t know whether my poor sister had to simply make a plan or whether my dad had to sneak into the Ladies, but I do recall that I flatly refused to get involved. I think I may even have locked myself in the car and told them to get on with it.

“Just say no,” has pretty much worked for me in this department ever since.

A couple of years ago my three year old nephew was left alone with my father-in-law and I for 45 minutes. No sooner had my mother-in-law’s car backed out of the complex, when these big blue eyes looked up at us and said, “I need a poo!”

As if in slow motion, my father-in-law and I turned to look at one another. What I saw in his eyes mirrored what was in my own – sheer, unadulterated terror. We froze and stared at one another for what seemed like forever. I was terrified that as the female in the equation he was going to expect me to do the honours. But he must have sensed my terror, because when he finally spoke, he said, “Maybe he’ll wait for his granny to get back?”

Miraculously, we managed to distract my nephew from his urge for the next hour, until Granny was safely back from the shops.

At the age of 29, I felt I’d successfully averted another poo crisis.

Naturally, I realize that when my little princess arrives in the next two months, I won’t always be able to outsource this function. And many an experienced parent has assured me that “when it’s your own” etc, etc. Whatever! I’m sure a poo smells kak no matter whose it is, but I do realize that I’ll just have to get over myself and deal with it for the sake of my child.

I was however, delighted, when The Husband announced over our romantic dinner last night, that he would help with nappy changing. (Clearly, if we are at the point where we can discuss poo over Canard de Cointreau, we have made progress). I was amazed by this about-turn in The Husband. I mean, we’ve actually had arguments which have involved him refusing to change future nappies and me, as a result, refusing to change my surname. So for him to announce that he’d be helping out in the poo department, like it was no big deal, got me really excited.

I wanted to support and encourage his change of heart, so I decided to tell him about a product I’d recently learned of: the Angelcare Nappy Bin. From what I can tell, it’s designed to compress and suction away smelly nappies as soon as you discard them. No tying up your used Pampers in Pick ’n Pay packets and having your dustbin exude odours of excrement for hours thereafter. It sure sounded good to me.

So, wanting to encourage The Husband, I said, “Well, the good news is that they’ve designed this great, new nappy bin!”

“Really?” he looked genuinely excited by the news.

“Yes!” I confirmed, with gusto.

“Wow!” he said. “That’s cool! So what, then? You put the baby’s bum on top of the bin?”

I wish I could report that he said it with a twinkle in his eye…but alas, he really thought for a minute that I was introducing him to a nappy changing robot that would take care of our mutual poo fears.

Baby steps, I guess…                         

Fine Dining, Doggy Style

I believe I have a fine appreciation for most things French. I love their beautiful language, their sense of style, their magnificent gastronomic flair…but I have never understood their willingness to share all of this with their dogs. At a guest house in the Alps last year, I was horrified to find a rate card in our room for "nos amis a quatre pattes" (our four-legged friends).

As 2010 drew to a close, however, I learned that it is not just the Frenchies who treat their pooches like people. I learned this when I discovered we were sharing our Umhlanga hotel's fine dining restaurant with not one…not two…but THREE pampered pets. Since when do silver service and slobbering dogs go together? Admittedly, we probably would never have noticed the little mutts, had our waiter (the man has a sense of humour) not decided to quietly point them out to us. It wasn't so much their presence that he wanted to share with us, but the matter of their finely developed taste buds. Two of the coochy-coochy poochies apparently preferred still water, whilst the third had a penchant for sparkling, which our waiter had just served them in their silver-plated doggie bowls. Next up, the hounds were going for the Fillet Bearnaise, served with potato dauphinoise. This was straight from the menu ordinarily reserved for humans. For the more neglected pets out there, however, their owners have the option of a specially designed "pet menu" which the hotel offers. This menu doesn't offer Fillet Bearnaise, but instead Fluffy can feast on some delicious "Woof Waffles" – grilled waffles which are served with "a large boerewors sausage and gravy". Mmmm. Or if Fluffy has had a big night and wants a morning after fry-up, then he can have the "Full Doggy Breakfast" which consists of: scrambled eggs, pork sausage, bacon and hash browns. And all of this is on offer for the yummy price of 95 ZAR.

