A quick interruption of my Stories & Resources series to fill you guys in on what’s happening…

Warning:  Long post.  Lots of photos (’cause there’s so much to catch up on!!)…

The past couple of weeks have been cray-ZEE!!

The crowdfunding campaign… and the fundraising efforts (for my book) devoured significant amounts of time and effort… (and was an especially emotionally draining experience for an introvert… who hates asking for things).

At the very last minute (in true Hat-style)… we decided to pull together a teeny little story-telling evening & show… as our last ditched attempt to raise the needed funds.  I LOVE doing this kind of thing… BUT… (note-to-self)… I get super-stressed if I try to pull everything together on tight-deadlines.  (Even with the help of super-woman-Tracy).  So… we did it… and it was fun… but I was kinda worn-out afterwards.  Here’s pics:

Rehearsing with my 3 fabulous vocalists: Megan, Christie & Candace... lovely peeps!

Rehearsing with my 3 fabulous vocalists: Megan, Christie & Candace… lovely peeps!

The Storytelling Chair - all ready for the evening's happenings...

The Storytelling Chair – all ready for the evening’s happenings…

And... on the night.... (if I had been more PREPARED and given myself more TIME - we would have included more music! 3 songs weren't enough)...

And… on the night…. (if I had been more PREPARED and given myself more TIME – we would have included more music! 3 songs weren’t enough)…

After that… (and all kinds of other last-minute faffing)… we drove down to Durban for DIFF (Durban International Film Festival).  For those who are newish to this blog – my husband is a filmmaker (mostly editor these days – but he’s also a cinematographer)… and he had two films premiering at DIFF.

We decided to make a family road-trip out of the occasion and took a slow drive to Durbs via the Natal Midlands.  Here’s some pics:

Midlands was cold... and beautiful. All farmlands, winding roads, farm stalls, lakes, streams... and mist.

Midlands was cold… and beautiful. All farmlands, winding roads, farm stalls, lakes, streams… and mist.

We stayed in this little cottage.

We stayed in this little cottage.

At night, we'd light a fire... drink hot chocolate... and play games or watch movies.

At night, we’d light a fire… drink hot chocolate… and play games or watch movies.

The kids exploring some of the misty forests...

The kids exploring some of the misty forests…

There's a lovely place called Piggly Wiggly... fantastic food by roaring fires... and all kinds of tasteful little craft shops and what-not...

There’s a lovely place called Piggly Wiggly… fantastic food by roaring fires… and all kinds of tasteful little craft shops and what-not… (and good cappuccino!)

We revisited the awe-inspiring sculpture at the Nelson Mandela capture site (always a great history-lesson opportunity)...

We revisited the awe-inspiring sculpture at the Nelson Mandela capture site (always a great history-lesson opportunity)…

Anyhoo…

So – we spent 4 days roaming the Midlands – and I had all these well-intentioned plans to find a quiet little spot and work on my book… (I had lugged ALL my art supplies with me, after all)… but it just never happened.

So I thought:  “Never mind, I’ll get some work done while we’re in Durban”.

But, of course, in Durban…. there were film-festival premieres… visits and dinners with Durban-based family… catch-up chats with film-industry friends… and, of course, giving the kids the whole Durban-Experience (beach, sea, uShaka water park, aquarium, Minitown, People’s Park Playground, etc…)

Happy kidlets on Durban beach...

Happy kidlets on Durban beach…

My kids and the big snake at uShaka Marine World...

My kids and the big snake at uShaka Marine World…

And… so…

Inevitably…

My productivity-levels (despite all my plans and intentions) were… well… embarrassingly low.

I managed one full morning of work (while Nick took the kids to the beach).  I set up all my art stuff in a lovely courtyard at our hotel… (surrounded by bonsai trees and birds with a little fountain trickling nearby… blisssss….) and I drew for a solid 4 hours.

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Later that afternoon, I managed to get in another 2 hours of poetry-writing in our hotel room while Morgan napped on the bed… (and Nick and Joah played games in the kids’ room).

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Back home in Jozi a week later… it was full-steam ahead to prepare for a big Mad Hatter’s Tea-Party charity event at a private school (where I had been invited as a guest speaker).  Again… in true last-minute-11th-hour-style… it dawned on me… just 2 days before the event that Tracy and I had nothing to give people.  No connection point… no information… no books to sell… no give-aways… no business cards… no flyers… nothing.

So I spent a full day… fiddling on an illustrated masterpiece fold-out thingy… all hand-drawn… with intricate, fiddly little drawings and poems…

… only to discover that it would have been hideously expensive to print (and we had no time to print it either)…

So – Tracy and I ended up printing 350 really boring flyers from our deskjets… folding them… and sticking heart stickers on them… (lame-o!).

The event itself was fun, though… 350 women-in-mad-hats… about 35 beautifully decorated Hat-themed tables… and lots of money raised for the school charity.  (I was soooo impressed by the effort these ladies went to!)  Here’s a pic:

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And after the Mad-Hat event… (no rest for the wicked, huh?)… we were packing up and preparing for 5 weeks in Cape Town… which is where we are, right now.

