The year that was

So much can change in a year.
And so much can stay the same.

When I started 2013, I had very little expectations for it. I was happy with my career, I had a great job and a team that I adored. I had set my expectations way too high for 2012 and been let down, so I decided not to aim for too much in 2013 and rather take each day as it comes.

Well, did things change. The first bump came while I was still on holiday in January (possibly 5 days after I agreed to not set expectations for the year). I was asked to do a mini-‘secondment’- if you can call it that – and some brand work on a new ecommerce brand about to launch. So I did, and I tasted a bit of something I knew was missing from my current position. By pure chance (is there such a thing really?), a vida coffee with my now new boss and a cryptic email chat with an old colleague (who is now a current colleague and an absolute gem) convinced me – I was going to move into the (insert descriptive word for it) world of online fashion retail.

All this, and before my 32nd birthday!

Not a part of the plan for the year (of which there was none) but more as a result of suffering from a serious bout of fomo when a friend booked his flights – we also booked some flights back to Asia taking advantage of that ‘between jobs’ moment that happens. The hottest I’ve ever been (barring Turkey 2008) I suffered food poisoning for the umpteenth time on the shores of a Thai Island, stayed at the most impressive 5 star hotel on Koh Samui and dived our old favourite, Koh Tao.
On a side note, I do wonder how I get so much past my husband –

me: Babe, I think we should go back to Thailand – it’ll be fun
Mark: Ok, how much?
me: I’ll work it out, but it won’t be too bad
Mark: Ok, how much?
me: It’ll be so amazing… a really nice little adventure before my new job starts
Mark: Ok.

And then I left 11 Adderley Street. It was heartbreaking – that lot had become my family. And Gogo knew how to make my coffee. I didn’t know how to replace Gogo. It was actually Gogo that made it tempting for me to stay. But I didn’t… I headed down the road to the big Naspers building and started running.

No really, I’ve been running ever since. I blinked, and the rest of year has merged into my mac.

As for the personal stuff, that all changed too – The Rolyats had little baby Cam while we were in Thailand. He came two weeks early and definitely not a part of the plan for us to miss it. But what an amazing and special boy he is.

I officially became an ex-sister-in-law. Is that a thing? Is there space in someone’s life to be an ex-sister-in-law, or does it actually just banish you to the memories of what was. Breaks my heart a little each time I think of it.

Had a lunch with an aunt and uncle, who I haven’t had a lunch with basically since about 1996 (one day I’ll insert hyperlink to a blog post on the sad day my cousin passed away).

My bridesmaid and also my sister-who-isn’t-my-sister got engaged – both to awesome men (well, obviously). Two pregnant friends on their first baby, two pregnant friends onto their seconds. A pregnant sister-in-law on her fourth (yes, you read that right. Yes, I also think its just a little crazy).

I gave up coffee for lent this year, possibly the biggest lent I’ve ever done (yes, even more so than the wine I gave up that one year). I gave up alcohol for a whole month while I tried to sleek geek myself back into my 28 year old self. It didn’t really work (maybe a little.. I keep trying). I’m definitely 32 though.

I have so far made it to TWO yoga classes the whole year. But the year isn’t over yet, and it will remain the goal. More yoga, more breathing.

I have been to a homeopath, a kinesiologist, an acupuncturist and a self proclaimed japanese quack. I went back to church. I loved, I wept, I drank, I laughed. I am more so than ever, grateful for what we have – the special friends, the very special family. The friends, who are like family and sometimes are all the family we need. Our beautiful home in the burbs – even if I curse traffic at least once a week.

I’m looking forward to 2014 and not only because it includes a spontaneous trip to South America

me: Hey, we should totally go to Rio carnival
Mark: how much?
me: I don’t know, but wouldn’t it be amazing?
Mark: Ok

But also, because you never know what else the year is going to include.

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No one understands

*Please note* I’m in a swearing mood today and this post may contain some

I have been going through some shit for a while now. It’s shit, and its private so I can’t get into details. I just want to say that no one understands. I realise, that yes, some people may be going through shit too… even the same shit as me, but still – there is no one who actually understands.

One day I may say sod it to privacy and keeping things personal and may actually tell the whole world about the shit that has kept me preoccupied and dominated my mind (which is completely unfair as it’s shit and it shouldn’t be allowed so much airtime) but for right now – no one understands.

The unsuspecting tourist

You need only read a little of my other blog… the one I wrote while spending three spontaneous months in South East Asia (the time there was spontaneous, not the spending of three months there. That was a thought-out calculated decision. Obviously.) to know that being scammed is part of my travel itinerary.
In Thailand it comes with the territory. There are blog posts that talk about the infamous “I’m a lawyer/teacher” scam, the “2 baht tuk-tuk ride” scam and the “this bus is for locals” scam and we fell for them all. Thailand properly dominated the Hawks when we were there the first time.

But this holiday – we were expecting something a little different. And Thailand delivered. No tuk-tuks, no tour operator haggling, no scams. 13 days of 4 & 5 star bliss (minus the small hiccup of a bug and a fever).

It was Dubai that got us this time. Dubai, the city that took what it liked from around the world and made their own. Starbucks, Cinnabon, skyscrapers, beachclub bars, warm (ok hot) weather. Dubai the city that reinvented the word Mall and put the largest aquarium in the world in it. Dubai scammed us.

Walking out of Atlantis (after behaving like children on water-slides all day) we needed a taxi to the Dubai Mall. What we now know is this taxi ride should only cost around 30-40 dirham. A kind and generous woman asked us if we needed help and where we were off to. We told her (this, being a first world city and five star hotel and all). She said it was easiest in a taxi and quickly headed towards a beautiful merc that was patiently waiting for an unsuspecting tourist. I questioned her (aha, so my brain was on) that surely this would be a more expensive taxi than a normal city taxi (I saw one parked nearby I was about to head over to) but she assured me (assured!) that this was a metered taxi and would cost the same as any other taxi. She even asked the taxi driver to show me the meter, and switch it on.

