Thursday, 27 December 2007

Buy Nothing Christmas

A bit late for the current season but this is an excellent site to remind us what Christmas is really all about ! And it can actually be applied to any time of the year when we get caught up in the commercialism of some event or another.

In Canada some of the average numbers are :

Christmas season - $ 23 billion (that is 23,000 million !)
Valentine's Day - $ 2 billion
Mother's Day - $ 1 billion
Father's Day - $ 1 billion
Halloween - $ 1.2 billion (1,200 million dollars on candy, pumpkins and costumes !)

Friday, 21 December 2007

Zimbabwe Exchange Rate

I thought that this was a very interesting article which I came across on the web today. When travelling to other parts of the world and trying to determine the value of what one earns in a given place, we have tended to use the analysis of how long it would take a person to work to be able to buy a loaf of bread in the particular economy. I suppose eggs are fairly representative too !

Not sure who the author of the article is or which publication it first appeared in.

Zimbabweans use eggs to calculate exchange rate

Monsters and Critics Dec 19, 2007, 9:39 GMT

Harare/Johannesburg - Fed up with myriad official and unofficial rates for hard currency, some Zimbabweans have started using eggs to calculate the rate of exchange. President Robert Mugabe's government has set the official rate of exchange at 30,000 Zimbabwe dollars to the US dollar. But hardly anyone uses that rate these days.

Despite threats from the feared National Incomes and Pricing Commission (NIPC), shops, private tutors, street vendors and cross- border traders all use parallel exchange rates to set their prices.

The problem is that as the annual inflation rate rises - currently it's running at more than 14,000 per cent - black market exchange rates change all the time. And everyone wants to get the best deal.

So some locals have adopted the Hard-Boiled Egg Index (HBEI) to determine what they are calling a fair value exchange rate. The HBEI, popularized by a local financial columnist, works on the premise that across Africa, 1 US dollar buys around eight eggs.

To work out a fair exchange rate for the US dollar on a particular day, Zimbabweans take the cost of buying just one egg - usually from a roadside vendor because shops are poorly stocked - and multiply by eight.

On Tuesday, for example, an egg cost 300,000 or 400,000 Zimbabwe dollars, depending on where you were shopping.Multiply by eight and you get totals of 2.4 million and 3.2 million.

Work out the median, and the fair value HBEI rate for the US dollar is 2.8 million Zimbabwe dollars.'Sometimes the parallel rate gets ahead of the HBEI and sometimes it lags behind,' a local financial news service said Wednesday.

'Generally the HBEI reflects exchange rate inflation, purchasing power parity and domestic inflation in a very effective way.'

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Mmmmm - Biltong !

We make our own traditional biltong - African jerkey for those of you who don't know - by hanging it in our basement in the laundry area. This works all year round as it is cool and dry in the basment and no flies to bother the meat. We use bent out paper clips for hooks ! It only takes about 3-4 days to dry to the consitency that we like - a bit moist, not too dry. Once it is ready we store it in the fridge to keep it at that way. If we do make a bigger batch then we may even keep some in the deep freeze which works just as well.

This is a batch of beef seasoned with salt, pepper and teriyaki sauce. It usually doesn't last long in our household as everyone in the family - and several friends - really enjoy it - even Cai !

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Cai Draws

Amazingly Cai - at only just over 19 months - already knows a lot of shapes : circle, oval, square, rectangle, triangle, diamond, cross, trapazoid, hexagon and star. (He calls a crescent a moon !). His latest "party trick" is to name the shapes as you draw them for him on a white board or piece of paper.

The other day he got hold of a - fortunately washable - marker and decided to practise his own circle drawing on the wall in the kitchen !! He was so proud of himself and definitely impossible to get mad at him !!

He now has his own drawing stand and has learnt that that is the proper place to do his scribbling !

Saturday, 10 November 2007

Home in Spruce Grove

Here are some photos of the house we moved into in Spruce Grove. These taken a few days ago after a little snow fall - our first of the season. The house is about 15 years old and a four-level split so each level has its own character.