We made a road-trip out of this journey too… and travelled via the West Coast to see the Namaqualand Spring flowers.  The West Coast route is definitely the road-less-travelled when it comes to getting from Johannesburg to Cape Town.  And, I must say – we’ve all fallen in love with the route.

There are all kinds of really strange little small towns on the way.  With odd padstals (road-stores or, rather, farmstalls)… usually selling yummy things… and really random, rusty displays of odd’ness.  Here’s pics:

This farm-stall lives in a converted old church. We drank moer koffie and quaffed nat biskuit... and VERY divine vetkoek (traditional Afrikaans food for the international readers of this blog).

This farm-stall lives in a converted old church. We drank moer koffie and quaffed nat biskuit… and VERY divine vetkoek (traditional Afrikaans food for the international readers of this blog).

The "display" in front of the padstal... I wonder - did that old car crash into the wall many years ago and was never removed? Or was it placed there deliberately - to make a special art installation??

The “display” in front of the padstal… I wonder – did that old car crash into the wall many years ago and was never removed? Or was it placed there deliberately – to make a special art installation??

Moer koffie... (I am struggling to find an appropriate English word that directly translates the word "moer")... (koffie - is - of course - coffee)... and nat biskuit (the direct translation would sorta be *wet biscuits*... but it's actually a freshly baked, unhardened traditional sweet rusk). Very yum.

Moer koffie… (I am struggling to find an appropriate English word that directly translates the word “moer”)… (koffie – is – of course – coffee)… and nat biskuit (the direct translation would sorta be *wet biscuits*… but it’s actually a freshly baked, unhardened traditional sweet rusk). Very yum.

This is where we had breakfast on Day Two. This place was a sight to behold. They even had rusted old bedpans dangling from the ceiling.

This is where we had breakfast on Day Two. This place was a sight to behold. They even had rusted old bedpans dangling from the broekie-lace.

Lots and LOTS of rusted plates nailed to the wall of this farmstall....

Lots and LOTS of rusted plates nailed to the wall of this farmstall….

We stayed in two randomly-chosen BnB’s on the way.

The first was a place with a lovely view… BUT… (and we only found out later)… our allocated room was full of dead animals.  Clearly the owner is a hunting fanatic.  Various antelope skins draped all over the room (we counted 8 dead animals)… including skinned scatter cushions… and the piece-d-resistance… a stuffed Gemsbok head mounted on the wall.  We called him Horace-the-Head and his beady eyes seemed to ominously follow our movements around the room.  Morgan eventually shifted her sleeping position so she faced the opposite side of the room… so unnerved was she by Horace.

But… like I say… they did have a beautiful view (and one of those rim-pools… which was too cold to swim in):

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The following day – we drove through some of the most fascinating and diverse landscape that I’ve ever clapped eyes on.  Desert… fynbos… salt-pans… big, black boulders stacked in clumps (resembling the poo of a 4-storey sheep)…

Our good friend and road-trip-buddy, Brett (who is also the author of Rachel Weeping and the director of the film, Sink that Nick is currently working on) kept us all entertained with rude stories… and fattened-up with ginger biscuits from the tannie at one of the padstals.

We also occasionally stopped our cars to photograph Brett doing random things like roam the desert wearing his favourite Masai scarf.  Like this:

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Funs.

Anyhoo… so after all that dry, desert-ish landscape… we reached a mountain pass that zigzagged down into a beautiful valley….

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And from then on… it was just spring-flowers and all kinds of Namaqualand / West Coast awesomeness…

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By the time we reached the coastal towns – it was getting dark and we tried to find a place to stay.  Only to discover… sigh… we had made the mistake of road-tripping to Cape Town on a long-*@$!-weekend… which meant that ALL the accommodation at ALL the beautiful West-Coast towns were fully-booked with Cape Town families enjoying their mini-breaks!

Eventually… at around 9pm… we checked into the ONLY place we could find:  a tiny hotel in Velddrif… tucked between the butchery and the fish factory.  I can not begin to adequately describe the pungent fumes that assaulted my nostrils that evening.  I retched in the car while Nick checked us in.  I retched some more while unpacking… and finally – we were in the room… and we could close all the doors and windows and breathe in the air-conditioner instead.

At least the beds were comfy.

Although nobody could poo in private because the bathroom didn’t have a door.


But now, we’re in Cape Town.  Noordhoek, to be exact.  We’ll be here for a month.  Maybe a bit longer.

We’re in a lovely 2-bedroom apartment just a few steps from the beach.   Here’s our view:

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I’d like to carry on with this post and tell you more about Cape Town… why we’re here… WHY this is a huge milestone moment for me… WHY this is one of those full-circle life-experience thingies… exactly where I’m at with the book…

But – this super-long-winded blog post has gotten a bit out of hand….  (sorry!)…I’ll fill you in about all that in a separate post…  X


PS:  For anyone wanting newsletter updates (although I make a bit of mouth-vomit when I use the term “newsletter” because it sounds so dull and corporate-like) on Hat-Happenings… or the process of my illustrated-book and what-not… just click here!