Author: Clients in Action

Marina and Frank Davis’ list of lockdown tips

Here are some of the things we are doing to stay focused and positive under the circumstances:

  1. Marina has found a wildlife site which live-streams game drives in the Kruger Park:
    • Morning drives are from 06h00 t0 09h00.
    • Evening drives are from 15h30 to 18h30.
    • The site is called Wild Earth.
    • The link is https://wildearth.tv/safarilive/
    • Marina starts most of her days watching the early game drive, in bed with a cup of coffee and rusks.
  2. Enjoying watching, and photographing, the birdlife in our garden.
  3. Instead of our usual daily shopping, we only go the shops every 7-10 days, to stay safe.
  4. Enjoying being creative with cooking, enjoying watching our three children, two spread around SA and one in Amsterdam, also getting creative with meal preparation.
  5. Having video calls on WhatsApp, as a family, to stay close together.
  6. To keep informed of the news, but trying to avoid information overload -not so easy.
  7. To keep a sense of humour, this is helped by all the funny stuff received on WhatsApp.
  8. Most of all, to keep a positive outlook, although the health threat around the world and the terrible drop in the stock markets is of real concern.

Lockdown musings and tips to stay safe and sane from Ronelle Baker

So we’re in day 12 of lock down (by the time you read this it will be day 12) and we’re trying very hard to get some routine going.

Tip 1: The first thing in the morning is a time to give gratitude for where we live, how we live and we bring the multitude of less privileged people up in prayer. How would we be “distancing” if we lived in a squatter camp – so our first thought and prayer in the day is one of gratitude.

Tip 2: We then try to keep to a sensible routine, do a little gym in the garage, have a healthy breakfast with lots of coffee (Moses – where are you!!) and do one or two chores a day.

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Tip 3: We try to have tea and a biscuit outside in the morning and afternoon, to catch that very welcome bit of sunshine before winter sets in and we eat very well. (More reason for enormous gratitude)

Tip 4: We also try to do the odd line dance in our garage, with the music very loud, which normally results in great mirth at how little we’ve absorbed during all the lessons we’ve had!

Tip 5: We have a video conference call every evening at 5pm with my nephew and his wife, when we discuss the day, what our plan is for tomorrow and have a small prayer session before ending our call.

Tip 6: And often we sit on our patch of lawn and have a drink with our neighbours who are sitting on their patch of lawn – another new way of communicating.

Learning to order provisions on line is a challenge, (more gratitude) and having technology around us that allows us to communicate with loved ones is another privilege. So many things we’ve taken for granted . . .

We trust all of the Chartered family are staying home and keeping safe and we wish you well over the next few weeks as this pandemic changes the world and our view of it.

Lockdown tips from Cathy Morris

Cathy and Bud Morris

I can’t believe we’re more than half- way through Lockdown! Time seems to have flown. I guess we do live in our Little Piece of Paradise in Pennington, KZN. There is nowhere else in the world we would rather be.

Well, what has Lockdown meant for Bud and me? I reckon the most important thing was to keep Bud away from people and all the germs. The Doctors had told him if he wanted to live another 10 years, we should we leave Edenvale. Eight Weeks later, businesses sold, house sold, vehicle sold, new home bought, and we were out of there. Almost seven years later and he is healthier than ever.

We have pretty much been in Lockdown for the last month. I have been out to Clicks Pharmacy to collect our Flu vaccinations and once for shopping. We have made sure we have enough “essentials” to last at least another month. We created a WhatsApp group for the 6 homes that are in Lockdown in Pennington Park – we are five couples, and my friend Rosie, who lives next door. The main aim of the group is for asking for help…golly…when was the last time any of us asked for help from our neighbours? I reckon we always assume our neighbours don’t need us, as sometimes we feel we don’t need them, but we all need each other.

These are the kind of messages on our group, “Hey, anyone going to the shops today…please can you pick up some bread and milk and fresh veggies?” We have put markers outside each unit and shopping gets left at x marks the spot. We disinfect the shopping in a mild solution of Milton and transfer the moola to whoever did the shopping, and Bob’s your Uncle.