Views from the street - we're on the corner of a small crescent and it is a quiet neighbourhood

The back yard is small (perfect for the gardener i.e. Gordon !) and well fenced so perfect for Cai
It includes a Mountain Ash tree which - as you can see - is beautifully laden with berries this year

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Exeter Sojourn

During the last part of his week in England Gordon went down to Exeter to visit Dawn and James Pettit whom he had not seen since they came to visit us in Canada in 1999. Dawn persuaded James to take a day off work and they took Gordon on their catamaran which is moored at Brixham Marina. Unfortunately there was no wind that day and we couldn't set sail so just motored across Torbay, around Hope's Nose and anchored in Anstey's Cove for a picnic lunch on board. Dawn dipped her foot in the sea and declared that it was rather cold for a swim; she always likes to swim when they are out on the sea. Gordon decided that he couldn't miss the opportunity to swim for the first time ever in the English Channel so he just dove in. Well Dawn decided that she couldn't be outdone so she also went in - although slowly down the ladder ! Admittedly it was quite cold but nothing worse that a fresh mountain stream in the Canadian Rockies !

Here are some of the photos from the outing :

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

REPS Reunion

During his trip to England for the family reunion Gordon spent several nights with Roger Hiscoe and his family in Twyford near Reading. He and Roger were at REPS together in the late 60's. They had re-connected - after some 30 years - in March 2007 when Gordon stopped in UK on his way back from Zambia, but it was good to spend more time together reminiscing about the old days. That included a pile of old photos from REPS days which Gordon had borrowed from Martin Sanderson to scan. (Album soon to be added here !)

Above : Roger and Gordon
Below : Roger and his wife, Marinda and son Ben with Gordon

Monday, 22 October 2007

Poultney Family Reunion III

A couple more photos from the reunion held at Robert and Bridget's home in Carshalton, South London

The four of us - Gordon, Jen, Bron and Dave

The whole gang that made it for the reunion
Back Row : Robert, Bridget, Tom, John, Lindsay and Dave

Front Row : Rita, Caro, Jen and Bron and Gordon

Poultney Family Reunion II

These photos were taken by Gordon's niece, Bridget, as he walked into the room to give the family the surprise of arriving for the reunion unannounced.

Poultney Family Reunion

Gordon’s brother, Dave has lived in UK for many years. His sister, Bronwen, is now living and working there for most of the year – earning “real” money and going back to Bulawayo from time to time to check up on things there. His other sister, Jen, and her husband, John (Brebner), were over in UK from Bulawayo for a few weeks in September/October to visit their two daughters who now live there. Rita decided to go over in early October to see them for a couple of days before they returned to Africa and then stay on to visit family and friends for another few weeks. Although the family members have seen each other at different times and in different places over the years, they had not all been together in one place for some 30 years. So Gordon decided to make a quick visit to UK too so that they COULD all be together again. Thing is, he decided to make it a complete surprise – only his niece, Bridget, was in the know, as she had to ensure that there was a gathering at her place to fit everyone’s schedule. So Gordon arrived in London on October 5 and stayed overnight with friends near Heathrow. The next day he walked in on everyone gathered at Bridget’s house – and it was a total surprise ! Not even Rita, who had left Canada just days before, had any idea ! It was a wonderful reunion, sadly for only 24 hours as people had to get back to work.

The photo below was the last time we were all together in one place. It was at the home of Gerald and Nan Brebner in Newton West, Bulawayo. There is still debate as to exactly when it was but the general consensus is that it was sometime in 1977 !

Above : From Left : Dave, Rita, Mort, Bron, Gordon and Jen c. 1977

Below : From Left : Gordon, Jen, Rita, Bron and Dave October 2007

Monday, 17 September 2007

Run for Life 2007 III

This year we initiated a project through the Simon Poultney Foundation to encourage local youth to produce artwork depicting "Hope" which was then on display in the pavilion for people to enjoy.

