Charlotte's Web

Blogging my world since 2006


I’d Like to Thank My Mother

It’s award season here at Charlotte’s Web. While I’d like to say I’ve been styled and primped to within an inch of my life, I am sitting here in my pyjamas wrapped in a big fleece blankie. But that’s the cool thing about blogging – you can accept awards from the sofa, without having to go much further than the fridge for the next snack.

My first award is from the ever-amusing Ms Honeypiehorse, who I’m dying to meet since I believe she is just like me, only taller, blonder and funnier. She’s given me the lemonade award for great attitude, which I’m loving since I do try to be just a little bit perky. Here it is:

lemonadeIsn’t it cute?

And I would like to thank my mother, since I have learned it all from her, all the glass half-full, stay away from toxic people, you can do anything you put your mind to, it’s all about the journey stuff that keeps me going. She has been a firm influence in my life and I am so pleased to count her as one of my favourite people in the whole world. Toni, I raise my glass of freshly-pressed lemonade to you.

I get to pass the award on. Excuse me while I go and have a browse in my feedreader.

I’m back! Still wearing the blankie, though.

1. The first award goes to Diana, with her beautiful smile, and completely enviable haircut. Diana’s attitude through recent sorrow – and indeed throughout her long blogging career – is nothing short of remarkable. Pour yourself a glass of lemonade, Ms Martinis for Two. I know you will receive this award more appropriately dressed than me.

2. The next glass of lemonade is for Rae of Journey Mama, who recently relocated to Goa, India with her superstar husband and three small children (a fourth joined them shortly afterwards). Rae faces life with the most incredible attitude, and I have been loving her gratitude posts, which remind me daily to be grateful for what I have.

3. Ms Musings from the Sofa is my kind of girl, all about the books and the shoes. While she lives in the US, she has retained her dark British humour which peppers all her musings. I just know that you’ll drink your glass of lemonade while wearing vertiginous high heels, Ms M, and probably also flicking through an erudite tome.

4. Lia of the Yum Yum Cafe was my first BTRL (Blog to Real Life) friend. I love her attitude, which is thoughtful, engaging and resilient. Lia is an aficionado of European cafe society, and apart from teaching me how to appreciate a great cup of tea, she has also taught me to cherish my writing time and space.

5. P of Life is Just One Big Adventure is a RLTB (Real Life to Blog) friend. She is new to blogging, and I am sending her this long tall glass of lemonade as a welcome to the blogosphere. You have fabulous attitude, dear P, and it shines through in your life and in your blog. I am so glad you are my friend!

Folks, if you can bear it, the love-fest ain’t over yet, for the lovely Kit – who I am about to meet in Cape Town for the first time ever – also sent me an award. This one is for being fabulous! My blankie and I accept the award graciously, for fabulosity is one of our aims. The award looks like this:


Before I pass it on to fabulous others, I have to list my five fabulous addictions. (A list! Hooray!) Here goes:

1. Dresses. For someone who mostly wears jeans and lives in a country where the sun shines for about two months of the year, I own a silly amount of dresses. When it comes to dresses, I am weak-willed. I cannot resist a good one. One day I have will do a dress post so that you can see just how addicted I am.

2. Foolish shoes. I have had a lifetime’s love for foolish shoes – pointy, high-heeled ones that give me blisters and make me walk like a donkey. Ditto the dress post for the shoe post. I live in my Chucks, but gosh do I love those heels.

3. Low-carb eating. Am a convert. Eating, feeling full and Not Having Any Sugar Cravings For the First Time in My Life. I don’t need to say any more.

4. Champagne, sparkling wine, Sekt – really any form of wine with bubbles – preferably drunk at breakfast-time. Lends the day a certain je ne sais quoi.

5. Books! I might not be eating sugar, but I am always hungry for more books.

On that note, I think I will deliver the Fabulous Award to five book-bloggers. Please go on to share the award with others. Here goes:

1. Pete of the Couch Trip. Like me, Pete throws some life into his book blogging. He hails from my favourite African city and never fails to be intelligent and interesting, especially in his field, psychology. I believe that boys can be fabulous too, and Pete, you certainly are.

2. Emily, who claims not to be a book blogger but so is. You are fabulous in every way!

3. One of the blogosphere’s most dedicated book bloggers is the fabulous Litlove. Every post is a seminar, radiant with intelligence and generosity of spirit.

4. Helen of A was Alarmed is completely fabulous, in her writing about writing, books and the escapades of her small son.