Who said pets were cheaper than kids?

Because it was New Year's Eve, this doggy-friendly fine dining establishment was offering a "dinner & dance" combo. When we saw the band, we suspected that the music may be a bit before our time – the average age of the musicians was about 75 squared. I guess it made sense since the average age of the guests was in that region as well. Which would have been fine, except that these people belong to an era when white men really could dance. Not so, for The Husband and I. Our little foray onto the dance floor went something like this:

The Husband: Okay, we can do this. We can show those old-timers. My mother sent me to some lessons for my matric dance and I know what I'm doing here.

Me: Great, because I have no idea what you're doing.

The Husband: It's easy. I lead, you follow.

Me: How am I supposed to follow when I have no idea what you're about to do next?

The Husband: You don't need to know because you're following me. That's the definition of following. Your problem is that you can't stand not being in charge.

Me: My problem is I can't read your mind.

The Husband: Just follow me, for Christ's sake. I'm in charge!

Me: I get it – you're in charge. You just don't seem to be in charge of your feet because you just crushed my baby toe with one of them.

During this spectacle we managed to collide with a Swiss couple a few times. They may have been in their twilight years but when they got moving on the dance floor, they did these one-legged jigs that would have put 16 year old gymnasts to shame. And they weren't the only ones who really knew how to shake a shoe or two. The rest of the couples were spinning one another around, looking like Strictly Coming Dancing for seniors.

Mercifully, we were put out of our misery by the ringing in of the New Year when everyone stood in a circle and did some kind of a folking dancing, can-can number in lieu of a countdown. Clearly, that's how they did things back then, before the war.

After the old Auld Lang Syne sing-along with the old folk, we discovered a venue upstairs with dancing and music from this decade. At least there we could steer clear of one another's two left feet. Only thing was, the floor was dominated by 21 year old girls in the highest of heels and the shortest of dresses. Not one to be up-staged after being shown up by the senior citizens downstairs, I was determined to get "low, low, low" with Flo-rida and the best of the twenty-somethings.

Not a good move at 29 weeks pregnant…Needless to say, I retired to bed soon afterwards, leaving the respective dance floors to the very old and the very young.

Happy New Year, everyone. Remember: never start a New Year's Resolution on a weekend!

