Monday, 28 September 2009

Come Dine With Me

With no wedding to plan we have a winter of blissfully free weekends ahead of us. So what are we going to do - aside from redecorating the sitting room and bathroom, a spot of gardening and numerous afternoon teas at the George - £3.95 for two very large scones with jam and clotted cream - bargain!?

A while back, during a competitive cooking conversation between myself and Mr Swift(there are many - but I always trump him because I have a four slice Dualit) the idea of a Come Dine With Me style competition was floated - less the ferreting about in other people's undies draws and the thousand pound prize of course. Everyone jumped on board and the first dinner party - to be hosted by me - has been penciled in for two weeks time.

I fear Mr Swift and Mr Jones are getting slightly carried away by the whole thing. Yesterday talk of videoing everyone's verdicts quickly turned to "candid shots of the host/hostess preparing food and little snaps of the party in full swing" - until Mrs Swift and I pointed out that we hadn't actually been commissioned by channel four to make the next series. (Hear much muttering about girls always ruining the fun).

So the menus and shopping lists are being planned - and we're all pondering whether being excited about this make us sound really rather old and tragic?

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Is this married life?

Today I returned home after a rather long day. Mr Jones had made himself pasta for tea (carb loading for football don't you know). Just as he was about to rush out of the door to kick balls about with other boys, I asked him if he was planning to leave me to clear up the mess he'd left in the kitchen. He chuckled and said pointedly: "Yeah - sorry about that - wife"!

Monday, 21 September 2009


I've just had an email to say that my comments about the townships in Cape Town were misinformed and offensive. I welcome all feedback to my blog and respect everyone's opinions.

The point I was trying to make was a cultural one - but perhaps, reading back what I've written, it wasn't coming across quite right. I don't dispute at all that there are some people in Africa who live in the most horrendous poverty, or that they need and deserve outside help.

What I was trying to say is that many of the people in the townships in Cape Town (specifically) have jobs and still choose to stay there - amongst people who share their culture, views and life experiences. Given the opportunity to move to so called "better areas" populated mainly by white people they often say no - because in their mind it's not "better". Why move amongst strangers and pay taxes for the privilege?

It might be hard for us to understand that some people really don't care about having a lovely house and lots of 'things', because in our culture that is something we're taught to value and the thing that most of us spend our lives trying to achieve (you only have to look at the credit crunch to understand our obsession for wanting more) . From what I understand - and of course this is just my opinion based on what I've seen and heard - many of the people from the Black and Coloured townships (and I use that word because that is what the people call themselves) choose their society, friends and culture over a nice house, taxes and legal Sky!

So perhaps it's actually us who are missing a trick - as we sit, isolated in our lovely houses, in our "nice" areas, paying taxes and Sky bills, hardly talking to our neighbours. Perhaps if we had a bigger sense of culture and community we'd need fewer of the trappings and trimmings.

What I wanted to get across was that I felt that my feeling guilty about what I have in comparison to what these people have is pointless because perhaps we actually want different things.

Thank you to my anonymous critic for forcing me to examine and clarify my views further - perhaps you will still think I'm wrong, and perhaps when I return to South Africa I'll think I was wrong this time too. I honestly do apologise if my thoughts caused offense and I hope you accept my apologies. If you ever read this - do let me know your thoughts.

One month in

Today I have been Mrs Jones for one whole month - it's going well!

So today I thought I'd share our ceremony with those of you who missed it.

Picture the scene: A bright, but blustery day, at Lyveden New Bield, with big dramatic clouds and patches of perfect blue sky. Rows of chairs sit on the grass facing an Elizabethan mound and sparkling water. The back drop is an unfinished Elizabethan shooting lodge. The seats are filled with smiling guests and a nervous Mr Jones stands at the top of the aisle next to Ingrid the humanist minister.

Two bridesmaids dressed in mocha and pink from Coast walk towards the ceremony site. Behind them, it's horn tooting, comes a cream convertible Morris Minor driven by the Father of the Bride and carrying a very anxious Mrs Jones to be.

Over the breeze you can here the opening bars of The Blowers Daughter by Damien Rice. Chosen because we both loved the film Closer.

I start my walk up the aisle, clamping my hand to my veil to stop it escaping into the wind (I fail when I reach Mr Jones and want to hold his hand - so the maid of honour holds it instead).

