Wednesday, June 30, 2010

FIFA World Cup 2010 - I was there!!

I have already posted about the soccer and I'm sure you probably know there is a World Cup taking place here in South Africa at the moment - if you don't then you have obviously been tightly wrapped in cocoon somewhere for a very long time!

Now I wouldn't call myself a soccer fan and mostly I was not particularly phased by this huge event happening here for the first time but with all the excitement that Abigail brought home from school and all the flags and soccer paraphernalia it was pretty hard to remain uninvolved. Needless to say we have become fanatics here and have watched soccer everyday since it started - almost every game or at least part of every game.

I had a birthday 10 days ago and yesterday I got a phone call from my brother offering me his ticket to last nights game! The conversation went like this: (After all the pleasantries had been exchanged!)

Andrew:"we were going to give you a voucher for a spa treatment but I'm not able to go tonight and I was wondering if you'd prefer the ticket"

Debbie: (after very little deliberation) "I'll take the ticket"!!! It was a no-brainer really!!
(They had a lot of tickets and he's already been to quite a few games including some in Jo'burg, Durban and Bloemfontein.)

Now let me explain that after Bafana Bafana were knocked out I decided to support Spain because up until last night they had not received a single yellow card. Last night's match was Spain vs Portugal - so I was very excited!!

Of course, this is Cape Town so it was pouring with rain. I had planned to do the fan walk with the girls but it would have had to have been postponed anyway as it was just too wet. But even if it had been blazing sunshine, I would have ditched them for the ticket!!! Shocking, I know!!

Anyway, Lisa very kindly took both girls as well as her 2 boys to the MTN Science Center for the afternoon and then they slept over at my parents as it was bound to be a very late night.

I left home at about 2pm to stock up on cash, water and batteries and headed for UCT to catch a shuttle to Town. This was part of the very efficient park and ride system set up by FIFA to ferry people to and from the stadium without a MAJOR traffic situation.

I was first to board the bus but was soon joined by some American tourists and a few others. The rain was still coming down at that stage.
I arrived in Town at the Civic Center which was a central point for all the shuttles where you had to disembark and board another bus to the stadium. However, I had to meet Jackie, my sister-in-law who had my ticket and who also knew what was going on! (They do big events all the time - I am not that experienced with crowds and stadiums and big events!!) So because many of the roads were closed I had to walk to a place that she could reach by car. It was still raining a little by that time so I set off looking like a pregnant Hunchback of Notre Dame - vuvuzela in hand!!! I must have looked hilarious in Grant's wheelchair poncho with my backpack on my back and camera around my neck - all under the poncho, but I was dry!!!
Once we found each other and Jackie had been home to change (they live in Town) we set off on our journey. We parked a little way from the "fan walk" and started walking.

It was very festive and there were thousands and thousands of people.
It was still quite early so we went for supper along the way first at the Cape Quarter shopping center which was packed and really, really loud!! From there we could also watch the other game between Paraguay and Japan which was very exciting and ended in the first penalty shootout of the tournament.

At about 7pm we left to finish the walk to the Stadium which was looming like an enormous ship ahead of us.We had to queue for about 40 minutes to get through the security checks (where they confiscated the stick of my brand new Spanish flag!!) and only just made it in time - the teams were coming out to sing their anthems just as we sat down!

The stadium is HUGE! And it is really beautiful. The photo's didn't do it justice but the effect of the lights around the "ceiling" which is open in the middle, against the black sky was amazing.

This spidery thing is the camera that is responsible for most of the television coverage, suspended above the field.

The game was exciting but goalless at halftime. The crowd kept themselves entertained with singing, cheering, Mexican waving and blasting their vuvuzela's!
It was quite weird to be there when you've seen it on T.V., the field looks much longer on T.V. than it does in real life. It looks a bit squashed up close!! We were sitting right behind one of the goals. Great seats!

At half time Zakumi made an appearance! The REAL Zakumi!!
This green haired "leopard" that you see below is the 2010 mascot.
I was informed by my daughter that his name means "South Africa 2010" - ZA = the international code thing for South Africa, and "Kumi" meaning "10" in one of the 11 official languages that we have so "Zakumi" = "South Africa 2010".

