16/08/2016

Mallorca!

I love summer holidays in the Northern hemisphere which signifies the end of the school year and the start of extensive travelling trips. Whilst the summer holidays in the South are great too since it coincides with the Festive Season, I think summer holidays hold extra significance in the North when nature awakens from a long winter’s slumber, summer days are pristine and Europe shines on long summer evenings.
This year we travelled to the Netherlands (Amsterdam, Maastricht, Rotterdam, Groningen and Breda) and Spain (Mallorca and Barcelona). It was a fantastic holiday and I will be sharing more with you in the coming weeks. First about the relatively small island of Mallorca with beaches that dreams are made of. We lived in the historic quarter of Palma, rented a car and explored the island. 
Playa de Formentor
 We swam in the crystal clear azure sea of Cala Deia, Cala Mondrago and Playa de Formentor. I loved the intimate coves below dramatic cliffs, wild natural beaches which are accessible only on foot and huge swaths of soft golden sand backed by palm trees.
Cala Mondrago
Unusually for a Mediterranean island, Mallorca is fertile and green, with an amazing array of natural landscapes from soaring mountains in the west (the Tramuntana mountains), to beautiful vineyards in the fertile central plain. 

We indulged in the cuisine and spirit of the Mediterranean, the food something out of the ordinary. Where else can you find wild boar, osso buco, traditional seafood dishes or the best paella this side of the Atlantic? With new-wave chefs championing local cuisine and converted castles and convents in the countryside harbouring Michelin-starred restaurants, Mallorca is fast flourishing into one of Europe’s most exciting and authentic foodie destinations.  

 
Walking to Cala Deia
 

The above below photos were taken in and near Deia. This small town is well-known by many, but we followed the winding road down from in front of the gorgeous La Residencia hotel and we hit Cala Deia, a small and pebbled but very pretty beach. Two restaurants blend into the surrounding rocks and, though they look rather shack-like, serve gorgeous fresh local fish and cold San Miguel beer. We tucked into seafood platters at  Ca’s Patro Marchthe restaurant perched on the cliff overlooking the sea.

Dining at Ca Na Toneta, a small and charming family restaurant in Caimari, a quiet village located at the foot of the Tramuntana mountain range was a highlight. The six course tasting menu changes weekly, or more often, based on seasonal products organically grown in the home garden.
Ca na Toneta Restaurant

Crochet Ca na Toneta

Crochet Bowl Ca na Toneta Giftshop

Crochet rug, Ca na Toneta giftshop

We had a fabulous meal at La Despensa del Barón located at Posada Terra Santa, a new boutique hotel in Mallorca. I enjoyed a superb dish of 3 months aged Angus Fillet with foie gras and potato gratin. 
La Despensa del Baron - chef 

Cool Teen awaiting her food

Taking a sneak peek at the restaurant when we made the booking

Parked at the entrance to the restaurant and hotel

For “Where to go in Mallorca” take a look at the blog posting by Swede Jacqueline Mikuta. Her Instagram is to die for.




06/08/2016

What a Year! Or two.



What a year! Or two. I don't have fancy words but will grab a few normal ones and tell you the roads we have travelled as a family over the past 25 months.

The kids and I arrived in Qatar on 1 May 2014, stoked and ready to once be living the expat life again after a 20 month stint as locals in South Africa. Two months later (kids and I still without residency permits at this point), it was clear that the Husband was very, very ill. A swift visit to emergency one morning resulted in a 5 week stay in hospital and the Husband diagnosed with end stage kidney failure.

Without going into detail - he is still in desparate need of a kidney transplant and recieves peritoneal dialysis 24/7, meaning he is linked to a machine every single night for 8 hours and also does a manual exchange once during the day. From being a globetrotter he became a prisoner to his non-existing kidneys. His life consists out of endless medical procedures and hospital visits. He has started to to travel and can manage 4-6 days away, doing manual dialysis when travelling. The logistics to manage this is another story.

The pain we endured during that first year after his diagnosis was and still remains undescribable. After a few worrysome months, the kids and I recieved our residency permits and I started working full time towards November of that year. Finally I felt like I could breathe - not that it was easy to focus on getting a career on track whilst having to handle every aspect of our household and the challenges that come with people in our situation.

Then, exactly a year ago on 6 August 2015, I was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer.

Bloody hell.

What an inconvenient shock.

I underwent surgery exactly a year to the date when the Husband was released from hospital. Knowing that he won't be able to give me much support during my treatment, knowing that the show must go on, I relied on self discipline, focus and strength to face the next 10 months of treatments I was embarking on. I mentally broke my treatment up in small chunks of 3 months after which I would take a travelling trip to recharge and be ready to face the next 3 months.

Today I am forever thankful for the the 2 years we spent living in Penang when I learned from the Chinese what self discipline, self control and focus really looks like. Westerners have a lot to learn from Asians. Throughout 2 separate surgeries, 6 months of chemotherapy and 6 and a half weeks of  radiotherapy, I continued to work full time and travelled to Turkey, the UAE, Sri Lanka and Europe.

There were days that I came from chemo, went straight to the supermarket, did the shopping and collapsed at home. Other times I came from chemo, went to the school for parents/teachers meetings or events, went home and collapsed only to haul myself out of bed the very next day for work again. It was brutal but I nailed it! During this time I was supported by a lot of people, but my male Egyptian office mate was the one person who moment for moment witnessed the hell I was going through. His support was second to none. I also have the most amazing boss who immediately adjusted my workload and both him and his wife gave me immense support.

I still have to undergo scans and sonars and get the NED (No evidence of disease) from my oncologist, but meanwhile I am thankful that this year is over.

 C'est La Vie.



I will now show you what the cancer bitch does to one's appearnce. I am hoping to look like picture 2 again in another year.  These are phone selfies of dubious quality and terrible filters but I could hardly bare photos of the self during this time.

Prepped for surgery

Five weeks post surgery and 10 days before my first chemo session

This was a challenging moment, I was on my way to the hairdresses to get my hair chopped off.

The human hair wig I never wore. I just couldn't bond with straight hair and wore headscarves in stead.

Headscarf looking "meh" - my Arab friends gifted me with fillers soon afterwards. These fillers are caps with tulle sown in to create the idea of volume underneath the headscarf.

My eyelashes and eyebrows only fell out after chemo and then grew back in within 2 weeks. Thank goodness for small mercies.

Hair starting to grow again. It came back 100% grey and I promptly visited an organic salon in Barcelona 2 weeks ago and turned it back to brunette. I love the grey but it was also too much of a reminder of the year that just was. Anyway, I only had a small patch of grey prior to chemo.