My Heart

 What a year to say the least. To keep a really really really really long story short, I found out earlier this year that I had a significantly large atrial septal defect. For those of you who don't have a clue what that is or what that even means (this included me before April of this year), it is basically a hole in the heart that you are born with. A heart "defect" if you must.
 Since finding out about this special hole of mine, I have been back and forth between here and Canada to sort out how and where I was going to have surgery. In the end, I decided to have it here in Nelspruit. My parents took the 25 hour long journey here to hold my hand, while R and his family did their best to entertain them while I was incapable of doing so.
 My open heart surgery went perfectly. What an experience. I have never been admitted to hospital before, let alone had any sort of surgery, so it was a lot of firsts for me. The experience was not fun and there has been a lot of ups and downs, but everything was a lot easier than I had expected. Yesterday marked a month since my surgery, and I am finally getting back into a routine and starting my life "post op". I am still recuperating, but feeling really good and I am so grateful for how well the surgery and my recovery has been. Modern medicine is absolutely incredible and I have so many things to be thankful for this year.

Without getting too gushy and philosophical on everyone, I would just like to say my patched up heart loves you. Life is wonderful.



Growing up with an artist as a father has a few advantages. For one, my childhood included quite a bit of traveling in our hippie van across the continent to see art and experience life. More on that later, but another great advantage of having artistic parents, is growing up around their very talented friends. My dads closest friend John Blair is not only the kindest and most hilarious man I know, but also one of the most talented jewellery designers. Growing up (and still to this day, since I am a very spoiled special only child) my dad made sure to always do artist trades with John to score my mom and I some of the most beautiful jewellery around.

John finally has a website and I wanted to share with you some of my favourite pieces from the site on here, but you can check out the rest at www.johnblairdesign.com.

John Blair - Pendants

John Blair - Earrings

John Blair - Pendants

John Blair - Necklace

John Blair - Bracelet

John Blair - Ring

John Blair - Bangles

John Blair - Bracelet

John Blair - Pendants

This July I was also lucky enough to receive a very special ring, from a pretty great guy, to add to my collection. (p.s. I am engaged!)

All photos are from johnblairdesign.com and either taken by John Dean or Ric Kokotovich
You can purchase John's work at Rubaiyat in Calgary & Michael Dean in Granvile Island.



oh, Maputo. I have such a love/hate relationship with you. Since living in South Africa I have spent a handful of weekends away in Maputo. Some nights were just spent stopping over (like on our bike trip), others were planned weekends away with Roger, but mostly we are just passing through on the way to Bilene.
What can I say, Maputo is a mindfuck. Admire the beautifully run down architectural buildings, experience the intense traffic and traffic jams, taste delicious pastries and amazing seafood, drink hot coffee and cold 2M's, encounter aggressively corrupt police officers, walk on broken sidewalks between piles of garbage, watch the rich and poor Mozambicans interact, drive between expensive cars and old asian jalopies, go to the markets markets and more markets, drink cocktails at the bar in one of the many expensive hotels, dance the night away to jazz music, visit interesting museums (see the natural history museum full of stuffed animals), buy buckets of fish, take a scary ride in a tuk tuk, find amazing street-art, etc. Everytime I am there I notice something more.
clockwise: praca dos trabalhadores statue | street art | railway station | tuk tuk | outside clube naval | the promenade | inside costa do sol | sunset

I am obviously no Maputo expert but here are just a few of the things we have done and enjoyed:
  • Seafood dinner at the Maputo Waterfront restaurant. Such a fun vibe, always live music playing at night and the seafood is delicious. Its not cheap, but Maputo isn't cheap.
  • Drinks & lunch by the pool at Clube Naval de Maputo. I like to pretend I am ├╝ber rich when I am here, sipping a 2M by the pool at my private beach club of choice. 
  • Sun-downers at the Hotel Cardoso. Really cool panoramic views of Maputo and the beach - perfect place to watch the sun go down. ( another great place to pretend you are rich)
  • Prawns at the legendary Costa do Sol. The food isn't THAT good, and it is a little pricey, but you just have to go to Costa do Sol. We have also stayed here a couple times, in the hotel and in the park homes out back. Again, the accommodation isn't that great either - but it is a really beautiful old building. Have some prawns washed down with plenty 2M's and if you stay there into the night you get to watch (or join) all the locals across the street having a fat party.
  • The Maputo Central Market - have only done this once, but it was an experience. There is another street market that happens right outside the fort on Saturdays, not sure what it is called, but they sell better goods than the market if you are looking to buy gifts.
  • The Railway Station. You have to see it - it is magnificent. See it by day to take it all in, but come again on Saturday night to check out the Jazz club. Roger and I did this one weekend and we were pretty blown away. Could have just been a good night? who knows - but we loved it.
  • Make sure to stop at a local coffee shop/ pastelaria. I don't remember any of the names - but there are so many downtown. Go to one that has a lot of locals, it is sure to be good.
There are of course, plenty of other "must-do" places in Maputo ( The Iron House, the old fort, art galleries, etc). Our times in Maputo have always been an experience. I love finding more.


