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Moving on…

30 Nov

And we are off. Port Elizabeth, here we come..!

Pretty much a whole day’s driving at 411 miles – or 662 klicks as they say in South Africa – a good 7/8 hours on the road. But actually quite pleasant when there’s two of you to share the driving.

The scenery is stunning…

harvest-time

Along the garden route. Freeway all the way.

But it’s even more interesting when this is one’s mode of transport…

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Yep, it’s a FIAT. And we all know what that stands for.

OK – Fix It Again Tomorrow, for those of you on another planet.

John bought this from a friend, who didn’t want to sell it to him – because he was a friend. That should tell you something. Undeterred, John resurrected it from the dead and has been carefully nurturing it ever since, diligently checking over and replacing parts as and when.

He calls it the Mighty UNO. It’s way old and one has to really know how to drive to make it go, unlike the cars of today that practically drive themselves. (Some of course actually do.) It has a manual choke and a gearbox of the stick-in-a-bucket variety. Fortunately, I was brought up on this type of vehicle, back in the day, and actually enjoyed driving it. Just like old times..!

Anyway, John will offload me at his dad’s house in PE…

johns-dads-placeWhere I shall be staying until the new year. John, on the other hand, beetles back to continue working on his own place after a couple of days respite.

To the front is the Swartkops river estuary…

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estuary stitch

Glorious by day and night.

Lots of wildlife…

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A Goliath heron.

A postcard depicting the bay here…

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Bluewater Bay. The sailboat belonged to Terry – might well have been him sailing it.

Some local fishermen trespassing on the private jetty/parking…

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Not knowing they are on candid camera…

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Annoying the hell out of Terry.

Sorry, I missed a trick there. Top left shows a tray for birdseed, which attracts loads of our feathered friends and great to watch from the comfort of your armchair. Trust me to snap the tele when the tray is empty – of seed and birds!

And there’s a huge nature reserve at the back. I’ve never been here to see the aloes in bloom but am told they are quite a sight. Oh, and a beach just around the corner that I still haven’t been to – Indian ocean so the sea should be warm. Soon, soon.

So why am I here? Well it’s one of those win-win situations:

John’s father, Terry, is a spritely 92 year old who lives here alone. He is razor sharp in the brain department but, since hip replacement surgery following a fall that also mangled his shoulder, and recent trauma to his leg, he needs a little help with a few things: socks and shoes, monitoring blood pressure and medication, help with phone calls – he’s very deaf (a trait the John has inherited, though I think his is more selective). All pretty minor stuff really.

He can still get up and down the 39 steps that lead to the street…

With support – mostly moral. Can’t see them all here, but you get the picture.

There’s tortoises hiding in there too…

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Which dement the dog.

Terry makes his own bread (delicious) and here he is…

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Boxing up meals, cooked earlier, ready for the freezer. I should really take a leaf out of his book.

He has a maid/carer – Evelyn – who comes in three times a week, which is great ’cause on her days I also get served breakfast, elevensies and lunch; my bed made and washing done. I could get used to this.

There’s also a garden boy – Peter – who pitches up on Sundays to keep everything neat and tidy…

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This pic shows a fully equipped workshop and above, Terry’s late wife’s art studio that is accessed through the white gate seen in the other pics…up yet more steps.

She was a very talented lady who produced some lovely work…

Beautifully African and atmospheric. I like.

And there’s a driver – Carl – a phone call away.

Plus plenty of friends; some already having paid us a visit – curious to meet ‘the barge lady’. Hope I didn’t disappoint.

He no longer drives, because of the shoulder, so some chauffeuring is required. For instance, we went to the Armistice service at a local chapel…

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Looking smart complete with medals.

We go to his weekly Pilates session with the lovely Maria…

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Which he has been doing for the last twelve years – he started at age 80. I think it’s what keeps him so fit and enabled him to recover so well from surgery.

I am also having sessions now in the hope it will do similar for me…some hope! But Terry is quite tickled that I’m joining in.

We took the dog to be groomed…

Tiger – before and after.

And to the vet. But that’s a whole other story!

There’s also shopping and general day to day stuff. But I see my role more as that of companion, someone to chat to/watch tele/share jokes/stories with.

He has some jolly good stories too, being RAF and widely travelled. He’s lived in some exotic locations, including Malaysia (where John was born) and Libya (where John did some schooling). And he’s done some amazing road trips. I am finding it all fascinating. And, despite moving out here in the 60’s, he stills sounds like the Londoner he is. No trace of a SA accent.

Turns out, we rub along quite nicely and both enjoy a gin and tonic/glass of wine as well.

So, apart from a drinking partner, what do I get out of this little arrangement?

For starters, there’s free lodgings, which are very comfortable, and where  I have been allocated the master bedroom. This comes complete with en-suite (resplendent in 1960/70s avocado), adjacent office and private lounge with views to die for…

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I also get the run of the rest of the house and garden and the use of a car…

The Conquest: probably even more ancient than the Uno but meticulously maintained and still going strong – well, it is a Toyota!  Even if it does only have four gears.