Ingrid begins:

In different cultures throughout the world, many traditions are associated with weddings, and one of these is for the bride’s father to give his blessing to the union by accompanying his daughter down the aisle and giving her hand in marriage to her husband. Rebecca’s father, Mr. Peter Speechley is proud to be here today, not only to support his daughter, but to also to publicly declare his affirmation of her choice to spend her life with Tim. And so, before all the family and friends gathered here, I ask…

Peter, are you happy for Rebecca to be married to Tim and are you content to wish them well on their journey through life?

Response: I am

You will no doubt have realised that this will not be a traditional ceremony or one that you may be familiar with. Having committed to spend the rest of their lives together as husband and wife, Tim and Beck decided to have a Humanist ceremony as this best reflects the way in which they have chosen to live their lives and it also gives them the opportunity to select music, readings and aspirations which have special significance to them.

Humanists believe that, in order to live together harmoniously, each society needs a moral code, but that this morality comes from within ourselves and is not dependent on the teachings of a religion. We see it as our responsibility to lead good and productive lives, whilst showing tolerance, respect and compassion to our fellow citizens and a concern for our planet. But whatever your beliefs and outlook on life, it is important to Tim and Beck that you feel happy in sharing this special occasion with them.

Tim and Beck know that they are fortunate to have each found the right person with whom to share all of life’s inevitable highs and lows and they are thrilled that you are all able to be here to witness their public declaration of commitment to each other. They have chosen to invite you, the people who play different, but very important roles in their lives because they feel your presence adds significance to the occasion, and consequently, to their union. Later in the ceremony, I will ask you all to endorse this, by making your own promise to support them in their relationship.

To open the ceremony, we will hear from Beck’s best friend Sharon, who has chosen to read a passage from Beck’s favourite novel and the first book she ever leant to Tim –Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

Captain Corelli's Mandolin
Louis de Bernieres
Love is a temporary madness,
it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides.
And when it subsides you have to make a decision.
You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together
that it is inconceivable that you should ever part.
Because this is what love is.
Love is not breathlessness,
it is not excitement,
it is not the promulgation of eternal passion.
That is just being "in love" which any fool can do.
Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away,
and this is both an art and a fortunate accident.
Those that truly love, have roots that grow towards each other underground,
and when all the pretty blossom have fallen from their branches,
they find that they are one tree and not two.

So, what do we know of the journey that led us here to witness the marriage of these two people?

Tim grew up in Islington with parents Alison and Tony and his two sisters Nicole and Lauren, who is one of Beck’s bridesmaids today. He describes his younger self as ‘a bit of a pain’ and acknowledges that, had they met when he was still at school, he and Beck would almost certainly have not got along. At the age of eleven Tim and his family moved to Peterborough, after which he spent three very enjoyable years at boarding school before returning home to attend Bourne Grammar. By his own admission, he didn’t work particularly hard, but was fortunately bright enough to still do well and at the age of 18 he succeeded in gaining a place at Hull University to study computer science, equipping him for his job in IT.

Beck, on the other hand, was a very conscientious and well behaved child. Brought up by parents Peter and Susan near Cambridge with younger sister, Rachel – her other bridesmaid – she enjoyed an idyllic country childhood of tree climbing, horse riding and all the other delights of an outdoor life. She loved school and spent much of her spare time with her nose in a book, often in a world of her own. Following her success in her ‘A’ levels, she too chose to continue her education by taking English and American studies at university in Hull, before doing a post graduate course in journalism.

And Hull, of course, is where their story begins.
The whole university experience proved to be a happy and worthwhile one for both Tim and Beck. They each gained the necessary qualifications to pursue their respective chosen careers …and they each met their future partner for life. They were introduced to each other by friends during their first term and were soon regularly mixing in the same social circle. During the following academic year, they were part of a group who chose to share a house, but although the chemistry was apparently obvious to all around them, to the frustration of their friends, their relationship remained platonic. It was only in their third year when, no longer living under the same roof, but still in regular contact, they finally realised what everyone else had known all along.

