Notes, from underneath the leaves in the Midlands.

Over the years, people have quizzically asked me why this blog has always included a reference to being from “underneath the table.” It’s taken on many forms, over time, as sometimes I’m writing from underneath the table of a whole life, or from underneath the table of parenting, or from underneath the table that I am actually hiding under.

As a young child, I used to “hide” underneath the table in our lounge. I have exceptionally crisp memories of throwing a blanket over our round table with the bow legs, and climbing underneath there to play. It was the right distance of being close to the noise and love of my family, and alone in my own world, that left me both comfortable and relaxed.

I live my life a lot like this. Hiding underneath the table is a theme that followed me right through my teen years (my dad would often find me reading under my desk, when I was supposed to be studying), and hiding under my desk when things got too chaotic at the office, was a common event. At one point, I remember plugging my laptop in, underneath my desk, when I had a massive project to conquer, and was fighting off a horrible case of heartbreak. Being underneath the table helps me focus, and feel safe. And yes, I know I am strange – I am okay with this.

Recently, my life accomplice – Jane – called me up and told me she was booking us for a night away. As it turned out, the timing could not have been more perfect for the both of us. We’d leave the day after my birthday (and yeah, I know, I didn’t write a birthday letter this year – consider the first 3 paragraphs of this that letter for this year – my re-commitment to being underneath the table) and, unfortunately, as life has her way, Jane suffered a huge loss in her life just two days before we were to make our escape.

You’d imagine, of course, that when someone loses an important person in their life, they want to invoke WH Auden and stop all the clocks. But that’s not who Jane is, and it’s not who the person she lost was. In fact, after witnessing her family wishing their beloved matriarch farewell today, I know her family do not stop clocks for anything, for life is far too fleeting, and memories – not time – are more important to cling to.

So, with the internal jangle of having turned 37 within me, and the hurt of her loss still stinging, Jane and I set off on a meander through the Midlands and a visit to Granny Mouse Country House.

You should know that I don’t travel well and (as Jane will tell you – from our drive back and me hyperventilating on the regular over trucks), it takes a lot for me to leave routine and head away for a bit. But, I need to say this: this little getaway needed to happen and it could not have happened in a prettier place.

We opted to take a slow drive towards our destination, and stop whenever and wherever we felt like it. We stopped at the cheese factory, Rawdons (thanks for my birthday G&T) and Jane had me check out a possibly haunted hut. I’m still not entirely convinced that little hut wasn’t infested with mutant spiders but, hey, I still have my head and haven’t sprung any web from my wrists. I think we’re okay.

Arriving at Granny Mouse, feels like walking back into your own family home. Now, of course, every second place you stay tries to convince you of this, but there’s something about this very particular place that gets it so right. I’d had an hour’s sleep the night before, off the back of a litany of bad, sleepless, nights, that left me with a spiky soul and droopy eyelids. But there’s something in that air, that view, and that comfort, that made me – finally – feel okay. More than okay, in fact.

We were booked in (great idea, Jane, best idea – remind me to listen to you, all the time) for a full body massage at their Spa and – well, I fell asleep very soon into it. I woke up when the masseuse asked me to turn over, and my eyelids sprung upon, where I felt like I’d been asleep for eight hours. Instead, it was just twenty minutes of slight snoring and probably drooling. I felt alive for the first time in a long time.

After my body and mind were once again re-aligned, we headed off to dinner. I’m probably going to talk about dinner a lot more often in my life, because I have this latent-but-obvious desire to become a true food critic and live out my days by reviewing eateries everywhere. I’ll tell you this much about dinner at Granny Mouse: It’s no country bumpkin menu with cheese sauce everywhere. Heck no. Each piece of my meal felt like they’d gone through my food diary, picked out the things I liked the most, mashed them together and gone “OH HEY! WE READ YOU DIARY. THIS WAS MADE FOR YOU”. I mean, who else turns blue cheese into a rosemary-crumbed gorgeousness that makes me feel quite emotional? Hah. Of course, eating dinner in the cellar was a total treat, and being surrounded by such incredible wine made me think very deeply about our selection at home…I think it needs expanding.

After dinner, we holed up in our gorgeous suite, with a crackling fire and, of course, donned our onesies. Curled into bed and blissfully warm, I finally fell asleep – and stayed asleep – for more than 4 hours, for the first time, in a very, very, long time.

