When Middle-class Kids Need A Weekend in Warmbaths

The only sushi-related foodstuff my kids have ever eaten is wasabi. And that only transpired because Joe was sitting on my lap while we were enjoying a sushi-feast with my in-laws. He was too young to talk but he was not too young to scream and point. Somehow he got it in his head that he WANTED WASABI!!! After his initial glee at getting his own way, his facial expression turned to one of horror and then pain. Suffice it to say that my kids have not begged for sushi since.

I don’t offer them sushi, because, as my mother used to say, they’ll “have nothing to look forward to” later on in life.

I recall once reading a piece by a British journalist who recounted a family holiday to the Caribbean where she and her husband travelled business class while their kids sat in economy. She believed that children should only travel business class if they paid for their tickets themselves. This resonated with me. Unfortunately, my kids are a bit young for this particular lesson. On a recent trip back from Mauritius, we sat opposite (in business class) an older couple whom I later realised had this exact policy in place. They tucked into the champers as soon as their butts hit the seats. She’d packed her pink sleep mask and a stack of magazines and he had a copy of the paper. They reclined their seats as soon as the plane began cruising and looked set to enjoy their good fortune. Our kids, obviously, couldn’t have cared less: the bigger the seat, the better it was for bouncing on; the more buttons it had, the more it could be driven like a bumper car. Somehow the airline managed to run out of kiddie goodie bags and the hostess saw no reason not to give the last bag to only one of our two children. Of course, an almighty feud then broke out on the injustice of it all and who had more rights to the dinky-sized colouring pencils. Eventually, the stewardess came round and whispered that “people” were starting to complain and could our children please settle down? For the rest of the flight, I am happy to report, Joe had one of those poos that sink right to the bottom of the nappy and cannot be detected by a parental eye when you pull the nappy away from the child’s back to assess whether a change was needed. As a result, I only confirmed my suspicions once we’d landed. I am sure the smell would have wafted across the aisle…

When we got off the flight, Derby and Joan from next door were reunited with their teenage offspring, while our two kids continued to believe that oversized seats and extra legroom were entirely the norm when travelling.

The other night, I had dinner with a friend who has a five year old. Apparently, she recently started asking to “go for fine dining”. Date night is now dead and Friday nights are spent at the local steak house with the two kids, for their fill of “fine dining”. Mercifully, our two children still believe that any dining establishment that boasts a jungle gym or jumping castle is more than “fine”. And my husband is an honest-to-goodness fan of The Spur, so fine dining for them is still Sunday nights at The Spur in their pj’s.

Last week on the way home from school, Chiara announced that one of her friends has “never been to Mauritius!” I felt like amusing myself and feigned shock at this fellow five year old who had never had an island holiday. But then I gently explained to her that the first time I had set foot in Mauritius was when I was nearly 30 years old. She looked at me with pity. And that’s when I decided that a weekend in Warmbaths is in order…

Why Group Aerobics Classes Are Sort of Like High School


I started participating in group aerobics classes about half-way through high school. “Body Concept” – aptly named for its era – was the local gym in George, at a time when it was wholly acceptable to work out in a g-string leotard over a pair of cycling shorts. (At least this was thought to be cool in George, in the mid-nineties.) My high school was hockey obsessed and seeing as I couldn’t really run in my teens – let alone run while connecting a hockey bat to a ball – going to aerobics classes across the road from my boarding school was a welcome escape into the anonymity of the adult world. Or so I first thought…

Because before long, I recognised that the Kingdom of Aerobics possessed all the hallmarks of a high school class – except without the boys. If you were an unpopular instructor, you were toast. No-one spoke to you, no-one wanted to hang out after class and worst of all, group exercise goers would simply boycott your class. If, God forbid, there was a last minute change to the regular roster and one or two unsuspecting souls hadn’t called to double check who was giving a particular class, they would arrive and, the moment they saw the uncool instructor walk up to the teaching podium, they would walk out. The poor instructor might be left with one newbie, or no-one at all, to teach.

