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There are things I do miss about the Cape. I miss the weekend lunches with my mom and dad where, after a wholesome home cooked meal of 3 courses too many and lots of laughter, we would sit down in the lounge for coffee and chocolates. For the record – this was after dragging trays of silverware to the scullery for washing as well as dining plates of all sizes, shades and shapes. There is enough cutlery and crockery in this home to open several large 5-star hotels and even with shrinkage from hotel staff, there will be enough for guests to use or “borrow”.

Back to the lounge: we did not rest long because this was the opportunity for us (some were reluctant participants) to start our family equivalent of “musical chairs”, namely “musical sofas”. This involved moving furniture around the same room or moving it between rooms, especially sofas. Poor Ivy never knew which sofa she could sit on because “hers” changed position and décor theme so often. Then we would get Husband to take down boxes or suitcases from somewhere, and we would unpack things. This was part of a game of “charades”. Guessing what was in the box or bag, what is was for and importantly, the big reveal from my mom on its history i.e. the 3 “P’s”: people, place and purpose (then and now).


Like pressing rewind, the things would go back into the boxes or bags with my mom mumbling she “must throw some things out”. You would only get to that same box or bag at least 12 months on. There was a rotation system that was planned before each visit. My dad pleaded ignorance and claimed he was not able to lift heavy things like sofas and bags therefore he waited for my Husband to arrive, and …. others.

Italy on our sofa in the cashew position

Living in London, we cannot shuffle the one small sofa we have. It only fits one way and will need to be taken apart to leave the flat or set alight. We only own one chair (my desk chair) and one armchair. Nothing can be moved except for the dog toys. This is the SA equivalent of “lock-up-and-go” with one difference: we do not have to lock-up. We just go. Then again, there is lockdown so we are living in “lockdown and no-go” at the minute.

There are some other things I miss. For example, Afrikaans words that are descriptive or that are names of things. They have a rumble about them. They say so much in one word. I speak Afrikaans to Husband on occasion so that the animals do not hear us planning this or that but he looks at me with a blank stare (I know the blank part well and the stare). How about these few words as a sample of Afrikaans wonder:

  • Verkleurmannetjie: a chameleon – not that I have seen a real one here apart from politicians on the telly
  • Eekhoring: a squirrel – we all know too well how many of the grey squirrels this family sees and that is a reason to go “eek”
  • Knyp: when you are out and about, and you are bursting for the loo, all you can do is “knyp”
  • Nogal: wonderful for emphasis e.g.  “that lady was not wearing a mask on the Tube and sneezed, nogal”
  • Bergie: a homeless person in the Cape. There are a few homeless folk near the Tube station. To me they are “BB’s” or British Bergies
  • Dwerg: Ivy is a mini schnauzer which means she is a “dwerg schnauzer” – does that not make you want to go up to her and hug her tight oozing love?!
  • Skinder: a lovely word for gossip: “what skinder do you have for me?”
  • Tekkies: I am almost used to calling my tekkies, “trainers” but nothing says it quite like “my tekkies are covered in mud from the [beep] rain”
  • Pampoen: Halloween is not the same without a pumpkin. The Afrikaans equivalent has a roundness and richness to it, especially when used as a reference to an idiot
  • Vrek: I incorrectly used this word in SA all the time. I used it for emphasis e.g. “that was vrek mooi [very beautiful]”
  • V*k: I use this swear word a lot. If I trip, I use it. If I spill tea, I use it. If I am happy, I use it. Love this word. Our previous London landlord adopted it for use at work as a personal banker for wealthy Russian clients. He said he had use for such a word. Often.


Language and accent are wonderful things. I now wear cardigans, take tea, sit on sofas, abhor tat, my surname is Melon, and I am still an English speaker, nogal!

(For the record, the concept of “musical sofas” is not new to our family. When I was still at school, Tuesdays were “musical piano” days where, with the help of the gardener Elvis, the piano was moved. Once we moved it right through the flowerbeds and the garden to get it into a room at the end of the house. Note that from a tuning and sound point of view, pianos should not be moved via gardens, or ever …at all.)