A date night in the Village…We had such fun!…

It took Madam Zahra a few times to figure out our food preferences after we showed her photos on my laptop since she only spoke Arabic, not English. From there, every night, we were excited about her unique dishes.

Last night, we went to dinner at “The Bar,” a pub at the bottom of the one flight of stairs from our floor to the Village. We decided to go early, at 4:30, to ensure we’d get two seats at the bar. We’d dined there for the first time about a month ago but arrived after 5:00 pm, which was too late to claim two seats at the bar.

We were thrilled to see two empty seats at the bar, as if they were waiting for us. We couldn’t get situated fast enough. As it turned out, by 5:00 pm, the place was packed, and there was barely a regular table available. With the narrow bar top, we knew it would be better if we ate at a high-top table.

Fortunately, a table opened up after our drinks, and we quickly grabbed it. Usually, I only drink one glass of wine, but with the short “pour” from the bartender using the only stemmed glass in the place, I ended up drinking three glasses of the Pinot Grigio, the most I’ve had to drink in a long time. But, looking at the pour, each couldn’t have been more than 3 ounces.

When two people spend every day and night together, dining out may not necessarily be a time for lively conversation. But we are different that way. We turned our chairs to be knee-to-knee, with my feet resting on the base of his barstool, and the usual highly entertaining banter began with us. Sitting at a bar makes us both more animated when the atmosphere is all the more conducive.

There we were, almost 33 years later, and it felt like a fantastic date of the early days of a budding relationship. We couldn’t have been more fun. We never chatted with other patrons, just with each other. We had such a good evening that we decided to forego dinner out on our upcoming 29th wedding anniversary on March 7 and dine in. I’ll make something special for dinner, and then we’ll head out again next weekend.

How fortunate we are. We will never forget that. Getting along day after day is such a joy in itself, but actually having fun together, giggling, teasing, and showing signs of affection is all it takes for every day to be memorable. We often hear that marriage takes a lot of work. But, we are grateful that it never feels like “work” for our marriage to succeed.

Having had about a bit more wine than usual, I woke up at 12:30 and didn’t get back to sleep until 3:00 am. This morning, I could sleep in and make up for the sleep I lost during the night. When I finally awoke this morning, I felt great and ready to tackle another day.

It’s noon, and I’ve already made the salad and prepped everything for tonight’s dinner: roast beef with carrots, onions, and mushrooms for Tom, which he’ll have with his rice and wild-caught salmon with broccoli. All I have to do is put Tom’s dinner in the oven around 4:30 and mine about 15 minutes before his roast beef is done. Easy peasy.

Once I’ve completed today’s post, I’ll do day 7 of my BetterMe, 28-day yoga/pilates-type exercises. I am totally committed to this program and already feel some benefits from these at-home exercises. I may not have access to a fitness center in the future, and having a definitive at-home program is most beneficial. The exercises are not easy but each day I notice improvement.

This morning, we’re still smiling at one another or our fun “date night” and look forward to another beautiful day together “at home,” wherever that may be.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, March 2, 2014:

Finally, we made it to Marrakesh, Morocco. We were greeted by this man who hauled our bags in the Medina, The Big Square, to our riad, quite a distance away. For more photos, please click here.

Nuances of dining out that remain with us years later…

This was a meal that hits all points as listed below. While on the Antarctica Cruise in 2018, the chef served lunch outdoors. What a fabulous memory!

We probably dine out in restaurants more than the average couple. Like some other couples, we’ll occasionally order food delivered or buy a meal at such locations as Costco, which only require oven or microwave heating. For the purpose of today’s post, we are focusing on dining in restaurants, memories of which have stayed with us many years later.

For easy recall, we’ll only refer to restaurants since we began traveling the world. In our old lives, we seldom dined out, most often when we planned to get together with friends. When it came to family, they often came to our home for Sunday brunch, dinner, or holiday celebrations.

Although dining out for lunch with my friends was reasonably frequent while I was still working and later, after I retired. When we visit Minnesota since we began traveling the world, I often go to lunch with friends and, most often, my son Greg. In our old lives, while I was still working, Greg and I often got together for lunch at a favorite Vietnamese restaurant, Kindhu, which closed during the pandemic, which was the case for many favorite restaurants throughout the world.

