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This is the pattern of the days: here I am, taking a brief break between work on a schooling partnership and a 40 page chapter on Higher Education, to write a few words and upload a few photographs for my blog.

So it was over a long St Valentine’s weekend – a country drive down to Clarens and Golden Gate, in the Free State, on Friday; early rising on Saturday to drive up into the National Park to show Rob the mountain views and take some photographs, followed by a ramble through the art galleries in Clarens and lunch at the local micro-brewery; then a solid afternoon of complex higher education analysis and writing. I worked all Sunday morning, then Rob took me out for a country lunch in the village, after which we headed out for an afternoon-long circumnavigation of the Golden Gate area; then Monday morning, working all morning again from our rented stone-and-thatch cottage before packing up at lunch time and heading home to Johannesburg.

It was, I have to say, a lovely weekend. The countryside around Clarens, different as you head over the mountain pass towards Fouriesberg, or back over the nek towards Bethlehem, or off towards Harrismith through the Golden Gate gateway, is beautiful everywhere, and the village itself, despite the unwelcome and ill-considered intrusion of a Protea Hotel, is small, people-sized and lazily, comfortably human in its pace and style. We talked, braaied, shared a bottle of bubbly in our romantic getaway, worked and planned and talked about the future.

One plan is to start up a little business sideline, using Rob’s arts experience and Canadian connections, and on the drive home we talked about products and markets and online selling. Another is to pitch a TV show, and we spent some time, too, talking about a pitch she is working on currently with her friend Stacy (oops! Rob says, Monique, not Stacy)  in Toronto. But the big news, this morning, is that Rob has, indeed, gotten herself a job, starting this week – in the TV business, adequately paid, and on exactly the contractual terms we had talked about and had been hoping for.

From here, Rob can cancel her 21 Feb flight to TO, and reschedule for later this year; and we can begin to figure out when I will go over; when we might throw a North American party; when I might take my writing sabbatical and Rob might get back into the Canada TV scene.

It would be too corny by far, to suggest that our lives are approaching a Golden Gate of their own, but I’m going to do so anyway.

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