Tomtop

Let’s run through a quick backstory here.

New school year, new extra murals for the kids. But there’s bad news: the boy’s cooking class (which he loves) has been cancelled because there isn’t enough interest. Sad.
Instead though, because every cloud has a silver lining, he’s joined the Photography Club at school.  Chip off the old blog and all that…

An old camera is a helpful thing to have for this sort of thing and he’s extremely lucky in that I have kept my old Panasonic and my old Sony. Given the choice, it seems sensible to use the Sony, which is still a really good, solid bridge camera. The only issue being that I can’t find the charger (it does have a microUSB to charge through though, so still usable) and the one battery doesn’t hold charge as well as it did. Still, it’s more than fine for an eleven year old starting out at school Photography Club.

I wondered how much it would cost to get a new battery. Turns out that it’s fairly pricey everywhere, but there’s this Chinese online place called Tomtop which has a typically eclectic selection of goods at all too reasonable prices. I’d never heard of Tomtop, but two appropriate batteries and a charger were available for the princely sum of R150.33 including tracked shipping. Still too good to be true? Well, no issue if so because payment was via PayPal, meaning that I’m covered should this turn out to be a complete scam. Back of the net!

I’ll keep you informed as to any progress.

Inevitably though, there had to be a downside. Life, ne?
That downside is that the google ads on every webpage I visit are now Tomtop ads.

All of them feature the actual product that I purchased, which doesn’t really make sense to me, but to be honest, that all pales into complete and utter insignificance when you look at what else it’s suggesting that I should buy.

I don’t have the cleavage to carry off that bottom outfit.
I do have the legs for the LBD above it though.

But… but… the man praying in the big black genitalia suit?
Why on earth would I be interested in that sort of thing?

I’m an atheist.

Best Line from an Educational Psychologist in 2018

(So far, anyway.)

We went along to the High School introduction evening yesterday. It included details of how they were going to teach our high school child, some information about the school camps, and a talk by a local educational psychologist.

Lot of the stuff she said made a lot of sense to me and the assembled parents of pre-teens. But then she came out with this quote, and it was perfect:

I was talking to a group of parents of toddlers yesterday.
I love to talk to parents of toddlers: there’s still so much hope!

We all laughed. But then… actually… ouch.

Back to school 2018

And so, the day I was dreading on Monday has come to pass. And it wasn’t so bad after all.

Looking back now (and to be fair, it is some chronological distance), I can’t recall my feelings at heading back to school after the summer break. Obviously, coming from a Northern hemisphere nation, we started back in September, but other than that, not much has is very different, and when I dropped our two off this morning, there was the usual melange of oversized school bags, new uniforms, smiles, tears and anxious parents.

Not for us, of course. Our kids were gone – Single Use Plastic-free lunchboxes in hand – just as soon as the car doors opened. They’ve headed back to school with a good deal of enthusiasm, tempered with perhaps just a touch of resignation at the end of the holiday and a smidgen of trepidation at the challenges that lie ahead. But the experience was overwhelmingly positive – they enjoy school and they react well to having more structure to their days – especially after 7 (seven!) weeks of holiday.

Last year was exceptional. Let’s see if we can do even better in 2018.

Ecobrick

I said that I was going to try to use less plastic this year. But that doesn’t mean that I’ll be able to stop using plastic altogether. Don’t be daft. Plastic is ubiquitous.
Where I can then, I’ll make appropriate and sensible choices, but it’s inevitable that I will still use some plastic.

We’ve been recycling our plastic, glass and paper waste for several years already, but now I’ve come across another way to recycle our plastic waste.

Step forward, the Ecobrick:

What are Ecobricks?
Ecobricks are low cost, thermally insulating bricks that are made by simply compressing unrecyclable plastic into 2L bottles.
Why we’re in love with them
Making ecobricks is a way to save the environment whilst supporting a needy community from the comfort of your kitchen counter.
What do we do with Ecobricks?
Affordable housing for you and me
Raised beds for our gardens
Benches for parks and gardens
Boundary walls
Temporary exhibition structures

And it really is as easy as poking plastic packaging into a 2 litre Coke bottle (make sure you drink the Coke before you start poking) (messy otherwise).

It’s easy, fun and actually quite addictive. You’ll be amazed how much plastic disappears into one of these bottles once you squish it in a bit. It’s like an inverse Magic Porridge Pot – there always seems to be space for more.

And once you’ve made a few, you simply drop them off at one of the Ecobrick Exchange handy hippie drop off points in Cape Town, Johannesbeagle, Pretoria or Mordor Port Elizabeth:

Or you can build something yourself.

It’s a great, safe, fun and simple way to involve the kids in recycling, and you’re actually doing something good with all that nasty plastic.

Sneron

We came back from Cape Agulhas a day early. The weather was not looking like it was going to improve, the traffic looked like it was going to be horrendous and it’s actually been good to have a little bit of time at home before I head back to the laboratory tomorrow.
In actual fact, we only really lost a few hours, given that we only left late yesterday evening.

It meant that we could still get out for 5km along the beach at Suiderstrand, grab a photo of a windswept Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea):

…and have a lunch with some truly terrible service in L’Agulhas before heading off.
And we were still home before sunset. Cape Town summers, ne?

Rather than sit inside and blog all afternoon, we went for a family picnic in Kirstenbosch. And now I’m off to build some of this with my boy. So this is all you’re getting for today.

See you tomorrow. Same time, same place, right?