2016: Reminiscing and shout-outs

Life is all about balance.

We need the lows to truly appreciate the highs.

Being happy all the time only exists in our social media lives.

The reality of 2016 has been one of extremes. The highlights were abundant and¬†beyond anything I had dreamed for myself. The lows, well, can you get any lower than Zuma and Trump ūüė¶

Like any other year, in 2016 I have had moments of 100% magic, experiences that were above average, times that were just”nice”¬†all counterbalanced by crap days, admin, boring chores and frustrating curve balls.

Let’s start with the magic.

By now you all know that I wish I was a ninja but I am actually the biggest fraidy cat in the world. This year I tried really hard to face some of my fears .

Fear of heights and a generally overactive mind that imagines all the ways I could die doing an adventure activity.

I went aqua hiking in Reunion Island

I jumped from about 5 miles high into a pool. Read about it here. I almost had a heart attack and bailed out, but I eventually jumped. Thanks Dawn Jorgensen for making me brave.

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It is much higher than it looks when you are standing there trying to jump.

I swam in the Devil’s Pool on the very edge of the Victoria Falls in Zambia.

Obviously I was convinced I would be swept over the edge, but I survived it and actually the scariest part was the unseen fishes that kept biting my feet, that was creepy.

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One of the most exilarating experiences of my life

I zip-lined. In the dark.

I have a love hate relationship with zip-lining. I love the feeling of flying but I am petrified of heights. Add to this the fact that I was not very good at braking and it gets messy. I would twist and turn totally out of control while imagining plummeting to my death in the valley below. Then, I learned how to brake (finally, after completing over 10 zip line experiences, I’m a very slow learner) and now I am addicted to zip lining. Cape Canopy Tours took it to a whole new level with their full moon adventure. Except the moon stayed hidden behind the mountain and only appeared as we were hiking out. Ziplining in pitch blackness is bizarre, unique and a total rush, especially when you know how to slow and brake like a pro ūüėČ

 I went underground to explore the lava tunnels on Reunion Island

I fought my claustrophobia (only just) and spent a fascinating and slightly terrifying 2 hours underground in the lava tunnels formed by the many volcanic eruptions on the Island. I will confess to joining a few others in our group for a brief moment of panic and hyper-ventilating, but I did it, I’m glad I did it and I would even do it again.

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The lava tunnels are under this other worldly landscape.

Helicopters.

These whirlybirds tap in to all my usual fears of crashing, dying and heights but I’m over that now as I was¬†totally spoiled ¬†with helicopter flips this year. I learned a valuable lesson. Up to half an hour in the air is fine, anything longer and the airsickness kicks in along with desperate teeth-clenching to avoid vomiting. Viewing Cape Town from the air¬†with NAC Helicopters is a must do experience, you can read about mine here

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Perfect views of Cape Town from inside an NAC Helicopter

I fell in love with a river and despite the drought, flying over the Victoria Falls and the Zambezi River  with United Air Charter was a hugely emotional experience.

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Exploring the whole island of Reunion from a helicopter is an adventure second to none. We flew over volcanoes, through skinny gorges and spiraled dizzyingly above multiple waterfalls before calming down to serene views of the beaches and coastline. Some serious flying skills by Pierre from Helilagon during this mind blowing hour in the air.

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Wildlife

Wild animals are always amazing and seeing them where they belong, in the wild, is a humbling experience. Swaziland blew me away with the beauty of their reserves, their conservation success and the abundance of wildlife there. I trotted past zebra on horseback, viewed elephants bathing, giraffe eating, hippo yawning and lions sleeping. All over just a few days in this fabulous kingdom.

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Thanks to Anje Rautenbach I was part of a group of bloggers who adopted a penguin, read all about Pax the Penguin here.

I marched for Lions in Cape Town to highlight the plight of captive bred lions. Read more and support BloodLions  and get all the info on the plight of lions here in my article on Traveller 24.

It sounds like my life was a non stop perfect adventure, so before you start hating on me, lets get back to reality. In January and June I had surgery to remove skin cancer from my face and arms. More to still be removed,but that is a issue for next year. Please wear hats, load on the sunblock and beware of the sun.Skin cancer is a big problem in our country and it comes and bites you years after your over exposure to the sun.