Social distancing is a huge thing, especially for “huggy” person like me. What do they say, adapt or die, and dying is simply not an option -too much to live for! I have created a “Lockdown Ladies” WhatsApp group where we cook and bake and share. Lindy needed Coco to bake a chocolate cake. I put the container outside, sanitised of course, Lindy collected. Next thing…chocolate cake at X marks the spot. I baked cheese scones and delivered to their spots. Rosie needed movies, so I transferred a whole whack onto a flash drive for her. I needed faces put on my batch of bears I completed for the little rape victims at GJ Crookes Hospital, Rosie put the faces on for me.

For me, my heart goes out to those that are on their own. For those of us fortunate and blessed to have someone – embrace every moment. Love each other like there won’t be another day. Cook together, clean together, walk together wherever you are permitted. What do we feel deprived of during this Lockdown? Nothing. What do we miss the most? Not being able to do our morning walk on the beach and chatting to all the other “Golden Oldies” in Pennington. But hey, time will pass. We’ll come out on top. Be safe. And remember…SOCIAL DISTANCING AND WASH, WASH, WASH!!

Lockdown tips from Michelle Reid

As the owner of a small business who has been working virtually for the past two years, you would imagine that the past few days in lockdown for me would be easy and relatively simple to navigate. This has unfortunately not been the case with increased ‘traffic’ on both my laptop and my cellphone and this is without drilling down into SMSs, Whatsapps, E-mails, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and the likes.

I am a naturally planned person so planning comes easy for me. The challenge however is to exclude my coffee dates and other social interactions which would normally populate my day.

These few points are what have helped me to manage:

  1. Plan and diarise all the activities which are routine i.e. quiet times, meal times, personal admin, business etc
  2. Make a list of those activities that you have been putting off for ever i.e. cleaning and clearing of cupboards, sorting through your clothing and discarding what doesn’t fit or what you haven’t worn for a long time or packaging those older books which you can donate to the local library or church
  3. Break the chores up into bite size chunks i.e. if you have a kitchen with many cupboards, segment the kitchen into four and diarise to work in these areas separately and diarise these, making sure you are allocating enough time for each activity
  4. List the projects that you would like to do or plan i.e. a photobook of an occasion or planning a herb garden and diarise these.
  5. Ensure that you also diarise breaks and down time for reading, an afternoon nap or just sitting and having a cuppa with your partner.
  6. If you are allocating business time, make sure that you separate the place that you do business from the place that you would eat or watch your favourite TV series.
  7. You cannot visit people at the moment so why not set up a Zoom or Skype call? At least seeing people, even if it is on a screen, is encouraging.
  8. My husband and I have scheduled quiz nights with friends using Zoom. Each of the people on the call must think of 5 questions to ask. There is always a lot to learn and interesting facts to hear about.

Don’t change your normal schedule by getting up late and watching Series on Netflix until all hours – there is so much to do during this time!

Resources

These sites are provided free until the end of May, for people isolated at home due to Coronavirus.

  1. Free audio books from Amazon in 6 languages
  2. Free virtual Visits to 17 European museums.
  3. 700 Free books from Cambridge press
  4. Free Broadway shows
  5. Yuppiechef online cooking classes- free for a month

Lockdown tips from Margaret Kearns

Margaret Kearns

I have got used to being on my own, so the social isolation has not been that bad, but I am missing going out. I don’t have TV, only Netflix and I think I have seen everything worthwhile including some really terrible stuff, dubbed and subtitles, so I have exhausted that entertainment for now. My lifeline is the internet and unlimited fibre. I absolutely love Instagram and can while away the hours looking at pretty pictures and imaging a time when the lockdown is over, and I can enjoy inviting people over.

I would like to tell you about what my daughter in London is doing during lockdown. Kathryn works for Peninsular Petroleum and they have offices in 24 cities around the world where she is responsible for all their travel arrangements. They also have a superyacht with a crew that she managed to get home safely before the lockdown. Peninsular have implemented a ‘buddy system’ where every employee has a buddy with whom they check into every day. Kathryn’s buddy is her assistant, a young girl from Belarus living in London without any family. Kathryn also keeps in touch with their IT guy, who is currently in hospital having chemo, who is not allowed any visitors.