That was early in 2001 and in the intervening eight and a half years, the love and respect they each feel for the other has blossomed and evolved into a true partnership. They became a couple instead of two individuals – two pieces of a perfectly fitting jigsaw and were both warmly welcomed into the other’s family. Sometimes together and sometimes apart, they continued to enjoy a variety of hobbies and interests, being mature enough to understand that you do not have to share everything in order to share a common goal.

When Tim and Paul, who is his best man today, shared a house in Bourne, Beck was a frequent and welcome weekend visitor, and their relationship went from strength to strength. Tim told me that his dad, Tony, who sadly died two years ago, knew without any doubt that in Beck, his son had found a soul mate and did everything he could to encourage Timothy to propose. And it seems he was not alone.

Tim had long ago realised that the love he and Beck felt for each other would last forever, but decided that he would not propose while others were telling him he should. Eventually it seems, friends tired of their repeated questions and Tim knew the time was right. Having booked a meal and a room at the Olive Branch restaurant, a venue favoured by the couple for special occasions, he proposed to a stunned, but delighted Beck and I need not tell you her answer!

Having received the good wishes of the staff, Beck then had another shock when she called her family to tell them the news and discovered that, apart from her mum, everyone else was in on the secret!

And so Tim and Beck are now here, before friends and family to take their relationship to the next level; to formalise their union and to make a public declaration of their love. In committing to be lifelong partners, they are also forming a new family and, inspired by their own childhood experiences, they hope to create a loving and nurturing environment in which they, and any children they may have together can grow and prosper.

An unknown poet wrote,
‘Our family is a circle of love and strength
With every birth and every union the circle grows
Every joy shared adds more love
Every obstacle faced together makes the circle stronger.’

In the sixteenth century, the Dutch humanist Erasmus, wrote a passage about marriage which is just as true today. He said,

‘What is more sweet than to live with one with whom you are united in body and mind, who talks with you in secret affection, to whom you have committed all your faith and fortune? What in all nature is lovelier? You are bound to friends in affection. How much more to a husband or wife in the highest love, with union of the body, the bond of mutual vows and the sharing of your goods! …Nothing is more safe, tranquil, pleasant and lovable than marriage.’

And that feeling of safety and security is what we all wish for you.

Now before we move on to the more formal part of the proceedings, Catherine, a close friend of Tim and Beck’s from their early days together at University will share with you a reading which she has selected for this occasion.

The Promise
Eileen Rafter

The sun danced on the snow with a sparkling smile,
As two lovers sat quietly, alone for a while.
Then he turned and said, with a casual air
(Though he blushed from his chin to the tips of his hair),
"I think I might like to get married to you"

"Well then, she said, "Well there's a thought,
But what if we can't promise to be all that we ought,
If I'm late yet again, when we plan to go out.
For I know I can't promise, I'll learn to ignore
Dirty socks and damp towels strewn all over the floor.

So if we can't vow to be all that we should
I'm not sure what to do, though the idea's quite good".
But he gently smiled and tilted his head
Till his lips met her ear and softly he said

"I promise, to weave my dreams into your own,
That wherever you breathe will be my hearts home.
I promise, that whether with rags or with gold I am blessed
Your smile is the jewel I will treasure the best.

Do you think then, my love, we should marry - do you?"
"Yes" she said smiling "I do".

Thank you.

Timothy and Rebecca will shortly be making solemn promises to each other. Before then, as I mentioned earlier, I will ask you, their guests, to also make a commitment. If you agree with what I am about to say, please reply together, ‘We do’.

‘We have come here today to witness the lifelong commitment that Timothy Jones and Rebecca Speechley are about to make to each other. Do you, their family and friends, pledge to offer them your time, help and wisdom throughout their married life and to support their relationship and respect the promises they will make?’

Response: We do.
Thank you.

Tim and Beck, we have now come to the part of the ceremony where, in the presence of your chosen guests you will make the promises and express the sentiments which you have decided encapsulate your feelings for each other. You have chosen to take turns in speaking these promises, each one being different, but of equal importance.

Beck I ask you to marry me, to say I love you does not seem enough. I cannot imagine my life without you - you complete me.

When the burdens of the world are upon me, I just need to be beside you. When the world is against you, I will protect you.

I love you more with each passing day, so I give you my hand, my heart and my love.