My hot water cylinder burst,and a new one set me back ZAR15K, I nearly cried. My car decided it needed a new everything and then some dip-shit reversed out of a parking place on the side of a road and hit me as I was driving past. This was in Sedgefield while I was on holiday. Of course the driver had no ID, insurance or license. In fact they were even unsure of their own address. Turned into an admin nightmare.

My beloved Xperia Z3 phone had 3 CPU’S¬†replaced as it kept overheating and then dying. Vodacom were beyond unhelpful, my insurance people were awesome but I still spent too many ZAR’s buying and iPhone 6s¬†and I am still locked in to the Z3 contract. ūüė¶ I think I am not an Apple fan because compatibility is a tech nightmare.

Let’s get back to the happy stuff. Highlight on the home front was getting my 2nd grandchild in April. His name is Oliver and he is an adorable brother to Stella who turned 3 this year.

Photography

Four days into this year I decided impulsively to commit to posting a pic a day on Instagram. #366daysofmakingspace. I was inspired by¬†Heather Mason¬† whose photography I am in awe of, and she never missed a single day on the project, and she started on the 1st. I missed a few days due to illness or absolutely no connection, but I did make the effort to ‚Äúmake space‚ÄĚ for photography and it was awesome. There are probably too many images of Table Mountain on my account¬†but I realised that actually I don‚Äôt care.

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My photos are for me. I experiment, photograph what appeals to me and it thrills my soul. I have climbed trees, mountains, bridges, roofs and walls, risked speeding fines chasing a sunset, captured incredible moments, stood on the middle of bridges, roads and railway lines to the extent that my friends created #DiDontDie. I have spent about 1000 hours on photo missions this year, learned a lot and am no longer daunted by how much more I still have to learn. This is an exciting adventure and all consuming hobby that I am loving.

I was surprised to have three images accepted for the Cape Town Igerbook (hope it comes out soon) and did my first ever weekend taker over on Instagram for Kaapstadmag. Thanks for the vote of confidence guys.

Please follow me on Instagram, I’m begging ūüôā In my quest for the perfect shot only a few phones and one camera have been harmed.

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Addicted to beaches and sunsets

I almost became a foodie 

I have had some outstanding culinary experiences, I ate Miso soup at 89 on Copper, the restaurant at Brahman Hills in the Natal Midlands. I rate this as the best eatery I experienced in 2016, if you are ever in the area treat yourself. I even read the whole article on Anje Rautenbachs Degustation Experience, after I had looked up what degustation means.

I tasted countless mouth watering feasts in various towns along the Cape West Coast Foodie Route, drank bucket loads of pink gin in Zambia, sipped and became addicted to Groot Constantia’s Grand Constance and became a fan of many of the various flavours of Rooibos Tea by Carmien, read all about this proudly SA company here. It’s just not in me to be a foodie, but huge respect for the creative people who use food as their medium for art.

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South Africa

I explored some new areas and returned to old favourites.

Ladismith on Route 62 was unexpectedly fabulous (blog post coming soon) and the Natal Midlands is a place I will definitely go back to.

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Brahman Hills and the Midlands Meander in KZN

Piket-Bo-Berg was another eye opener and place I had never heard of. Take a drive on the N7 and visit this place if you are in the Western Cape. Read about People Rocking Nature on the N7 here.

Durban is always a repeat destination, as is the Garden Route and in particular the Wilderness. Read about my Garden Route travels here and here.

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One of my favourite Durban images taken at Moyo Pier.

I loved road tripping to Oudtshoorn and showing off Gansbaai and the West Coast to Anje. Covering the Fynarts Festival in Hermanus reminded me just how creative South Africans are.Read about this amazing festival here.

This post is way too long, if you have read all the way to the end, thank you. This is just a fraction of what I experienced in 2016. I am tired. So much of the really awesome adventures were concentrated into a very short time frame that saw me catching 22 flights in 11 weeks. At the end of that fantastic, manic round of travel I got some nasty bug and was forced to my bed on and off for 2 weeks.

