Hard Work = Results


1 Paul Hunter Photography

So much has happened since I last wrote.  Clearly, I dyed my hair blonde.  The tattoos are a quite obvious addition.  But more than that is my sense of peace.  I’ve enjoyed working with numerous photographers over the past few years who have been integral to my journey and my confidence.

And here I am…almost 46 years old and in the Maxim Covergirl Contest.  Yes, you heard me!  This evening finds me on a precipice in fact.  I am in International Group 22 and out of an estimated 54 girls have found myself in the Top 5.  Tomorrow morning is the cutoff for the winners of the group who will advance to Semifinals.

I’m not perfect but I’m basically a good person.  I love with a big heart, I try to help and spread happiness, I help people, I help animals.  Most of the time these things are put way beyond my own personal comfort, wishes and desires.  Because that’s just how I roll.

If I can ask a little…

Me: “Do you have a Facebook account?”

Universe: “Why yes, I do.”

Me: “Then please go and vote for me.  Perhaps do a few Warrior Votes because that’s for a super good noble charity.”

Universe: “Righto.”

Vote at maximcovergirl.com/2018/claire-bruno

My greatest gratitude.

X Claire


Photography: Paul Hunter

Moving on…

It’s been such a long time since I’ve spoken to all you lovely people and I’ve missed you. Time is an unusual thing, meaning different things to different people. What a lot has happened in this space of time.

I’m still growing my vegetables and loving my dogs. But there’s been a lot of soul searching and learning. Realising that I’m right about some things and not right about others. That it’s okay to be me and know I’m a pretty good person and just not able to please all of the people all of the time. It’s inevitable.  And that’s okay.

And so…where am I in 2017?

A pretty good place it seems.  I’m happy with who I am, I’m improving my fitness, progressing in my life.  It just so happens that I’m starting a little business.  Did I every expect to be the director of my own company?  No.  But here we are about to launch. Character bras, fashion harnesses:

Verge Culture – Alternative Designer Wear and Accessories.  Bras, material, thread, sequins, glue-guns, tassels, pins, mannequins, elastic, metal rings…and I’m so happy.  I have the most amazingly dynamic business partner and this really is being built on good karma.  We’re serious and work extremely hard but there’s a lot of laughter too and that’s all reflecting in our product.

I’ve done some beautiful art too.  I’ll show you all soon.  Horses and wolves.  There have been some photo shoots, I’ve been a film extra, taken part in a video and the most amazing advert.

It’s amazing where life leads you.  What’s going on in your life right now?  I’d love to know.  Leave a comment.

All the best for 2017.  Live life to the fullest. Xverge71

Real Life consists of all the shades of grey…

The world is not strictly black & white...

The world is not strictly black & white…

Nobody wants to get older.  But there are certain positives I’ve found.  When I was younger I really believed in the world being either black or white.  Ok, there were a few greyish areas but you strictly stuck to your guns and defended your black and white areas.  Now, apparently…in my mind…I’m being reborn every year after forty (hehehe) and probably losing my sanity with every year as well (maybe that’s why!).

Seriously, I’m so aware of the mortal coil and being on the other side of it.  I’ve been through all sorts of things and watched other people go through more.  What used to totally offend me, makes me laugh.  What I previously found unacceptable now is.  Some things are still black when I say they’re white but I’m happy to respect your opinion as long as you also respect mine.  All in all, I think that it’s those shades of grey that make life really interesting.

Black and white is good…but rigid.  You have to drift into those grey areas to truly live.  Visit somewhere a little out of your realm to give you that fresh sea spray of living!

Be loyal, be true but be free!

My love to you X

This one goes out to all the ladies…

It's important to remember to celebrate being a woman

It’s important to remember to celebrate being a woman*

Life is hard.  For all of us: men and women.  I read something very interesting today – there are too many critics and not enough encouragers.  Too true!  I’m one of the latter.  If I’m in a social setting I’m the first to compliment people, encourage, lift them up and offer positive words.  Do I do this for myself?  Not nearly often enough.  I’m often my own worst enemy.  But I am getting better.  I realised that now and then I need to give myself…not a pep talk but those same words of encouragement that I so often give others.  I’ve been thinking about myself a lot lately:  who I am, what I think of myself, what do others think of me, where am I in my life, where do I want to be?  In doing so I thought about not just women in general but women of my own age.  So, boys, I’m sending lots of love and good energy to you but today’s post goes out to all the ladies…

