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Campari & Sofa Posts

The Human in HIV, the I in AIDS

Posted in Health, and Women's issues

Last year I met some women in Kwa-Zulu Natal who blew my socks off. KZN is the province most devastated by HIV/AIDS in South Africa. Almost 40% of the population there is estimated to be living with HIV. One in five children is an AIDS orphan.

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School kids near Durban – the capital of KNZ listen to the Ultra-Marathon Team Talk

I was there with the Positive Heroes Ultra-Marathon team. We do outreach work in communities around the race routes. Nothing better proves that HIV is survivable than five healthy, fit people standing up in front of you saying “Hi I am HIV positive and I am running the Comrades Marathon (almost 90km /56 miles) tomorrow”.

That day we were visiting a secondary (high) school about an hour outside of Durban. Parents had trickled in to see what we were up to – and two ladies came over to me and offered me some eggs. They were so thrilled that we were at the school, that we had honoured them with a visit – they had come to welcome us.

But more than that – these eggs were from their own chickens. As we talked, I learned they had a business. They had grown from having one henhouse – supplementing their families’ food store; to building and maintaining three henhouses that held 20 chickens. They sold and bartered the eggs. Fed, housed and clothed their families with the proceeds. And, importantly, were able to send their kids to the school we were visiting. They were very proud of their henhouses and they offered to show them to me.

Pecan Pie Season

Posted in Baking, and Food & Entertaining

It took me a long time to reconcile my palate with some staple American holiday desserts like pumpkin or sweet potato pies and pecan pie. As much as I love custards, pumpkin is not my go to for a satisfying slice of pie and pecan pie, the way I came to first know it, was a cloying, overly sweet and sticky mess I found downright abominable. The reason for it is that most commercial pecan pies are made with an ungodly amount of corn syrup and, regardless of which side of the fence you sit on when it comes to corn syrup, the end result in a pie is an unpleasant sweetness that overpowers the nuts.

Shopping My Own Wardrobe for a Black Tie Event – Part 2

Posted in Style & Travel

This is what I am going for, sans hat and with white shirt because all that black would make me look like a wizened spider

I can count on exactly one black tie event a year, in November, for which I never plan well in advance. And that is why,  last week, I fell into the usual “what to wear” panic. My life does not exactly require gowns very often so the few  hanging in my closet were all bought for this one yearly occasion. There is a beautiful Richard Tyler high-waisted organza number found on sale which is still my favourite and, because LA glitzy events tend to be the opposite of restrained when it comes to fashion, there is also the skin-tight emerald green and blue sequined dress that made me look like a displaced mermaid.

A Week-End in Palm Springs, CA

Posted in Style & Travel

travelOnly two hours east of LA, Palm Springs is the Boca Raton of California, the place where older people of some means go to either live out their golden years or own second homes. It wasn’t always this way. This desert oasis, a valley surrounded by desert mountains which, when the sun hits them at dawn and dusk, imbue the entire city of an otherworldly light, was initially a hideaway for Hollywood celebrities. Away from the prying eyes of the city, they could cavort and relax and, lest we forget this glamorous past, many of the city roads are named after entertainment titans such as Bob Hope or Bing Crosby.

With the resurgence of ’50’s architecture in the last dozen years, a trendy younger and gay crowd has also moved in, along the old folks who still dine at Melvyn’s and the Old Creek Inn, bringing an element of hipness to a previously stodgy locale. The two atmospheres seem to cohabit side by side, making for an interesting mix – getting a decent meal doesn’t require a monumental effort anymore and a week-end in Palm Springs will reward you with balmy weather, wonderful hikes and some interesting shopping and dining. Don’t forget to check out that pink light when the sun sets. Like every desert sunset, it’s unforgettable.

September to May is the ideal time to go. I find the Summer absolutely unbearable, although the locals seem to manage just fine. 

The Business of Cheating: Part 2

Posted in Life & Love, Relationships, and Women's issues

This whole “lonely-husbands-meet-naughty-cheating-wives” website thing is a load of bollocks. These sites are simply virtual whorehouses; their red lights hidden behind fancy online mastheads.

What is new is the marketing angle. Devised by pros who know how to pull in the punters. With the singles market satiated, they’ve identified ripe-for-the-picking new ground: the no-sex marrieds.

So you meet a lovely lady called Candy online. Her photo will show a petite blonde (your favourite) – with big, natural (you think) boobies.  She will be in much the same position as you – married, loves sex, husband doesn’t give it to her often enough.  She quit working when she got married (her husband is loaded): and now has all this time on her hands.  One lunch time you will arrive at a neat suburban semi-detached, with a white picket fence and a BMW in the driveway. Only Candy won’t look anything like her picture and once you get inside – she will be all-business.

You’ve been had.

Spring risotto with peas, courgettes and asparagus

Posted in Food & Entertaining

Spring RisottoI love spring veggies – broad beans, baby courgettes and spring petit pois. And try to find all kinds of ways of using them. We also have skinny little green asparagus spears around the moment. The weather turned nasty this weekend – so risotto seemed to tick all of the boxes. And here’s the result.
If making risotto scares the heck out of you – don’t let it. This recipe is simple – 15 easy steps – and if you follow it to the T – you’ll get a great result. The secret is really that you need to stay with your rice – giving it your undivided attention for about 17 minutes. But that love will pay off with a creamy, delectable result. Worth every second.

A simple thanks given

Posted in About Us, Aging, Life & Love, and Relationships

In honour of Thanksgiving, sofagirl and I decided to each come up with five things for which we are thankful. We resolved to exclude the essential ‘can’t-live-without’ givens: our fabulous families and friends, our health, our personal safety and the knowledge that we always have food on our tables. Those things, these people, that love – we salute them and deeply appreciate that they enrich and shape our lives. Every day.

For this, we wanted to look beyond the immediate.  To examine the year(s) gone by, to evaluate how our lives have changed – and to see what had become essential in our brave new worlds. Here they are:

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