I Flooded the House

Hello, boys and girls.

The topic for today’s lesson is:

“Don’t go on the internet while you’re filling the kitchen sink”.

Because if you do, instead of spending a leisurely Saturday afternoon at Resto Bar de la Baie eating this:

Fish tartarewhilst looking at this:

Grand Baie and Coin de Mire islandyou’ll end up using this:

Squeegee on a stickto sweep out the 2 inches of floodwater that (a couple of hours down the track) leaves your house vaguely water-free, but rather dishevelled, like this:

LoungeroomDining areaWhere it all startedHundreds of wet towels later...and requires a visit from your cabinetmaker the following week to quote on replacing ALL your drawers because they’re warped and won’t close/open like this:

Warped drawers which no longer closeand based on past experience, the arrival of the new drawers will probably take ages, so for the foreseeable future, your house will continue to look like this:

New kitchen storage areaand if you accidentally drop a drawer on your toe while cleaning up, you’ll end up hobbling around, and over a week later, said toe will still look like this:

Ouch!Well, that’s your lot for today, boys and girls.

In the meantime, don’t forget:

The internet is addictive and EVIL!

And remember to turn off that tap!

Resto Bar de La Baie

Ph: 5798 2765 or 5702 8355

Closed Mondays.

Delicious!

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Cyclone Dumile

Friday 3rd of January 2013 – this is the day it might hit us.

I woke up at 6am – this is an account of my day:

Very windy during Thursday night – heard lots of sounds I didn’t recognise and so woke up a lot.

I’m very tired.

Listened hard in case bad things were happening to our house. Strange noises. Trees from next door breaking. And other unrecognisable things.

Perhaps it might be our first actual cyclone experience – since we’ve lived here, previous cyclones have petered out, or veered off before reaching us.

The centre of the cyclone is supposed to pass 250kms west of Mauritius at around noon, on its way to Reunion Island.

Unless it changes direction – then we’ll be in trouble!

Don’t quite know what to do, or to expect – it sounds close (or is 250kms far? Who knows? No-one tells you!) – should we move pots out of the garden, bring our patio furniture inside etc??? No clue.

I’m waiting for Alf to wake up so he can help me take the cane blinds down before they fly away or break apart. They have taken on a life of their own – looks like they want to migrate onto the roof.

migrating blindsA painting flew off the wall and onto the garage roof. It’s now inside, with Tipsy the cat sniffing it, because it doesn’t belong in the spare bedroom, and consequently she doesn’t recognise it.

Or something.

Cats are weird.

Or Tipsy is.

I’ve been checking the neighbours’ houses/gardens to see what they’re doing, but there’s no-one around.

Have they all evacuated and not told us?

It’s very quiet, people-wise – not even a car going up the street.

It’s also very windy, and I can smell the sea in the air (as the crow flies, we are probably less than 500m from the beach – but normally, you’d never know).

The rain has stopped for now, but we’re supposed to get thunderstorms as the cyclone approaches.

Tipsy is following me around and keeps trying to sit on my lap – what does she know that I don’t?

The birds in the garden are casually eating the bread that I’ve thrown out for them, so maybe Tipsy’s just being friendlier than usual.

The power keeps going off, but so far, only for short periods. We have a generator, so we’re OK in that respect, if the worst comes to the worst.

I finally took the shorter blinds down myself, as bits were falling off them and flying away, and Alf’s still asleep.

Don’t know what else to do.

The Mauritius Met Services are pretty tardy in updating their website – it’s now 10.52am, and the last update was supposed to be at 10am.

Though I did notice that this time they said that the next update would be at “around” 10.

Wish they’d hurry up – if it’s going to get worse, we need to do stuff before 12.

It’s 2pm and it’s all over – the Met Service updated the cyclone’s status and apparently, it stayed on course and has passed us by.

Since then, it rained very heavily but the wind died down.

I can still hear the sea roaring.

Our friend Robin, who lives on the beach (in a house, not like a homeless person), said the water came right up into her garden. Big waves, but apart from salt damage – no problems.

Some of our plants look waterlogged and are leaning over – especially the mulberry tree:

mulberry

We had a little swimming pool happening on the upstairs patio, but the wind is drying it out.

Patio Pool

So, no major problems, leaks or damage.

Yeah!

The sky is brighter.

Just another false alarm.

That’s a good thing.

I just wish I knew what to do when this happens, and how to gauge the seriousness of things.

Worrying about nothing is pointless.

And worrying.

Anyway, tonight it’s all quiet on the western front.

Apart from the fireworks that have started up again, now that the rain has stopped.

During the next few days, I’ll probably start praying for a cyclone to come back – so much quieter than the fireworks!

New Year’s Day Party

We like catching up with friends we haven’t seen for a while, so we’re having a party.

We’ve invited about 30 people for drinks and finger food from 2pm onwards, giving them time to get over any hangovers from the night before.