But, as mentioned above, today’s post is regarding dining experiences since 2012, when we began traveling the world. Except for the time we spent in Marloth Park, we dined out an average of once per week. Per the online app, “Date to Date Calculator,” I calculated how many weeks we’ve dined out in the past 11 years and three months, discounting the many times in Marloth Park where we dined out at Jabula twice a week, especially during the last year.

On average, it was 587 times we dined out. Could we remember all of those restaurants, all of those weeks? Of course not. And keeping in mind that we are the type of people who will often return to a restaurant we particularly love. Thus, if we narrow it down from there, let’s say for the sake of illustration, we’ve dined at 300 different restaurants in 11-plus years, including dining on cruise ships after 33 cruises since 2012.

So, to finally get to the point, what features stand out most in our minds after all those experiences? Of course, the first considerations were the food quality and the service. If we had to list those two factors, we could still recall every restaurant.

But other nuances left a good or bad taste in our mouths (no pun intended) that we can easily recall all these years later, and here’s our list, not necessarily in order of importance.

  1. Food
  2. Service: friendliness of staff and knowledge of food on the menu
  3. Ambiance, decor, and pleasing environment
  4. Choice of menu selections, including options for my way of eating and Tom’s picky tastebuds. (There’s never been a restaurant where I couldn’t find anything to eat, except one local “dive” in Kenya in 2013 and the awful offal restaurant in Buenos Aires in 2018. (See, we do remember!)
  5. Cleanliness of restrooms, restaurant, and food prep
  6. Noise level
  7. Accepts credit cards
  8. Convenient location
  9. Scenery (if dining outdoors)
  10. Comfortable seating: Availability of booths (which we prefer) or appealing seating in pleasing locations within the venue. We prefer not to sit in the middle of the room or close to a service area with high staff traffic.
  11. Cost: We are happy to pay more if the food, service, and ambiance are in accordance with the price
  12. Wine glasses* – see below

What prompted this story was an article Tom sent me this morning regarding how the wine glass impacts the flavor and enjoyment of the wine. See the article here.

For the first few years of our world, I didn’t drink any alcohol. It wasn’t until 2016 that I began to drink red wine once again after a 20-year hiatus. I didn’t quit drinking due to any alcohol-related addiction or problem. I quit due to a lack of taste for it. But on that cruise in 2016, I tried a glass of cabernet sauvignon and again fell in love with red wine.

Now, I only drink one glass at any time, whether staying in or out to dinner. I must admit that the wine glass I’m served in a restaurant is a significant factor in my enjoyment of the wine. I can recall every glass I was served since 2016. Recently, we dined at the restaurant at the bottom of the steps here, and they served me a regular glass instead of a stemmed wine glass.

I asked for a stemmed glass; all they had was a champagne glass, which I accepted. I didn’t enjoy my one glass of Merlot, not because of the wine itself but because of the glass. If we dine there again, I will bring a lovely stemmed glass I’ve been using in the condo, which is the perfect wine glass. There are only two such glasses here, so I will be extra careful not to break it, as I’ve been when I have wine when we stay in.

I won’t do this, but I remember every restaurant since 2016 where I was given a short, stubby glass filled with wine with no other options available.

Of course, all of this and the other points are subjective. We all have personal preferences. It might be fun to list your preferences, which will make you more aware the next time you dine out. In any case, enjoy!

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, January 31, 2014:

We could hardly turn her down when Louise invited us to stay at the Khaya Umdani house for a few weeks in 2014. We’d write about the house, and in return, we wouldn’t have to pay any additional rent, while the Hornbill house would remain our primary rental while we were there. This veranda is where we’ll spend our time for easy viewing of the massive grounds, a combination of the dense bush with a few open spaces for wildlife to run. This shot reminds me of a scene in the movie “Out of Africa,” which we watched a few months ago while in Kenya. For more photos, please click here.

Feeling good…Enjoying life and each other…Are other patrons friendly in public venues in the US?…

Dawn and Leon are dear friends and owners of Jabula. This photo was taken on the day of my 75th birthday when the four of us went out to lunch when my birthday party, which they also attended, was a few days later.

With our coughs almost completely gone., we’re both feeling great and grateful at the same time. We had an excellent night’s sleep, and after a few cups of coffee, we are ready to tackle the day.

Today, I won’t be chopping and dicing for dinner since we’re heading out to a restaurant in The Village, down the one flight of stairs to the lovely area. We were heading to The Pub at the bottom of the steps when we found their menu appealing to both of us. We’re hoping it’s good since their prices are reasonable, and we may decide to dine there more often than once a week.

