Category: books

My time in Davis, California is drawing to an end and in my spare time I’m trying to document every aspect of this little college town.

Here are some photos taken at the Arboretum, one of my favourite places in Davis. (My other favourite hangout is the Co-op, a grocery store close. There’s not much to do in Davis.)

The photos don’t provide an accurate depiction of the Arboretum. They neglect to to highlight the pair of river otters feeding in the creek, the couples lounging on the lawn, the love locks on the bridge, the spectacular birds who won’t stay put long enough for me to snap a picture. Inconsiderate little things. How am I supposed to win the National Geographic award if they don’t stay still? 


I’m currently reading Zadie Smith’s novel “On beauty”. I absolutely love her writing. It is so addictive that I’m already planning on purchasing her other novels. Here’s a quick extract:

“Summer left Wellington abruptly and slammed the door on the way out. The shudder sent the leaves to the ground all at once, and Zora Belsey had that strange, late-September feeling that somewhere in a small classroom with small chairs an elementary school teacher was waiting for her.”


Turkish tea on a yacht

Photo taken in Kaş, Turkey. 

Mosque, Cirali

Photo taken in Cirali, Turkey.

While I was in Turkey I managed to ride a hot air balloon, drink Turkish tea on a yacht, marveled at several beautiful mosques  and read two books: “Snow” by Orphan Pamuk and “White Teeth” by Zadie Smith.
I really loved Zadie Smith’s “White Teeth” and have recently purchased “On beauty”. (I did NOT love “Snow” and upon completion ended up discarding the novel at the airport). I’ll try to transcribe a larger paragraph or section from “White Teeth” before I leave for Durban. Key word in that sentence is “try”.
Anyway, I’m currently reading “Kinshu” by Teru Miyamoto, who is apparently a prize-winning author in Japan. “Kinshu” consists entirely of an exchange of letters between a divorced couple.
Here’s an extract from the novel:

““She said her four sons had died in battle, but this was not entirely true. My father said that there was at least one untruth in Grandmother’s story. Three of her sons did in fact perish in battle, but the second-eldest, Kensuke, seeing his comrades die one after the other from starvation and malarial fever in Burma, walked deep into the forest and hanged himself. His death in battle had been fabricated by the military, and Grandmother learned the truth from a soldier who had been repatriated from Burma. He came to visit, carrying a small square paper box containing Kensuke’s ashes, as well as his glasses and his tattered notebook. When Grandmother heard that Kensuke had not died by an enemy bullet but by his own hand, her face turned deathly pale. Only one thing was written in his notebook: ‘I was not happy.’””


I have finally finished reading the novel, White Teeth by Zadie Smith. Here’s one of my favourite passages from the novel:

“It was odious to be reminder of one’s children when one is calculating the exact shade and rigidity of a nipple that could assert itself through bra and shirt.”



I have also been doing a bit of travelling over the last few weeks.


Clockwork starting from the top left:

  1. I flew down to Durban to celebrate the union of two very beautiful and generous individuals. I also acted as one of the bridesmaids. Stylist: What do you want me to do with your laps? Me: Make them not look dry?
  2. I had a 13 hour layover at Doha International Airport, which meant I was privy to a free three-hour tour of the city. To qualify for the tour I had to present myself at the Doha City Tour Desk at 06:00, as the tour is offered on a first come first served basis. I did not need to make prior arrangements for a visa.
  3. In Goreme, I was lucky enough to tick one more item off my bucket list – hot air ballooning. It was a frigging awesome experience. I loved the heat of the fire on my back, the sound of hot air entering the balloon like waves crashing on rocks, and the sıght of the landscape as the sun rose. It is definitely something I’d try again.
  4. Graffiti in Istanbul.

Photo taken in Durban

The following was written a while back …


I’ve just finished reading, “Hyperbole and a half” by Allie Brosh. Allie Brosh is a blogger who talks about her dogs, her childhood and her struggle with depression. Her book (and blog) contains comics (not just words!) and “the secret to eternal happiness.” She is of course lying about the “secret to eternal happiness”.