Run for Life 2007 II

Families who have lost loved ones to suicide are encouraged to make up boards which are then displayed along the route of the run. Later the families parade with the boards in the pavilion and are recognized by everyone. This year our family lead the walk - a very difficult thing to do especially as we had a bagpiper going before us - such haunting, moving music..

Run for Life 2007 I

On September 16 we all took part in the (4th) annual Rotary Run for Life in Stony Plain in support of suicide education and prevention. Bronwen and Gordon did the 10km run, Johanna and her boyfriend, Mark, did the 5km run and Jenny did the 5km walk.

These photos show Gordon and Bronwen sporting their medallions after their run and the backs of their shirts showing the photo of Simon in whose memory they were running.

Johanna, Cai and Mark enjoy the great breakfast served after the run.

Sunday, 12 August 2007

August 12 - Saying of the Week

Cai - at only 16 months - is already garnering an amazing vocabulary of words many of which he understands. However, typically, there are some things which he has picked up and uses in his own way.

"Home" - what he calls our minivan. Presumably because we always tell him that he is (mostly) going home when getting in the van to drive somewhere !

"Alright" - what he says when he either does not want something or has had enough of something, usually food or drink. (He started off saying "no" but then we would say "alright" - so that is what he has picked up on !)

He has an absolute fascination with the moon and is constantly looking for it in the sky - often finding it in the early morning or late afternoon sky when it is still showing. His first full sentence - over a month ago - was "I see de moon" - as he pointed up to it !

Monday, 6 August 2007

Wedding Day Photos - Batch 3

Before the ceremony began Bronwen released a balloon in memory of Simon and we all took a few minutes to watch it float up in the sky

Sunday, 5 August 2007

August 5 - Saying of the Week

"When I despair, I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants, and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall. Think of it--always." Mahatma Gandhi

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

House Farewell

Today was a bitter-sweet day as we handed over our house to the new owner. I (Gordon) was up early this morning for a final walk around the "estate" and through all the empty rooms. Sadness on my heart as I recalled many happy and sad events that we have been through during the 17 years of living and growing in our beautiful home. But glad that we had finally come to the end of a hectic time of packing and cleaning - and looking forward with anticipation to the next chapter of our lives.

The morning sunlight was - as always - a perfect time of day to take some memorable photos.

Sunday, 29 July 2007

July 29 - Saying of the Week

This week's saying came with the e-mail to me from South Africa about the old bottle of wine (see older post below) :

"Drink wine, and you will sleep well. Sleep, and you will not sin. Avoid sin, and you will be saved. Ergo, drink wine and be saved." Medieval German saying

Sunday, 22 July 2007

July 22 - Saying of the Week

"By the power vested in me by the Province of Alberta I now pronounce you husband and wife" - Justice of the Peace, Joan, concluding the marriage of Bronwen and Brennan on Wednesday July 18, 2007 !

Friday, 20 July 2007

Loading Day

The movers came today to load all our belongings into a trailer to be stored for the next 6-8 weeks until we move into our other house. Cai was both fascinated with, and a bit wary of, the "big truck" !

Thursday, 19 July 2007

Wedding Day Photos - Batch 2

The wedding took place in the Poultney's front yard with only parents and siblings in attendance and the ceremony conducted by a Justice of the Peace. Everyone then retired to the Hanmer's where they were joined by other members of the family for a celebration dinner.
Photos of the ceremony itself will be published soon.

Above - Brennan and Bronwen just before they left for two days of honeymoon - camping at Brazeau - in the much decorated car - below !

Above - members of the family relax on the Hanmer's lawn and then gather around the BBQ to cook dinner. To the left of Brennan is his brother Devin and at the grill is his dad, Steve.

Wedding Day Photos - Batch 1

Above : the couple with Bronwen's grandparents.
Below : Cai and Johanna - Cai was the ring bearer !