Almost a Full Year

It has been almost a full year since I have written in this blog, and our other blog, There and Here, has also taken a break. Sometimes the online world seems to be too much when your real world also has a lot going on. This year has had a lot of ups and down (I suppose every year does, but this year in particular has been a real roller coaster for me). I have been back and forth to Canada twice, and I am finally back in the Lowveld now after an extended summer visit there. My parents will be in South Africa in exactly a month today and it will be their first visit here. A lot of exciting times ahead, so I am hoping we have jumped over most of the hurdles that life has thrown in our way this year. Besides, "a calm sea does not make a skilled sailor."

So with that being said, I would like to return to the online world. It may be slowly, and infrequent, but I will do my best.

a year - 2013 - Charlotte Senini
 clockwise: Roger & Jean in Capetown | Kananaskis | Tofino | Kruger Park | Engagement Ring by John Blair | My Girls | at Lion Sands | Ruby


The Bush

The Bush - Charlotte Senini

The term "The Bush" to most South Africans (at least in this area) is synonymous to South Africa. To spend the day in "the bush" is a very romantic occasion. I would say that they feel "at home" in the bush. When a South African is living abroad, "the bush" is something they will speak of fondly and express that that is what they miss the most about home.

Since being in South Africa "the bush" has also become very special to me. When I have been back in Canada for an extended period of time, the first thing I want to do when I get back to South Africa is head to "the bush".

The Bush
When someone in South Africa says they are "headed to the bush this weekend", they are basically saying that they are heading somewhere up north in South Africa to a game reserve, game park or possibly just the Kruger. The area that we live in in South Africa is considered part of "the bush". When I picture "the bush", I am either drinking a sundowner on the veranda of a thatch chalet listening to hippos down by the river, I am stopped in a really hot bakkie while impalas cross the road or I am laying in bed in a tented camp listening to the sounds of the frogs down by the river. To each person who has experienced "the bush", a different very distinct memory or feeling is evoked when it is spoken of.

This term is also used quite commonly in other countries like Australia, New Zealand and interestingly enough in Canada after doing some research. In Canada la brousse has been used by the french Canadians to describe communities that are unreachable by regular roads.

Roger and I headed to "the bush" last weekend, and of course had a fabulous time. There is nothing more relaxing then drinking some wine on the veranda while making a braai and listening to the wilderness around you.

Photos from the Bush - South Africa - Charlotte Senini


My Parents Backyard

Charlotte Senini - Parents backyard
My parents garden has always been their pride and joy. As soon as spring gets near that is where you will find them both working their asses off day after day, planting new flowers, pulling out weeds or making new rock pathways. When my parents return from the island every summer, they don't even set foot in the house before they have checked out what has changed over the summer - what has grown and what has died.

After twenty seven years of living in our house, I can safely say that this garden is something pretty special. I have many great memories in this backyard with my family and definitely a few great parties have been had there with my friends. You can't help but be in a great mood as you sit on their deck drinking a beer, or reading your book.

Charlotte Senini - Parents backyard
her favourite place, doing her favourite thing.
Charlotte Senini - Parents backyard


Real Canadian Meat

Canadian Rocky Mountain Ranch - Cows
cows, beautiful cows - July 2012
My parents stumbled upon Canadian Rocky Mountain Ranch on one of their many Sunday drives out in the country. The Ranch is home to some of the finest Bison and Elk that are key elements to "Rocky Mountain cuisine", which was created in the restaurants founded by the O'Connor family.

Mom couldn't wait to show Roger what some of our wildlife look like, and what a Canadian calls a "Buffalo" when we arrived. The term Buffalo is actually a misnomer as Bison aren't even related to a true Buffalo. Silly North American settlers.... Speaking of animal misnomers, we also call a Pronghorn Antelope an Antelope, and it is also not related to the Antelope family. Double silly....

Back to CRMR! We ended up heading there on the way back from a beautiful walk down by the Elbow River at Paddy Flats. The very knowledgeable manager gave us a quick little history lesson on Bison and game farming, and then let us take a walk around to check out the animals. Bison, Elk and Cows.. oh my! It was a truly Canadian experience for Roger. We bought some Bison steaks and my dad cooked them up for dinner. The steaks were absolutely delicious, and I am not much of a red meat eater.

From what I understand on their website they provide game meat to three Canadian Rocky Mountain Resort lodges, as well as Cilantro, Divino and The Ranche in Calgary. If you want some delicious, natural, humane and sustainably produced meat, or if you just want to see some beautiful animals - go check them out.

Canadian Rocky Mountain Ranch - Bison
Bison - July 2012
Canadian Rocky Mountain Ranch - Charlotte Senini
My Family at Canadian Rocky Mountain Ranch - July 2012