The popular instructor, on the other hand, wielded untold power. She commanded a following which would arrive up to thirty minutes before, marking their territory with their sweat towels, thereby staking a claim on their favourite spot on the sprung floor. By this stage, I had found a space off to the side, where I could safely head before every class, not yet claimed by any Smug Regulars who had come before me and who would therefore have held a position of greater seniority than I. Here, in this space on the side, I would be free to break out into a grapevine with confidence.

During my university years, I graduated to the Health & Racquet Club in Cape Town’s Mouille Point. This was the big leagues and competition for spaces in the popular group exercise classes was stiff. We’d arrive, well in advance, and request a numbered ticket at reception. If you got there too late, there would be no tickets left and access to the class would be denied. By this stage, Step Aerobics had gained massively in popularity and participants were expected to be able to move around, over and across, their steps, according to the instructor’s signals. Heaven help you if you moved in the opposite direction to what what was instructed and put yourself on a collision path with the participant to your left. The Smug Regular would then have every right to look at you with the utmost condescension as if to say, “How dare you come to the Advanced Class if you cannot perform at this level?” You would then gingerly pick up your Reebok step and shuffle off to the back of the class, to join the other rejects who were unable to keep up with the routine.

Unlike George, in Cape Town and Joburg, you might get the odd male participant. Amongst these, there were usually one or two who would engage in a “simply Step” routine. This literally means that they were simply present to step up and down. They made no bones about the fact that following a routine was completely beyond their capabilities and so they just stepped for 60 minutes, to great music and a good vibe. Amongst this grouping, one might have come across The Class Clown. The Class Clown liked to try to provide entertainment for his fellow participants. His idea of doing so would be to deliberately go right when everyone went left, thereby creating mock collisions and ceremoniously roaring with laughter at his own joke. He was tolerated by those around him, but not seen as a serious aerobics contender otherwise.

In recent years, after a hiatus of some time, I returned to Step aerobics. I was a little rusty, but felt inwardly that my years of dedication to the cause afforded me certain rights: the rights to a good spot (not right at the back with the rejects), for example, fairly close to the front with a view of the instructor plus a bit of mirror space. But nothing in my years as an aerobics practitioner, had prepared me for Patronising Peggy. Completely unsolicited, this stranger turned to me at the end of the class and told me to “keep on coming and trying my best” since I would “eventually get the hang of it”. I stared at her, in her fluorescent headband. I actually think she may have been wearing leg warmers. I wanted to say: “well maybe if I’d been alive as long as you have been doing aerobics, I would have reached your level of proficiency.”

Long live group exercise with its Smug Regulars, Class Clowns and too-cool-for-school instructors!

Chiara’s Fifth Birthday Party: Eloise from The Plaza, NY


There is a scene in the Sopranos in which Mrs Soprano tries to coax her teenage daughter out of her moodiness by suggesting that they go into the city and have tea at The Plaza with Eloise. I must have had some prior notion of the legend of Eloise and The Plaza from American popular culture, because Mrs Soprano’s suggestion made sense to me at the time. This time last year, my mom visited my sister in New York and was taken to The Plaza and introduced to the tale of Eloise. She returned with one of the Eloise storybooks and read it to Chiara over and over. For Christmas, my sister’s in-laws gave Chiara a copy of the original Eloise story, published in 1955, with a personal inscription by the illustrator.


This is a story which for me, is very connected to my mom, and also to my sister, living far away in New York. It is also incredibly cleverly written and amusing to read and has become one of my favourite children’s books. So it was a natural choice as a theme for Chiara’s 5th birthday party. Here are some classically precocious quotes which encapsulate the book’s spirit:

Eloise is a little girl who lives at The Plaza Hotel in New York. She is not yet pretty, but she is already a Person. She is interested in people when they are not boring.


Nanny is my nurse. She wears tissue paper in her dress and you can hear it. She is English and has 8 hairpins made out of bones. She says that’s all she needs in this life for Lord’s sake.


Oooooooo I absolutely love Room Service. They always know it’s me and they say “Yes, Eloise?” And I always say “Hello, this is me, ELOISE and would you kindly send one roast-beef bone, one raisin and seven spoons to the top floor and charge it please. Thank you very much.”