Tomorrow, we’ll report what we’ve discovered with photos and comments about the environment and the food. It appears to be somewhat of a sports bar, which we don’t mind at all. Hopefully, it will be a friendly place where we can chat with a few other locals and visitors to the area. But, our expectations regarding socializing in a restaurant in the US are in check. In all the years we lived in Minnesota (Tom, all of his life), we seldom chatted with other patrons in any public venue.

An occasional “hello” in passing while walking was all we could ever expect. On occasion, someone would talk to me at the supermarket, but never at the health club or any other public environment. I will always remember the time I met a lovely woman at a CVS pharmacy, and we chatted for 30 minutes.

And yet, we can recall during our world travels when we conversed with other patrons, and there were few countries where this transpired. You may say, “Do we make an effort to converse with others?”

And yes, we do. We are both friendly and approachable when we say hello and smile at other patrons, encouraging conversation. But our friendly approach is often ignored when the person turns away. Of course, there are exceptions to this, but they are few and far between.

The number one most friendly environment we’ve experienced in our world travels has been on most cruises, with only three cruises we’ve found to be less so….the Mekong River cruise in 2016, the Antarctica cruise in 2018, and, again, most recently, on The Galapagos Islands cruise. In each case, the passenger count was low: 60 passengers, 160 passengers, and 14 passengers, respectively. (No offense intended for any of the few passengers on those three cruises with whom we may have interacted occasionally and thoroughly enjoyed).

Cruises with larger passenger counts seem the most friendly, perhaps mainly based on the numbers. However, we have had exceptional social experiences on cruises, making many friends with whom we remain close.

Then, of course, the most friendly of all has been at Jabula Lodge and Restaurant in Marloth Park. South Africa. I know we’ve mentioned this repeatedly, but there is nowhere like it in the world that we have seen during our over 11 years of travel or…even in our old lives. Is it any wonder that we are looking forward to our return?

The food, the ambiance, Dawn and Leon, the owners, and all of the locals whom we’ve come to know over the years we spent sitting at the most fun bar in the world. We often equate it to the same kind of bar many of us watched on the old TV show, Cheers, “Where everyone knows your name!”

So, we don’t expect the restaurant and pub where we’ll dine tonight to be anything like Jabula, but as we have in the past, we will thoroughly enjoy each other’s companionship, lively chatter, and hopefully good food.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, January 20, 2014:

Tom was thrilled once again to be back on the water since it was seven months since our last cruise. We were on the Blyde River on a tour of the Blyde River Canyon in South Africa. For more, please click here.

Happy Boxing Day to those who celebrate…

Today, December 26, is Boxing Day

At 6:00 am this morning, the first thing Tom said to me was, “Happy Boxing Day.” I chuckled. This isn’t a holiday we usually observe in our world travels unless we are in one of the countries that celebrate the day, which includes England, Wales, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, and South Africa. In Ireland, it is known as St. Stephen’s Day.

We have spent 5 of the last 12 Christmases in countries that observe this particular day, December 26, in Australia(1) and South Africa (4). I can’t say we did anything special on Boxing Day, but we were aware of it based on our surroundings.

From this website, here is information about Boxing Day:

“Boxing Day, in Great Britain and some Commonwealth countries, particularly Australia, Canada, and New Zealand, was a holiday (December 26) on which servants, tradespeople, and the poor were traditionally presented with gifts. By the 21st century, it had become a day associated with shopping and sporting events.

Explanations for the origin of the name have varied, with some believing that it derived from the opening of alms boxes that had been placed in churches to collect donations to aid the poor. Others, however, have held that it came from the boxes of gifts given to employees on the day after Christmas. According to this theory, because the work of servants was required for the Christmas Day celebrations of their employers, they were allowed the following day for their own observance of the holiday. The practice of giving bonuses to service employees has continued, although it is now often done before rather than after Christmas Day.

When December 26 comes on a Saturday or Sunday, the following Monday is designated as the official public holiday. December 26 is also the feast day of St. Stephen (St. Stephen’s Day), the patron saint of horses, and Boxing Day has come to be a day of sporting events, including horse races, foxhunting, and rugby. Traditional foxhunting was modified in 2005 after the enactment of legislation in England and Wales that largely banned the use of hounds in hunts. The holiday was not perpetuated by the English in the American colonies.”