Kathryn lives in a tiny flat in Chelsea and she has a Japanese neighbour on the top floor who speaks very little English and Kathryn has become her buddy too. This has encouraged me to reach out and try and make contact with at least one person every day. I have been baking and even sent some goodies to my neighbour.

Another small thing suggested by my book club is that every time we wish we could do something, go somewhere, treat ourselves, see someone we love, visit a new place, or invite people to visit us, we are going to write it down on a post-it note and put it in a jar. When this is over, we will work our way through the jar and be more grateful than ever for the little and lovely things in our lives. Until then we’ll enjoy watching the jar fill up with magical things to look forward to.

Lockdown Reflections from Frances Meeser

Francis Meeser

I am in lockdown with my helper from Malawi, who lives on my property, and my two dogs. Our lives are generally so busy, and although I am working from home, this time of lockdown has made me slow down and take some very deep breaths, and so I have given myself some time for doing some things for myself…..

  • I have completed my Vision Board which I hadn’t completed after attending a workshop a few weeks ago. I have stuck this up on the study wall so that I see it day when I am working.
  • I very luckily have a treadmill that I inherited, so have set it up in the garage and walk 5-6kms every morning listening to a podcast series – the series I am listening to at the moment is Unlocking Us by Brené Brown. Other podcasts on my list are Malcolm Gladwell – Revisionist History and Daily Boost by Scott Smith.
  • I have started taking some time to write in a journal – this is being made easier by using the ‘Becoming’ journal by Michelle Obama which gives prompts and ideas on the pages – a wonderful Christmas present from my daughter.
  • I have signed up and started an ‘Authentic Resilience’ Online course facilitated by Gabi Lowe and Pippa Shaper from the Resiliencefactory – it is a two- week course which I am really looking forward to completing.
  • Kim suggested a few books for me to read when I met with her, and I have been ensconced in Daring Greatly by Brené Brown and have Rising Strong and Braving the Wilderness waiting.

Scottish scenes from the Rolfe’s travels

Norma and Rhys Rolfe have been travelling in Scotland, where they have enjoyed the wonderful scenery and country. “These pictures were taken on the Scottish 500, South of Ullapool,” writes Rhys.

The North Coast 500 is a 516-mile (830 km) scenic route around the north coast of Scotland, starting and ending at Inverness Castle. The route is also known as the NC500 and was launched in 2015, linking many features in the north Highlands of Scotland in one touring route.

“We are still a little early for the heather and other summer flowers on account of the unusually cold weather. The locals have assured us that this weather is unseasonal for this time of the year,” adds Rhys.

The Rolfes visited the town of Aultbea on Loch Ewe where convoys assembled during WW2 on their way to Russia and Murmansk. “We thought of Charles Johnston who was on the Atlantic Convoys at that time. We also saw the NATO refuelling depot on the same Loch,” says Rhys.

Loch Ewe is a sea loch in the region of Wester Ross in the Northwest Highlands of Scotland. The shores are inhabited by a traditionally Gàidhlig-speaking people living in or sustained by crofting villages, the most notable of which, situated on the north-eastern shore, is the Aultbea settlement.

With walking being very popular in this area, particularly on the wild rugged mountains, Norma and Rhys took some pleasant walks but no mountain climbing! Ullapool is a picturesque town where travellers take the ferry to Stornoway on Lewis, a major fishing port, with the harbour designed by Telford.

The Wyches in the Wild

Chartered clients, Jilly and Peter Wyche, recently undertook a trip to one of our South African jewels, the Kruger Park – a haven for many city-dwellers who need time in the bush to recharge their energy and revive their sense of adventure.

The Wyches have shared a few photographs of sightings during their 22 days in the Park. They travelled in their caravan from Punda Maria to Shingwedzi, Letaba, Satara, and then out to Crocodile Bridge. “We enjoy caravanning and camping with two couples that we have known for a good few years,” says Peter.

Jilly and Peter credit the sound advice, planning and budgeting with James, their Planner, and the CWS team, for being able to savour these moments with nature.