Couples Vacation

I swear I am going to spend next December in Joburg – it seems to be the only spot in SA with reliable summer weather. I tried Stellenbosch and Cape Town in early December and was treated to gale-force winds and an honestly average amount of sun. Then I tried Keurbooms, Plett and Knysna in mid-December and there was record rainfall not seen in the last two drought-ridden years. Now we’re in Umhlanga where I was preparing to be panting like a little poodle in the heat – except we haven’t seen the sun for three days straight. I have just given up my poolside possie, realising that one can’t really tan when it’s drizzling. I swear, if Joburg were naturally beautiful and had a beach, it would be so invaded by rich foreigners, none of us Saffers would be able to afford property there. We just have to get our head around holidaying in The Big Smoke – best tanning opportunities in the country, no doubt.
As a result of this kak weather, my usual holiday ritual of breakfast-pool-cocktails-pool-lunch-pool-cocktails-pool-dinner, has been rudely interrupted. (Okay, virgin cocktails this time, owing to being knocked up and all). And, as a result of Umhlanga resembling downtown Jozi in rush-hour, The Husband’s usual holiday ritual of cycling-cycling-cycling, has been derailed. So we have invented a new holiday ritual, namely the Spousal Tennis Championships. But this is not just any tournament. It’s a tournament involving a seven month pregnant yours-truly and her viciously competitive husband. The game works like this. The Husband tells me, “Honey, you mustn’t run for the ball”. Sounds sweet, right? But then he finds himself in a tight spot and he goes in for an impossibly short, drop shot. This little challenge has two possible effects: it either makes me stop dead in my tracks to give him a death stare, or it makes me sprint (okay, waddle, quite quickly) for the ball. If it’s the latter, The Husband has the audacity to shout “Don’t run!” To which I respond, “Don’t drop shot me!” To which he has no response. He knows that I know that he just can’t face the prospect of losing a game to his heavily pregnant wife.
And so the spousal tennis champs go… The usual, relaxing stuff that couple vacations are made of.
Tennis champs aside, though, I have learned that The Husband and I have a very different view of how to spend our holidays. I like to pick one form of exercise and then I like to get it over with as quickly as possible – preferably not more than 60 hellish minutes. Thereafter, I feel absolutely justified being a pool-side sloth for the rest of the day. Pool-side slothing activities include reading, napping and eating, with the occasional pool dip here and there but only if the temperature is just right and that there are no kids in sight who might wet my hair.
The Husband, on the other hand, thrives on a strict regime of at least three sports a day. Today’s tennis in super humid conditions, left him wondering whether he’d really had a cardio work-out, just because he sweated up a storm? Anyway, he wasn’t convinced so he decided he’d just make sure by heading to the hotel gym for a bit of aerobic exercise. By mid-afternoon it was time for his standing 3pm personal training session at the gym up the road. Upon his return, he woke me from me poolside slumber because he wanted to know where the swimming goggles were so he could do laps in the pool. And he still wants to sign up for surfing lessons…
The long and short of it is that we either spend holiday time together trying to annihilate one another on the tennis court or we hook up at meal times. (When all else fails, there’s always the food bond). There has however, been one exception when I managed to chain him to a deck chair with his book. That was when he decided to expend his excess energy by passionately explaining to me what he’d just read about the Riemann Hypothesis – all part of his holiday reading on “the greatest unsolved problem in Mathematics”. My gut reaction was to try and distract him and what better way to do so than to go: “Race you to the other side of the pool, baby!” He was almost at the other end before he realised that I hadn’t actually entered the pool. However, he had forgotten about the hypotheseis by then and had moved on to testing how far he could swim underwater.
I’m just hoping this boundless energy is here when there’s a kid diving off his shoulders, another one pulling down his swimming costume underwater and when Mommy is decidedly indisposed on her deck chair, reclining with her book in her one hand and her caipirinha in the other.

Zooolooo Hospitality in the Midlands

Just in case anyone had any illusions that paternalism in South Africa was dead…I can report from personal experience that it is alive and kicking in the KwaZulu Natal Midlands.

First of all, someone needs to tell hotel owners that no-one cares who they are or what they've achieved in their long and illustrious lives. Second of all, someone needs to tell them that we also couldn't give a cr*p about their socio-political views.

Allow me to elaborate…

The Husband and I set off on our annual adventure yesterday afternoon for a two-night stint in the KzN Midlands en route to Umhlanga. I had been dying to visit this particular Midlands establishment – renowned for its award winning cuisine – for years. At 5pm, we arrived and confirmed with the manageress that we would most definitely be "joining them" for dinner. We were told that we should present ourselves at 7pm for aperitifs, which would be followed by a speech by "Mr Blah-di-Blah" before dinner. Mr Blah-di-Blah's name (which I honestly did not catch) was pronounced so matter of factly that she may as well have told us we were to be addressed by Nelson Mandela himself. Although I suspected that Mr Blah-di-Blah was the hallowed owner of the establishment, I couldn't resist asking, "Er, who's he when he's at home?" It was then confirmed that he was indeed the almighty owner.

No big deal, you might be thinking. But The Husband and I have had our fair share of boutique hotel experiences where self-important proprietors actually think your life's goal is to belong to their inner circle. We were really looking forward to a private, romantic dinner to kick-start our holiday and we just had a niggly feeling about this scheduled "speech".