5. And the final nominee of this evening is BlogLily, whose blog shines with fabulosity.

Well, that’s a wrap then. The blankie is mewling and wants to be put to bed, and I really, really should stop drinking champagne. These after-parties can get quite out of hand.


Guess the Lie

One of these points is a lie. Guess which one it is:

(Oh, and don’t read this if you are eating, about to eat or have just eaten. I thought I should warn you.)

1. Last night I went out for dinner in Heidelberg.

2. I met Ash in Amsterdam, who I have known via our blogs for nearly two years, and she is just as fabulous as I imagined.

3. I recognised her the minute I saw her, but we nearly didn’t meet because she and her partner couldn’t find the restaurant and I, as usual, didn’t have my phone on me.

4. After dinner, we decided to show Ash and M the underworld of Heidelberg and progressed to the Untergasse, a street of bars and restaurants.

5. My husband’s favourite bar, Destille, was full with groups of people spilling out onto the street. There were at least four stag and hen parties celebrating there. The atmosphere was lively.

6. We were standing outside, holding our drinks and chatting, when I felt something warm splash against my legs.

7. I looked and it was vomit! My legs and my gorgeous pink satin shoes were splashed with puke!

8. I turned to see who had done it. It was a guy wearing a “Germany’s Next Top Husband” T-shirt. He wiped his mouth, turned back to his group, which included a guy wearing a backpack, and carried on drinking.

9. I said to Ash, “Germany’s Next Top Husband just puked on my legs. I am so blogging this.” We laughed. Then we left.

10. When we got home, my darling husband sponged another man’s vomit off my pink satin shoes, even though he doesn’t like them and would prefer to see them confined to the bin. Clearly I am already married to Germany’s Top Husband.

**** Edited to add ****

Number 8 is the lie! The person who puked on my legs and shoes was the guy in the backpack, but you can’t spoil a good story and it HAD to be Germany’s Next Top Husband. I am a journalist after all. Also, I might add that Ash caught some of it on her shoes and trousers, so we are now blog sisters – puked on during our first-ever meeting.


Royal Duties

Today, the Queen and Princess went to France. It was gruelling.

First of all, the Fairy Godmother collected them in her navy limousine, forgetting that both the Queen and the Princess prefer to travel in silver vehicles. However, they were able to forgive her because the back of her limousine is strewn with red velvet heart-shaped cushions – perfect for a little light napping. The Fairy Godmother drove the whole way to France, without forgetting the way once.

On arrival in France, the Queen and Princess were forced to sip hot French coffee and – wait for it – nibble on crusty little croissants. Then they went unto the shopping portals, which are, it must be said, far far better than the portals of Pietermaritzburg. They swished from shop to shop in their gowns, occasionally purchasing an item (the Fairy Godmother had to carry their bags, and the money) or rejecting one on the basis of not being up to royal standard.

After much swishing and shopping, the Fairy Godmother insisted it was time to sit down and partake of victuals. Having placed the Royal Family in the prime spot in the tavern of her choice, she proceeded to feed them buckwheat pancakes of various flavours, followed by dessert crepes of fruity deliciousness. The Queen called royally for the finest wines known to humanity, but the Fairy Godmother shushed her, saying only cider was served at the tavern. The Queen was somewhat surprised to be served her cider in a tea-cup, but she enjoyed it nevertheless.

Once refuelled, the Royals and their loyal attendant swept out into the streets of France for more touching, oohing, jumping up and down with excited little shrieks. Between the three of them, they gathered more bags. Finally, after a sit-down and a loo-stop, they felt it was time to say farewell to France and travel to Germany in Fairy’s limousine.

“But, I have a treat for you, dear Royals,” cried the Fairy Godmother. “Before we leave France, I wish to swish you through the Enormous French Supermarket where we can treats made by artisans in hovels and other treats made in food factories.”

So the Queen, the Princess and the Fairy Godmother visited the Enormous French Supermarket where the citizenry were gathered in their droves, purchasing and partaking of treats. The Queen and her daughter fell upon the following treats:

Violet-flavoured yoghurts
Almond-flavoured yoghurts
Saucisson (for the Prince)
Chocolate chip cookies (for the little Princesses and the Princeling)
Dijon mustard
Sirop de Citron Vert
Red wine, clearly the finest known to humanity

and many other products not always available to the good burghers of Germany.

They had a delightful day, and retired to bed, happy in the knowledge that, once more, they had fulfilled their royal duties.

Please admire …


…….. the Royal Pump.