Malaysia awaits

In Malaysia, we stepped, with barely a ripple, into the lives of a young British expat couple teaching at the British International School. They were honeymooning in Greece for six weeks, leaving two entertaining young cats as our hostages in a 12th floor apartment in Petaling Jaya.

Kuala Lumpur is an easy city to live in – much like Johannesburg, but a lot cleaner and with functioning public transport including a modern metro rail network, monorail and free bus services. Grab taxis (their Uber equivalent) are plentiful. The warm and humid weather is not oppressive. Electricity, though expensive, was paid for by our hosts, so we basked in the coolth of the aircons and fans in the condo and had fun working as digital nomads on their efficient Wi-Fi. We had no need to shelter in the many malls where Malaysians hang out in their droves to escape the heat.

Malaysia is safe and relatively affordable. The impression is one of modern shopping centres, high-rise office buildings and condos (we stayed in a 36-story building with swimming pools, tennis courts, gym and its own shop), and golf courses. Malaysians love their golf courses! We were astonished to learn from our hosts that they pay nothing for their water consumption, so perhaps the SA constraints on keeping golf courses green don’t apply.

Our cats needed far less attention than 14-year-old Beamer in Goa. At our hosts’ suggestion, we grabbed opportunities for overnight and weekend trips around the country. (Inter-city travel is cheap in Malaysia.) We went to Melaka, Penang and Langkawi (all on “peninsular” Malaysia though Penang and Langkawi are islands up north near Thailand) and to Sarawak on Borneo.

Both Melaka and Georgetown, Penang, are fascinating World Heritage Sites. The street art, famous in Georgetown, has spread to Melaka – simply wandering around is a fabulous treasure hunt (click here to see all the images of this remarkable and unique street art).

You never know what murals you will find around the next bend as random artists have caught on to the idea and are adding their own touches, some more inspired than others. (In 2012, Penang’s municipal council hired Lithuanian artist, Ernest Zacharevic, to breathe new life into the atmospheric inner-city Chinese shop-houses. He cleverly built real artifacts like bicycles and trishaws into his murals, creating fabulous photo ops for tourists. Read more at www.penang.ws/penang-attractions/penang-street-art.htm.

Those trips taught us about Malaysia, a more subtle culture than in India. A few things stood out:

  • Malaysians are incredibly friendly and interested in who you are, where you’re from and why you’re visiting. They are known for religious and racial harmony and actively welcome people from other countries. Malaysia is one of a handful of countries with special schemes to attract long-term foreign retirees.
  • It is home to an unusually diverse mix of nationalities. Apart from Malaysians, the permanent population includes Chinese, Indians, Koreans along with ex-pats from around the world. We had great fun socialising with a group from Australia and New Zealand who taught us to play Mahjong. Addictive!
  • Food is important to them. They don’t talk about the weather: always the same, there is nothing to say. They ask if you have eaten recently – they routinely eat five meals a day. That opens a discussion about what you had and where, your favourite dishes and what to try. They embrace food from other Asian countries: it’s as easy to get Vietnamese, Chinese, Korean and Indian meals as Malaysian. Penang modestly calls itself the Food Capital of the World, with some justification.
  • Bahasa Melayu (the Malaysian language) is apparently easy to learn and we enjoyed picking up common words and phrases to entertain Grab drivers and shop assistants who seemed appreciative of our efforts. English, though not the official language, is widely spoken.
  • They are hard-working, a common trait in South-east Asian countries, but love celebrations; everyone happily adopts the different religious holidays – perhaps more public holidays than SA!
  • It is a regulated society where newspapers toe the party line, alcohol is heavily taxed and driving is conservative.

While we were in the region, we explored Borneo, where we saw a different side of Malaysia: exquisitely beautiful jungles, beaches and rocky shorelines … and even warmer hospitality than in Western Borneo, if possible. The highlight was seeing orangutans in their natural habitat.

Of course, we couldn’t miss the opportunity for a return visit to Singapore, a longtime favourite city. It blew us away yet again, particularly with the technological and artistic brilliance of its astonishing visual displays. We arrived just in time for their Night Festival.