My favourite quote from the novel is her description of depression and everyone’s optimistic suggestions for combating the disease.

“It would be like having a bunch of dead fish, but no one around you will acknowledge that the fish are dead. Instead, they offer to help you look for the fish or try to help you figure out why they disappeared.”

Next up on the reading list is:

  • Snow by Orphan Pamuk (Started reading this a while ago …)
  • Kinshu: Autumn Brocade by Teru Miyamoto
  • White Teeth by Zadie Smith
  • Into The Wild by Jon Krakauer


On Sunday, I ran my first race since Two Oceans Ultra – UCT Memorial 10km. I knew that no matter how tough the route I would be able to complete it in 55 minutes easily. I managed to do it in 54. I probably would have done better if I didn’t stop at the 9km mark.


I’ve yet to board my plane to Durban and I’m already plotting my 2016 adventures/bucket list.

The Comrades Marathon in Durban is definitely on my list. I’d also like to do the Oudtshoorn Marathon.

Juan and Dizzy* might be moving to the UK soon. So I’m thinking of visiting them in London and then popping over to either Rome or Paris to run a marathon.

I also need to tick off snowboarding and hiking the Fish River Canyon from my bucket list. *Sigh*


I’ve once again discarded set aside Orphan Pamuk’s Snow. This time for The Notebook. The Notebook isn’t a particularly great book; it’s soppy and easy to digest. But I needed something light. I found Snow, which is set in Turkey, distressful.
Here are a couple of quotes from the novel:

“Headscarves protect women from harassment, rape and degradation. It’s the headscarf that gives women respect and a comfortable place in society. We’ve heard this from so many women who’ve chosen later in life to cover themselves. Women like the old-belly dancer Melahet Sandra. The veil saves women from the animal instincts of men in the street. It saves them from the ordeal of entering beauty contests to compete with other women. They don’t have to live like sex objects, they don’t have to wear make-up all day. As Professor Marvin Kind has already noted, if the celebrated Elizabeth Taylor had spent the last twenty years covered, she would not have to worry so much about being fat. She would not have ended in a mental hospital. She might have known some happiness.”

“Infected by the disease of atheism, he began to put unreasonable pressure on his lovely little pupils: he tried to spend time alone with their mothers; he stole money from another teacher whom he envied.”

What else can I tell you?

I am heading off to Durban soon to celebrate the nuptials of two people I’ve known for 14 years. Yes, I’ve managed to sustain a friendship for 14 years! I am really looking forward to it. I am flying down with a lovely bunch and we’re planning to eat all the BunnyChows, gawk at the turtles at uShaka and swim in warm ocean water! Warm ocean water guys. In winter!

And soon after that I’ll be jetting off to Istanbul. I’ve yet to sort out my accommodation for my month-long trip. So far I’ve only managed to book hotels for Istanbul, Goreme and Antalya. I still need to book hotels for Kas, Fethiye and Olympos. (Do yourself a favour and Google images of Fethiye. Go on, do it!)

I also need to sort out my flights to California. I’ll be spending Independence Day in USA! So excited.


I did it. I completed the Two Oceans Ultra (56km) in 6:26. I was secretly (or not so secretly) hoping to do it in less than 6 hours. Anyway, that’s one more thing to tick off my bucket list. Next year I attempt the Comrades.

Thanks to everyone for their words of support, advice and encouragement. You guys rock.

And now I leave you with an extract from the latest book I just completed:

 “The King’s Preserves had almost been hunted out. In these modern days it was rare to find so much as good-sized deer in them, and no one had seen a dragon since time out of mind. Most men would have laughed if you had suggested there might still be such a mythy creature left in that tame forest. But an hour before sundown on that day, as Roland and his party were about to turn back, that was just what they found … or what found them.

The dragon came crashing and blundering out of the underbrush, its scales glowing a greenish copper colour, its soot-caked nostrils venting smoke. It had not been a small dragon either, but a male just before its first moulting. Most of the party were thunderstruck, unable to draw an arrow or even to move.