Morning came round, and I missed wishing my kid a good day at school, because I slept right through the time she left the house (awful parent, awful) and rolled over for an extra twenty minutes of snoozing. A lazy morning, a beautiful breakfast, and a quick walk along the riverwalk ensued, with us packing up and driving back to Durban shortly thereafter. Of course, we stopped at every possible spot we could along the way, for coffee, shopping, and treats to take home.

Image: Jane in Pictures

Hanging out with my life accomplice (p.s. Did you know we run a business together now too? True story. Maybe I’ll tell you about that one day), in a gorgeous place, surrounded by the wonder of nature that we have somehow lucked up in living around, felt exactly like being underneath the table in my childhood home again. It was the right kind of comfortable, the right kind of quiet and, when I came back out into the real world of life, alarm clocks, and deadlines, I felt like me again, for the first time, in a very long time.

My point? It’s this:

—> Thank you, Jane, for taking me with you on this adventure. I could not ask for a better accomplice in adventure, including all Instagram Husband duties.

—> Thank you, Granny Mouse, for the incredible treat of a stay with you, and the way you shaped every detail around ensuring we had the best time.

—> Thank you, Super Shmooshy and Incredible Child, for taking care of the home life for a little bit. I think I need to trust you both a little more in being able to cover all the bases, and the 20-point list.

You enabled me to spend some time underneath the table of life again. I had forgotten how important this was. Thank you. 


Two girls, One Flat, a Lifetime of History #LoveChange

It’s Tuesday and I’m bucking a little trend today, and making this Throwback Tuesday! Why? Because I can, and because this post got me thinking. It got me thinking about the village of colourful characters that make up our life, and that one time in a flat on a hill where two gals had a barrage of great ideas and a litany of funny stories to tell. 

I’ve been thinking about Sheena a lot recently, as our friendship and connection has taken on a zillion different mediums over the years. We’ve been through what feels like a million metamorphoses, and yet the easy nature of how she and I talk to each other stays the same. She says it on her blog so well, when she describes me as “Cath – my ex-housemate, soulmate and sharer of womb in another lifetime.  We’ve been in each others lives forever, we just didn’t know it”.

Sheena and Cath
Two girls, One flat, A lifetime of history

It always makes some people’s eyebrows shoot up when we tell them that we had never truly met, in person, before deciding that we’d like to be housemates. Hah. Truth is, what started as mutual blog stalking, turned into Facebook messaging, and then I actually think I invited her to live with us via a blog comment, that mentioned lavender and baby powder. But, let’s back up a bit…

Cath and Sheena
I miss this girl like I miss the point sometimes.

My friendship with Sheena started with a simple Facebook message, after we’d “mutually stalked” each other online, thanks to the then-little world of blogging in SA. Back then, there were very few bloggers in South Africa, and we all sort of found each other through the Queen, Tertia. Sheena and I shared our stories with each other, without inhibition, because we both knew that blogging was therapeutic for us. We’d laugh at each other’s chaos and calamities, and commiserate together over our sad moments. We had written a hilarious history book together, full of quips and private references, long before we’d even met.

When I was in my teens, my dad used to tell me how the poetry I’d write and the graffiti I emblazoned on my wardrobe was my “primeval swamp”, because, from there, I’d hone my craft and learn to write. For me, I think the primeval swamp became blogging, and from it, grew not just my career, but my village too. Sheena, for me, has always been – and always will be – the head chief of that village.

Our time living together was peppered with laughter, fighting over how to hang the laundry (yes, really) and, as young adults trying to find their place in the world, we would talk long into the night about our respective hopes for charting our ways through life.

We’d laugh over our fears of being alone for the rest of our lives, and how we’d probably never “settle down”. Sheena taught me not to doubt my inner voice – she reminded me not to let anyone question my parenting, unless they had a damn good reason to. Sheena stuck with me as I faced a horrible time in our life, and she helped me laugh at it, because… “the best thing you can do to get past something that scares you, is poke fun at it”. Sheena was a friend to me at the worst of times, and another mom to my kid when she needed a circle.

Of course, we were never going to live in our little big flat on the hill forever. We’d talked about our dreams and hopes, the futures we would create. And then the time came where we needed to stop talking about them, and start making them.

The rest, as they say, is history. Sheena’s gone on to create the career we always knew she would, and marry the love of her life (turns out, he was actually not just around the corner, but a little bit more inland…). I’ve gone on to be the writer she believed I always would be, even when I did not believe it myself, and to have the family unit I dreamed of, but had sometimes deemed impossible. Sheena would always believe in my dreams for me, when I could not. She still does. 

