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Travelog for: Squirt

Okinawa, Japan - 24th September 2008

By: JaymeC

My name is Squirt and I'm a sweet little turtle from the island of Okinawa, Japan. I love reading things like the Almanac and what not and learning lots of neat facts about the world around me. There's always so much to learn and I'm so very new to learning it all! I hope my new hosts can teach me a lot about where they live so when I come home I can do so with a filled up brain... can you fill up a brain?

* Posted Sep 24, 2008, 5:39 am [Quote] [View just this post] Go to the top of the page

Johannesburg, South Africa - 2nd December 2008

By: MrsC

I have arrived! I’d hardly been here five minutes before I was thrown into the kitchen and made to slave over a hot stove! Okay, I was here for five minutes and I fell asleep…and I OFFERED to help the others in the kitchen…

Tomorrow is the last day of school. Fi had decided to give the children's teachers a platter of home baked biscuits as an end of year gift. Nice, but she only started baking once the children were in bed! The TVs got roped in to help - to speed things up, but all the posing for photos actually slowed things down  :p We ended up going to bed at 4 in the morning!  :o

First up: Pistachio and cranberry biscotti (if you want any recipes just ask Fi)


Looking good, but a bit too big...


That's better!


Pop them on a baking tray and in the oven they go!


Shall we mix the next batch while that bakes? Good idea!


Okay, we need butter...


Chopped nuts... Fi wouldn't let us help here; she said the knife was too sharp and dangerous. Someone made a wise crack about turtle fin soup that I thought was in poor taste (oops, that was an accidental pun).


Oooooohhhh! Treacle sugar! The bears went nuts for it – it was okay, but I prefer fishy to sweet.


Now that it is all mixed up we need to add the nuts and chocolate chips... it is very hard working with all the bears and their grumbling tummies, which in turn made them grumbly too. Bears really like the sweet stuff!


Tada! The first batch of choc chip cookies!


The biscotti comes out the oven and the choc chips go in...


The loaves get sliced...another big sharp knife! I'll tuck my fins away.


...and put back on the baking tray... biscotti means 'twice baked biscuit'.


The choc chips are done! The smell! My tummy is EATING itself....good grief, now I sound like a bear.


The biscotti are done! There is a hole in my stomach...I think I am digesting my own stuffing...it was a long trip from Okinawa after all.


Fi says she usually uses the ends of the loaves as 'testers'. She gave us one to taste (heavenly - what a relief for my poor starved tummy) it got passed around and we all had a nibble...








All gone! Next up: gingerbread! Ooohhh...molasses! Uh – yuk. Bear thing obviously.


The dough was all mixed up and the counter cleared, ready for rolling. Can you make out the time on the clock behind us? 23.20! We'd better get moving.


Good grief! What a lot of cookie cutters! And these in this jar are JUST the Christmas ones...


They tried to get Fi to use these bear shaped ones but she said no... Turtle power! I wonder if she has a turtle shaped one?


Rolling out the dough was such hard work we had to take it in turns. My fins are still shaking.



Oh my hat! It has just gone mid-night and Fi is starting on fudge...it takes almost an hour to make... yaWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWn


I can't keep my eyes open any more...I need to sleep now... fudge is setting, gingerbread is decorated...what more?


Ah, trays! Fudge is still to warm - Fi says she will get up early to sort it out  :o she hasn't even gone to sleep yet and it is four in the morning! I bet she will have a mid morning nap! I like a mid morning nap myself…


All this talk of napping...Bed time!

* Posted Jan 16, 2009, 11:26 pm [Quote] [View just this post] Go to the top of the page

Montecasino, South Africa - 7th December 2008

By: MrsC

Today we all packed into the car very excitedly as we were going somewhere that was a surprise...

As we set off it became apparent that we were driving into a massive storm! Fi and her husband looked a little worried as the surprise was outdoors.

