A visit to Israel that included a mud bath at the Dead Sea was the highlight of 1999.
My good friend, Keren, had invited me to spend some time with her in Israel. At the time she was living at a kibbutz in the Negev Desert near Gaza and the border with Egypt. Her house, a converted bomb shelter, was cool and comfortable.
We had her patch of Israel grassed while I was there. There was a bottle of whisky involved, but that is another story………….
An amazing number of South Africans were living there, farming and turning the desert into fertile farmland. In the afternoons, during the heat of the day, we would rest and as it got cooler people would set up tables under the trees and start preparing and eating their meals.
I remember having a glass of wine and a light meal under a magnificent moon. Strange that the moon seems so much larger in the desert.
We visited, among other places, the Masada, the Dead Sea and the Sea of Galilee.
I was looking though some cupboards today, thinking about what to throw out. I found some old photos that I had forgotten about. They are of my grandparents. Grandpa Gray (FM as we called him) was born Farquhar McAllister Gray in 1879. He married my gran, Bertha Lehmann in 1900 and they had thirteen children. Some children died of diptheria, two sons were killed in World War II.
My last aunt passed away in October this year at the ripe old age of 93. She was living in an old age home in Aberdeen in the Karoo.
Karen brought our grand niece, Kaylee to visit. What a breath of fresh air she is. Always smiling and very happy to pose for photos.
The Sunday before Christmas was spent with our Dutch friends, Co and Evelyn. They made us a wonderful three course meal that ended with Co producing a flaming Baked Alaska. This set the tone for Christmas.
Christmas Eve was spent with Daryl and Karen.
Christmas Day started with my husband Les and I getting up at 5 am to prepare food as we had invited some friends and family for a Christmas dinner. Les, inspired by Co’s marvellous Baked Alaska, very ambitiously decided to make some beer bread as well as stuff and cook a turkey. Bear in mind that Les has never stuffed a turkey before and has only made bread once before.
I set the tables, made the trifle and prepared a leg of lamb. By 9.30 am I was worn out and put my feet up for an hour before everyone arrived.
Les in the meantime ploughed on. By 10.30 he came to have a shower, looking very pale and stressed. He hadn’t realised how much work was involved in preparing a turkey. Wow! He had made the stuffing, put it inside the turkey and got it all onto the Weber in time! What a titanic effort and what a titanic mess in the kitchen. Flour, egg shells and pork sausage were all over the counters.
I shovelled all the debris into the dirtbin and washed the counters down, with only minutes to spare before the guests arrived. Whew! Just in time. I somehow feel that next year we will do a lot more the day before (didn’t we say that last year?). Everyone seemed to enjoy the lunch.
I am currently reading a book called ‘What the Dog Saw’ by Malcolm Gladwell (who also wrote ‘Outliers’) kindly given to me by Daryl and Karen. It discusses very mundane issues that have had an amazing impact on our lives. Both books are great reads and very enlightening.
Garth and Bronley went Husky Sledding in Finland and are now on their way to Prague. Tomorrow will be -4C in Prague, so I hope they took lots of warm clothes.
Only three days left of 2011. What will 2012 bring?