We had a pleasant Christmas Day. We talked to all of our kids and most of our grandkids. The turkey breast we cooked in the oven came out moist and delicious. We don’t have a grill here, but we’re fine using the oven. With several sides, it was a lovely dinner.

In the evening, we watched a wonderful movie on Netflix, “The Bank of Dave,” which we highly recommend as a perfect “feel good” movie for the holidays. The previous night, we streamed “I Can Only Imagine,” also on Netflix, another moving story worth watching.

Each day over the past week, I’ve been heading to the well-equipped fitness center in this building and working out on the stationary bike and treadmill. Slowly, I am building up stamina while carefully watching my heart rate. I am thrilled with my progress, especially after my 20-pound weight loss. I didn’t eat anything extra over Christmas and don’t intend to for the remainder of the holiday season and into the future.

Tom has been enjoying the 10 pounds of jelly-type candies he bought at Fleet Farm in Minneapolis when he flew there for the Union Christmas party a week ago today and also the two large pies he picked up at Costco: a pumpkin and an apple. The remaining pumpkin pie got moldy overnight, and he tossed it in the garbage last night and instead got to work on the apple pie. This “food police” person has kept her mouth shut while he’s enjoying things he can’t buy in other countries.

We had dinner with Richard on Saturday, Tom’s birthday, and will most likely try one of the restaurants downstairs in The Village this coming Saturday evening. With the cost of dining out so high in the US, most likely, we’ll only dine out once a week. In the meantime, we are enjoying home-cooked meals with easy availability of ingredients we only find in the US. When we return to South Africa in June, we can restart our Friday and Saturday night dining-out routine at Jabula. How fun that was!

For those who celebrate, have a fantastic Boxing Day, and for those who do not, have a fantastic day as well.

Photo from ten years ago today, December 26, 2013:

The kudu’s neck will enlarge during the mating season. From the looks of our visitor, the mating season must be imminent. Look at the muscles on this big guy. Males can weigh as much or more than 700 pounds, 318 kg. This one was smaller than many we’ve seen, perhaps in the 500 pounds, 227 kg range. Kudus can easily scale a 5-foot, 1.5-meter wall. For more photos, please click here.

Night out for dinner at popular Apollo Beach oceanfront restaurant…

We made a toast to our friendship and to being two happy couples.

Shortly, we are heading out to Brandon, a nearby town about 30 minutes from here, where a mall and many other stores are located. First, we’ll head to Men’s Wearhouse to purchase Tom a suit for the upcoming dressy Cunard Queen Mary 2 cruise, only weeks away.

Tom hasn’t had a suit since we began our travels in 2012, but with baggage weight restrictions, we had no choice but to donate it along the way. With several Azamara cruises upcoming and some dressy nights on those cruises, having the suit and my dressy dresses will come in handy. The trick for both of us will be getting rid of some items in our bags to make room for all of our new clothes.

Karen and Rich were married on February 11, when Omicron hit, and we stayed behind to avoid infecting the bride and groom.

We brought along an extra piece of luggage, and in the worst case, we will load it up and pay any extra charge for the additional bag when we fly. The cruise lines don’t charge for the number of bags or the weight of the bags. Thank goodness for that.

So, for today, we start at Men’s Wearhouse, DSW shoes, TJ Maxx (for odds and ends), and Costco, where we’ll upgrade our membership card to get petrol saving when using a Costco credit card to fuel up throughout the world. All the little details of our lives keep us jumping, especially when we spend time in the US between our world travels.

We enjoyed dining outdoors with Karen and Rich at Circle’s Restaurant in Apollo Beach.

Last night, as shown in today’s few photos, we went out to dinner, having a fantastic time. The food was good but not great, but we were shocked by the bill in a casual restaurant such as Circles. For the four of us with drink, tax, and tip, the total bill was US $290, ZAR 4257. Sure, we each had two drinks, but that amount surprised us when, of course, Tom picked up the bill.

When we returned to the house, we watched the end of the Academy Awards. All were shocked over the events of the night when Will Smith slapped comedian Chris Rock for tastelessly using his wife Jada Pinkett Smith’s medical issue as the brunt of the joke. The controversy is all over the internet.

I’d planned to walk out to the beach to take photos, but time got away from me.