My day is rawther full. I have to call the Valet and tell him to get up here and pick up my sneakers to be cleaned and pressed and have them back for sure without fail. Then I have to play the piano and look in the mirror for a while. Then I have to open and close the door for a while and as soon as I hear talking and laughing I skidded out and run down the hall… Oh my Lord I am absolutely so busy I don’t know how I can possibly get everything done. Then I have to hop around for a while.

I started the party planning by choosing an Eloise invitation template on Etsy for $10. The designer, Nerdy Fox, is based in Georgia in the US. I placed the order with my custom text requests at night in SA and by the next morning, it was in my Inbox.

Eloise Etsy invite

Next up was inspiration from Pinterest. I basically got the idea that you can quite easily get the theme across just by using the right colours: cerise, black and white plus a bit of baby pink thrown in.

Eloise party pinterest screenshot

Next stop was The Party Spot in Woodmead to purchase all manner of things black, white and pink: from paper straws to napkins to pink and white sweets. I even found a set of suspenders for the birthday girl’s Eloise outfit. This picture was taken when we tried on the outfit a few days before. On the day, Chiara put the outfit on under great duress, before taking herself off to her room after about 10 minutes and changing into a bright orange dress. Not part of the theme, but it was her party, after all…


Pinterest was also the source of novelty cake options. I narrowed it down to three and Chiara chose her favourite from these:


Her favourite was this three-tiered cake which I ordered from Helen’s Cakes in Craighall Park.


I did not, however, specify, dimensions when I placed the order – I only sent the Pinterest photo. When the cake arrived, the driver had difficulty carrying it as it was so enormously large and heavy. It would have dwarfed most wedding cakes, so it did come across as a tad OTT. Beautiful, nonetheless but will be sure to give measurements next time!

I couldn’t resist ordering some Eloise printables from Etsy. I hesitated before buying the water bottle labels because I wondered if I would actually sit there and glue them to the bottles the night before, but Pritt worked well and it went a little quicker than expected. “The Plaza” icon next to the “restroom” sign is part of a set of printables I ordered on Etsy.


A few days before the party, I popped in to In Good Company in Parkhurst. I’ve learnt to head to The Party Spot first to try to get pretty much everything I need and then just to spend an indulgent hour at In Good Company to check if there’s anything I really can’t live without. I found some gorgeous pom poms in just the right colours. The cerise and baby pink table overlays were purchased on sale for an absolute song, during a previous excursion to the store and they were perfect additions to the Eloise decor.


I ordered the adult snacks from caterer, Lindi Perrin*, based in Athol, and they were delicious, light and came on beautiful platters, replete with a note for Domestic Goddesses like myself, detailing how best to heat her fare.

Below are pictures of the main party table. The children climbed onto benches next to the table and helped themselves to sweets. My sister suggested throwing in some NY icons to add to the decor. We borrowed Joe’s NY cab (a gift from his New Yorker uncle, Justin), for example, plus some sidewalk souvenirs like a mini Statue of Liberty.


In terms of party favours, I know kids love them. However, I’m not a fan. If you don’t want to cram your party packs full of more junk food (just what you want in your kids’ laps in the car when you’re leaving a party at 5pm), then you have two options: 1) trinkets from the Chinese markets which break instantly or 2) spend a small fortune on age appropriate gifts. I opted for balloons. The night before though, I discovered an Instax camera which I’d bought for David for Christmas (for “the man who has it all”). A polaroid photograph thus became our party favour. The kids were quite entranced by the idea of an actual hard copy photo coming out of a machine, so it was cute, but it was only a viable option because it was lying in our drawer, with two films already. (And yes, I did have many a puzzled child ask me where the party packs were…)


If you’re intrigued by the character of Eloise, you can buy a set of four hardcover Eloise books on Takealot (delivery time is 10 to 15 working days). I highly recommend the stories. Oooooooo, I absolutely love Eloise!