Tim, thank you so much for finally asking me to marry you. I can't imagine my live without you in it - without you hugs that feel like home and your supremely reassuring logic.

I promise to always try and make you happy, to be by your side and hold your hand no matter what life throws at us. I promise never to let anyone come between us, to always respect you and be faithful to you.

Your love and support are the reason I am who I am today, so with all that I am, I promise to love you forever, be with you always and never let you go.

Timothy, do you promise before these witnesses gathered here to share your life with Rebecca, loving and looking after her, respecting and caring for her and bringing her a lifetime of happiness, tenderness and affection?
Response: I do

Rebecca, do you promise before these witnesses gathered here to share your life with Timothy, loving and looking after him, respecting and caring for him and bringing him a lifetime of happiness, tenderness and affection?
Response: I do

Tim and Beck have made a verbal exchange of promises. They will now exchange rings as a visual and permanent symbol of their union.

Could Claudia please bring the rings? Thank you.

Tim, please place this ring on Beck’s finger and repeat after me,
“I give you this ring”………………..
“as an outward and lasting symbol”……………………
“of my love and our marriage”……………………………….

Beck, please place this ring on Tim’s finger and repeat after me
“I give you this ring”……………………………
“as an outward and lasting symbol”………………………..
“of my love and our marriage”…………………………………..

It is now my privilege and pleasure to pronounce you Husband and Wife.

You may kiss the bride….

Tim and Beck, the wedding is almost over, but your marriage has just begun. On behalf of everyone present, I thank you for allowing us to share in this wonderful occasion and wish you a lifetime of love, adventure, happiness and fulfillment.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you, your bride and groom, Mr. and Mrs. Jones…

We walk back up the aisle to the sound of Me and Mrs Jones - sung by the marvellous Mr Buble.

Thank you for indulging me with my memories. We'd love to hear your favourite memories of our day so feel free to leave comments on the blog. And even if you weren't there we'd love to know what you think. xx

PS you can make the pictures bigger by clicking on them.

Friday, 18 September 2009

An update on Miss Penny

I'm afraid Miss Penny is refusing to be photographed avec bandage - she is far too vain. But if you could imagine a small fluffy black cat with a bright pink bandaged leg and what amounts to a club foot you'd be pretty close.

She has asked me to tell all her well-wishers that she is doing well and to thank you all for your concern. This was expressed while generally scowling in my direction because I refuse to let her out into the garden and because we have taken to calling her "clubfoot" and giggling when she tries to run - this does not amuse her.

A few more little details

My bouquet was a beautiful mix of hydrangea (my favourite) and vintage roses - none of which I know the name of - but ask Miss Pickering she'll be able to tell you. The bridesmaids carried big pink hydrangea heads.

The aisle of our outside ceremony was lined with Bonne Maman jars filled with flowers and herbs. A big thanks to freecycle, the ladies of Rutland, Miss Simkins and anyone else who forced themselves to eat Bonne Maman for the cause. We'd planned for them to be tied to the chairs with pink ribbon - a la the photograph - but unfortunately the gale force winds meant that they sat elegantly on the grass instead, looking equally as beautiful.

The tea and cake stall was covered in vintage tea cups sourced by the Mother of the Bride from the local charity shop. There is now a similar picture adorning the walls of the shop and the ladies who run it are beside themselves with excitement. Everyone seems to have their favourite tea set and the Mother of the Bride is willing to barter. The cakes were all homemade by the Mother of the Bride, the maid of honour, myself, Miss Jones and Mrs Medd. People are still talking about the brownies and the carrot cake.

I arrived in style in a Morris Minor convertible - driven by my Daddy because we both get awfully car sick and couldn't bear the thought of being driven by anyone else. It's a good job really because I was so nervous that I was very nearly sick twice on the way there anyway. We drove over the field right up the the ceremony site.....

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

The details

I will resume with the honeymoon tales at some point - once I've had time to sift through the pics of lions, giraffes and Kudu. But I thought I might share a few wedding details with those of you who sadly couldn't make it. These pictures are courtesy of the lovely Miss P - we are still awaiting for the proper professional ones - but I have to say that I think these are rather fabulous.

I wanted our wedding to be very personal, not just a generic "wedding" the same as everyone else's. It was a lot of work, but it was completely worth it. I couldn't have done it without the help of my family and the patience and indulgence of Mr Jones - who was happy to let me run with my dreams - so thank you all.