Another thing you don't see on T.V. is the little men that come out at half time to patch up the field!!

The second half was more eventful as Spain scored the one and only goal of the match. Woohoo!!! A bit embarrassing for Portugal who scored 7 last time they played in Cape Town!

After the game I had to make my way back to the Civic Center to get the bus to UCT where my car was parked. It was a long walk and a bit of a wait but it all went very smoothly and there were officials and police all over to ask for assistance if needed.

I got home at midnight, very tired, ears ringing but having had such a good time.

It was really a once in a lifetime experience, one which I would not have had if Andrew had not offered his ticket. So, THANK YOU VERY, VERY, VERY MUCH, it was amazing.

Here's hoping Spain make it all the way to the end... we came accross these guys with a banner:
and I think I agree with them!!!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Birds, bunnies and babies @ the Barnyard.


and babies -
at the Barnyard!
Niave is finally happy to feed the birds, Abigail loved holding the bunnies and guinea pigs and gorgeous baby Emily chewed the menu!!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A sunshiny day.

Winter brings rain, wind, cold and even snow to Cape Town but it also brings beautiful warm sunshiny days in between. Yesterday was one of them.

We headed straight for Kirstenbosch.

Because we have Botanical Society cards the entry was free and we had a wonderful walk around the gardens. I decided that we're past the point where we have to schlep all our earthly belongings along to sit on a picnic mat in 1 spot. So we packed some juice and a couple of snacks and went walking.

We had been to Kirstenbosch with Ouma and Oupa on Sunday for Fathers day - - the first time Grant has been there in more than 4 years. And I promised Niave we'd come back with her boots so she could splash in the water and streams that are in full flow all over due to the rain we've had.

She was very happy!

We walked up quite high and found a bench to have our first rest stop.

When you walk around the enormous gardens, instead of sitting in one spot, you find places that you never knew were there like this beautiful lawn area that we've never been to.And some strange and interesting plants as well.
Not to mention dangerous ones!

As we walked we had 1 destination in mind:

Abigail to drink the mountain water and Niave to play in it.

We did eventually get there and they were overjoyed! (This is Niave telling me that "this is like the water that is like the wine that Mary had in her days"!!)
We also took a walk through the aloe garden which has all it's aloes in full bloom. There was a run down a hill...

...only to discover MORE water!!

Oh the delight of paddling in an icy mountain stream!
And don't you just love these two?!
Not bad for a winter's day!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Go Bafana Bafana!!!

We won!! We actually won!! Okay, so we're out of the World Cup but WE WON!!

You'd never have thought that we actually don't really like soccer!! We've watched soccer every day for 11 days!! Today was Bafana Bafana's last chance to make it to the next round - a tall order but we were hopeful nonetheless.

We played France today and we had to get 4 goals to be able to advance to round 2 - we didn't make it but we did get 2 goals and compared with their 1 that made us the winners on the day. Woohoo!!

We got into the spirit of things here with some face paint and all (most!) of the soccer paraphernalia we have acquired in the last few weeks:
If only I could get the video of them singing their favourite World Cup song to upload. I have been trying for more than 3 hours!!! I just can't seem to do it. I finally got it uploaded to youtube, but now I can't find it!!! I will continue to persevere... right now this link is the only way to view the clip. I have been trying to do this for 5 hours, it just can't be that difficult, but yes, it has taken that long.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Soccer and Swimming.

On Friday the Fifa World Cup began in South Africa. This has caused great excitement in Cape Town, South Africa and indeed the world. Even in this very unsoccerfied household, we have caught the fever! Can't imagine the fever pitch in a soccer-crazy household!!

Most schools had some sort of celebration to mark the event being held on the African continent for the first time.

Greenfield had a mini-world cup that took place over the last 3 days of school. The school was divided into the 32 teams that are playing in the real world cup and they played preliminary rounds on Monday and Tuesday and held the finals on Wednesday - the last day of the term.
It was a great morning, all involved in the organisation put in a lot of effort.

