6 Degrees of Chaos

As there are more people living with HIV in South Africa than in any other country it is impossible to fathom why people would destroy an HIV Centre at a local University on the Natal coast but they did.

Students burnt the building housing the centre during protests on Monday afternoon. Students are protesting over historical debt.

This week we had even more bad news when we heard that a promising HIV vaccine trial was cancelled.

The HVTN 702 vaccine was being tested on more than 5,000 HIV negative volunteers aged between 18 and 35 at 14 sites across South Africa. Half the volunteers received the vaccine while the other half received a placebo. But interim analysis, 18 months into the trial, showed that 129 people who received the vaccine became infected with HIV compared to 123 who caught the virus in the group that received the placebo. 

We have had continued dramas in other areas, for example transport.

South African Airlines (SAA) which is owned by the government is in a right mess. I’ve blogged before about the strikes, flight cancellations and that the airline was placed under business rescue and things have certainly not improved. More flights have been cancelled and many routes have been cancelled and the chaos continues with tax payer money being hemorrhaged.

More trains have been set alight and now there is only one third of the trains running that are required to supply the routes in Cape Town. This puts increased pressure on the already chockablock motorways and increases the number of manic taxis on the roads.

The other government owned enterprise which is in a state of near collapse is Eskom, our Electricity provider that never seems able to provide electricity. We are having our electricity turned off 2 to 4 hours a day. It affects traffic as the traffic lights are off. It affects businesses who do not have a generator and cannot trade without it. It affects our economy in so many ways.

All of these issues connect to each other in some sort of perverted Six Degrees of Separation, but with feck ups instead of people being connected.

Meanwhile the architect of many of these issues, our corrupt disaster of a ex-president is given a Get Out Of Jail Free card. His lawyers presented a sick note saying Zuma is too ill to attend his corruption pretrial. He has driven this country to breaking point.

I’m so discouraged by the many issues here, the mismanaged drought, the state run enterprises, the corruption, the ever decreasing access to good education, the crime, the rising cost of everything from food to healthcare. I know in other circumstances Norm and I would be making plans to move to either the US or UK. Both countries are being dictated by other inept eejits so we aren’t sure which would be the least dangerous. But we came here to be near my children and any future grandchildren so we will continue to ride it out in the hopes of things in SA improving if the children feel SA can offer their children a good future. Ideally we all go, but if the children show no interest in emigration then once we retire we could possibly live 6 months near my mom and 6 near my children.

In the meantime I’ll keep on being grateful for living in a beautiful place, being employed, for my lovely home and my wonderful family. I have so many blessings. I can’t dwell on those things which I am powerless to change anyway or I’ll go mad.

We are so busy at work that the week flew by. I had some dramatic meetings due to poor communication and they were very stressful. The items I was attacked for were completely misconstrued and the drama could have been avoided had the offended party came to speak to me instead of blowing up in a public forum.

Never mind. He apologized in the end.

Norm and I have tried to stay low carb but we had a busy week and the lack of electricity didn’t help.

We made our low carb pizzas last Sunday evening. We made it with toppings of garlic mushrooms, olives and Parma ham.

I added chili to mine. They were so delicious.

On Monday we saw that load shedding was scheduled from 8 to 10 that evening and so we decided to go out for dinner. We headed up to Constantia and went to Primmi Piatti in Constantia village. As soon as we were served our drinks the lights went off.

I ordered the Filleto Al Funghi: Flame-grilled fillet tournedos, served sliced with a mushroom, green peppercorn, mustard and brandy sauce for R220.

Norm ordered the Rump al funghi: Rump Steak (300g) pan-fried with fresh thyme and served with a chunky black mushroom sauce. Topped with slow-roasted oven dried thyme Rosa tomatoes and grilled artichokes, finished with a drizzle of parsley infused oil for R205.

He ordered a side of spinach with Parmesan and I ordered sweet potato mash instead of the normal mash my dish normally comes with and we shared the two of them.

It was very dark. Norm was served:

And I was served this:

I tried to cut into mine and couldn’t manage to do so. I also found a big bit of fat on the edge. I called over the waiter who sent over the manager. I told him it was very tough and a fillet shouldn’t have all of that fat. He told me I had a rump steak. I told him I ordered the fillet and we realized that the waitress gave us the wrong plates even though I clearly told her Norm had the rump and I had ordered the fillet.

If we could have seen better we would have cottoned on sooner. Never mind. We swapped and Norm had the tough gristly rump and I had a tender, beautiful few slices of fillet. Yum. Sorry Norm but that is why I always order fillet.

We got in late and the lights were still not on. We waited up til 12 so we could make sure all the lights were off but the power never came on. The phone servers were also down. We were woken when it came on and Norm got out of bed and turned everything off.

I was tired the following day and when I sleepily set off out of the driveway I spotted a hoopoe on the neighbor’s lawn.

They are so beautiful and I felt so blessed. It perked me right up. The power of nature and acknowledging our appreciation of blessings and abundance.

We should acknowledge our appreciation of simple blessings like your partner making you dinner. Norm and I have been cooking together lately and it was a wonderful surprise that Norm shopped and cooked and made cauliflower Mac and Cheese topped with bacon. I smelled it cooking and it arrived shortly thereafter, no fuss, no discussions, just there. Just what I needed after a very trying day at work.

On Wednesday we were scheduled to meet Stephen, an old colleague of Norman’s from Northern Ireland. Stephen was over with Brad and Scott who work with him at St Andrews University.