Tonight, we’ll dine in after Tom, and I pick up some groceries at Costco for our taco salad dinner. It works out well being here with Karen and Rich since mostly they eat like us. I can easily maintain my low-carb way of eating, and Tom is doing the same, now that we found out we can’t get his favorite plain old-fashioned cake donut. These days, customers aren’t interested in eating simple cake donuts when so many more appealing types are available.

It’s time to head out, so I am cutting it short today. We hope you have a fantastic Monday and everything goes your way.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, March 28, 2021:

The seed solution for Frank and The Misses. Now they both eat out of the little container. Once they’re done, we take away the container, so the pigs and bushbucks don’t eat the seeds. For more, please click here.

Off to Nelspruit today for news on our visa extensions…

“Pig in a pond.” Little was having a spa day in the green algae.

In a little while, we’ll be heading to Nelspruit once again to collect the results from sealed envelopes to determine if our requests for visa extensions have been approved. Once again, the long and arduous drive is ahead of us. Knowing we had to leave early this morning prevented me from getting a good night’s sleep. I didn’t nod off until 2:00 am, awakening at 5:15.

I’m feeling raggedy today and will be happy to return to Marloth Park by noon with, hopefully, good news. So far, there’s no word on our April 8 cruise canceling. In a few more weeks, we’ll book our flight to Florida and begin thinking about sorting our stuff and starting to pack. We’ve been here almost 13 months. We were away for less than six weeks during that period, once to the US for a month to get vaccinated and another time to Zambia, getting new visa stamps in the process.

During these 13 months, on one occasion, President Cyril Ramaphosa extended foreign national’s visas for 90 days due to the pandemic, which certainly helped us. Today, we look forward to good news so we can stay until the end of March. That’s not very far away. If all goes well today, we could be leaving here in a little over six weeks.

Yesterday morning at Stoep Cafe, Rita and I ate one of these delicious veggie omelets.

Yesterday was another scorcher with high temps, high humidity, and subsequently, a high dew point. When we returned from Komati, put away all the groceries, and finished and uploaded the post, I was in no mood for cooking dinner. We decided to eat out.

We left the house about 5:15, heading to Bos Restaurant in the Bush Centre. But first, we had to stop at the Field Security Office to get a new battery for the house key fob they provide at the office across the parking lot from Bos. From there we went to Bos. But, after carefully reviewing their menu, I couldn’t find anything I could eat. Everything was soaked in sweet sauces.

What a funny-looking grasshopper!

There wasn’t a plain piece of fish or chicken to be had. We had one drink at the bar and left, driving the short distance to Giraffe Restaurant, where I knew they had a decent grilled chicken salad. Tom ordered the chicken schnitzel with chips (fries). The meal was good, the service excellent, and the ambiance was pleasant.

Although doors are always wide open at restaurants in Marloth Park, they keep their air-con on in hot weather, which seems to keep the establishment relatively comfortable on sweltering days and night. We ran into some people we knew, chatted for a bit, and then sat at a table and enjoyed our meal.

Hal with Siegfried and Roy in the background.

We are now back from Nelspruit. Our visa extensions were approved, giving us until April 30 to leave the country. We aren’t surprised it worked out this way. Had it not been for Omicron terrifying the world, we’d be in Florida today at Karen and Rich’s wedding. It was disappointing to have to change our plans. But now, we’re OK with the new plan, as much as we’d have preferred to be at their wedding.

Tonight will surely be a fun night at Jabula with eight of us for dinner at a big table on the veranda. It will be wonderful to catch up with old friends we haven’t seen since 2019.

I am wrapping it up a little short today. Although now much of a napper, I think a quick nap is on the agenda today. With the detour of my walking goals due to this morning’s trip to Nelspruit, I will still try to walk as much as possible before we leave for dinner later today.

Have a pleasant weekend!

Photo from one year ago today, February 11, 2021

A gray Lourie is checking out the action on the ground. For more photos, please click here.

Moving right along…Exercise, a must!…Fantastic night out with friends!..

Our friends Alan and Fiona at her birthday celebration at Bucklers on the Crocodile River.

Today, we’ll be wrapping up the plans for our trip to Zambia. It’s hard to believe we will be flying away in 15 days. Louise has done a fantastic job arranging and overseeing this for us, and we couldn’t be more grateful. No doubt, at times when we’re booking a new itinerary requiring so much time and work, it’s been wonderful to have her handle this part.