At 7pm sharp, we were seated on the guest house's stately patio for appertifs when, soon enough, Blah-di-Blah came bounding over to introduce himself. We decided to give him the benefit of the doubt and were on our best behaviour, exchanging pleasantries on the weather and other such engrossing topics. He then bounded over to introduce himself to some more guests as they stepped onto the patio. "We've met twice before," they reminded him politely, to which he swiftly responded, "Of course! Jolly good show! I thought you looked ever so familiar!" Yeah, right.

By 7:45 The Husband was ready to eat the 18th century stonework on the guest house walls so I gently asked if we could be shown to our table. "Sure," the manager told us excitedly, "it's almost speech time!"

Oh, goody!

At this point, I suspect the owner sensed the hunger of his guests, and, eager to now get us to our tables, he let forth with a joke for the benefit of his 15-odd guests which resounded across the dining area: "Gentlemen! You pay so much to marry our wives and then you can't even get them to join you for dinner! Hahahahahahahaha!!"

I don't even know how to comment on that, er, joke. I think it speaks for itself – although God knows what it's saying.

But his speech proved even better. Guests were treated to a 15-minute history of the his childhood in the Transkei, playing cricket with his best friend, Prince What's-his-face. During these idyllic times, the Prince bowled, while Blah-di-Blah batted, because, of course, such was the hierarchy in those times. (This was also put forward as the reason behind the Eastern Cape producing international stars like Makhaya Ntini who's "a phenomenal bowler" but who "can't bat".) We were then reminded that nowadays, the inverse is, of course, true: "the white boys" are bowling and black people are batting.

Just then, with no sense of irony whatsoever, he moved on to the topic of his "zooolooo" staff members, for whom it is apparently still "a pleasure to serve". Guests were then told that in many places in the world it is "no longer a pleasure to serve", however, we were assured that here at Paternalism Place, it is still indeed a "pleasure to serve". We were told that we would not experience Swiss hospitality. Instead, we would be privileged to experience "zooolooo hospitality" – something that "takes a little longer", but that is "much better" in Blah-di-Blah's (ahem) humble opinion.

At this point, The Husband looked as though he was ready to throw up. Trapped in my seat, with Blah-di-Blah sounding like he could go on all night (he hadn't ommitted to mention that he'd been a lawyer in his "former life"), I came up with the ultimate act of defiance. I reached into my handbag, pulled out my faithful Tabard stick and began painstakingly Tabard-ing my big toes. Fortunately, my strappy sandals meant that protecting the top of my feet from the mozzies was a really delicate affair, requiring enormous amounts of concentraion. In this way, I was able to drown out the remainder of the discourse, until eventually, mercifully, it came to an end.

At breakfast this morning, our waitress wanted to know whether we'd be "joining them" for dinner this evening. We told them that we would like to, but gently enquired whether they would be any speeches to look forward to? Our waitress informed us that no, there would be no speeches. And I could swear I detected a bit of a twinkle in her "Zooolooo" eyes.

Alas, Alack

Alas, alack! On Sabbatical in Sandton is NOT one of the 10 finalists in the SA Blog Awards' Best New Blog category – or any other category, for that matter. So all of you who meant to nominate me but didn't…feel the guilt. Feel it wash all over you… From my side, I will be wallowing in disappointment alongside a pool in Mauritius next week. The Husband has decided it is the only way to cheer me up.

Just kidding. I wish.

No, we are off to this fair island because he is riding in yet another cycle race – another cycle race disguised as a holiday. Although, this time, I intend to go on a concerted Strike de Soigneuse. After all, I am a Saffer – striking should be in my blood. I'll be silently picketing at the pool behind my dark glasses, my book and my margarita and The Husband can go off and do as many little circles around the island as his heart desires.