The theme was country village fete - the bunting was hand made by the mother of the bride and the maid of honour.

The table cloths were made by me. The sweetie jar table centres were Mr Jones'idea.

The gallery of pictures was the work of me and Mr Jones.

The scones were baked on the morning of the wedding and served with jam I made myself - there were fresh strawberries too.

There were fete games to keep our guests entertained - some made by Mr Jones (I was very impressed by the pink ladder he made for the bean bag toss - not pictured. I made the bean bags - all different weights which apparently made it extra tricky - ooops). The signs were handmade by me and the very skilled maid of honour (based on her design for my hen do sash) - you should see her with an iron and some wonderweb!

It was all topped off with flowers by Miss Pickering.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Interrupted by daily life

Our reminiscences of the warm hazy days of the honeymoon have been rudely interrupted by the reality of everyday life. You see Miss Penny has broken two of her toes.

It is quite her own fault - apt as she is to nosiness, she was sat on the front doormat watching Mr Jones tinker about with his new Prius. Please note - it's a company car - I know we shop in Waitrose and live in Stamford, have a Dualit toaster (four slices Mr Swift), a Kitchenaid Mixer, buy organic veg and have a weakness for all things Boden - but even we aren't soooooo "wanky" that we'd actually buy a prius for ourselves - especially in white.

Anyway - she was watching Mr Jones trying to workout how to actually drive the thing, when a gust of wing caught the front door and slammed it shut on her paw. She disappeared for about 30 minutes and then came hobbling home.

Had it been Mr Jeremy's paw in the door there would have been scenes of dramatic proportions, an ambulance would have had to be called and the attention of the neighbours alerted by a cacophony of pained yowling. Miss Penny (being a girl) was dignified in her pain and said she'd rather "see how it was in the morning" rather than put anyone out.

On Friday, after a general anaesthetic, an xray and some pain killers she was returned to me with a pink bandaged leg and strict instructions that she should be caged for six whole weeks. Neither of us are amused.

By Saturday morning she was out of the cage but under room arrest. She'd learnt far too quickly to smack her pink club foot on the bars to make her demands for freedom all the more pressing. She sleeps a lot but in her waking hours likes to vocally and visually remind us that it really isn't on to shut her in one room - evil eyes, manacing scowls and piercing, screeching yowls.

Today we've been back to the vets. The bandage on her leg is now blue and room arrest has been approved. So far the bill stands at £203 - we do not have pet insurance and we have to take her back every three days for a bandage change. The boiler is also having issues and a plumber needs to be called. The honeymoon is most definitely over.

Friday, 11 September 2009

The Honeymoon - Day 4 - Bye Bye Cape Town

We spend the day wondering the streets of Cape Town. There have been a lot of warnings about walking about,and perhaps we're naive, but we feel pretty safe and don't feel at all threatened on the main streets. The people are really friendly - telling Mr Jones he should take pictures of me instead of trees and advising us to visit various museums (which we don't do out of sheer laziness).

We walk through the city gardens and visit the castle. Mr Jones tells me off for constantly paparazzi-ing everything - including him. We annoy market stall holders by looking and not buying and then have lunch.

As it's our honeymoon we decide that it's perfectly permissible to take an afternoon nap and read books until dinner time - so we do. Dinner (always my favourite part of the day) is at Beismillah a Cape Malay restaurant that specialises in Malay curries.

It's in all the guidebooks so when we arrive we're slightly surprised at the decor. This is not your usual touristy restaurant. The carpet on the floor looks like it came from someones lounge in 1968 and the ceiling is clad in some kind of shiny corrugated metal-look plastic. The seats are covered in the fabric you find on coaches and there are plastic mats on the tables. It smells good though and there are a few tables reassuringly full of locals.