It stared at the hunting party, its normal green eyes went yellow, and it fluttered its wings. There was no danger that it could fly away from them – its wings would not be well developed enough to support it in the air for at least another fifty years and two more moultings – but baby-webbing which holds the wings against a dragon’s body until its tenth or twelfth year had fallen away, and a single flutter stirred enough wind to topple the head huntsman backward out of his saddle, his horn flying from his hand.”

The Eyes of The Dragon by Stephen King

OMTOM and books

A few weeks ago, I finished reading “The sex lives of Siamese twins” by Irvine Welsh. At first I found the novel hilarious and engrossing, but I was left feeling dissatisfied in the end. I just didn’t see the need for all the violence.

I am currently reading “The gargoyle” by Andrew Davidson. I am still at the beginning stages of the novel, and I’m not really sure how I feel about it. Note: I’ve already shed a tear or two.

Anyway, here’s an extract from the novel:

“Your car gathers speed down the embankment, bouncing. Your hypothesis is quickly proven correct: it is, indeed, quite painful. Your brain catalogues the different sensations. There is the flipping end over end, the swirling disorientation, and the shrieks of the car as it practices its unholy yoga. There’s the crush of metal, pressing against your ribs. There’s the smell of the devil’s mischievousness, a pitchfork in your ass and sulfur in your mouth. The Bastard’s there, all right, don’t doubt it.

I remember the hot silver flash as the floorboard severed all my toes from my left foot. I remember the steering column sailing over my shoulder, I remember the eruption of glass that seemed to be everywhere around me. When the car finally came to a stop, I hung upside down, seatbelted. I could hear the hiss of various gases escaping the engine and the tires still spinning outside, above, and there was the creak of metal settling as the car stopped rocking, a pathetic turtle on its back.”

I am running the Cape Peninsula Marathon (42km) tomorrow. I am pretty nervous about the prospect. I’ve set a pretty impossible goal for myself (4:20). That’s 32 minutes faster than my personal best – I’ve only ever run 2 marathons. I’ve done the maths, over and over again, I know what pace I need to set to achieve this goal and I am afraid. I am afraid that I might fall way short of this goal. I am afraid of THAT crushing disappointment, THAT sinking feeling, the realization that I’ve given it my best and my best still wasn’t good enough.

Note: Nicole talks about disappointment and running goals here.

I’m getting really excited for my trip to Turkey. My flights and passport are sorted and I have a pretty good idea of which cities I’d like to tour. I’ll be spending a few days in Istanbul – eating ALL the Turkish Delight, spending ALL of my money purchasing glass lanterns and leather jackets, getting a massage at a haman and checking out the whirling dervishes. I’ll then move on to Goreme (Cappadocia), where I’ll (hopefully) be charting a hot-air balloon. I also plan to check out the hot springs at Pamukkale, the Eternal Flames of Chimaera in Olympos, the archaeological site at Ephesus and chart a boat to the Blue Cave.

All I need to do now is sort out my visa and accommodation.

Books, running and travel


The above photo was taken at Graze, a new restaurant in Harfield Village.


I am currently reading Irvine Welsh’s latest offering. He’s the very same guy that brought us, “Trainspotting”.

Part of the narrative is told by Lucy Brennan, personal trainer who is obsessed with exercise and weight. Here’s an extract from the novel.

“The only fast-food place handy is this pizza joint, so I order a couple of slices. The line is busy with just one fat chick sweating behind the counter, trying to keep up with the orders. – Sorry about the wait, she says.

– Well, that’s a start. But don’t beat yourself up, take action, and I hand her my card.

She looks at me like she’s going to burst into tears. – I meant … I meant the wait! That wait you’ve had in this line!”

David Sedaris

I absolutely love David Sedaris and I’ve read most of his books. In the following article he talks about a cow giving birth:

“What might I have thought if, after seven hours of unrelenting agony, a creature the size of a full-grown cougar emerged, inch by inch, from the hole at the end of my penis and started hassling me for food? Was that what the cow was going through? Did she think she was dying, or had instinct somehow prepared her for this?”  