To celebrate the arrival of Spring, I took myself off to a Zumba class this morning. Admittedly, I have not shaken my tush to those sexy Brazilian beats in a long time. Normally, I am intimidated by a classroom full of hot chicks who really can move their little backsides to the beat of the music. But that's the beauty of being on sabbatical – it was just me and a bunch of middle-aged housewives, WAY past their prime. Thank God. So we all looked a bit like "white-chicks-can't-dance" – because, let's face it, we generally can't. The hilarious part is that the instructor had a beer boep the size of a Jabulani soccer ball. (In fact, I think that may be an understatement.) But boy, could he dance! Just goes to show…

Anyway, thanks to my class-mates, I came out of there feeling like Shakira (but with more clothes on) and ready to take on this beautiful Spring day in Jozi.

Hope the traffic doesn't suck too much and you make it home in time for a sun-downer on your balcony!

Avoiding Sport in Aspen

Summer in Aspen is all about the sport. Wherever you look, tanned Americans with bodies to die for are biking, running, hiking, walking, climbing, golfing, kayaking, fishing or playing tennis.

The Husband was in HEAVEN.

When on holiday and surrounded by sporting opportunities, his motto is "which sport's next?" When on holiday…when on sabbatical…when in Jozi…whenever…my motto is: "one sport a day".

I thought The Sister was on board with my mantra, but it seems she can be heavily influenced by The Husband. It was either that – or the Bad Billy's All American Beef Burger she was struggling to digest which made her want to chase me around the tennis court for 90 minutes (at an altitude of 2,400m) AND go jogging – all in one day.

So the next day, before those two got any bright ideas about hiking up the mountain, I came up with a plan for a decoy: a cultural outing. I found it in a brochure in the hotel lobby and it was entitled "Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous Tour". I decided to read them the promotional blurb on the tour. It went like this:

If you like People Magazine, you will love this tour!…You'll see the beautiful homes of Movie Stars, Television Stars, Sports Stars, Music Stars, Super Models, Fortune 500 CEO's and Royalty!…You'll have incredible stories to tell your friends when you get home!

(Capital letters NOT mine, by the way…)

The Sister and The Husband heard this, raised their eyebrows, looked at each other and then looked at me as though we couldn't possibly be related. The Sister then verbalised their thoughts, telling me that we weren't "those kinds of people".

Mission "Avoid Sport" had failed.

And so off we went on what was supposed to be a leisurely, meandering bike ride. The first 5km was utterly pleasant: we cruised along paved, flat bike trails, in amongst trees, alongside bubbling brooks. All very civilised and manageable. But then the gentle pathways turned into monstrously steep hills. Before I knew it, I was huffing and puffing like the Big, Bad Wolf. The worst was, there didn't seem to be any end in sight. In times like these, when I ask The Husband important questions like "how much longer is this effing hill?" or "how many more of these frigging hills are there?" he actually lies to me. He'll say that the hill we're on is the "last one". And when we get to the next one and I call him on it, he'll say that he wasn't lying, because, in fact, this hill is not at all like "one of the frigging hills" I was asking about – it's steeper. By this point, I feel like ramming my front tyre into his rear derailer – not that I would actually be able to identify one of those – but of course he's half-way up the mountain by then and there's no way I can catch him.

The Sister wasn't helping matters either. She took to this whole hill thing like a duck to water and soon she was wanting to see if we could cycle to the next town, Snowmass, just to "see what's there". And so, on I rode – or rather, on I wove because the hills were so steep I couldn't actually ride up them in a straight line. I kept thinking that I could have been swanning around the holiday homes of the rich and famous, listening to some American tour guide gushing about their marble kitchen counter tops and who they'd allegedly shagged on said counter tops.

Infinitely more appealing.

Three hours, one spate of tears and one numb bum later, we returned to Aspen. As we were wheeling our bikes back to the bike hire place, we passed a gorgeous looking jewellery store. But it wasn't just any jewellery store. This store had a very special sign in its window. It went like this:

"YOUR HUSBAND CALLED. HE SAID BUY ANYTHING YOU WANT".

Gotta love this town.