We finally drove into the parking lot of the Montecasino...which was mostly flooded because the rain was bucketing down... We went upstairs to the outdoor arena to be met with a solid sheet of water and hundreds of sad looking children and grumpy looking parents.

We had come to see 'The Beautiful Creatures' concert and it was the very last show and it looked like it would be cancelled. After much milling about and unhelpfulness from the ticket agents, we went to have some lunch. On the way back we saw that all the children were still hanging about with their even grumpier parents, so we went to ask what was happening...aha, if the rain stopped by 4 the concert would go ahead!

At quarter past four we took out our tissues to try and dry our seats! The children eventually just moved to the front and sat on the wet floor because they were so excited to see their favourite African animal songs come to life...


The children did all the actions and sang along (actually, so did most of the parents - once you have heard the CDs a million times in the car, you pretty much know all the words!)


Oh it was lovely! Worth the rain and the wait and the damp seating...and I was right up front to watch it!


After the show, we queued up to buy the new CD and had it autographed by Ed Jordan who created the series (and Alan Glass, but we never got a photo of him) and sings on the CDs.


* Posted Jan 19, 2009, 6:49 pm [Quote] [View just this post] Go to the top of the page

Christmas tree, South Africa - 9th December 2008

By: MrsC

Usually Fi puts up her Christmas tree on the first day of December. This year she didn't feel inclined to bother.... so the children nagged and nagged and said they would decorate it.

Eventually she decided to haul it out of the trunk it is kept in - it is just too hot for a real tree, it would be dead way before Christmas!

So we helped 'puff' it all out.


Not very awe inspiring is it?


Oh...<blush> that was just the bottom piece, it comes in segments...


That's more like it! Fi said we could stay on there if we wanted and be the decorations. Ha ha ha! Always so funny...Hey! Take me down!!!


The children started decorating the tree - three days later they still hadn't finished so Fi took pity on them and finished it off - You will have to wait then to see what it looked like.

In the meantime, we popped up our tree - easy peasy - it took 2 seconds!


...and we hung up our stockings... there is no fire place and therefore: no mantle, so we found the next best thing: the gas heater.



* Posted Jan 19, 2009, 8:00 pm [Quote] [View just this post] Go to the top of the page

Sweat shop, South Africa - 10th December 2008

By: MrsC

You know, Fi really takes advantage of us....
baking, tree puffing and now KNITTING! Honestly...


I didn't even know I COULD knit!

* Posted Jan 19, 2009, 8:10 pm [Quote] [View just this post] Go to the top of the page

Dining room, South Africa - 12th December 2008

By: MrsC

She's at it AGAIN...or rather WE are at it again...


We are not really even that sure of what we are making...


* Posted Jan 19, 2009, 8:18 pm [Quote] [View just this post] Go to the top of the page

Still at it, South Africa - 13th December 2008

By: MrsC

Oh! They are mice, Christmas mice! They are gifts for fi's friends - they each get a bowl of tree decorations....


...and what would Christmas be without gingerbread men...and ladies?


* Posted Jan 19, 2009, 8:29 pm Last edited Jan 19, 2009, 8:32 pm by MrsC [Quote] [View just this post] Go to the top of the page

Jo'burg Zoo, South Africa - 16th December 2008

By: MrsC

Today is a public holiday in South Africa called 'The Day of Reconciliation' read about it here.

We went to visit Fi's Mom for lunch. We thought we would stop by the Zoo in the afternoon to look at the animals and then wait till the lights came on.... Luckily we passed the Zoo on our way and saw that it was jam packed, so we gave up on that idea and just waited until dusk to go when we knew most of the people would have left.

This is the closest you'll ever get me to an ostrich.


I have an uneasy feeling that something is going to drop down on me....


This is the entrance to the gorilla enclosure. They were inside though as they have a new baby (a few days later Fi's brother walked through here and the gorilla threw a stone at him!)


How brave am I? Actually, I think I am too small for him to see or bother with. But if he takes a step sideways he will squash me!