Can we take a second to talk about the book, “Gone Girl”? Because holy crap is it good! I’ve made it to the second half of the book and knew that there was a twist in the tale, but man was this unexpected.

If you’re currently reading the book or plan to read the book, stop reading this blog post now. Coz spoiler alert! I am going to quote one the weirdest passages from the second half of the book, so scamper off. If you’re looking for an alternative source of entertainment, may I suggest the following?

And now I shall commence with the spoiler/extract. You have been warned.

“Nick loved me. A six-o kind of love: He looooooved me. But he didn’t love me, me. Nick loved a girl who doesn’t exist. I was pretending, the way I often did, pretending to have a personality. I can’t help it, it’s what I’ve always done: The way some women change fashion regularly, I change personalities. What persona feels good, what’s coveted, what’s au courant? I think most people do this, they just don’t admit it or else they settle on one persona because they’re too lazy or stupid to pull off a switch.

That night at the Brooklyn party, I was playing the girl who was in style, the girl a man like Nick wants: the Cool Girl. Men always say that as the defining compliment, don’t they? She’s a cool girl. Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping, who plays video games, drinks cheap beer, loves threesomes and anal sex, and jams hot dogs and hamburgers into her mouth like she’s hosting the world’s biggest culinary gang bang while somehow maintaining a size 2, because Cool Girls are above all hot. Hot and understanding. Cool Girls never get angry; they only smile in a chagrined, loving manner and let their men do whatever they want. Go ahead, shit on me, I don’t mind, I’m the Cool Girl.”

I’m currently reading “Gone girl” by Gillian Flynn and I am absolutely intrigued.

The novel is about Amy, who disappears one day. The police suspect her husband, Nick. The chapters alternate between Nick and Amy’s point of view. Nick’s side of the story is told the day Amy disappears. While Amy’s story is narrated from her diary, written the day they met five years ago. I at the point in the novel, where I think Nick is a total douchebag, but I’ve been forewarned that there’s a surprise ending.

Anyway, here’s an extract from the novel:

“I go home and cry for a while. I am almost thirty-two. That’s not old, especially not in New York, but fact is, it’s been years since I even really liked someone. So how likely is it I’ll meet someone I love, much less someone I enough to marry? I’m tired of not knowing who I’ll be with, or if I’ll be with anyone.

I have many friends who are married – not many who are happily married, but many married friends. The few happy one are like my parents. They’re baffled by my singleness. A smart, pretty, nice girl like me, a girl with so many interests and enthusiasm, a cool job, a loving family. And let’s say it: money. They knit their eyebrows and pretend to think of men they can set me up with, but we all know there’s no one left, no one good left, and I know that they secretly think there’s something wrong with me, something hidden away that makes me unsatisfiable, unsatisfying.

The ones who are not soul-mated – the ones who have settled – are even more dismissive of my singleness: It’s not that hard to find someone to marry, they say. No relationship is perfect, they say – they, who make do with dutiful sex and gassy bedtime rituals, who settle for TV as conversation, who believe that husbandly capitulation – yes, honey, okay, honey – is the same as concord. He’s doing what you tell him to do because he doesn’t care enough to argue, I think. Your petty demands simply make him feel superior, or resentful, and someday he will fuck his pretty, young co-worker who asks nothing of him, and you will actually be shocked.”

Once I’m done with this novel I’ll probably reread “To kill a mockingbird” or “One flew over the cuckoo’s nest”. Or I might purchase the latest Irvine Welsh novel.

A few days ago, I went to Newlands Rugby Stadium to watch the final Currie Cup match. This was my third time at a rugby match. The first time I went, about two years ago, I referred to a “try” as a “goal”. My knowledge of rugby hasn’t improved much since then.

Me: Go, go, go …. Wait, wrong team.
Yes, I actually cheered for the other team.