We climbed in and had the most pleasant comfortable ride of our lives (Mercedez ofcourse) spending every last dirham in our wallet to get to the Dubai Mall. It cost us double what it should have.

Why? Why are there hotels or operators that allow reps to represent their hotel and blatantly lie to tourists who are just there to enjoy the city. Why rip us off?

It leaves a bitter taste in your mouth when something like that happens. Yes, its only money and it really wasn’t that much in the greater scheme of things (when 20 dirhams buys you a coffee) but its just plain annoying that these days wherever you go, you aren’t able to trust the general ‘helpful’ person on the street.

Cape Town – I hope there aren’t reps like this commissioned by hotels to lie and scam tourists to our beautiful city.

That is all. Dubai was otherwise very nice 🙂

Kimhawk at Atlantis
Before the rip-off. Enjoying Atlantis 🙂

Appreciating the boss

No, this is not a suck up post in the hope that my boss may stumble across my blog and then score me some brownie points. And yes, I realise I’ve just started a new job and therefore this post is slightly awkward. And yes, I realise I haven’t actually posted about anything all year so this is a rather irrelevant post. But I had a thought this afternoon as I drove home to let my domestic helper out of the gate that she had got herself locked behind, literally between a rock (the locked house) and a hard place (the locked gate).

So on this drive (which at 4pm doesn’t take that long to the burbs) – I thought about my current boss. About my previous boss. And about the fact that I’m now a boss too. Sometimes, you’re in a job and you’re just doing your job. That’s what you’re paid to do and so you do it. You get to a point in your career that you do your job whether someone is peering over your shoulder or not. Its not about them, its about you… and getting it done.

Hindsight is one of those things that never cease to amaze. We all say it way too often.

I look back on my previous bosses (and with a 7 year stint in Londres as a temp, I have a few) and I realise how much I learnt from them, how inspired I was to learn, grow, ask questions, challenge myself (and them from time to time). To be better at my job, not because they were watching, but because they had been good at their jobs and got to their positions through hardwork (ok, there were an odd few who got there just out of sticking around at a company for a long time). Even the rather rubbish bosses, now that I think about it, taught me something. I suppose that’s why they call it work experience. It is all part of the experience – not just about the work. 

Anyway, I appreciate my boss. My current one (no suck up intended) and my previous one(s). I realise now how influential they were in my work experience. And how they helped me.

The simple things

One of my simplest pleasures, now that I’m all moved in to my house with its tennis-court sized (while completely un-landscaped) garden is to simply… just be in my house.

When we were in the flat, we always had somewhere we needed to go. We were always on our way out somewhere or for a weekend away. Now, my favourite thing to do is come home. And to be at home. And to just, walk around my home. It’s a very simple pleasure, but I think I’ve just spent the last two hours doing exactly that. Pottering. 

It really is the simple things in life that can make you happy.

(I acknowledge that this post was in no way helpful, informative or grammatically correct. But sometimes you need to just say what’s on your mind)

Writing (actually writing) this blog.

It’s the funny thing about writing. Or about not writing I guess. The fact that in my head, so many posts have been started, drafted, worked on, gone back over but never actually written down. Thoughts, emotions, clarity on aspects of life. It’s all happened, and gone on without a single piece being written down. I now have a desk (granted it has no chairs and is more of a painted white trestle table) – but its a desk where my (beautiful and barely used mac) sits gracefully waiting for me to pay it attention.

Right so first up in my quest to recapture in words (and on this blog) all the millions of thoughts I’ve had in the past… what, about 6 months.

We bought a house. We moved our lives. We ran out of money (more dramatic than it was). I had dinner with my ex-brother-in-law. I became more addicted to coffee, and less knowledgable about wine. I saw the inside of a theatre (the medical kind). Came home to an unlocked front door in the middle of a lightning storm (possibly the most scared I’ve been all year. Minus the theatre visit). I’ve cried. A lot. And I’ve fallen totally in love with my friends in the biggest and best possible way.

The crazy things

I realise that this blog is not supposed to be about reminiscing. It’s supposed to be all about food and wine.. and wine and food (although did I dictate that, or is that all life consists of these days? She ponders before continuing…) and I really do have some glorious food and places to talk about. This time last month, I was discovering the delights of the Midlands Meander, but right now I’m remembering, The last couple of weeks I’ve been finding myself doing it a lot. Playing music that reminds me of my days in London, craving starbucks coffees and old friends. But best of all, remembering some really good… and crazy times over the last few years.

Sometimes I shock myself when I think of the things I did while travelling… on reflection, these couldn’t be safe.

Jumping off the cliff of a mountain in Turkey with nothing but a turkish man and his parachute attached to my back? Diving to 25m in the Similan Islands when you’re only qualified to dive to 18m… but getting to see a guitar ray (that looked remarkably like a shark) while I was down there. Or me, a foefie slide and a river after numerous buckets in Vang Vieng, Laos. Ah Laos…let’s not even talk about the pre-booked tour to white water raft from one town to another. This was just stupid, not crazy.

Anyway, before I go into over-thinking the crazy times… and reminiscing at length about the places we’ve been, people we’ve met and seen… I wanted to post this picture. I just love it. Yes, those are my legs. And that’s Olu Deniz in Turkey beneath me (said Turkish main is making sure we don’t crash).

And yes, I felt like a bird. A scared bird. But a bird.

Actually now that I am thinking about it. All the crazy things, are actually just scary things. Until you do them. Then they’re either crazy or stupid.