Overall 2016 has been very good to me and I am lucky to have shared it with great friends, my supportive travel family ( you know who you are) and wonderful clients who have become friends and introduced me to inspiring places and new people.

Thank you everyone who has been part of my journey in 2016.

After all the adventures I have had, I broke my toe in my kitchen last week ūüė¶

Happy 2017 everyone.

PS. Once again I have been inspired by Heather Mason.

I am committing to a blog post a week for every week in 2017.

This is going to be really tough but it is the ONLY way my poor neglected blog will get attention, and I know that certain unnamed bloggers will nag me and hold me to this promise. Wish me luck.

 

48 hours in Cape Town in winter

Well hello  Cape Town.

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There is a fairly good chance that your 48 hours in Cape Town in winter will be on the cold side and could include a fair amount of rain. Pack a fold up umbrella and some colourful wellies, a warm jacket and something waterproof. Layered outfits work here in winter as we are known for having four seasons in one day. During June, July and August the average temperature is 18 degrees C and 12 to 14 days of each month will have some rain.

The best way to see a city is to walk it. Walking is also a good way to warm up, so dress up and get moving and take to the streets.  Voice Map audio tours are self guided tours that are location specific. Simply download the app onto your smart phone or tablet, and select the tour you want. A map displays your route and the audio gives directions and tells the story at the relevant landmark. Text can be viewed as well.

The Bo-Kaap is the most popular tour, so why not absorb a little history, lots of stories and take some colourful pics. The walk will warm you and unless we are have one of our Cape of Storms moments, an umbrella will protect you from a little rain. The duration of this walk is 20 minutes and the distance covered is 1.3 km. Voice Map offer a wide variety of tours including Woodstock Street Art, eating and entertainment in Kloof Street, Secret Tunnels in Cape Town, a Newlands Brewery tour and the Seapoint Promenade. Click  here for all the options. Each tour displays the duration and number of km at the top making it easy to choose a tour that fits in with the time you have available.

The Cape Wheel  is a fun way to orientate yourself to the Waterfront and parts of the city. At the top you are 40 meters above the ground and the sights you miss on the first revolution you will see on one of the next three turns. The ride takes around 20 minutes and the Wheel still operates when it is raining but shuts down if the wind is too strong.

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If the Cape Wheel is not high enough for you then take to the skies in a helicopter with NAC Helicopters Cape Town. The staff will advise you regarding the weather conditions as safety is paramount, but your enjoyment is also important to them so do ask them for advice if it looks overcast or is very cloudy. Allow an hour for the 15 minute flight. You need to be there half an hour in advance to enjoy a coffee on the deck next to the water, get weighed and listen to the safety briefing.

I needed a little extra time after we landed to gaze at the views and to allow myself time to mentally come back down to earth.

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Our helicopter was a Robinson 44, just big for 3 passengers and the pilot. From the moment we hovered a centimetre off the ground until a few hours after we landed, I had a stupid grin plastered all over my face. Nothing beats flying in a helicopter, and doing it over a city as spectacular as Cape Town is mind-blowing.

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Take to the waves without getting wet on the Mirage 760, a 76 foot luxury catamaran docked at the V& A Waterfront. Rain does not stop this baby as the lower level is fully enclosed on three sides and you can sit on soft white couches sipping a cocktail or stand up top with the spray in your face and the best views in the world. Marvel as you look back at Table Mountain and forward towards Robben Island or Clifton Beach, this really is the life.

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The Mirage 760 is like a floating dream world, complete with grills for making snacks, a full kitchen and a bar. Regardless of the weather, you will be comfortable. Big enough to accommodate 120 people the Mirage is available for day or sunset cruises from 2 hours or longer. Click here for all the options and details and please note that you must book in advance. It is certainly worth it.

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Raise your glass as you can’t visit Cape Town without experiencing a wine farm and the closest one to the city is the oldest and most historic, Groot Constantia. Just 18 km from the city centre, Groot Constantia offers a museum, wine tasting, great food at Jonkershuis or Simon’s , walks under the oaks and views to die for from the slopes of Table Mountain. The newly opened info centre on the premises can give you information on the other wine estates that make up the Constantia Wine Route.