1.  Who are you?  You’re the mother, wife, sister, daughter, friend, doggie/kitty mommy but in the end…you are you. If they say that men are the head of the household then women must surely be the centre.  We’re the pillar that everyone relies on.  Be proud of that because it’s a wonderful thing but don’t get lost in it.  My Great-grandmother in France used to tell my mother this:  ‘I get up every day and do my chores quickly, the house, the washing, the dishes.  Then what is done is done.  What’s not done, isn’t.  Because, you know, tomorrow everything will be there all over again: the dishes, the washing, the chores.’  After cleaning she would sit with her bread, cheese and a glass of wine.  She would add, ‘All of this will still be here but you know, tomorrow…I may not be here.’  There’s a simple wisdom in that.  Do your duties and do them well but don’t obsess.  When it’s all going mad – the kids, the husband, the dogs, the washing, the dishes!!!  Take a step back, a deep breath and let it all go mad while you sit back and gather yourself.  It’s ok.  It’ll all be there tomorrow as it would’ve been if you’d also run around like mad.  You have a duty to yourself as well.

2. What do you think of yourself?  You are unique.  You are a woman.  I want you to celebrate being both of those.  Close your bedroom door, put some funky music on and dance.  Really, do it.  Sexy dance in front of the mirror.  You might have a couple of good laughs at first but you’ll start getting into it and you’re gonna say, ‘Hey, I’m sexy.’  At the end of the day you’re a woman.  Do something that will challenge yourself.  At this stage in our life most of us have been through hell and back.  Having children, raising them, teenage years…not for the fainthearted.  Juggling jobs and finance, moving houses, supporting our partners while we’re not being supportive to ourselves.  Again, I’m the first to say do your duty to your utmost but nowadays I’m also saying…be a little selfish.  Take some time for you.  Cue: laughter and yes, I can hear your words, “Where do I find the time?”  You make the time.  You fight for it.  You make the effort.  Would you drive in the dark at 6pm so your daughter can have an extra dance class?  Why don’t you do that for YOU?  Would you take time out on Saturday to drive your son halfway across the country to get to a cricket match?  Why don’t you do that for YOU? Would you get up early to help your other half get off well for a business trip?  Why don’t you do that for YOU?  Do you put your heart into doing your work well?  Put your heart in for YOU.  Ha!  You say.  It’s because of the dance class/cricket match/getting up early for my partner/working my heart out that I have no time for myself.  I’m with you girl, I’ve been there.  You need to push one thing aside, just once a week, to make that effort for time for you.  Before you know it…it’s a part of your routine.  Remember what Great-granny said:  “It will all be there tomorrow.”

3.  What do others think of me?  Does it really matter?  Well, yes and no.  Firstly let’s get that out of the way.  There are those people which you must just push aside in your mind.  If you are on the path of good karma anyone who is going to judge or be scornful are not to be heeded.  There are those that do like your good family and friends.  Can you answer this question though – does it matter what I think of myself?  Of course!  At the end of the day take it all back and ask if your actions, deeds etc are something you can live with?  Or…if you’re your own worst enemy (like me sometimes) imagine someone else doing your actions/looking like you do/seeing someone’s lifestyle etc…would it be acceptable?  If yes, then stop beating yourself up.

4.  Where am I in my life and where do I want to be?  A very personal question.  You’ve done the wedding, the babies and toddlers, teenagers and suddenly you may feel that you’re standing there feeling quite alone.  Oh, it’s not like you’re not loved or needed but from a whirlwind life your teenagers are branching off and wanting more and more independence, your husband has his career and quite often you find yourself looking down, chatting to the dogs…not entirely a bad conversation!  Find something.  It doesn’t have to be something that you do forever just challenge yourself, get out there, change routine, do something different.  A career or a change of career.  Maybe your own business?  This may help with that second question of where you want to be because believe me this is an amazing beginning.  The most important thing is to have faith in yourself:  Yes, you can!!

5.  Lastly, really, I want to applaud you.  From my heart I say thank you: for everything you do that goes unnoticed – looking after the children, supporting your partner, taking care of the animals and house, working hard to make ends meet, going the extra mile.  Because sometimes it’s not meant but you don’t get a thank you.  The final word is to have faith in yourself.  For all the good you’ve put out there the universe will give back to you.  Stay strong.

Faith but also lipstick and perfume helps!  That’s what my Mama always says!

Love to all you ladies


*Thank you to Steve Castings for the wonderful photograph

Step Back

Stop.  Step back.  Look around you.  Are you really seeing the world? Or are you flying by?