*Lindi Perrin can be reached on 082 572 4060

Diet Diagnosis: The Get Fit Challenge



By late December, the amount of holiday headspace that my weight (about 3kg more than my new normal) was occupying was unacceptably high. I was spending an inordinate amount of precious sea, sun, sand and family time thinking about how tight my pants were. It had to stop. I needed an intervention and I needed to be invested – financially and emotionally. That’s when I found The Get Fit Challenge. I’d come across a year or so before in a fitness magazine or on Facebook but I’d decided that Peter Place was too far to travel for an exercise class. Fast forward to January 2016 and I was willing to to commute…


A few days before the challenge started, we were invited to a briefing. Lesley, the female trainer, looked us in the eye and said that getting in shape was 80% diet. She added that for women, it might even by 90% diet. She told us that was no allowance for alcohol during the challenge. Not one drop. We all looked at one another in shock with our post holiday bellies and diaries full of dinner plans. What? No alcohol AT ALL? (I lasted consecutive 34 days before succumbing to a glass or three of Cap Classique. 34 out of 84 days. Not even halfway).



It’s spartan

The Get Fit Challenge was started in Durban by two personal trainers from Virgin Active who wanted to help their clients actually see visible results. The key is obviously the diet. I’m only able to review it from my perspective, obviously, but also only from a female perspective. Without giving away Get Fit’s intellectual property, I’ll give you an idea of how the diet works. In short, it’s what I call… ahem… “spartan” – i.e. light on content (but probably contains sufficient calories for health purposes).

Say cheers! (to your social life)

I won’t lie, I found it very challenging (but I would say that about every diet). It’s simplicity suited me though. Travel/ holidays and social engagements made it much, much harder for me. I don’t have a hectic social life, so that helped, especially with the “no booze” policy but I found myself making fewer plans which involved drinking or eating out. As a result, my lame social life went from below average to pathetic.

There is sugar in, like, everything

If you stick to the diet to the letter, you consume: no dairy, no fruit, very specific, healthy carbs only and no carbs after lunch. (I didn’t even attempt cutting out milk in coffee and I ate some fruit, but tried not to eat lots of it and tried to choose lower sugar/ lower calorie fruit like strawberries, blueberries or melons though I sometimes went a bit wild and consumed banana or apple).



For breakfast they tell you to have protein and carbs, but ideally no bread as breads off the shelf contain sugar. (I’ve never really understood before why bread is evil unless you are gluten intolerant. Now I know.) I either ate three scrambled eggs with 100% rye toast or Oats (the original ones that are really, really bland as a result of having no crap added to them) with some whey protein. Let me tell you now that I cannot stand pills and potions (aka supplements and shakes). I often eat my breakfast post work-out while driving kids to school. One morning Chiara’s classmate was sitting behind me in the car when he got a whiff of my whey protein. “Eeeeuwww!!!! What’s that SMELL??” he shouted so loudly I think the whole of the Sandton CBD could hear. Chiara then gave a good sniff and together they began a cacophony of mock-vomiting noises from the backseat. I kind of agree. Whey protein is fake and gross.



Mid-morning and afternoon, you’re supposed to snack on biltong or protein shakes or half a can of tuna or such-like. I tried to avoid this: I don’t think biltong is healthy and it makes me even thirstier than usual. I also loathe drinking my “food”. But if you’re on the run, it’s not so easy to carry around your half handful of smoked mackerel for your 3pm snack…

Lunch and dinner

For lunch and dinner you eat a very small portion of lean protein with veg and/or salad. At lunch you need to have some brown rice or sweet potato and somewhere in the day you throw in a tiny morsel of healthy fat. I don’t like nuts so I would have half an avo at lunch which was like manna from heaven and at night I would half choke on my bone dry chicken breast or piece of fish pan-fried with Spray and Cook.

In short, the diet is a riot but it obviously works if you can stick to it.


You sign up for a 6-week/ 8-week or 12-week challenge. (I did the latter – it was the one that started the soonest in January and that’s why I chose it). You pay up-front to attend a Get Fit class once, twice or three times a week. If you work it out, you pay about R180 per class so the cost is similar to a Sweat 1000 class, for example, if you’re able to attend all the classes you pay for. I signed up for twice a week at a cost of R4,200. During the twelve weeks, I was out of town twice for a total of two weeks. I also got gastro which put me out for a week. So I ended up wasting about 7 sessions which I wasn’t able to catch up because of times/ location/ traffic/ other commitments etc.

