Snowy Transformations

I arrived in a freezing Germany on 9 December 2017. My goal: to visit the Christmas market at Marienplatz, Germany. Bundled up in five layers of my paltry southern hemisphere winter wear, my eyes watering in the cold, I braved the outdoor experience alongside my husband.

A gluhwein stand

The atmosphere was marvellous. Stands of hot chocolate and gluhwein steamed invitingly in the biting air, while visitors and tourists waddled past in their padded coats. Just taking off my gloves to examine little goodies at the stands froze my bony fingers. Shopkeepers helpfully spoke English when I looked blank at the German tongue, and people seemed generally cheerful despite the minus one degree Celcius temperature. It took three trips to the market before I had decided on what to buy. South African Rands don’t make much of a dent in Euros. And, to my practical mind, many of the ornaments and trinkets, nice as they were, wouldn’t have been very useful.

I settled on buying traditional food. The stand that got my Euros was the one

A strange kissing companion

that offered tasting samples and I enthusiastically bought packs of stollen (a fruit bread) and lebkuchen (a ginger-type biscuit) for friends and family back home after nibbling the delicious little blocks.

We had just got back to our hotel room when it began to snow in earnest. I was delighted. In two hours every horizontal surface I could see was covered in soft whiteness. But of course, with icy weather comes travel problems. My departing aeroplane that night had to undergo special de-icing procedures before it could safely take off. I have to say that this was the best part of my trip. Because I have a cockpit pass I was permitted to sit in the cockpit for taxi and takeoff and what a view I got. Before taking off the Airbus A340 was surrounded by three giant de-icing vehicles. Like weird-looking Transformers (I think the creators of the film based their models on these machines), the trio scooted back and forth around the wings and tail spraying 60 degree Celcius liquid across its surface. Using a checklist designed for such conditions the pilots did all the requisite checks and procedures before lifting off the icy runway. Beneath us the whitened landscape twinkled in gentle yellow lights until it disappeared beneath a layer of cloud.

Winter lights

What a treat. Sitting in the cockpit was much more exciting than any movie I could have watched on the aeroplane’s entertainment system.

My funny husband


Undressed: a brief history of underwear

Boobs up, hips out, bottom in! Wait, boobs up, yes, but hips in, bottom out…Actually, boobs flat, waist tiny, hips and bottom streamlined. Hold on, I’ll have bigger chest area, round waist and big thighs. Nah, stick it, I’ll go with boobs up, good cleavage, tiny waist and… concealed everything else.

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Hamlet Oozes with Energy

A review by Brenda Daniels and Sharon Emmerich.

A Feast of Tales began the year with a review of The Imitation Game, a film in which Benedict Cumberbatch delivered an outstanding performance as Alan Turing. As we draw to the close of 2015 A Feast of Tales features a review of another excellent Benedict Cumberbatch performance – that of  Hamlet, with Cumberbatch in the title role.

HAMLET by Shakespeare, , Writer - William Shakespeare, Director - Lyndsey Turner, Set design -Es Devlin, Lighting - Jane Cox, The Barbican, 2015, Credit: Johan Persson/

Benedict Cumberbatch as Hamlet. Photo: Johan Perrson.

Hamlet is a popular Shakespeare play, certainly the one I have enjoyed the most, and this adaptation is very accessible, partly because of its costumes which have a 1930s look. The ghostly, gothic house setting, which gives the play a Victorian feel, also has the effect of updating this 500-year-old play.

The National Theatre Live performance 0f Hamlet opens with a short interview with Cumberbatch the person before immediately switching to the filmed version of the play. It was interesting to note the difference between Cumberbatch the person and Cumberbatch the performer. This difference was further highlighted by the scene in the play in which Hamlet uses a play (within the play) to sound out his murderous stepfather/uncle, Claudius (a very good Ciaran Hinds). In fact, Cumberbatch’s entire energetic and tortured rendition of Hamlet accurately portrays a character struggling to find truth in fabrication, both within himself and in others. An “imitation game” of another sort…

Hamlet releases on South African screens from Saturday 7 November for four screenings only: on 7, 11 and 12 November at 7.30pm and on 8 November at 2.30pm – at Cinema Nouveau theatres in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban and Cape Town.

Hamlet comes heartily recommended. But it is long (running time is three and a half hours including an interval) so brace yourselves!