I highly recommend ¬†Jonkershuis for lunch or an early supper, it closes at 9pm on weekends, and 7pm during the week. You can‚Äôt leave without sampling the award-winning Grand Constance, favourite tipple of Napoleon Bonaparte. I am not much of a wine drinker but I finished off a bottle of this in a week. Smooth, golden, slightly spicy and ideal to take the chill out of a winter’s day. Well, that was my excuse.

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If the rain looks like it’s here to stay then get to the Grandwest Casino and Entertainment Centre. You don’t have to enjoy gambling to have fun at GrandWest, it has so much to offer under one roof.

Snow World, now on until the 31st July at GrandWest. Find your inner child and just laugh and scream a bit for an hour or so. The Ice Box is a chilly ‚Äď 3 degrees so dress warmly. This is where you will race¬†down the ice slides in a round tube and learn to snow board under the expert guidance of Mark. Booking online for the snow boarding is recommended as this is a very popular activity, and not as easy as it looks.

After snow boarding and an ice slide or two, you need to pop off for a Jaegermeister in the Ice Bar before heading back into the normal temperatures of the rest of the area.

Walk past the Woolley mammoths, dinosaurs and other ice age animals, climb to the top of the large ice slide and hurtle down in a blow up boat, or just make a snowman with the little people in the snow pit.

Go ice skating, or bowling, if you can bear the noise of shrieking kids and a million electronic games beeping and exploding,  or check in advance for the live shows and book your tickets to The Manhattans, Disney on Ice, or even Dora the Explorer if that’s your thing. All show details are available here.

Make a night of it at GrandWest . After dining at one of the 12 restaurants, (I love Bukhara and the Cape Town Fish Market) head over to Hanover Street for live music or to the Jackson Hall if you are a Blues and Jazz fan. All are located in the city street themed area called The District in the GrandWest complex.

 

We have culture and it‚Äôs easy to find and a great way to get out of the rain and cold weather.¬†¬†Musical extravaganzas, ballet, opera, theatre and comedy, you can find it all right here in the city. After all we don‚Äôt want you driving in our crazy traffic in the rain.¬† Dress up or go comfortable to the wonderful¬† Artscape, I have my ticket to My Fair Lady and I can’t wait.

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If an intimate setting for theatre is more your style the Fugard has a great line up over the next few months including ‚ÄúThe Voice I cannot Silence‚ÄĚ and ‚ÄúClybourne Park‚ÄĚ.

The Labia Theatre is the oldest Indie theatre in South Africa and screens art, classic and independent movies. With four theatres each showing 4 to 5 movies a day you are sure to find something you just have to see.

Top Tips.

If it’s not raining, it is often cloudy and this means great sunrises and sunsets.

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Sunrise is at a reasonable hour of around 7:30 to 8am at the moment and sunset happens between 5:30 and 6pm. It is worth getting up early for sunrise, and definitely consider a City Sightseeing Sunset drive to the top of Signal Hill, the views are spectacular.  The bus departs from the Waterfront.

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If you are dead set on seeing the Cape Town Icons, check out Cape Town Big 7 and good luck. I really don’t think you can do them all properly in 48 hours but if you do want to try then definitely check the Table Mountain Cable Aerial Cable Way for weather updates and queuing times.

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Cape Town traffic is horrible so plan to always be going against the traffic during the week. If you need to come in to the city do it before 7am or after 9:30 am and don’t even think of trying to leave the city between 4 and 6pm.

Come and say #HelloCapeTown

 

Disclaimer. This post is part of the Blogathon  Cape Town 2016 Campaign with Travel Concept Solution, Cape Town Tourism and the Hello Weekend initiative and CheapFlights.

For more information about the Blogathon please contact Travel Concept Solution

 

Hopefield, where the bees are relaxed and your time is your own.

 

Once again I am on the N7, turning off onto the R45, heading into the wonderful West Coast, this time to Hopefield.

