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January to March 2007

Finally, a holiday! And we 'have' a kitten.

THE FAMILY AT COVENT GARDEN Covent Garden

My parents were visiting from South Africa and Cade's wife Lina was over from Columbia so there were a LOT of us together in the same place. Five out of the six brothers, all three Mrs Hannans, you know what I mean.

We did the traditional New Year's Day thing and went to The Nutcracker ballet at Covent Garden in London. We were up in the gods but still had what's probably the most memorable family Christmas for the last two decades.

This was a brilliant day out and it would have been silly to miss the photo op. So we didn't.

Let's talk about cats.

Ours, Purrnickety, adopted us last year. Because she knew she was on to a good thing, she decided to let other cats in on the free ride she's been getting. So she's become a Mom. Of a single kitten. Yes, just ONE! Before she did that, thought, she went through a couple of illnesses and afflictions, just to make sure that our Vet's bank balance was nicely topped up for the new year...

One of the things she had to do was put up with a collar to stop her nibbling at a cast we'd had to put on an infected foot. She pulled the cast off so we put the collar on. Here she is, looking like a cheaply-costumed alien from a 50s scifi flick.

LAETITIA MAKES FACES AT THE CAT MAKING FACES

 

GEMIMA, THE WORLD'S MOST SPOILED KITTEN More cats.

Then she went from one extreme to another and had a lone, solo, unaccompanied, all by itself, kitten. What are the odds of that? It's growing up fast and is already making as much noise as its Mom. Here it is, about a week old. It's not club-footed, by the way. That huge paw is its Mother's.

 

Now, the holiday.

Since I've been working 7 days a week for the last few months setting up our Bristol radio station, I really needed a holiday. As South Africans, we can't simply hop onto a plane for a weekend break in Europe like the locals - we need visas for every trip - so we needed to find a place that issues visas on arrival. Which brought us back to Africa, a place I'd not been back since the beginning of the century.

We headed off to Tunisia for a week, taking camels into the Sahara, crossing the Atlas Mountains on 4x4s, hanging out in palmed oasis after palmed oasis, and also spending quality time on the beaches doing - erm - well, absolutely nothing really.

ON OUR CAMELS IN THE SAHARA

 

FROM THE FILM

STAR WARS

It's no secret that I'm just one of millions of manic Star Wars fans. They made part of the first and last ones in Tunisia and I was not going to leave the country without visiting 'Luke Skywalker's homestead'.

The location for the interior shots of the Lars homestead (where Luke grew up in the films) is a cave complex in the town of Matmata. It's actually a fairly basic hotel and it's even got a Skywalker Bar!

Just to put you in the picture so you can do the same with me, if you look at the pic at the top (taken from the last film) you'll see the spot that I'm sitting on - the steps in the middle.

 

 
FROM MY HOLIDAY

 

MAGIC CARPET RIDE

L crossing the main courtyard at Kairouan, the oldest Moslem site in Africa. The main mosque, Islam's 4th-most holy site, is behind her.

This is also the place where the best carpets in Tunisia are found so we were keeping our beady eyes peeled for something flat, foldable and affordable.

Finally, we saw a Berber killim we wanted. The trader said that we could have it for free if I could guess the correct price. I asked a couple of questions and saw him wince when I named a figure. Checking the label, I was only 10 out! So he gave us a very good discount and we became owners of probably the 1000th carpet we've been shown in all our travels. About time too, I suppose. I couldn't have sat through any more free tea!!!

A week in North Africa certainly gave us a taste for more, so we're definitely heading back to that part of the world. The next trip we take, though, will probably be to SERBIA (of all places) for an MTV-covered music festival this Summer featuring The Beastie Boys. Talk about unusual holiday locations!

Mind you, I bet I won't go when the time comes. Something always comes up to nuke the best-laid plans...

 

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