Always looking for animals

Sam, Katy, and Noggs in Africa

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Cobras, moustaches and sun burn: an African Christmas

Christmas day 2013


Phase I: He’s been (and peeled off his face and left it for Sam to wear) !!




Phase II: Attack (or try to if you only have one hand)!





Phase III: Phone our lovely families and friends (ta for the pressies again)!


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Phase IV: Try to catch a cobra from someone’s bedroom and fail. It went in the roof. Oh well, our assistant got to have a roommate for the night.




Phase V: Food, glorious food!





Phase VI: Dirty Santa present game!




Phase VII: Sleep




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Happy almost Crimbo!

Happy almost Christmas! Only a mere two days until the big day. The sun is shining, Christmas movies are on telly (I just watched The Santa Clause 2, which was surprisingly good) and there are mince pies in my tum. Jolly jolly.

This month I have been conducting interviews for my PhD in a black predominantly Sotho speaking community nearby with the help of my translator. Because I can’t drive at the moment due to my giant thumb of doom, project assistants and staff members have been accompanying me. Here’s a few pics of the community:

A woman’s goat kraal with the hill the community is named after in the background.

Goats! One of these will be Christmas dinner for the family. Watch out white face, I think it will be you!

Typical houses in the community.

The local discotheque maybe?

As well as working we’ve been getting ready for Christmas. This year I only found advent calendars for sale on Dec 17 (typical Africa time) so much scoffing was required to catch up. Sam shows us how it’s done:


We are dog-sitting at Oldrich’s and Judy’s over Christmas. We set up our wobbly only has 2 legs so has to lean against the wall Christmas tree the other day.


The weather for Christmas day is predicted to be sunny. Yay! This afternoon it’s 25 degrees outside so hopefully it’ll stay like this.



Hazel is lazing in the sun while Megan keeps cool inside. Ahh the life of a dog.


So in advance of Wednesday’s excitement of round bellies full of yummy food and wrapping paper everywhere and carols joyously being sung (or just played on repeat until Sam goes mad), Happy Christmas from Sam, Katy and Mukiwa (the Land Rover)!




A spoon full of sugar

What do you get when you mix home brewed beer with a metal sink?

Give up? The answer is thumb surgery.

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Not my best joke.

So here’s the story of how I ended up in hospital because of a little too much sugar.

Sam makes amazing home brew. It’s not easy to do especially when you live on a mountain and don’t own a scale. When bottling the brew you have to add 3 g of sugar to each bottle to make it fizzy before capping. Who knows how much 3 g is? We certainly didn’t know. Through further research I now know that it’s the weight of 3 paperclips, a US penny made before 1982 (they’re lighter now at about 2.5 g) or 1/7 of a soul. So next time we’re ready.



If you put a smidge more sugar than the recommended soul weight the bottles explode. It sounds like gunshots and the glass sprays in all directions at high force. Saddest of all, the beer is lost. Two weeks ago this happened in the night and my perky annoyingly morning person self got up at 6ish to clean it up. I was super careful with all the shards of glass.  One wouldn’t want to cut oneself would one? But then the unexpected happened I slipped on the beer and the mopping up water and started to fall. Instinctively I grabbed the nearest stable object to stop my fall. It was our metal sink which is mega sharp underneath. I didn’t fall but I did slice my thumb open and I bled on my chocolate muffins.


Being a doctor (and because I didn’t want to go see a real doctor) I asked Sam to heal me so on went the butterfly stitches and the iodine. All was well again. Until a week later when I didn’t feel well and I realised I couldn’t move my thumb at all. I manned up and went to see a doctor doctor. The doctor doctor said I had severed the tendon in my thumb and needed emergency surgery or I’d never be able to use my thumb again. So we went to Polokwane to see Dr Org van Zyl, an orthopaedic surgeon.  His name sound like a space alien from the planet Gorgonzola but it’s just Afrikaans. They all have crazy names. We had to book my anaesthetist whose name was Dr Jonker.  The best though was a sign outside his office which listed all of Dr Jonker’s associates and one of them was called Dr Worm!!! Just like in the They Might Be Giants song. He’s real!


We had to stay over in Polokwane because I needed to be at the hospital for 6 am. We had bbq chicken pizza with some sort of meaty cheesy stuffed crust for tea. It was awesome. Then I wasn’t allowed to eat anymore till after the operation which made me super sad.


Before my operation I was doing a lot of thumbs upping because that was all I could do. I think secretly Sam is disappointed that I won’t remain the hitchhiker from the Mighty Boosh permanently.


We did a lot of waiting around at the hospital. Madiba died and it was on all the telly all day.  Everyone seemed pretty ready. The hospital whipped out candles and signs immediately.




While waiting for surgery a slightly mental nurse told us her opinions on life. In summary Prince Charles is too ugly to be king and doesn’t deserve it because he married someone who is ‘used goods’, Michael Jackson’s kids aren’t his because they aren’t brown enough and we should have a proper home and save rhinos because they are the only animals that need conservation. She also did not approve of my ear piercings. Sam (!) and the nurse both tried to remove them for me. Apparently while in theatre a machine could set my hair on fire if I kept them in. They weren’t coming out no matter how we tried so the nurses taped my ears up and I risked having a combustible head.



I was asleep for an hour while they operated and then they kept me in for four more hours of observation once I woke up. Then Sam drove us home. He was a star for looking after me so well and making me laugh. In six weeks time I should be able to reclaim my arm again. All this fuss for 3 g of sugar. Someone should tell Mary Poppins.