The Tale of the Perfect Slipper

Once upon a time, not very long ago, there lived a Princess. The Princess was a happy person, for she had everything in her life that she needed: food, a loving family, the odd glass of champagne. However, there was one thing that was missing in the Princess’s life. She needed the perfect slipper.

The Princess searched high and low in the shops of Germany – for it was in Germany that she lived – to find the perfect slipper. And indeed, Germany was a good place to search, for the good burgers of Germany were mostly very fond of the shoe that can be worn inside, namely the Hausschuh. However, despite searching for many long years for the perfect slipper, the Princess was unable to find it. She grew sad and listless, and sat around picking her bare, cold toenails. Her family became worried. How could they restore the Princess to her former happy and joyous mien? Where could they find the perfect slipper that would meet the Princess’s rigorous conditions of (a) comfort, (b) attractiveness and (c) substantial sparkliness fitting to one of royal birth?

Things appeared to be desperate. The Princess decided to make one last last-ditch attempt to find the perfect slipper. She went out, to the lovely Geschaeften of Germany. There she tried on 101 pairs of the famous Birkenstocks. Every citizen of the land (and many from other lands, including fair California) had told her that Birkenstocks were of the highest comfort and attractiveness. But, nay, the Princess could not. She could not purchase a Birkenstock to place upon her daintly footlets. That would never do. They were too crass, too sordid; the kind of shoe her vegan friend Oatmeal Baobab might wear, but not good enough for the feet of a Princess.

The Princess believed that she would never find the perfect slipper. Her heart was sad. She became mightily depressed. She lost her appetite, becoming quite unable to eat chocolate. The only good thing on her horizon was the pending visit of her mother, the Queen. At least the dear Queen might be able to cheer her up a little, cook some delectable morsels and take the children off her hands so that she could waft around morosely being really sad.

The day the Queen arrived was a very low one for the Princess. She embraced her mother listlessly. With a glint in her royal eye, the Queen said, “Darling. Have you managed to find the perfect slipper yet?”

“Oh no, dear Queen, I have not,” whispered the Princess tremulously. She plucked tragically at her gown.

“Well, darling, there is no need to mourn any longer!” the Queen announced. “I believe I may found the perfect slipper, far far away in the shopping portals of Pietermaritzburg.”

“Pietermaritzburg,” muttered the Princess, “What good is that to me, here in the lovely land of Germany?”

“But darling, I have transported it with me in the flying machine!” cried the Queen triumphantly. “I have it in my trunk.”

“Oh, Mother,” said the Princess, “Dig it out immediately.”

“Please,” she added, for she was a well brought-up girl.

And so the Queen set to digging about in her trunk and came upon a parcel wrapped in tissue paper. Proudly, with beating heart, she presented it to her child.

The Princess tore open the package with unseemly haste and there they lay. Not one, but two of the most perfect slippers she had ever seen. One for each foot! They were silver, they were sparkly, they reeked of Chanel (tho’ they were not, coming as they did from the shopping portals of Pietermaritzburg).

“Mother, how can I thank you?” the Princess cried, flinging her arms about her mother’s neck and sinking slightly, with relief.

Disentangling her daughter, the Queen said, “Well, I do have very good taste. Look here.”

And she lifted her own gown, just a couple of millimetres to reveal the identical pair adorning her own little Queenly toelets.

The Princess placed the exquisite silver slippers on her feet, and announced, “We must celebrate. A party! We shall have a party!”

And the Queen, the Princess, her husband – the well-shod Prince, and the little Princesses and Princeling, danced all night, happy in the knowledge that there would never be sadness in the kingdom again.

The Princess loves her slippers so much, so very very much, that sometimes she wears them on her head.



Red Shoes and Happiness

Today, I went to some meetings at the company where I used to be an employee. I walked its grey corridors in my red shoes. A small part of me was slightly envious that I no longer work there – there’s always an amazing buzz, the employees are young and trendy, the buildings are modern and stylish and the coffee is excellent. Despite all this, most of me knows that the last thing I need is an office, a boss and an access card. Where I am right now is exactly where I need to be right now.

Instead of my being an employee of the company, the company is now one of my customers. I work for various departments, doing different writing-related jobs: a bit of editing here, some white papers there, an online article or two here and there. Today I met with three different people who have work for me. They all have tons of work for me. I am trying not to hyperventilate.

There’s so much work.

There’s so much work.