Personally, I believe in reincarnation and I believe in another plane but for this particular lifetime, let me break the news to you buddy:  this is it.

Slow down.  Look at the small beauties.

Slow down. Look at the small beauties.

Stop – running about like you want your life to hurry up.  Stop – taking every day for granted and embrace it.  Stop – not seeing the tiny beautiful little things which makes up the supporting network of the great grand scheme.  Stop – missing out on nature.  Stop – not seeing the misty morning.  Stop – not counting the birds as they fly above.

Take a moment to watch the mist roll in...

Take a moment to watch the mist roll in…

Step back – move apart from the world for a minute and see it how it truly is.  Not everything is floating butterflies and rays of sunshine, I know.  But you can make the bad moments better with your attitude and before you know it you’ve changed your own life around into good moments.  Don’t get so wrapped up in layers of bad moments that it drags you under.

It’s not easy but try to go with the flow of things.  This will be terribly hard at times but check your attitude, batten down the hatches and hold on to the reins of your life because my friend you’ll ride it and weather it.  Just like any relationship the one you have with your own lifetime takes constant work.  It’s worth it!

Much love and laughter X Claire

Dutch Courage

That’s a funny old saying. We all often use sayings without really knowing their origins. I for one am fascinated with finding out the origins of these bits of history which have become part of our daily lives.

Dutch Courage (obviously) refers to the courage which comes with intoxication. It supposedly originates from a term which the English soldiers used in the Thirty Years War (1618-1648) when they apparently used Dutch gin to warm their bodies from the cold. Another version states that it was the English soldiers’ observation of the Dutch soldiers’ bravery after partaking of a particular liquor.

But what is courage and when does it kick in?  It comes in many forms of course.  I remember myself as a young girl and I was far from courageous.   Trembling with fear in class I would dread being asked a question by the teacher.  Any simple question would start my palms going sweaty and close my throat up to words.  If we had to do an oral I would dwell on it for weeks and would get myself in such a state before I stood in front of my class that I’m surprised I didn’t shrivel away.  This lasted right up into high school.  I did not want to go on sleep overs.  I did not want to be away from my mother.

When does the courage kick in?

Years later and I finally feel the confidence I was lacking.  Ah!  How I wish I had a smidgen of it way back ‘then!’  It’s weird because when I go places now I can feel the confidence coming from deep inside.  People notice this.  I am happy in my own skin.  I’m an oddball, yes, but that’s ok.  I’m a loving oddball and an ambassador of good Karma.  Sometimes though, especially when I’m in a crowd of people, I feel that old fear creep up and then I smile and think about some of the things I’ve done to boot the fear out!

Scuba diving, snorkeling, hiking, abseiling, snow boarding, camping, exploring underground caves, body surfing, fishing, shooting, a wee bit of archery, horse riding, quad riding, canopy tours, flying in a small aircraft, modeling,  participating in Miss South Africa, writing books, scripts and competing in literary competitions, Latin dancing, cheer leading in front of a thousand rugby fans, rollerskating, rollerblading, a little go at skateboarding, ice skating very badly, painting, drawing, giving birth to twins, raising them, homeschooling my children, riding pillion on a motorbike, riding my own bike and I can’t believe that I’m quite a shy person.  I think the fact that I ride a motorbike has given me the biggest boost of confidence though.  I think, “If you can ride a motorbike out there you can do anything!”  I may not have ridden as far and wide as some but I have got on that bike and I’ve ridden well.  I’m proud of that.  Like the feather that Dumbo holds in his trunk when he wants to fly, my KTM390 Duke, aka “Moony” is the feather that gives me flight!

Find your feather to hold on to!!  Find your courage!


The Tao of Bassets

Romeo.  I need pages to explain this look.  Or maybe just a few words..."I Wuv mommy!"

Romeo. I need pages to explain this look…or maybe just a few words…”I Wuv mommy!”

So, it has been four months since our once foster, now permanent, bassets joined our household.  They say things happens for a reason.  Things.  People.  Animals.  Experiences.  Yes, they definitely happen for a reason.  These two creatures have taken me on a whirlwind ride of emotion:  I was angry that they were abandoned so thoughtlessly after giving 9 years of devotion; disappointed that they could be overlooked because of their age; frightened that they wouldn’t get the chance to live and be the loving dogs they are; frustrated at housetraining; exhausted at settling…and then overjoyed at seeing them learn to play, watching them rub their backs on the grass, enjoying the simple things in life like sniffing amazing scents for half an hour round and round and round, lying on the couch; feeling the love they have not just for me and my whole family but loving anyone they meet; how they make me laugh.  Laugh and laugh.  So here it is:

