Our first stop on the tour of guide dog-friendly places Fiji and I go to was our nearby Woolworths retail store. Today we’re walking just a few steps away from Woolworths and stopping for a cup of tea… or a delicious meal , if you’re feeling a little peckish.
In fact Sostanza, the coffee shop/restaurant we’re about to visit is so close to Woolworths that I usually instruct Fiji to find the counter in Woolworths and navigate my way from there – when we first learned our way to the coffee shop Fiji tried going straight there, stopping at each table to say hello to the people sitting there. It wasn’t long before I figured out that it was easier for me to navigate from Woolworths, so that’s what I taught her to do.
Over the years my guide dogs and I have had issues gaining entry into a fair number of restaurants – not a lot, but enough for me to call the instances easily to mind. But we’ve never had a problem at Sostanza– in fact, they’re welcoming to all dogs, though I think Fiji and her guide dog colleagues are the only ones allowed to sit inside; other dogs have to sit in the corridor.
We’ve had a number of funny experiences at Sostanza – like the 5-year old girl who was convinced Fiji was cold lying on the floor and sacrificed her own seat-cushion for my dog. And the day Fiji was pulling to get to the people at the table behind me and it was only after I’d chastised her that I realized we knew them. And last week a Jack Russel was whining piteously to be allowed to come and play with Fiji – and Fiji simply turned her back and went to sleep.
Sure, Fiji often has people coming across to pet her but I’ve never had to yell at a fellow patron for trying to slip her food, and it’s a great opportunity for me to tell people about the amazing work being done by the SA Guide-Dogs Association in training these remarkable animals.
Not only is Sostanza welcoming to guide dogs, they also serve amazing food – whether you’re looking for a tasty breakfast, a scrumptious lunch or just a slice of cake with your tea or coffee. As for the pizzas… Well, let’s just say that Sostanza makes what I consider to be the best pizzas in Cape Town and leave it at that!
I doubt you’d be interested to hear about the other places Fiji and I visit at the Old Bakery Centre – especially since one is the cash machine and the other we only went into by accident when the passage to Woolworths was temporarily blocked. So we’re going to go further afield on the next stages of our tour of guide dog-friendly places.
In the meantime, anyone feel like a pizza?
Fairly early one Saturday morning I found myself sitting in stunned disbelief staring at the announcement that I had been awarded a Presidential Citation by Toastmasters International. Even now, a few weeks since I received the notification, I still find it hard to express exactly how I feel – honoured, overwhelmed, valued, appreciated and, perhaps above all I have a profound sense of gratitude knowing that the work that I’ve done has helped to make a difference in the lives of those around me.
Perhaps I ought to explain a little more about the award. The Presidential Citation is an annual award that recognizes work done by one or two individuals in each of the 14 Toastmasters regions. Here’s how the award was described In the letter I received notifying me that I was one of this year’s recipients:
“ This award is presented in recognition of your outstanding achievements in representing the goals and ideals of Toastmasters International and is one of Toastmasters’ highest honors.”
I was recognized as a member of Region 11, which comprises Southern Africa, West Africa, East Africa, England, Ireland, Europe and the Middle East.
It’s just a sad reality that I won’t be able to attend the Toastmasters International Convention taking place in Vancouver, Canada in august to receive my citation in person, but I have no doubt that the Southern African Toastmasters leadership will arrange a suitable time to present me with my citation on behalf of International President, Mike Storkey.
I’ll be sure to let you know when that event will take place – it would be wonderful to see you there!