The girls had a lot of fun and so did the parents!!

There was a lot of patriotism around!!
Each winning team received a trophy and each child received a medal.


Then, on Saturday, Abigail took part in her first club swimming gala.

She was a bit apprehensive as it was a new experience for both of us but she did well in the end and won her heat.

top left: she got a "Splash" cap for taking part; bottom left: trying to plead her way out of taking part!; top right: climbing onto the very high starting block; bottom right: 25m later and smiling!

Cake day - again!

Last Friday, the last Friday of the term, Niave was the winner of the cake raffle at school - for the second time.
It was yummy!
(And I've just noticed it mathes her t-shirt that she had on that day!!!)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The l-o-o-o-n-g awaited update!

Well, it's been a while! Probably the longest time between posts in the life of this blog, but hey, it's been busy around here! Can't imagine I'll get this done in one sitting but I'm making a start.

The last I wrote was when Grant had just had his op and was still in hospital - but he has been home for a few weeks now and a lot has happened since then.

There have been many challenges and changes and still many more to come but we have made it this far and we're still slightly sane so we're plodding along slowly.

Since the op Grant has not had the use of his legs and so is a "paraplegic" at the moment.
He may still get the use back but they can't say for sure.
We're not waiting to find out because that can take months, we're just rolling with how it is right now.

Our house is not set up for permanent wheelchair use, Grant was always on his crutches around the house so it's been quite frustrating negotiating doorways that aren't wide enough, cupboards that are out of reach, a bathroom that is too small for even the able-bodied and many more things that most people and even us have taken for granted up until now.

Getting dressed is a challenge, going to the toilet is a challenge, brushing teeth is a challenge, everyday things that usually require very little thought need to be plotted and planned and take MUCH longer.

Time is a huge factor, everything takes so long. You've heard of the 3 point turn, well he probably does a 23 point turn to get in and out of most rooms!

But, other things are positive like being upright instead of reclined, you are less unusual that way. Most people don't give a wheelchair a second glance these days but in the reclined position he got lots of staring eyes and comical expressions and even some strange and inconsiderate comments.

Also, we've been able to more easily sit and eat as a family at a table. Not that it wasn't possible before, just difficult and we'd got into a bad habit not doing so and the girls have been enjoying setting the table and having supper together.

Another area that was a problem was the stairs. We have 3 stairs at our front door. These were never much of a problem because Grant could manage with them on his crutches, but not anymore.

Getting in and out became a HUGE issue. Fortunately he hasn't needed to go out much, but there have been doctor's appointments and a few "outings" that were unavoidable. This meant that 4 people had to help to carry him down the steps in his chair. That's a total of +- 150kgs!! BUT, Grant's uncle, Ken is a good guy to have around!! He has done a number of "handy-man" jobs to help Grant like grab rails in the toilet and bathroom, a few adaptations in the office and most importantly making a brilliant set of ramps!
They arrived in style!! Bruce, Grant's dad had to sit in the boot to hold the door down while Ken drove. He looked very funny!!
Ken fitting the ramps.
These have been such a help, and allow Grant to get out with just 1 helper and he can therefore get into his office too so he has been able to get a little bit of work done.
(we've since changed to going down backwards as the gradient is quite steep and I was scared he would fall out of his chair!)

We have had so much help and support from so many people.

Family and friends have been amazing. We have had meals delivered, my parents arrived one evening with a new microwave because ours had died and a generous, anonymous donation arrived in my bank account!
And also just so many other things, babysitting, lifts for the girls...the list goes on.
So many people have helped and continue to help in so many ways.

We are still waiting for his new wheelchair which should arrive this week, he has hand controls fitted to his car but is yet to try it out - it's not as simple as it looks, after driving with your feet for 20 odd years to now get your brain to tell your hands to accelerate and brake is quite tricky.
So, many new things await us and first times to do things or go to places.

We are still hoping that he will regain the use (or some use) of his legs but we will have to see what happens. Please continue to pray for that.
This post took a couple of weeks to get done but at least it's finally done, I'll try not have such a long gap next time!!!