The Tao of Bassets

  • let sleeping bassets lie: if on the couch try your hardest not to move it.  If you absolutely have to be prepared for a lot of complaining.
  • bassets can flick the switch from infuriating stubbornness to unbelievable obedience:  they are masters.  They do this just before you’re about to lose your rag so you fall in love all over again.
  • don’t creep up on a scenting basset: poor fella will jump out of his skin if you tap him on the shoulder.  He had no idea you were there.  Only scent was there.
  • if you were a crazy dog person before you will become a confirmed nutter with a basset.  Standing there with said basset’s face in hands saying, “Now.  We’ve spoken about this before,” is not a way to confirm your sanity.
  • be prepared to fall in love over and over again.  In 30 seconds.
  • bassets are never ending vessels of love:  all dogs have the potential to be loving.  Basset are moonstruck, lovestruck, falling at your feet.
  • bassets have enormous appetites:  ha!  I read this on a breed standard.  No kidding!  I shall repeat above ‘never ending vessels’ phrase…this time regarding food.
  • bassets are stressballs:  they just feel so nice that all the stress melts away.  You can’t stop stroking them.
  • old bassets are an urban myth:  old bassets are the same as puppies, they look like puppies and act like puppies.  Peter Pan dogs.
Romeo & Juliet - afternoon walkies

Romeo & Juliet – afternoon walkies

I love all dogs, all creatures for that matter and always have time and room in my heart for them.  Having said that I do have certain dog types (I won’t say breeds because I love all the mixed breeds too) that I have a leaning towards like long legged brown dogs with short hair.  Never thought I’d ever live with a basset.  Now I don’t think I could ever live without one.

X Claire

The Good Ol’ Days

Cheese is my chocolate. Or in other words, I am extremely fond of and have a weakness for cheese. I like good quality cheeses, especially a mature cheddar.

The previous evening while munching on a generous slice of cheese washed down with a glass of wine I had a good lazy read of the entire cheese label. My husband had bought this particular cheese so I didn’t know how much it cost but when I got to the price I couldn’t help but shake my head. It was rather expensive.

I remembered the cheese that I used to have when I was a little girl.  I know I’m only 42.  But still.  Cheese tasted nice.  Just the ordinary everyday cheap cheese.  It seems like the other day for goodness sake!  Then I started thinking about all sorts of things that we used to have as kids and they were cheap, good quality and delicious.  We live in such a processed society that if you even want to go near something that (for example cheese) actually tastes like cheese and not something chewy and tasteless, you have to pay at least double the normal price.  Yes, I know our parents all said this (they were right) but I think that it’s got worse over the years.

I’m hoping that as I see organic foods become cheaper and more readily available and people becoming more aware not only of what they eat but taking a stand not to support bad practices we will will see a return of affordable good quality good ethics foods.

Ever hopeful. X

The Simplest Wonders

A lorra lorra tomatoes!!

A lorra lorra tomatoes!!

Yesterday I harvested a huge load of cherry tomatoes from the garden. It’s been a hard season: water has not been easily accessible for various reasons but I’m proud of what I’ve achieved.

Washing, de-stemming and discarding tomatoes that weren’t quite up to scratch I then set out to fry two big pots full, with olive oil and a little salt. I then mashed and pushed the tomatoes through a sieve so that only the beautifully red and rich tomato sauce dripped through, leaving behind the many seeds and skins.  I was left with 5 jars of gorgeous fresh tomato sauce.  It was a labour of love, no doubt about it but worth every single minute!

I held one of my jars up, cradled in my hands and almost wanted to kiss that jar!  It was so incredibly amazing to hold it in my hands.  I mean, I’ve grown a lot of my own produce so far, pickling, freezing and using it fresh but it never loses its appeal.

Throughout the process I couldn’t help thinking how many people have never actually had this pleasure.   Some people can’t even understand how amazing it is to hold that end product in your hands!  The hours spent preparing, sowing seeds, pruning, watering, working under the sun, getting dirty, losing some plants but watching others flourish, harvesting, washing, preparing, cooking, freezing and finally…eating.

It’s a beautiful thing to harvest something out of the earth.  It doesn’t have to be big and it doesn’t have to be much but it’ll be yours.  My heart lifts!

5 jars of beautiful homemade tomato sauce

5 jars of beautiful homemade tomato sauce




Meanwhile…we’re having pasta with beautiful homemade tomato sauce on the weekend!  Yippee! 🙂 X