Trevor - again our driver (today he is buying a new flat from which to run a new business and house his grandchildren) had recommended the Chicken Curry - so I have that and Mr Jones has a mutton version (I thought it smelt like wet dog - but he said it was tasty). The menu invited us to eat with our hands and I was all for it, but much to the delight of Mr Jones they gave us knives and forks - clearly thinking we'd make too much mess. So we stuffed down our curries and knocked back a mango lassi each. We ordered pudding - some kind of cakey thing with custard which was lovely, until I reached the tapioca at the bottom and the frog spawn texture put me off.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

The Honeymoon - Day 3 - Wine Tour

When on holiday in general (and honeymoon in particular)I try my very hardest not to speak to other holiday makers. I live in constant fear of being hunted down by "that" couple who find their own company so dull that they need to seek out yours at every possible opportunity. As a very strict rule I like to avoid any situation in which I might bump into these types - so we opt for a private wine tour. Instead of being herded into a bus load of tourists at 8am we're picked up by our guide Nicolette at a very civilised 10 o'clock and driven to Stellenbosch.

We spend the day sipping white wines and feeling guilty about not really liking any of them. We have a delicious lunch at Le Petite Ferme a vineyard in Franschhoek (a Malay curry for Mr Jones and a local Blue Cheese Risotto for me - washed down with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc). We spend the meal mocking the pathetic American couple who look like a dark haired version of Barbie and Ken, but whinge about it being cold and order Spag Bol off the kids menu and glass of coke (why fly to Africa if you're going to eat Spag Bol?????)

On our way to and from Cape Town we drive past the Townships. Where the majority of the black and coloured people of Cape Town live. You can go on organised trips to see these towns, but personally I don't think much of poverty tourism. If you want to see that sort of place I think you should see it while volunteering to help rather than gorping through a mini bus window as if you're at the zoo.

I ask Nicolette if unemployment is high in these areas and what the government is doing to help. She explains that actually the majority of the people in the townships have jobs and many earn decent money. A lot of them could afford to move out of the shanty towns and into a nicer area, but they choose not to.

They prefer to live in their shacks which (unlike in other areas of Africa) have electricity supplies and fresh water. They hook their flat screen tvs up to pirate sky, have the latest mobile phones and drive fancy cars. They see little point in moving to a so called "nicer area" because then they'd have to pay taxes and leave all their friends behind.

I'd been wrestling with my conscience about the townships. Trying to decide whether to feel guilty or not. I decide not. I have yet to see a miserable looking black or coloured person. I'm sure there are many exceptions to the rule - but the majority of the people we meet have jobs and seem to enjoy their life. They don't seem to care about fancy houses in nice areas surrounded by white folk - they want to be in their communities and to not pay their taxes. Fair enough (or not fair - if you're paying for their electicity supply!)

The Honeymoon - Day 2 - The Best Day

You'll remember that I mentioned that I had a hankering for horse riding on the beach. Well the maid of honour kindly donated a romantic beach ride to us as a wedding present - much to my delight and Mr Jones' consternation.

We chose to ride in Noordhoek - a rural(ish) area of Cape Town just down the coast. On the map it looked a short ride along a coast road and up a twisty bit in the mountains. But unfortunately the "twisty" bit has been open for just six months in the last 10 years because the local government is worried about being sued for falling rocks. So it took us an hour to drive round the base of Table Mountain instead.

Our taxi driver for the day was Trevor. He was Cape Malay and practically incomprehensible unless you concentrated really hard. He was chatty though and as well as being a taxi driver has in past lives been a wine delivery man, an undertaker, a wedding photographer (self taught and very scathing of our digital camera), grandfather and future entreprenuer.

Mr Jones asked him if being a taxi driver kept him busy. Not bad he replied. Especially last week when one of his colleagues was off sick and the other one got hijacked.

Mr Jones and I share a swift wide eyed glance and I ask if hijacking is common in Cape Town. Every now and again - but I've never been - is the answer. I lock my door and add "never been hijacked" to his list of accomplishments.

We arrive at Imhoff Farm at 11am - our ride is at 4pm but the hotel have assured us that there his plenty to do. The majority of the plenty is a Reptile Park - which clearly didn't go down well with me. After looking round the deli, craft shops and sussing out the stables it's 11.50am.

We decide to have lunch and settle ourselves down on the veranda of the restaurant - where we stay gazing at the view and chatting for the next four hours. We decide that we want to live right here forever in one of the massive houses with moutains in the back yard and a beach out the front.

Wrapped up in jumpers (It's winter in Cape Town) we head for the stables and Mr Jones tells me off when I sign the insurance form with "Speechley". I realise that I don't have a "Jones" signature. We saddle up and head out - just us and the two stable girls.