Above : FoB and GoB !
Below : Bronwen and her Granny Rita

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Temporary Residence

Having sold our house we have to be out of it by the end of July and do not get our other house, in Spruce Grove, until mid-September. So for the next several weeks we are camping out at Jenny's parents place - as seen in these photos. Jenny and I are using the tent and Johanna is in the camper on the back of the truck. All quite comfortable and we'll always be dry under the car-port roof ! Jenny has it all set up with toys and play area for kids so Cai is in his element and thoroughtly enjoying his new "home" - said with a very pronounced "O" in the lips !!

Sunday, 15 July 2007

July 15 - Saying of the Week

I have decided to start posting a favourite saying each week. If I know the source I will obviously quote the person. If there is no reference and you do know please let me know so that I can update accordingly ! So here's the first one :

"If you really want to do something you will find a way. If you don't you will find an excuse."

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Le Bonheur Sauvingnon Blanc 1985

Here is a story about an old bottle of South African wine that we recently drank :

It starts with my e-mail to the winery in Stellenbosch, South Africa

June 17 - Dear Le Bonheur

I thought that you might appreciate hearing about one of your wines from Alberta, Canada.

Last week-end we opened and drank a bottle of your Sauvignon Blanc 1985 vintage ! My brother likely bought it in Cape Town in 1986 when he was working for Pick n Pay and then took it with him to England when he moved there in 1988. Over the years it would have moved a few times - from home to home in England and into storage when he went to New Zealand for a couple of years and another time when he went to France for a year.

In 2003 he came to visit us in Canada and brought the bottle to us as he was clearing out some of his older stock. I had been keeping it in my 'cellar' for a special occasion. A few weeks ago we sold our house and decided that we should start enjoying some of the wines that we have collected over the years - to celebrate this change in our lives and to save us having to move them all too !!

I am not an absolute connoisseur of wine and was also suffering from a cold last week-end so I am not able to wax poetical about the characteristics of the wine. As you can see the colour was beautiful and the wine was very full bodied - it had excellent legs after been swirled in the glass - something I do know about ! The taste was rich and satisfying - an excellent medium. Not a trace of sediment in the bottle and the cork in great condition. It went very well with the Arctic Char fish which I had brought back from Northern Canada - right out of the Arctic ocean - quite an exotic paring.

Unfortunately, as you can see in the photos, the label had seen better days so I couldn't soak it off the bottle to keep. I have not seen any of your wine being sold in this part of the world but it may possibly be found in some speciality wine stores particularly in Eastern Canada where the market is much larger.

I have to wonder if you have any other stories along the same lines or if ours might be one of a kind !

On another note. We are all long time Africans. My ancestors were 1820 settlers and my parents moved to Rhodesia in 1950 after growing up and being married in South Africa. Some of my wife's ancestors were supposedly De Villiers of the Huguenots but we don't have the family tree traced back that far so can only wonder if there is any connection to Le Bonheur ! Perhaps in time we will find out.

Thanks for the great wine. Sincerely, Gordon

June 21 reply : Dear Gordon

What a treat to receive your mail and with photographs !!! Your story (and photos) are most unique.
Thank you for taking the time to let us know - I have sent this to the current wine maker as well as to our marketing team. Can't believe that the wine lasted that well - fantastic - and to see the old label ! Below find a picture of the new label... very different.

I hope you will enjoy lots of lovely Le Bonheur wines in the future.

Kind regards, Tanya

July 9 - a further follow-up : Dear Gordon,

Just a quick email from Stellenbosch to say thanks so much for your great email and photographs. Really is one great story and will be published to the website.

The Le Bonheur wines are made in a more Old World style where the focus is to produce wines true to the grape. Not interfering too much with nature, the LBH wines naturally do not see too much oak, have a good acidity, shows great minerality (given the weathered granite soils) and
have great fruit that all add to the longevity/long life of the wine. I am very happy you had joy drinking this wine. Great proof that the Cape wines can age... if made properly. The current releases you will appreciate with the character and style so typical Le Bonheur.

Imported into Alberta by Peter Mielzynski Available, various stores carry the products. I will get PMA to confirm some store names for you for possible purchase and enjoyment with your family, friends and food!

Best to you ! Cobus Joubert, Business Manager - North & South America