There’s so much work. And I have three kids, and three hours four times a week free to do the work in, unless I want to do it late at night, in my pyjamas when all the world has gone to sleep. Not to mention the house I need to maintain, the friendships that require time and commitment, the novel I dearly would like to get bloody written, the handsome man who occasionally would like me to look up from my computer and acknowledge his sweet presence, the blog posts that need to be composed.

Luckily though, I was wearing my red shoes:

My red shoes, like those of Mma Makutsi, assistant to intrepid lady detective Mma Ramotswe in Alexander McCall Smith’s lovely Botswanan detective series, pinch. But, like Mma Makutsi’s blue shoes, my red shoes give me courage. If I can wear these and walk all over the company’s campus, keep smiling and nodding and saying “yes” to all the work they want me to do, then I can find the time to do the work.

I feel panic, but when I look at my red shoes I feel happy. They are coping shoes, getting-it-together shoes, working-all-night-and-meeting-that-deadline but still-getting-up-the-next-morning-to-feed-the-children shoes. If nothing else, I have to live up to my shoes. They are shoes with panache, with gusto, and with attitude.

Bring on those white papers! Bring on the 170-page editing job! Bring on the book chapters! My shoes and I are ready.


The Saturday Night Meme

We’re having a quiet night in, having had a fabulous party last night. As a special treat, our daughters (7 and 5) were allowed to stay up and enjoy the party. Their goal was to make midnight, and they did. Ollie flagged and slept in his pram, but the girls put on their dancing shoes and grooved. When the special 12 o’clock moment arrived, Lily rushed over to where Daisy and I were dancing.

L: Daisy, Daisy guess what?! It’s MIDNIGHT!!!

D: Scream! (Jumps up and down on one spot.) Scream!

L: Mummy! It’s midnight!

Mummy: Wahhh! Midnight! (Performs silly dance of joy.)

Shortly after that I took them all off to bed, myself included. When the Otter girls peak, it’s not pretty.

So while my husband monitors the state of the world from the horizontal position on the sofa, and I take a brief break from writing my monthly column on the state of (expensive commodity), here is the Saturday Night Meme, otherwise known as the Five Things Meme, courtesy of the lovely Cook Sister!:

What Were You Doing 10 years ago?

I had been living in Germany for a year, and I was about to go on holiday to Tuscany with my mother, my aunt and my long-suffering husband to stay in a mill near Lucca with a mad English alcoholic who insulted us, lied about the opening hours of the museums in Florence, but cooked very excellent breakfasts.

Five Snacks You Enjoy:





Mixed unsalted nuts

Five Songs You Know All the Lyrics to:

The Marseillaise by Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle

Three Little Birds by Bob Marley

Scatterlings of Africa by Johnny Clegg

Wishing (If I Had a Photograph of You) by Flock of Seagulls

The Wheels on the Bus

Five Things You Would Do If You Were a Millionaire

Fund Rape Crisis Centres in South Africa

Pay off my mother’s mortgage

Purchase a house with an office/retreat/writing room for me and me only

Buy my hubby his dream car

Take my family on a lovely holiday to somewhere hot and sunny

Five Bad Habits


Blogging when I should be working


A lackadaisical attitude to my answering machine

Getting snappy and tense when I’m running late

Five Things You Like Doing:

An early morning game drive followed by a massive breakfast and a nap

Having a day to myself with nothing to achieve

Getting lost in the flow whether it’s of writing, meditation, yoga or a great book

My Sunday morning lie-in with coffee, my laptop and a pile of books

Dancing till midnight with my daughters

Five Things You Would Never Wear Again:

Knee-high socks




Velvet Alice bands

Five Favourite Toys:

Apple laptop

Food Processor and other baking apparatus

Blue vases for pink roses

Bead necklaces

New pink shoes


I have no idea where my daughter gets her love of accessories from, really I don’t

I usually don’t tag, but I have some lovely new blog-pals who I want to invite into the playground. Paul, Simmone, Letters, Trousers, Bine, will you play? Everyone else is, of course, welcome.


Walking Tall

My status has improved. I am feeling rather elevated. I am walking around with my nose a few inches higher in the air than usual.

Here’s why:



Beautiful, aren’t they?

Here’s a picture of one in sepia, just to underscore its iconicity:


Let it be said that as a girl who prefers trainers or flip-flops, and who has never knowingly worn peep-toes before, I am getting a kick out of my new status. There’s a swing in my step. There’s a swoosh to my stride. I am towering over animals and small children and the odd crouching grown-up. I am enjoying the rarefied air of the tall.

Feels good up here. Wish you could join me.

*totters off to prepare lunch*