I immediately ask if we can go faster. Mr Jones says he's up for it so once we hit the beach we trot. Mr Jones bounces around a lot with a weird wincing expression on his face. We stop and the girls assure him that if he feels brave enough to canter it'll be far more comfortable. I nod in agreement and we set off. I turn back to see Mr Jones' eyes bulging out of the sockets and he begs to stop - citing a possible cessation of the Jones family tree if he's forced to continue.

Kindly he tells me to go for it - so I do - for two glorious kilometres of white sandy shoreline. All thoughts of psycho thoroughbreds and nasty falls clear from my mind as I canter along in the sunset, a huge grin plastered across my face.

I trot back to Mr Jones who points out a whale swimming just off the coast. "You don't get that in Skeggy," he says.

That evening - after another informative ride with our friend Trevor and a close call with a baboon on the road (apparently not an unusual sight and not normally met with squeals of delight from passengers - me!), we head out for dinner at The Codfather in Camps Bay for sushi, the freshest caught-today fish and the hugest prawns either of us have ever seen. A perfect end to a perfect day.

Monday, 7 September 2009

The Honeymoon - Day 1 - Cape Town

BA have gone all technical so unless you have the power to hack into their computer systems getting an upgrade to first class because it's your honeymoon is nigh on impossible. Mr Jones assures me that his computer skills don't including hacking so I make do with economy.

However we clearly look like we're on honeymoon (perhaps it's my haggard 'I've been planning a wedding and haven't slept for a week' look - or the fact that Mr Jones keeps calling me 'wife'.), because the air hostess asks us if we're going on holiday (why else would we be on the plane?) and when we grin inanely at her and say we're on our honeymoon she reappears about five minutes later with two glasses of champagne. I chase this down with a G&T and two sleeping pills and the next thing I know we're landing in Cape Town - marvellous.

We're picked up by Kurt - who is Cape Dutch - he looks just like you'd imagine someone called Kurt to look. His South African accent has a very Dutch twang and I feel almost put out by the fact that he isn't wearing clogs.

Now, I will confess to a pretty hefty preoccupation with the weather, but I have nothing, absolutely nothing, on the Capetonians. Kurt immediately insists that today is the day we should go up Table Mountain because it's cool, clear and sunny with very few clouds.

When we reach the lovely Cape Cagoden Hotel the receptionist tells us that we should go up Table Mountain because it's cool, clear and sunny with very few clouds and because yesterday it was misty. We warm ourselves by the open fire (it's winter in South Africa at the moment) and then check into our room (all very nice).

We decide that we will indeed go up the mountain and we call a cab. When we tell the cabby where we're going he tells us that it's a brilliant idea because the weather is cool, clear and sunny with very few clouds, that it was misty yesterday and they had to close the cable car and because he hears there is a 60 per cent chance that it may rain tomorrow.

I'm all for walking up the mountain but Mr Jones (who doesn't believe in Gin with sleeping pill chasers) says he's too tired and flatly refuses. I feel we're missing out on part of the experience - until half way up in the cable car I see two tiny, weeny looking people, staggering up what looks like a giant staircase - I realise that actually the mountain is probably bigger than it looks.

At the top we indulge ourselves in a burger with wedges each - the wedding is over let the eating begin. Mr Jones then spends the next 30 minutes naval gazing and asking me if he looks fat. I begin to worry that the pre-wedding diet might have gone too far and point out that if we'd have walked up he could have had two burgers without gaining an ounce! We stare at the views, tut at people letting their children get too close to the edge and get a bit snap happy with the camera.

I'm on snake watch thanks to a helpful "Beware of Snakes" sign and my over active imagination and pathological reptile phobia combine into immense paranoia. Every twig, root, leaf suddenly develops scales and a forked tongue and Mr Jones gives me withering looks everytime I leap behind him on the path. I see two real lizards, no real snakes and about 25 imaginary ones.

We head back down and get a cab to the V&A Waterfront. It's pretty, but we're unimpressed - just a few boats, beggars and big shopping mall. We could take pirate ship out for a spin in the harbour but decide against it. We eat Tapas for dinner and drink a few too many cocktails.
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