This has got to be the only place a lioness would meet a polar bear...


This Christmas tree looks tiny in the photo but is was really, really big! Whoops, the top lights seem to be off...


Yikes! A hippo wants to eat us! Run for your lives....


Phew! We had to sit down and catch our breath after all that running!


We are safe here... oh! The flash just blinded me - it lit up the whole area, could you see what was behind us Fi? Why are you laughing?


That is one grumpy looking buffalo.


Hey! We found the gorilla! Mostly, because we nearly tripped over him in the dark.


This was Natalie's favourite.


Oh and this one!


We had a few turns on the funfair rides and then we left as it was getting late and very dark and none of us had eaten supper.

* Posted Jan 19, 2009, 9:08 pm [Quote] [View just this post] Go to the top of the page

Olivedale, South Africa - 20th December 2008

By: MrsC

We went to Fi's sister for supper as the children had been swimming there all afternoon.

This is a traditional way of cooking food. It is called a 'potjie' which means 'small pot'. Usually it is placed on a fire but a Cadac gas cooker works just as well. The food is layered in the pot, with the longest cooking ingredients (meat usually) at the bottom and the quickest cooking at the top.

In the rural areas this is the only way to cook when you have no electricity. These post range in size from tiny to ridiculously enormous (a friend of Fi's has one so huge it takes three strapping men to lift it!)


Hmmm! Smells delicious! Lamb and rice...


* Posted Jan 20, 2009, 7:42 am [Quote] [View just this post] Go to the top of the page

Krugersdorp, South Africa - 21st December 2008

By: MrsC

Today we went to the Krugersdorp Game Reserve, but we didn't see a single animal...

We were there for an end of year party with some friends and just went to the recreational part of the reserve.

Mostly we sat under a thatched umbrella to stay out of the sun (it was so hot!) and the children swam...


We watched some young men playing soccer....South Africans are CRAZY about soccer.


We made some international friends... (We may have eaten them...oops, tasted just like chocolate!)


…and we just hung around chatting and listening to music...


Then we ate too much...Braaied (BBQ'd) chicken and pap (finely ground corn meal that is mixed with water and salt and cooked to a stiff porridge - it is a staple in the diet of most South African people) with tomato and onion gravy and carrot and pineapple salad.

* Posted Jan 20, 2009, 8:05 am [Quote] [View just this post] Go to the top of the page

Christmas fun, South Africa - 24th December 2008

By: MrsC

It's Christmas Eve!

There is a great air of expectancy around the house, everyone is excited! Well... the children and TVs are excited...

To keep us occupied Fi gave us and the children a job (as usual) but this one was fun! We got to decorate the gingerbread house. Fi had assembled the house the day before, with much wailing and gnashing of teeth - the icing would not set - most likely due to the fact that it was 36°C (96.8°F) and the air was humid, thanks to a brewing storm. It set very nicely once Fi re-arranged the entire fridge to remove one shelf so the house could fit in!


Burp! Pardon me! I may just have eaten more sweets than I put on the house....

Once we were done with that, Fi banished the children upstairs to watch a movie and threatended them that Christmas would be CANCELLED if they so much as peeked down the stairs!

Hmmm...smells like more work for us....

Oh boy, here we go again...


None of us could figure it out....a sort of nappy? Who knows...all we did know is that the fabric is a local one called shwe-shwe. It is a stiff cotton that becomes softer with washing. Traditionally it was made in blue or brown but now comes in a slightly wider range of colours like red and yellow. It has pretty patterns on it, usually small repeats. On the back there is always an animal stamp to denote the manufacturer. We have a leopard and an elephant here. Maybe these are elephant pants...um no...too small...

Now that it is turned the right way round it looks like a doll with a flat head!


AH! The penny drops....

It is a pouch for Natalie to carry her doll in!


This pram had belonged to Fi's sister in law 25 years ago. The plastic had all deteriorated and the children improvised with a blanket!