Of course, this process has required us to research our options and decide what we’d like to do, as in the case when using a travel agent, which we seldom do. We’d rather have a tight rein on what we’re booking and all the nuances that go with it. But, in this case, Louise insisted on working on this for us, and we couldn’t resist the offer with so much on our minds with the recent change in plans.

On another note, a few days ago, when I had an appointment with Dr. Theo, he prescribed a comprehensive set of stretching exercises, neatly and clearly defined in a booklet, similar to that which is used by physical therapists. He suggested that doing these each day may help improve my ability to walk with more stability.

I couldn’t wait to start the exercises and have decided to do them in two-time slots each day, stopping twice while doing the daily post. I was pleased today to notice I am a little bit sore after my first time, reminding me of how much more I need to move.

A small band of our mongoose friends.

During this casual, lazy lifestyle in the bush, I didn’t get enough exercise since walking on uneven dirt roads is precarious. We returned the treadmill we’d borrowed months ago, from a kindly local, when we thought we were leaving. So now, these exercises come at the perfect time to entice me to get to exercising at home.

Although I burn a lot of steps each day according to my FitBit, it’s not nearly enough to provide the activity that I need. Tom says he gets exercise by getting up from his chair on the veranda every 10 minutes to feed the visiting animals and then vigorously tossing countless handfuls of pellets their way. I don’t know if you’d call this exercise, but at least he’s getting up out of his chair.

Last night, we had dinner at Buckler’s to celebrate Fiona’s birthday.  Alan’s son, Nick, and daughter-in-law, Joan,  joined us, and we loved meeting them. We had such a great evening! We arrived at 4:30 pm (1630 hrs) and didn’t leave until 10:00 pm (2200 hrs). The conversation was lively and animated, the food good (although small portions), and the views over the river were spectacular as usual, although it was a cloudy evening.

This main photo of Alan and Fiona was taken with my phone since I forgot to bring the camera any significant sightings on the Crocodile River. My phone’s camera could zoom to shoot, but we were so busy in conversation that we never paid much attention to the minimal activity on the river.

Impalas are hungry and dare to close us for pellets. They are typically skittish around humans.

Back home, we settled in for the night, and after a good night’s sleep, we’re both contents as we could be. Today, when Louise receives the final contract for our upcoming river cruise, we’ll head over to her office, The Info Centre, to pay for the charges. In tomorrow’s post, we will report the costs for the upcoming trip with the contract in hand.

Today is otherwise a low-key day. I’ve already prepared most of the food for tonight’s dinner, finished my exercises, did a few loads of laundry, and did some work on financial stuff online. My dry socket has finally stopped hurting, much to my relief, and life is good.

Happy day to all

                                       Photo from one year ago today, October 6, 2020:

One year ago, this photo was posted in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day #197. We realize that this gruesome photo may be difficult for some to see. But, it’s a part of the food chain which we decided we would accept such scenes as a reality of the life cycle in the wild. This crocodile was consuming either an impala or gazelle. For more, please click here.

First of many fantastic evenings with friends in the bush!!!…No bag yet…

Don and Rita were toasting the occasion.

Last night, it was cold and dark on the veranda at Jabula Lodge and Restaurant, but the seven of us weren’t hindered at all by the weather. The food and service, as always, were superb, and the companionship was over the top. Finally, Kathy and I were together once again and well as my friend Rita.

The three of us girls sat at one end of the table, and the boys, Tom, Don, Gerhard, and their friend from Germany, Achim, came to visit them for a few weeks. It was a celebration of Gerhard’s birthday. He doesn’t care for cake, but Dawn and Lyn have decorated the table for the occasion.

Our gift to Gerhard? Four bales of prepaid Lucerne from Daisy’s Den, to be delivered whenever he and Rita decide.  On Wednesday, we stopped to purchase the bales, seeds for Frank and The Misses, hornbills, and a big bag of sweet potatoes for the wildlife. We included the receipt for the Lucerne in the birthday card with a note explaining the gift, included with Daisy’s Den’s business card, making the ordering as easy as a quick phone call.

Now, as I type this, we hear the funny little chirping of the mongoose who’ve arrived in a small band. Tom raced indoors to get his leftover rib bones from last night’s dinner. Mongooses are carnivores, and they like bones, but hilariously, they try to crack them open on big rocks in an attempt to get to the marrow. It’s rather funny to watch.