As Table Mountain fades into the distance behind me, I start becoming aware of my surroundings.

I take in the very gentle rise of the hills dotted with the first few wild flowers. I notice the clarity of the colours in the copper, gold and bronze fields, and the deep green rectangles of lucerne, all framed by rich red earth.

I open the windows and it smells like the holidays. The air is clean and carries hints of farm life. The occasional whiff of cow manure mingles with the scent of aloes. The sun streaming into the car combined with the open space all around me is so relaxing that just driving is like a tonic.

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Then I spot that lovely sight of the wind farms, the beautiful white turbines reaching into the sky and catching the energy from nature. I know I am almost in Hopefield. This is a good thing as by now I am practically comatose I am so chilled.

This soporific state lasts only as long as it takes for me to park and get out of the car at Simply Bee.

Lizana from Simply Bee bursts out of the building, her bear hug of a welcome is so energizing she should be sold to Eskom!

Welcome to Hopefield.

 Although the town was named after two land surveyors called Mr Hope and Mr Field, the name is very apt. Hopefield shows me that even in 2015 it is possible to live in a way that is in complete harmony with nature and the environment. The people here are industrious without being hurried. Stress is not a common complaint and they all have that one commodity us city dwellers find so elusive. They have time.

Time to drink a cup of coffee outside, time to chat to a neighbour or help a friend.

Time to have a life.

This is not to say that Hopefield is a sleepy backwater. This delightful town built around the Sout River is a celebration of nature that embraces the modern technology when it needs to. The wind farms, internet companies and responsible tourism ethics are more advanced than in many cities, and the Merry Widow guest house is the very last word on urban hip in its décor. It also has the biggest, most complicated coffee machine I have ever seen.  

What is Simply Bee?

Simply Bee is a successful family business started in 1954 when Derick Hugo became a Bee Keeper. On retirement Derick and Marie resettled in Hopefield and manufactured and sold the honey.

In 2008 their daughter Helena and her husband Pierre van der Westhuizen took over the business and built it into the award winning company it has become.

This is how it came about.

Helena lived in the USA for 22 years and worked as an interior designer. This talent is very evident in the Simply Bee showroom which seems to glow in the sun from the colours of the honey and the warm woods of the beautiful old cabinets, sideboards and tables used to display the huge variety of products.

Simply Bee honey jar

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Shortly after her return to Hopefield, Helena had a bad fall that immobilised her for a number of months. During this time she started experimenting, or as she says playing, with beeswax and propolis with a growing excitement. Being raised in a family of bee keepers her basic knowledge was obviously already solid, and her passion for the bees is evident when she talks about them.

Helena started seriously educating herself about everything related to bees. She talked to bee keepers, she read scientific journals,  conducted her own experiments, and observed her hives.

Then she did a course in Essential Oils given by a respected expert in Riebeeck Kasteel, as these natural oils complement and enhance the beeswax and propolis products.

Helena is one of many women who have a very sensitive skin, so her first experiments were products that she could use herself. They worked well and she started giving them away as gifts.

The gifts were very popular and the news spread via word of mouth and suddenly there was a growing demand.

Helena’s dream was to create a range of products that were suitable for sensitive skins, but more importantly, were priced so that all women could afford them.

With a good product at the right price, growth is inevitable and Helena went from word of mouth sales to selling at all the local markets. This expanded to stocking various pharmacies and shops in the area and now most sales are done online.

The range consists of over 60 products.

  • A full range of skin care products for women, many containing that wonder ingredient propolis.
  • Men and babies have their own special range of soaps, creams and lotions.
  • Candles, soaps, body balms, nail creams and hair care make wonderful gifts and are very affordable.
  • Pure and Raw Fynbos honey is a healthy choice for the whole family. There is even honey for kids presented in a teddy bear shaped bottle.
  • For the home, linen and room mists are the perfect natural alternative to chemical fresheners, and the leather and wood polishes make housework eco- friendly.
  • For animal lovers there is hoof balm for your limping horse, or swarm lure for bee keepers.
  • For outdoor enthusiasts the insect repellent does the job very effectively.
  • Fill up your First Aid box with natural antiseptics and ointments that work.