The classes consist of intense resistance training for short intervals at a time. Not totally dissimilar to “The Grid” at Virgin Active, but what sets the Get Fit classes apart is the awesome, super-fast paced music. I found I could cope fairly easily with some of the exercises in a class and others were really challenging for me. Some people were super fit, in great shape and were coming to class purely for fitness maintenance purposes, others were trying to start exercising after a long break, it appeared. The theory is that you can sort of go at your own pace. I battled to remember what to do at the different stations (it gets explained up-front before the class starts) so I would also try to pair up with at least one other person which made the experience easier and more fun.


For me, it was a great kickstart to shed the extra 3kg that were really bugging me. I’m bummed I’m not able to put up a picture of a six-pack. According to Get Fit’s assessment, I am a mere 4kg away from body fat of 18%, which would be “excellent” for my, ahem… age (37). So close and yet so far… For real inspiration, check out the Challenge’s winners and finalists here.

I would definitely recommend the Challenge if you live or work close to Coachman’s Crossing in Peter Place and you need to have something to lose like your time, money or dignity, when you don’t stick to a diet after Day 2. I lost all of these in spades in those 12 weeks but am happy to report that at least I lost a few kilos too, so I consider the experience worth my while.

(The next challenge is a 12 week challenge and it starts on 9 May. You can sign up here.)

(I wrote this post entirely independently with no payment or input from Get Fit. These are purely my views and my experiences).

Tourist in Your Country of Birth? A Walking Tour of the Maboneng Precinct


For my 37th birthday in January, my friend Mandy gave me one of the best gifts I could have asked for: a walking tour of the Maboneng Precinct, south east of the Joburg CBD. I had been to the Sunday morning market at Arts on Main once with David and Chiara in 2013 (Chiara was about 2). I thought it was cool but a little limited: once we’d picked something to eat, there were a few shops to browse but mostly up a flight of stairs – so not really a pram destination.

My second visit was in September 2015. I wanted to show my Cape Town foodie friend & lifestyle chef/ consultant, Maureen, that Jozi also has some funky destinations and that it’s not all about strip malls. We had two kids and two prams between us, it was a scorcher of a day and after the kids had messed “ice cream” (actually organic frozen yoghurt or such-like) all over themselves, they were frankly OVER the excursion.

Then, a few weeks ago, I went to Maboneng to watch a documentary at The Bioscope (The Boers at the End of the World: very interesting doci about a tiny group of Afrikaans-speaking Argentinians in Patagonia). It was a Friday night and the place was PUMPING. Such a great vibe with so many bars and eateries to choose from… (Note to coffee lovers: The Bioscope possibly offers one of the best tasting cappuccinos I’ve had in Joburg. Yes, I was drinking coffee at 7pm at night – I have small children). It was then, that I started to understand the hype about Maboneng, “Place of Light”.

This bar was HUMMING on Fri 18 March
(This bar next door to the Bioscope was humming on a summery Friday night in March)

Returning to Maboneng for our walking tour on a Friday morning in April, sans enfants, felt really decadent. Mandy and I Uber-ed (I think it’s a verb now, right?) to Fox Street with only our handbags in tow (not even wet wipes :)) and met our guide, Jo, at Origins Coffee. (I recall going back to Cape Town in my early days as a Jozi immigrant and being told I had not lived until I had sampled Origins coffee in De Waterkant. I love local “imports”).

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Jo is the founder of Past Experiences, one of a handful of inner city walking tour companies. I love that she majored in History and Archeology. (She has a keen interest in street art and graffiti about which I knew absolutely nothing before the tour. The photo above is a “tag” – a street artist’s signature).

As we arrived, Mandy and I spied some of my two most favourite words in the English language “ROOFTOP BAR”. We ventured upstairs and it transpired that Canteen (the restaurant inside the Arts on Main courtyard) has a cute, little rooftop area.