We both find travel enriching. We immerse ourselves with wanton curiosity in the culture, languages, food and lifestyle of other communities. As we interact, we become richer, not in pecuniary wealth, but as more informed, understanding and rounded human beings. Perhaps we also leave a tiny bit of ourselves as we engage with a shop assistant or Grab driver enough to brighten their day.

What’s your next adventure?

If you haven’t already taken a turn on the streets decorated with street art, click here.

The Goan exchange

Chartered clients, Andrew and Barbara McGregor, have found a unique way to travel; it allows them to soak up local culture, indulge their love of pets and have an affordable vacation. Here is their account of their stay in Goa with Beamer, the black Labrador.

It’s April. Trees are donning their orange and burgundy attire and the sun disappears behind the Magaliesberg noticeably earlier. Barbara decides that winter at Harties is not a great idea.

Where, she asks, can we go for three months that’s warm? We don’t want to live in hotels – too expensive, and we want to meet locals and experience living in a community, rather than visiting as sight-seeing tourists. But we don’t want to be stuck in one place for too long. And, it must be affordable – our sad ZARs don’t last well on the global stage.

With that bar set, she turns to her best friend for advice. Never one to let her down, Google produces a couple of house- and pet-sitting opportunities – one in India, the other in Malaysia. It’s very simple – get yourself to the house and live in it free, utilities included. One of them even includes a car for our use.

The rest of April is a blur of organising flights, visas, meds, travel insurance and researching the ins and outs of living in foreign countries. All is quite happily done online from home, provided you dodge the Indian visa scammers. Just to add spice, Barbara takes a tumble, resulting in a total hip replacement. Committed to our hosts in India, with tickets booked and paid for, delay is not an option.

Airport and airline staff at ORT, Mahe and Mumbai are amazing, conjuring up extra legroom seats, wheelchairs and queue-jumping porters to smooth and expedite our passage to India. Two nights in Mumbai and a daytime train trip (much more interesting than flying) to Goa completed the first part of our travels. We settled into our home for the next five weeks with Beamer, a delightful black lab. Having recently bid a sad farewell to our 21 year-old Fudge, it is such a pleasure sharing walks and playing fetch with Beamer.

India is such a diverse country (think: over 400 languages) and Goa, the smallest and by far richest state, boasts even more diversity. Having been a Portuguese territory for 450 years, it adds that heritage to the diverse mix of religions, cuisine, place names, sport (soccer is the main sport in Goa, not cricket) and susegad, a word derived from the Portuguese sossegado, meaning quiet. It is used to describe the contented attitude to life, perhaps best described as ‘laid back’, that characterises Goa.

Our beautifully furnished home is in the Goan capital of Panaji (although the locals remain more comfortable with Panjim, its colonial name). Atop a hill that dominates the city, we are welcomed into a small gated community of delightful neighbours, with whom we socialise every evening as the light fades. A five-minute drive in our little smart car takes us into the middle of town, with cars, bicycles, scooters, motorised rickshaws, pedestrians all teeming around each other as if dancing as they move around the city, hooting as they go with no hint of malice.

Indians classify food as “veg” and “non-veg”. Goa has a lot more non-veg (pork and a lot of fish) than most other parts of India. We fell into a mainly veg habit and enjoyed excellent meals at restaurants recommended by locals, and then shopping at the wet market for ingredients and recreating dishes at home for the next few days. We have come to really enjoy the freshness, lightness and flavours of the veg meals we learned to cook in Goa.

Apart from food – for us and Beamer, our days are taken up with walking the narrow streets in Panaji, and driving to the beaches, small towns, farmlands and markets outside of it. Some days, we are content to relax in the coolth of home. It is the end of summer and the monsoon is brewing as the heat and humidity rise.

They say “time flies when you’re having fun”. Having left home not knowing what lay in wait, our time in India disappeared in a flash and, all too soon, we’re bidding our old friend Beamer farewell and heading off to Malaysia.

Don’t miss out on the next leg of the pet-sitting trip for the McGregors: click here to travel to Malaysia and meet two quirky cats.