While we live in different places now, and our lives have the hue of the dreams we’d dare each other to dream at 2am, over boxes of tens and laughter… yet, the essence of who we are remains. Life changes came at us and we at them, like cheese on toast. But us? Our village is exactly as it always was, just bigger. Our life in the little big flat on the hill was colourful and sometimes so noisy. But from colour and chaos, has been built a village. Thank you, funny girl on the Internet, for helping me believe in the village.

I’m tagging Sheena to share her story on how life has changed since we lived in that little big flat on the hill. YOU should get involved too, because BrightRock are looking for your #LoveChange story.

Sheena replied to my post here and it’s BEAUTIFUL! 


Are you a budding writer? Then #LoveChange and win!

BrightRock loves change and now, they’re looking for your big change story. Share your story about your experiences with one of Life’s biggest Change Moments – whether it’s Landing that Job, Tying the knot, Starting a Family or Making a Home – and you could win R2 000 in cash and the chance to become a regular contributor on BrightRock’s exciting Change Exchange. It’s an asking, learning, sharing, changing space – packed with tips and tools to help people live through, and even love, life’s greatest Change Moments. I love reading each piece as they’re published, because life – even though I hate change haha! – has taught me that Change Moments are what make life move forward!

Change Exchange Writer Competition

Here’s how to win:

Submit your #LoveChange story – of no more than 650 words via the “Your Story” tab on the Change Exchange. Feel free to upload a pic to go with it, or include a link to an Instragram pic or YouTube video. You’ll find all the competition rules on the Change Exchange. Get writing folks, because this is a damn good way to kickstart your dream! 

3 songs for 13 years.

Today, Will and I celebrate 13 years of best friendship. We celebrated with a little intimate dinner at his Chateau. For the first time ever, we let our loves join us. It was marvellous.

He’s just written me a letter to commemorate today that will live in my heart forever. Our exchanges this year will be private, and I won’t be blogging about it.

Thank you, Will, for thirteen amazing years. All I am is gratitude.

And now, as always, the themesongs:




The resonations of true friendship

The resonations of true friendship…

Last night, one of my best friends – one of those people who I trust with my life (and who have actually dealt with me nearly dying on them…) had a heartbreak.

To the outside world, it would seem such a silly thing. It’s so removed from the ins and outs of our every day lives, that anyone external to our friendship wouldn’t even give it a second thought. But, when I read the news, I knew. And it was me who, panic-stricken, started making phonecalls and overthinking and worried.

And then they emailed me at 2am, and there it was – their little heartbreak wrapped up in words they couldn’t quite get out, but that I entirely understood, without even reading it.

And this is how it is with us. We know, exactly, how external things will directly influence each other, and nobody on the planet will quite understand it the way we do. This friend knows, even before I speak, what I’m going to say. They know when I’m covering something up, even when I’ve fooled the whole world into thinking that I’m okay. This person gets exactly where I’m coming from, and doesn’t ply me with platitudes when it would be the easiest route. They’re not about the soft talk, and they’re fantastic when I need my bum kicked into reality. They are the parent I do not have, and we live inside a paradigm where nobody else could understand.

It’s caused ructions in the past, in other aspects of our lives. Lovers have not understood our bond…been jealous of it, tried to ignore it, and even, at one point, disapproved of it. We wholeheartedly ignored that. You see, I think we both knew that this bond was a great test for lovers, and when we finally found the ones we were destined for, they’d be marvellous at trying to understand it, and not try to over-involve themselves or stick a wedge between it. I realise, today, that this friend and I both have that now – lovers who understand that this relationship is not a threat, but an asset. That this years-long friendship has stood strong against so damn much, and that nothing – not even us disagreeing – can touch or mar it.

The thing about our friendship is that we carry each other aches without question. We know exactly what is important to each other, because these things are similar, and yet so different. We get and totally indulge each other’s needs and modes of expression, and we support it, albeit quietly sometimes. It is a fierce fire that warms the home of our hearts.

I am so grateful for this friendship. It’s sometimes strange, always comforting forms, and the undeniable history that it runs on. I wish this type of friendship for my own daughter one day, and heavens, I hope it happens for her.

“my love for you is like this scar, (points at elbow) ugly, but permanent”.