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Jo then led us to the shops and galleries on the first floor. I bought these gorgeous, colourful mini canvasses (pictured below) featuring different hand signs for taxis, as well as one of Madiba. I love the bright colours against the dark grey cladding in our guest loo, where they are now hanging. I spied them in artist, May Wentworth’s, store: The Inappropriate Gallery & Decor. The large canvas of the woman in a red jacket is one of May’s own artworks which I was admiring too. I couldn’t resist a carved noughts and crosses board which I’ve been using to teach Chiara (who just turned 5) to play.

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The Inappropriate Gallery also stocks gorgeous platters, bowls etc by The Ceramic Factory (main Joburg store is in Linden). Here’s an example of their wares from their Facebook page:


As for the prices, perhaps I am punch drunk by the exorbitant prices we get charged for pretty little things in Sandton, the Parks etc, but I felt like I had US dollars to spend but was paying in Rands: I couldn’t believe what great value everything was. (Jo, on the other hand, is more used to shopping in the inner city and surrounds and couldn’t quite understand my bargain hunter’s excitement…).

Next stop was at I Was Shot in Joburg. I absolutely love this “brand”. So much so that I actually bought the T-shirt. (I never, ever buy the T-shirt…that’s me wearing it in the picture below – yes, the 10 year old in me wanted to wear it straight away!) That’s how much I love their story, purpose and now, their product range. If you don’t know who they are, they say it best: “I Was Shot provides a platform for former street children (from Hillbrow) to earn an income”. They started out by using disposable cameras to photograph their surroundings. Now, the photos form the basis for gorgeous, trendy and totally “usable” products. Besides my T-shirt, I bought funky photo frames and fridge magnets. (Their products are also on sale at their pop-up store in Rosebank’s mall, opposite Clicks. I love them as gifts for Saffers living abroad or foreigners – so easy to fit in your suitcase and so reflective of modern South Africa.)

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After our shopping spree, Jo walked us through the precinct to The Collector’s Treasury. I’m not proud to say I’d never heard of it, but I gather it’s sort of famous amongst book lovers and/or hipsters and collectors. Prepare for total chaos as you enter – and throughout the store – with piles of books, lining almost every inch of available space. According to Jo, the owners (if they happen to be on duty when you visit) kind of know what they have in stock and where to find it. Definitely worth a visit for the experience even if the product range and method of display is totally overwhelming.

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We then walked over beautiful pavement mosaics (somewhat in disrepair, sadly) into what I didn’t initially realise was part of the Maboneng Precint. As part of her studies, Jo did a mini thesis on New Doornfontein which she described as once being a very poor, but culturally and artistically rich, slum in the early 1900’s. It’s now home to a private school targeting lower middle income families, an arts centre for local children, as well as some great street art. We finished the tour outside Access City with its huge mural of Mandela as a young boxer and Trim Park: free, brand new, outdoor gym facilities.

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Before dashing back to fetch the kids, we shared a quick lunch at James XVI’s Ethiopian Cafe, next door to a very Paul Smith-esque cycling store:

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I feel like we only just scratched the surface of what Maboneng has to offer and I was thrilled to return ten days later for the #JoziMeetup at The Open, organised by South African Mom Bloggers. (The Open is an amazing space and if I lived closer to the CBD, I would love to spend my mornings writing there. For more about the amazing #JoziMeetup, check out Sharon’s post at The Blessed Barrenness).


I leave you with the first piece of street art we came across in Fox St: “Tourist in Your Country of Birth?” The irony was most certainly not lost on me…

"Tourist in your country of birth?"
“Tourist in your country of birth?”

If you need a push of inspiration to venture out of your hood and to be a tourist in home country, check out 2summers.net, for American blogger and Jozi dweller, Heather Mason’s post about her rooftop tour of Joburg with Dlala Nje. (It was a custom tour, but I raced over to “like” their Facebook page and cannot wait for a potential repeat.)

On Turning 37 & Riding Through Paris In A Sports Car

Me in my gown on my 37th birthday. (rare Mom photo - iPhone was unattended & 4yr old pounced. Doesn't get more real than this!)
Me in my gown on my 37th birthday. (rare Mom photo – iPhone was unattended & 4yr old pounced. Doesn’t get more real than this!)