We had planned to meet at Sevruga at the V&A Waterfront. As it was dreary weather out and a random week night we hadn’t made a booking and when we arrived we were told they were fully booked. We were already having a drink as we were waiting for Stephen to arrive. Norm ran across to another venue and booked a table for 5. Stephen and Brad arrived and ordered a beer and we all stayed in the bar and chatted. The hostess came over to ask if we still wanted a table half an hour later as they had space if they push two together in the corner. We quickly agreed and Norm went back to cancel the other booking. We were seated soon after inside but it was a spacious comfortable table and we could see the sea.

Norm and Stephen sat together so they could catch up. They have known each other for decades.

I had just met Brad. He is originally Canadian and is married to a woman from Ireland and lives in Scotland so we had plenty to natter about.

We waited a long time for Scott to arrive then quickly ordered. I love the food at Sevruga. I ordered the crispy calamari to start.

It was delicious but there was a breaded and fried thin slice of lemon in the mix and I ate it by mistake. It tasted revolting.

Norm ordered gazpacho, Stephen had the carpaccio and the other lads had the tian of prawns.

They all enjoyed their dishes.

For mains we waited at least an hour. The restaurant was chocka but damn it seemed so late when we finished. We also all had a lot to drink except for Norm. The lads were in an Uber but poor Norm had to drive.

I was so glad we got in though as it’s one of my favorite venues.

Norm had a beautiful piece of swordfish, Stephen the prawns and the rest of us had sushi. The lads had an order of salmon sashimi plus the Sevruga Signature Plate: Bam Bam Roll (3), Signature Fried Roll (3), Rock Shrimp Tempura (4), Gunkan Nigiri (3), Salmon Roses (3).

I had 2 portions of my favorite sushi, creamy salmon roses topped with tempura prawns.

The food was all divine. A full 5 Kitten Stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

We finished and got home around midnight. It was so late by the time we did our nightly rituals and finally got to bed.

The next morning at work, as I logged into my computer and trotted off to get coffee the electricity went off. That means my usual coffee places cannot make coffees. I then tried a few other venues and eventually hit on one that can still function. Their coffees are tiny and as I had so much vodka and so little sleep the previous night I ordered 2. I then found out they only take cash. I asked him to make them and told him that I would be right back. I ran off to the bank teller only to find they were also all offline due to load shedding. I then ran upstairs (as the lifts/elevators are also off when the power is off). I grabbed all of my colleagues cash from his wallet and ran back down the stairs and to the other end of the mall. I got my coffees but I was knackered.

That night Norm was desperately trying to meet a deadline but had made time to shop. I agreed to keep an eye on dinner but I was so tired I couldn’t bear the thought of standing at the stove so I decided to chuck it all in the oven.

I made a marinade of teriyaki, Worcestershire and soy sauce for the pork. I added a packet of mushrooms to the pan and two tablespoons of butter. I coated the pork roast in a spoon full of mustard and put it in the oven. In another pan I heated some coconut oil and once hot I put in the cubes of sweet potato. I added the broccoli to the coconut oil for only the last 15 minutes. I set my timer for 3 intervals of 15 minutes and just marinated and tossed everything each time.

It was delicious. I set the pork roast aside for a bit to cool and rest. Once we sliced it I spooned over the gorgeous sauce to serve it.

On Friday Lily drove down from Mossel Bay as she had a fitting for her wedding dress. This week she had her hair and make up trials and she looked so stunning. She is such a beautiful girl and will make a gorgeous bride.

Friday night we all had a takeaway Melanzane Parmigiana from Cassarecchio in Hout Bay. We started watching a crime drama about real murder cases. Like us Lily enjoys shows about murders and serial killers.

The animals love having Lily here they all adore her so.

Saturday morning we were up early as Lily and I were meeting Caitlin at Cavendish Square Mall to look for wedding shoes and bridesmaid bits and pieces. Lily found shoes and most of what she needed.

I bought a cool comfy dress to wear around the house and 2 pairs of cute sandals. I also got candles for coping with loadshedding. I miss IKEA! I got several packs of plain white pillar candles at Mr Price so I’m happy. I want to be stylish even if it’s dark.

After we finished shopping we went to Mugg and Bean for brunch.

Lily had the Big Ben which is a toasted English muffin topped with baby spinach, fresh tomato, hashbrowns, cheddar, hickory ham, back bacon, deep-fried onion rings & two poached eggs with hollandaise sauce. Lily threw her onion rings onto mine and Cait’s plates.

I can’t find what Caitlin and I had on the online menu but we basically had 2 poached eggs, 2 pieces of crispy fried halloumi, spinach, avocado, mushrooms and rosemary tomatoes and we both added bacon.

I enjoyed it a lot.

We had a productive shopping trip and then headed off to the Wedding Shop for a fitting. The dress is now too tight in the shoulders and is still too loose in the waist. One more fitting is booked. It’s exactly one month til the wedding, yet it’s quite surreal still.

Last night we ordered takeaway dinner from Massimo’s and stayed in and relaxed. The electricity went off at midnight just as we were going to bed. Once again Norm got up 2 hours later and sorted out any lights that had been on when the power failed.

Today I’m relaxing in my new cool dress, writing and watching telly. I needed a day of downtime as this week has been nonstop. It was lovely spending time with my daughters.

I hope you have enjoyed your weekend and that you got some rest.

Until next time – Kisses from the Kitten Xoxoxoxo

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