Tom, Gerhard, and Achim to the right. Happy birthday, Gerhard!

As for last night’s get-together, the conversation was delightful among the group as a whole and in the male and female groups. We had so much catching up to do after being gone for four weeks. It was wonderful to be back with our friends once again.

Kathy and Don are hosting a goodbye get-together this upcoming Wednesday at their riverfront bush home. We’re bringing our meat, the dessert; apple crisp served warm, topped with vanilla ice cream. Rita’s bringing the salad, and Kathy and Don will host the side dishes.  We all bring our beverages, making hosting a dinner party so much easier when planned this way.

Kathy and Don each ordered the jumbo prawns.

Today, another cool day with sunshine that will hopefully warm the day soon, we’ll stay in. I have to get back to work on post corrections which I’ve ignored for the past week. This morning upon arising very early, I got to work organizing things around the house.

Before we’d left, I filled a large tote with items I’d planned to go through once we returned, mostly old clothes I had to consider giving the heave-ho. It felt good to empty this huge container and make the proper decisions about replacing old worn-out items. Also, I did three more loads of laundry, hung them on the clothes rack, and started chopping and dicing for tonight’s dinner, homemade taco salad.

This is Gerhards’ eisbein, a huge pork knuckle.

Since those flat little taco seasoning packets contain wheat and tons of chemicals, I found a good low-carb recipe for taco seasoning. It took only five minutes to measure and put together the various spices and shake them until blended. Soon, I’ll cook the big package of mince (90% hamburger meat) in a large pot atop the stove, adding the spices after the meat is cooked and drained.

While we were in the US, both enjoyed taco salads, which aren’t necessarily available in South Africa, other than in big cities like Johannesburg or Cape Town. When making these salads, we don’t use prepackaged grated cheese, which also is infused with chemicals. Here’s an article on why pre-shredded grated cheese is not worth eating.

Now, I have to finish working on dinner and then get to work on corrections. In the meantime, I’m on hold with United Airlines for the 10th time to find out where our bag is and when it will be delivered since it didn’t arrive yesterday as promised. It’s frustrating.

We’ll be back with more tomorrow! Have a pleasant Saturday!

Photo from one year ago today, July 31, 2020:

From the year-ago post while in lockdown in Mumbai, India, on day #130.A surprising close-up of what appeared to be a blue stalk from afar. For more, please click here.

An evening in a traditional Irish pub…Will this be our standard Saturday night dining experience?…Tomorrow, Part 2*…Irish history…Connemara Heritage and History Centre…

On the way to the pub, we stopped for a photo of this which I believe is pheasant.

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland”

St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated grandly in Ireland. People eat traditional Irish food, which includes beer, pink bacon, and savory chicken.

*Part 2…Irish history…Connemara Heritage and History Centre…will continue in tomorrow’s post.  

Today, to break up the seriousness of Irish history, we are excited to share our first night in a traditional Irish pub with excellent meals options. The atmosphere is delightful, the staff friendly and helpful, and the ambiance of patrons stopping in for an ale and a chat depicts the image I had in mind.

The patio at Tigh Mheaic.  We commented that we doubt diners would sit outdoors in such excellent weather even when the weather warms up by a few degrees during the slightly warmer summer months. 

We were in a traditional Irish pub while on a cruise from Harwich, England, to Boston, Massachusetts (USA), which had a few ports of call in Ireland along the way.

In September 2014, we’d met several couples on board, and eight of us took a van from the ship to the town to check out a few pubs and shops. It was on that cruise that we visited Blarney Castle. For photos on this port of call visit, please click here.  

Tom had previously kissed the “Blarney Stone” during his two previous visits to Ireland before we met, once with a girlfriend at the time and the second time with his dear mom, Mary Lyman who passed away in 2008, months from her 99th birthday. When we were there in 2014, we didn’t kiss the stone when we’d read that mischief-makers peed on it after dark.  

Note the vines growing on the outside of their building.  Quite impressive.

Tom took all of his accrued vacation time, 28 days, to take his mother to the Vatican to see the Pope, tour Italy to end up touring Ireland based on their solid Irish history. It was this story that made me fall in love with him.  

I figured any son who’d use his entire year’s vacation to take his mother (just prior to her going totally blind) to fulfill her dreams was definitely my kind of man.  He humbly told me this story on our first date in June 1991, when I’d invited him to my home for dinner. 