Quite a popular model here…

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Though the later models are called Tazz.

And for my old buddies from Daewoo days…

There’s a fair smattering of these about – old and new.

It is of course summer here with temperatures in the mid to high twenties at the mo…

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In the shade

Probably going higher in December and January. And if I can miss much of the British winter, that alone is pretty much back of the net for me.

But there’s another thing. I have the opportunity to spend time turning an idea for a novel into the first draft of a book. So I have work to do. That’s the plan anyway. Starts with a vengeance this week. Really.

Crikey…it’s Thursday already! And I’ve been here a whole month.

To date, I have become a little embroiled in the daily life and ways of South Africa, which is largely the same…only different.

This is a yield sign…

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A stop street

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And they call these robots

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Their cell phone towers get disguised…

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This one masquerading as a lighthouse. I’ve seen ones up country done up like fir trees. Gets my vote.

The ‘lighthouse’, and sea beyond, is the view from the local shopping centre where you find these…

They are called trolley porters (says so on the back of his overall, but BB not quite getting that in shot) and are most helpful. When they’ve loaded you up, they take away the trolley too. No coins in the slot malarkey here..!

I’ve not yet managed to master this method of transporting goods…

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A fine example of head carrying.

This is still called a bridge…

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I just like it.

And it seems their policeman also take naps in the road…

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And I’ve already said about the brand names…

A couple more I spotted.

Oh, and the laid back cat at the hardware store…

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I could go on (and on and on…) but won’t. Expect I’ll be back before too long with loads more to tell you though.

But I must get busy with that book…

BFN xx

Prrofreeding Fale

12 Nov

I didn’t pass…006

Bugger.

After reading this from cultfit.wordpress.com – an interesting and philosophical blog…

Why do we find it so difficult to share our dark and dirty selves online? Do we openly express our happiness via social media to seek the approval of others? Perhaps the most damaging part is that by only recording and sharing the splendid moments in our lives, we lose track of who we really are? 100 happy days isn’t enough to outweigh the other 265-ish days in the year.

I decided to share this un-splendid moment in my life with you, so as not to lose track of who I really am. (And not seeking sympathy in any way, shape or form. Honest.)

I didn’t miss the grade by much but, lets face it, enough for a fail. Seems a bit harsh to me and is very subjective in my totally unbiased (ahem…) view.

So this is how It works. They break it down into four categories:

  1.  Attention to detail
  2.  Spelling, punctuation and grammar
  3.  Technical ability
  4.  Level of intervention

They passed me on 2 & 3 but saw fit not to on 1 & 4. At least my dear old English teacher, Miss Riches, would be proud – re no. 2.

And I can learn symbols – re no. 3. (I can also look them up in the manuals provided.)  Piece of pi cake.

In failing me on point no. 1, they infer that my level of concentration isn’t what it should be and say as much in their handwritten comments – which were, by the way, almost illegible.

Just as well I can concentrate then, or I wouldn’t have been able to read them.

You have no idea how I pored over that assessment piece. And that’s probably where I went wrong – over-thinking. I do have a propensity for this and it really doesn’t do me any favours. Indeed, the less I think the better I become.

As regards point 4: On the course, a lot of time  is spent emphasising that the proofreader shouldn’t intervene/alter the style of the author. They say that in the real world, by the time you get the typescript it will already have been edited and therefore any major boo-boos/glaring anomalies will have been put right. So leave it alone. Yet some of the mistakes I did (correctly) adjust were so basic – the editor would have to be shot for missing them.

They also, at the same time, stress that the proofreader is the final safety net, as it were, and must correct style inconsistencies, as well as the grammatical errors/typos etc. So it’s a judgement call really; one that I called badly it seems.

Oh how I agonised over some points. Shall I? Shan’t I? In the end I did – and obviously shouldn’t have. Heads they win, tails I lose.

This may sound like sour grapes. It is. Actually.

After a self-imposed cooling off period, I emailed to ask, politely, if I could re-take this assessment. Why of course, they reply, that’ll be another £45 please. Kerching!

A couple of my friends have wondered (when I shamelessly sobbed on their shoulder) if this was standard practice. Call me a cynic but I wonder too.

So, what next?

Despite all that I’ve said, I am very much enjoying this course and learning lots, so I shall soldier on bravely with the copy-editing part of the course…004

See how I fare with that. It might be that I’m better suited to this – a less anal, more creative occupation – or not.

Whilst it would be ever so handy to have that certificate of competence that they hand out to those they deem so (not me evidently) to present to prospective employers, I shall do without. Thank you very much.

I will make do with liberal outpourings of bullshit charm and totally busk it market myself furiously when the time comes and if I decide to go the proofreading route.

Maybe, just maybe, this new-found knowledge and insight into the publishing world will make me a better writer. But, if all else fails, I shall have to come up with something else I (think) I can do (that makes money) in the jim-jams.

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