This time, I’ll have time to take photos because this time, I’m super-organised.

This is the menu:

Cold

  • Quail scotch eggs
  • Salmon and dill mousse
  • Marinated chicken drumettes

Hot

  • Mini cheeseburgers with tomato relish
  • Thai-style chicken in wonton cups
  • Chilli con Carne in wonton cups with salsa and crème fraiche
  • Tarragon chicken mini vol-au-vents

Dessert

  • Fruit mince pies
  • Lemon meringue tartlets
  • Passionfruit tartlets
  • Mini profiteroles with custard and chocolate ganache (if I’ve got time)

I’ve written the shopping list, and a detailed order-of-work list.

I need lists.

This time, I’ve chosen a lot of dishes that can be pre-made, frozen, and reheated, with only a few things that have to be cooked on the day.

And some things have to be put together on the day, like the wonton cups, burgers, and vol-au-vents.

But that’s OK. It’s under control. It’s all on my list.

This time, the preparation and cooking starts three days before the party, and continues through the day of the party.

It’s spread out over 4 days so that I’ll only have a few hours of cooking each day instead of 2 full exhausting days at the end of which I scream at Alf:

“Why did you let me do this again??? Didn’t you learn anything last time?????”

Which leads him to scream back at me:

“That’s it! No more parties!”

But I guess it’s like childbirth (so I’m told!) – you forget.

Happy New Year!

Geckos

We hate geckos. They are not cute.

Unlike the ones in Australia that know their place is on the garden fence, geckos in Mauritius move into your house. En masse.

And then they breed.

They make loud clicking gecko noises at night, and poop all over your walls, furniture and skirtings.

Also on everything in your kitchen cupboards, so check inside your cup before making coffee.

Occasionally, they fall off the ceiling and plop their clammy, wriggly, creepily-translucent bodies on you. Aaaaaaargh – get it off me!!!!

gecko

They make cosy little homes for themselves in your electrical junction boxes and blow up your wiring.

They cause your cat to run up your curtains in an attempt to catch them. Naughty Tipsy!!!

They don’t help control the insect population – they would eat less than 5% of the insects that come in – our electronic insect mats kill the rest. I know this because I sweep up millions of little dead insect bodies.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not against creatures moving into our house. There’s plenty of room.

This little creature has been living in the stairwell and corridor for over a year and I love him. He’s beautiful.

hallway lizard

He moved out temporarily when we had the corridor ceiling repaired, then came back when the builders were gone.

hallway lizard

Even lizards don’t like builders.

But the geckos have got to go.

We bought gecko poison.

You pour it into little plastic cups that you stick to the walls.

If a gecko drinks it, the gecko will die slowly over the next few days, turn black, and its petrified carcass will remain clinging to the wall for Alf to sweep away.

Four things:

  1. you can’t make the gecko drink it
  2. it’s cruel
  3. the sugar ants arrive in droves as it’s obviously sweet
  4. it’s cruel

Getting Rid of Geckos

Dettol or Dettol-based cleaning products (they’re cheaper and work just as well).

Mixed with water in a spray bottle.

Spray it at the geckos, they lose their footing, and they fall off the wall and run away.

Well, some of them leap off the wall, so stand well back.

Most of them run outside. When they come back, do it again. And again. And again.

Etc.

Eventually, they get bored and move next door. Or maybe downstairs – I should check.

Anyway, they don’t like Dettol. They even run away at the sight of you.

100% of the credit goes to Alf who googled it and experimented with it.

I love you, Alf, you’re my hero.

House Renovation Photos

Mauritian builders have their own particular way of doing things.

It’s baffling to watch, and looks dangerous – but it works.

Mauritius is in a cyclone zone, so all building is done in concrete.

Basically, the builders dig big holes (usually by hand), and pour concrete foundations, into which they set rebar fashioned into whatever shape they need. Then they put formwork around the rebar and fill it with more concrete to create the support columns and crossbeams. Finally, they build the walls between the columns using breeze blocks, and render them.

Garage scaffolding

Garage scaffolding holding up formwork for a crossbeam

The iron reinforcement on the corners of the house was showing, so our builder, Joselito nailed some offcuts of wood to the house and garden wall, and up he went. He patched up some of the holes the nails made, but not others.

Repairs

Repairing the corners of the house

Bang, bang! This actually caused our new bathroom tiles to crack, but there’s no way we were having them replaced – we’d had our fill of renovations by that stage.

Repairs

Chipping off damaged cement

Wiring the rebar

Wiring the rebar

Formwork

Making the formwork

Patio Scaffolding

Scaffolding for the patio crossbeams

Before they poured the downstairs patio floor, they decided to kindly get rid of some of the rubble for us, so they covered the soil with it.

Patio floor

The patio floor

And last but not least, Mr Death-Wish – I couldn’t watch.

Roof

Rendering the small balcony roof

Very innovative.

If a bit frightening at times!