He hated the food I’d made but he didn’t complain at the time: grilled Cajun swordfish, grilled baby asparagus, and couscous, none of which he eats. He didn’t care for the Cabernet Sauvignon I served since he’s not a wine drinker.  He did enjoy the Creme Brulee I’d made for dessert.

Hmmm…we’ve seen this sign at locations throughout the world.

I realize I’ve told this story in a previous post. But, I was entrenched in the story of taking his mother to see the Pope and visit Ireland. However, after 2,479 posts as of today, it’s easy for me to tell a story I’ve said in the past.  

When I do retell a story in a post, I’m always aware it’s a repeated story, but I also realize we always have a flow of new readers from all over the world that may not have seen the previous story.

Last night’s drinks and dinner at Fáilte go Tigh Mheaic, which the locals shorten to Tigh Mheaic. The pronunciation of this name is tricky. Next time, we’ll ask for clarification. The Irish language is exceedingly difficult for us foreigners to grasp including pronunciation and meanings.

The design and decor of the bar depict precisely what one would envision for a small-town pub in Ireland.

As I am writing today’s post with Irish news on the TV in the background, a news story that unfolded was how the audience for the traditional Irish pub is going by the wayside. These pubs used to be packed with heavy drinkers and loads of merriment and conversation, on occasion rowdy behavior.

The young generation of today has little interest in hanging out in a bar.  Instead, they spend time in more sophisticated nightclubs packed with people their own age.  

We, old-timers, easily recall years of great times we had hanging out in a bar, meeting people, and at times, developing romantic relationships, as was the case with Tom and me. We met in a bar in Bloomington, Minnesota, 28 years ago.

Eventually, we moved into the dining room to dine.

There may still be a few diehards for the locals who stop at a pub after work or in the evening, but they are not as prevalent as they were in the past. My vision of dozens of people clamoring at the bar, engaged in lively chatter, may not be a reality after all, especially in this low population area.

Carna, where the bar/restaurant has a population of only. From this site: “There are currently 178 people living in Carna Village, but 1,786 people live in the townlands around Carna and the Iorras Aithneach area. The entire huge area of Connemara only has a total population of 32,000. The population dramatically dropped from the previous average of 8000 before the Great Famine.”

With this low population and the risk of causing injury or death on the narrow winding roads to oneself and others, excessive drinking makes no sense at all in this area or any area for that matter. Undoubtedly, over the years, this fact has added to the lack of interest by the locals and tourists in “barhopping” or in “hanging out” at one location.

This taxidermy which we’re not fond of in general reminded us of the antelope heads at Jabula Lodge, our favorite restaurant in Marloth Park.

Speaking of drinking, last night for the first time in 3½ months I had two glasses of an excellent Malbec.  Of course, after not drinking for so long, I felt a little tipsy but I thoroughly enjoyed the delicious wine.

Nonetheless, we had a lovely evening. After a while, we left the bar to enter the adjacent dining room to order our dinner. The food was fresh and filled with local flavor. We both had grilled scallops, Tom’s with salad, chips (fries) and mine with veg and salad. Tom gave me his salad as he often does.

The bill was much higher than we’re used to after living in South Africa for 15 months. Our bill before the tip was Euro 89.03, US 99.73.  Had I not ordered the entire bottle of wine, the bill would have been about Euro 78, US 87.41, by ordering just the two glasses separately. I won’t do this again. Plus, Tom left a cash tip of Euro 15, US $16.81, making our total for the evening Euro 104.50, US $117.06. We aren’t thrilled paying this much to dine out once a week.

We thought there’s be entertainment at this tiny stage, but none started while we were there.  A handcrafted sailboat replica occupies the space between stage performances.

We brought home the remainder of the bottle with more than half remaining.  According to this site, a typical bottle of wine contains five glasses at 150 ml, 5 ounces each.  For my first wine since the cardiac bypass surgery, I wanted to make sure I controlled the size of my servings which, in some locations, they pour too much, more than I’d wish to.

Today, cool and cloudy, we’ll stay put, make a lovely Sunday dinner, and settle back doing a “bunch of nothing” which is quite enjoyable from time to time.

May you do the same today.

Photo from one year ago today, May 26, 2018:

The view from the restaurant, aptly named, Aamazing River View located in Marloth Park. For more photos, please click here.