Good to go

We are packed, ready, and good to go. This evening we fly to Amsterdam, and onward tomorrow to Cape Town. Then it is a whirl of stag parties (ouch!), braais, family dinners, wedding, followed by a few blessed days in the Cederberg before Rob and I leave family behind and head on to Namibia and Etosha. Back in a month; till then, service will be intermittent, but will post news and photos when I can.

On Vancouver Island

On Thursday the week before last, Rob and I flew to Victoria, on Vancouver Island – for those of you who are less familiar with Canada, a large and elongated entity floating off the coast of British Columbia, home to the province’s capital and the living presence of the West Coast First Nations. Victoria is also a pleasantly laid-back sort of place, kind of artsy and funky, set amongst hills ands ocean and not at all like Toronto – think Cape Town, versus Johannesburg. Below is a version of the standard tourist shot of Victoria’s Inner Harbour, with the provincial legislature – quite a grand structure, I must say – in the background.  And here, below, is Nora, sitting with Rob at her 90th birthday party. It was to celebrate her 90th – and to surprise Nora, by pitching up unannounced – that Rob and I went to Victoria that weekend, which was why we had to keep the whole thing so hush hush,

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Ice, not snow

Not snow, this morning. Ice. (Snow we haven’t seen in weeks). A thousand needles in the cold wind whipping down the streets. Crystals of ice splintering underfoot. Ice crackling in the trees, like static. Not at all like Vancouver Island, where Rob and I were hanging out this past weekend. Which I will tell you about, over the Easter weekend that is coming. A story, with photos.

Travel Advisory

For the past week or so, I have been working on setting up a new business blog, for my consultancy work – please take a good look at it, here, and let me know what you think. One of the ‘pages’ offered by the WordPress theme I am using is for ‘testimonials’ – references and recommendations from clients. Cheesy as this seems, it seems essential in a context – Canada – where I am a newcomer and therefore almost unknown. All of this – the setting up, the fine-tuning, the populating with content – is, for the moment at least, now done, and I can look forward to next week’s Higher Education Quality Council conference knowing that, when I hand out my new business card, with my new business email and other information, people can look me up and find a website that hopefully will say something meaningful about me and the kind of work that I do. But first

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Life is what happens, John Lennon said, when you’re busy with something else. I was downstairs in my office, working on my new business blog and website – take a look, here – Rob was down town having a massage, and Maria, our 80 year-old Italian neighbour was across the street, visiting neighbours. A quiet, unseasonably warm Saturday afternoon in Toronto, and my mind was elsewhere – on jobs and consulting, on websites and technology, on our upcoming trip to South Africa and Namibia and our FaceTime conversation, that morning, with my daughter Eve and her husband who are in the process of immigrating. It is Eve, by the way, who is pregnant with her first child and our first grandchild. Maria meanwhile had left, on the stove in the kitchen at the back of her semi, a nice pot of chilli for her Mexican boarder: and as the pot ran dry, and the food began burning, smoke filled the

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Troubling warnings for the US from the 1930s —

Keep Calm and Carry On, I say in this blog – but this is not always easy to do, as Edward Luce makes clear in this unsensational but troubling article on stagnating standards of living, acute inequality, and loss of faith in public institutions and the democratic political project that underpins the current electoral turmoil in the US and extremism in Europe. via Troubling warnings for the US from the 1930s —

The Old and the Restless

Still twenty good years to look forward to, I promised myself, as the hinge of the door creaked open on sixty. Twenty more good ones, barring the unforeseen and the unforeseeable: after that anything can happen. A year later, at sixty one, my mental map of the future held firm at twenty, and so again as the door (or grave) yawned a little wider, at sixty two. This year I’m not so sure I can fudge it. Perhaps (if I am to be consistent, but then, why should I?) the future is not twenty any more, at least in the version of it I hold in my head, but seventeen – maybe. ‘Maybe,’ of course, can go either way – up, or down, or even sideways. No wonder, I tell myself, I’ve been feeling a little bit blue lately. Blue or blah – blue having the connotation of affairs of the heart and such, which – thanks to a wife

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Harvard researchers discovered the one thing everyone needs for happier, healthier lives – The Washington Post

For a blog that is at least in part about this business of ageing – and so, I guess, also concerned with the question, ‘what makes a good life’ and – tough one, this – ‘have I lived my life well’ – this piece on what makes for happiness in life simply has to be shared. via Harvard researchers discovered the one thing everyone needs for happier, healthier lives – The Washington Post.

Writer’s Funk

One of the best things that’s happened to me recently is to have been ill for two weeks. If you think that sounds odd, bear with me for a moment. I thought I had bronchitis – evidently my internet-researched self-diagnosis was a little off the mark, but I swear I was sick as a parrot nonetheless, miserable enough to impersonate Donald Trump, and not at all unlike that Norwegian Blue of whom Monty Python spake: ‘THIS IS A DEAD PARROT!’ the purchaser declaimed. ‘Lovely plumage,’ demurred the seller. Well, nailed to his perch the Pythonesque parrot might have been, but my watchword (while sick, and while in recovery too) was to avoid the office chair and the computer, and languish by the window instead, overlooking the front porch, taking in the light, such as it was, and the news, such as it was, and the TV, magazines, everything except serious reading, all the while exerting my poor vanishing little self

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Okay, so what’s all that white stuff?

So … winter hasn’t really put in an appearance this year, right? Not like the last two years, when it hung around forever, nasty and vengeful, like Donald Trump gatecrashing your barbecue. Yuck. But this winter has been – well, not like winter at all. A few days when the temperature was in the minus twenties, sure, but not many, and if I’ve been out to shovel snow twice it’s been a lot. Except for last night: last night we had a good, oh, 15-20 cm, I’d say, just enough to show we’re still Canadians down here in the soft south. Here’s proof – not works of art, merely documents of record.  

The Ambivalent Diaspora: What South African Canadians Think

I was referred to this blog this morning, by someone I’d just met, a new professional contact and herself the child of immigrants from Africa. It’s a piece on the South African diaspora in Canada, based on research undertaken by the Southern African Migration Program, and it makes for depressing reading. According to the research, the 50,000-strong South African diaspora here ‘maintains a very strong sense of themselves as South Africans [but] … Their depictions of the country of origin are extremely negative…. They have no desire to be involved in South Africa’s development nor the they ever intend to return.’ Slightly more positive is the fact that one in five Canadian South Africans, around 20%, ‘took a very different view of South Africa and their possible role in its future. Clearly, just because the vast majority are disengaged, it does not mean that everyone is.’ So let me nail my colours to the mast: it’s because of the first kind

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