One of the perks of being married to an older man (7.5 years) and having a fair number of close girlfriends who have already turned 40, is that I feel relatively young when my birthday comes around each year. They’ve already turned 35 or 36 or 38, have complained about getting old and have commented on my relative youth.

In addition, I grew up in an era where having an “older” mom was unusual. My mom might easily be ten years older than her “peers” – my friends’ moms. This gave her the benefit of a decade of hindsight from which to reflect upon how silly it was that she thought herself “old” at 40, or 50 or whichever milestone someone ten years her junior might be celebrating. A lot of her mantras (which I have written about already) such as “youth is beauty” or “you can’t put an old head on young shoulders”, as well as her wise “old” outlook on age, contributed to my view on the birthdays and “ageing”, for want of a better word. I have no issue telling anyone my age – hence the title of this post!

(Sidebar: In SA, in any case, I would probably prefer to leave my age off my CV if possible, because I think that one of the unintended consequences of BEE and/or of being part of an economy undergoing huge transformation, is ageism. It certainly shocked me in the workplace, when I was last part of it – before the Rinderpest admittedly – age and thus experience, unless there was an incredibly intimidating title to match, were mocked rather than revered. But that’s merely IMHO – in my humble opinion).

Yesterday was my 37th birthday. When anyone turns 37 I think about the birthday gift one of our friends planned for his then girlfriend, in celebration of her 37th birthday. Some months before his girlfriend’s birthday, he told us that he was secretly planning to take her to Paris so that she could “ride through Paris in a sports car, with the warm wind in her hair”. Because, of course, he explained, these were the lyrics to The Ballad of Lucy Jordan. (The song became a hit in the year I was born – although it was originally written much earlier – so naturally I’d never heard of it at the time). Lucy Jordan is a frustrated housewife in a “white suburban bedroom” in a “white suburban town” and, alone at home, with the kids at school and her husband at work, it dawns on her that:

At the age of 37
She realised she’d never ride
Through Paris in a sports car
With the warm wind in her hair

At the time, I must have been around 26 years old and this original and imaginative birthday gift left an impression on me. For this reason, I can’t separate my 37th birthday with this song. In some ways, I relate to Lucy Jordan. (I don’t think that there are many stay-at-home moms who don’t miss the stimulation of the workplace). But in other ways, I am so grateful that her wistful thoughts do not at all reflect how I feel as I enter my 38th year. Thanks to David and my very… ahem… extensive “sabbatical”, I feel like I have seen a fair bit of the world. Although travel is wonderful, I quite like suburbia too. At the same time, I recognise that it’s very easy for me to love what most people understandably experience as the shackles of opting for the white picket fence life. I am married to a man who thrives on the idea of adventure and the idea that anything is possible so I suppose I feel that I could leave suburbia if I so chose. (On a practical note, I can’t even get my kids to get into the car by asking once, so the idea of acting as their teacher whilst sailing around the world holds absolutely zero appeal. ZERO.) What I am trying to say is that, as I hit my mid-thirties, I am indescribably grateful to at least feel as though I am part of a very big, very wide world (even if Fourways mentally feels like another country, when I am not travelling) and that if I wanted to drive a sports car through Paris with the warm wind in my hair, I possibly could, thanks to David.

If I really, really wanted to.

But I don’t, really. As 2016 begins, I am grateful to be in my homely home, in a leafy suburb of Sandton. I’ve lived for varying periods in Keurbooms/ Plett, George, Brussels, Cape Town, Rome and London but within a year of moving to Joburg in 2003, I have felt most at home in the City of Gold.

One day I hope that the words “a white suburban bedroom” refer only to the colour of my bedroom linen and are not a reflection of the effects of the 1950 Group Areas Act. 2016 ripped open the wounds of Apartheid like never before. As mortified as I was to be part of the same ethnic group as the likes of Penny Sparrow, at least we can stop pretending that we’re not racist or neoliberal or whatever.

A post for another day, gentle readers. One day, when I am older and wiser. (And possibly a little bit braver).