Fi got rid of the blanket....


Then the natives started getting restless and demanded to be released from captivity! So Fi released them and wrapped the gifts in her room safe from prying eyes.

And then a million people descended on the house for supper... well ten adults and three children and four TVs... but it felt like a million and her husband certainly catered for a million- we ate left overs for the next three days (interspersed with Christmas lunch)!

* Posted Jan 20, 2009, 8:59 am [Quote] [View just this post] Go to the top of the page

Christmas Tree, South Africa - 25th December 2008

By: MrsC

Merry Christmas!

At last!


Why am I hanging in the tree? Um...I am not quite sure...but it's Christmas at last! And how do I know this? I have been counting down everyday since the first of December with the aid of an advent calendar and there are NO MORE CHOCOLATES!


Our Christmas stockings were filled with candy canes and chocolates and SOMEONE seems to have forgotten to take the photo....

Never mind. Put on a silly paper hat and pull a cracker with me!


BANG! Oh that was scary and fun! I read the silly jokes and we all fell about laughing...

Someone else have a turn....


BANG! Ha ha ha....look what we all won!

Shaggy Bear Hmmm....those will come in useful late at night when everyone else is sleeping....


Hector oooh! Ladybug crayons....


Pinky Bear A yo-yo! Can you do any tricks with it?


A pipe? How odd... oh, you blow out of it and try balance the ball. I am very good at this because I can take such deep breaths and let them out slowly...


Right, is everybody ready for turkey? Time to leave and visit Fi's sister for Christmas lunch... I can't believe SOMEONE left the camera at home.....

There was a power failure so the potatoes and veges were roasted in the Weber (BBQ). Luckily the turkey was smoked and the ham had been cooked on the gas braai (BBQ) the day before (during the previous power outage). It was so good, but there was a lot of turkey left over - I can already tell we'll get sick of it soon!

* Posted Jan 26, 2009, 9:39 pm [Quote] [View just this post] Go to the top of the page

Stuck inside, South Africa - 26th December 2008

By: MrsC

It has been raining....again... look at that miserable sky...


* Posted Jan 26, 2009, 9:51 pm [Quote] [View just this post] Go to the top of the page

The 'Woods', South Africa - 29th December 2008

By: MrsC

If you go down to the woods today,
You're sure of a big surprise.
If you go down to the woods today,
You'd better go in disguise.
For every bear that ever there was
Will gather there for certain because
Today's the day the teddy bears have their picnic.

Picnic time for teddy bears;
The little teddy bears are having a lovely time today.
Watch us catch them unawares,
And see them picnic on their holiday.
See them gaily gad about.
They love to play and shout,
They never have any cares.
At six o'clock their mummies and daddies
Will take them home to bed
Because they're tired little teddy bears.

SURPRISE! Happy Birthday Pinky Bear!


We have been slaving away in the kitchen - well we had nothing better to do in all the rain.

We made bear biscuits and a chocolate cake with bear sprinkles so we could have a surprise picnic party for Pinky's third birthday. I think that by the time I leave here, I may just BE a bear. It is tough being the only turtle in a house full of bears....

Fi lit the candles for us (we are not allowed, it is against THE RULES.)


Blow out those candles and make a wish! (I think she ought to wish to be a turtle)


Oh yuk....honey tea! I'll skip this round thanks


Once the bears were all rolling around from eating and drinking so much, we surprised Pinky with a birthday present!


I sure hope she doesn't plan on sharing! That is the biggest bottle of honey I have ever seen....my tummy is forming knots just thinking about it...


* Posted Jan 26, 2009, 10:15 pm [Quote] [View just this post] Go to the top of the page

Window ledge, South Africa - 30th December 2008

By: MrsC

And suddenly...to make up for all the horrid rain... Mother Nature gave us this sky....BEAUTIFUL!


* Posted Jan 26, 2009, 10:36 pm [Quote] [View just this post] Go to the top of the page

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