There is something magical about Spring Day in South Africa. In Finland, Midsummer tends to have everything but summer weather. I even remember a year it was sleeting. The same happens elsewhere in Europe. Just ask the British what is the typical weather for the Spring bank holiday… But in South Africa Spring Day is typically glorious spring weather – warm, sunny and beautiful.
Having a business breakfast outside in the morning was a great decision. The only problem was to motivate oneself to get back to the office.
Road trips are a travel of choice for Stuart and me – to my mother’s absolute surprise. When I was a child, I could not keep my eyes open for more than 3.5 min in a car – if I was lucky. I still get snoozy occasionally, but luckily Stuart really likes driving. I just try to keep my snoozing limited to the boring bits.
Road trip in Namibia is on our near-future to-do list. One needs a 4×4, but the scenery is sure to be worth it.
The past two days I have spent in Singularity University SA. It is a cool concept – two days of speeches from some of the top experts in the world on exponential technologies, e.g., using Robotics, developing Artificial Intelligence and manipulating DNA. One of my favourite speeches was from an astronaut, who did his best to describe what space feels like (as if one could do that…).
My pet peeve for the entire two days was the host, who did his very best to create hype and excitement – while reading straight from the prompter. Words and presence did not match.
But definitely not a ‘normal day in the office’.
South Africans love rain. For a Finn, that is hard to understand. Intellectually, I understand rain is necessary after 6 months of dry season. I may even enjoy the fresh air after the downpour when all the dust settles. But I don’t enjoy rain itself. And South Africans truly do. I guess that for a country where succulent plants are the norm, it is (somewhat) understandable.
A colleague made me laugh last year. My parents were flying to Johannesburg, and the forecast promised rain for the entire weekend. Very sweetly she came to me, and from the bottom of her heart wished that the forecast would be correct, and we would have proper rain for my parents. For her that was the best thing she could wish for. For a Finn, that is the very last thing you wish on your holiday!
Sun is out and trees and bushes in the park start to bloom. I am grateful yet again that Merlin is a low-shedding dog. I do remember the amount of hair every spring with my previous golden retriever. Not having to continuously walk around with a vacuum cleaner gives you more time to enjoy the spring.
Proteas is one of the most interesting looking flowers I have ever had in my vase. They are a bit of an acquired taste, and not everyone appreciates them. In South Afrika they are now in season, and every flowershop and supermarket is full of different varieties. Also – being native to dry areas – they last for weeks. My kind of flower.
Stuart has always found it funny how obsessed Finns are about berries. Initially he thought it was only me – but he has met enough Finns since then to know it’s a national obsession. I think it is a result of such a short season for berries in Finland. Being able to buy fresh, good berries practically 10 months a year is not something you can do in Finland.
It is a more a general observation as well. People in Norther Europe live and cook (even today) much more based on what is in season. Even though you can get asparagus from Finnish supermarket around the year, the price during the spring season is so much cheaper (and taste so much better), that most people only eat it during those few weeks. Most South Africans could not even say when the asparagus season is.
Stuart and I have always loved road tripping. We’ve done a few epic trips – most memorably an 5-week drive across the USA, an 8-week trip across Northern Europe, and a few different 2-3 week trips in Mid-and South Europe… There is nothing better than a holiday with a car and no plans. We split the driving equally with Stuart doing the driving during the day, and me driving back to the hotel from the restaurant. Even without reservations, we have always found a place to sleep eventually.
With no opportunity for a proper road trip at the moment, hopping into a car and driving to a secluded new restaurant somewhere in the vicinity is definitely a good way ro rewind on a Sunday.
The combination of early sunset and the safety issues in South Africa make it a challenge to take Merlin to the park during weekdays. Luckily he is such a curious little chap that he keeps running in our back garden all day long – and our domestic helper also takes him out several times a week. As a result he is (with a wide margin) the fittest creature is our household. Admittedly, that is not a high bar.
In winter it does not rain for 6 months in Johannesburg (Or at least it shouldn’t…). This means that by mid-winter, it is dry. And dryness inevitably means grass fires – some natural, but most of them not.
I continue to be puzzled on how casually South Africans treat these small fires. As long as they are under control, they are left to burn. For example, there was a small tuft burning in the neighbourhood park. The first time I saw it, there was a park maintenance team standing next to it, but after careful consideration they left it to burn. It was still smouldering the next day (unless somehow there was a second, unrelated fire at the exact same spot.
The Hadida found it quite worrying, tho. Although a little less worrying than a little puppy charging him from behind.