Simply Bee products can be purchased from 190 stockists in South Africa and the company exports to the UK, USA, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Mauritius.

The Feel Good Factor.

  • Simply Bee has created employment for eleven local residents so far, and they source all other suppliers and support services from the area.
  • Simply Bee is honey badger friendly and all their hives are placed on stands.
  • The bee hives are in fynbos rich areas where no commercial farming occurs. This means they are not exposed to any chemicals, making their honey 100% organic.
  • Conservation and the purity of their products are foundation of the company. All natural ingredients are only taken from plentiful renewable sources.
  • Helena personally controls the production process and ensures that distillation, extraction, steaming and hydrolysis are kept to an absolute minimum to retain the natural purity.
  • The Simply Bee Observation Centre provides education and awareness of the important role that bees play in our lives and the benefits of honey and other products.

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Bring honey and bees into your daily life.

 To encourage bees to your garden, plant Lemongrass. Bees love it as the Queen bee has a phenorome that smells like lemon, this attracts them to the plant. A garden full of bees is a happy, healthy garden.

  • Mix 1 teaspoon of honey and a pinch of cinnamon in half a cup of hot water. Drink daily. Where possible buy cinnamon sticks. They can be ground in a coffee grinder.This recipe can be beneficial to sufferers of high cholesterol, high blood pressure and arthritis
  • It is the only source of the antioxidant, pinocembrin, which is associated with improved brain function.
  • Honey contains enzymes, vitamins, minerals and water.
  • Did you know that you could live on honey and nothing else?
  • People suffering from allergies can also try this remedy but must use locally produced honey as this helps to build up your immunity.
  • Eat fats and make them work for you
  • Mix 1 teaspoon of honey with half a cup of luke- warm water and two teaspoons of lemon juice. Drink daily.This allows the body to absorb the good fats and eliminate the bad fats fast.

The Simply Bee Observation Centre.

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This educational, interactive experience teaches everything you ever wanted to know about bees.

A hive has been opened on one side to reveal the intricate workings of the colony. It is observed from behind glass for the safety and happiness of both visitors and the bees. The back door to the observation room is open so the bees are free to come and go as they please.  Honey tasting is offered after the talk.

Packages are available for schools, study groups or tourists and picnic snacks and drinks are included.    Booking is essential.

Simply Bee also has a room dedicated to farms they work with in the area. Displays run for a month and feature one farm at a time. Historical items displayed range from furniture and clothing to old photographs, documents, books and toys. A little story about the featured farm is given.

The tourism office and museum has a fascinating display of memorabilia from the past. One wall is dedicated to a vast collection of old cameras, while another section has some scary looking old medical and dental equipment. Victorian dolls, little girls dresses and stylish accessories will thrill fashionistas, and foodies will enjoy the large table filled with tins, kitchen utensils and crockery.

If you are planning to visit Hopefield, do it on a Saturday so you can mingle with the locals at the fresh produce market. It is just past Simply Bee, look for the big red doors. All sorts of delectable goods are for sale, produced by locals. The market is a great initiative that benefits the whole community.

Don’t leave Hopefield without a visit to the N.G. Church. In 1911 the Forster & Andrews Organ was purchased from England. This organ is so huge that the church had to be enlarged to accommodate it. It is a beautiful piece of craftsmanship, and is still used every Sunday.

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A few kilometers out of town you will find Die Plaasmol. It is not easy to describe but I will try. Lovely gardens, the most creative recycling I have ever seen, a tea room, a pub, a number of little shops loaded with goods ranging from gifts to preserves, clothing to plants. It would probably take a day to explore this area properly.

Plaasmoll entrance

The owner, Fransie Russouw  is happy to share her ideas as she believes EVERYTHING can be recycled.Camping sites are available and a huge covered area is available for functions. This place is well worth a visit, kids will love it and can run free while parents shop or just relax in the shade and enjoy something to eat.

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Thanks to WestCoastWaySA for hosting me in Hopefield.

Slow it down with the Good Rebels of Darling. West Coast living & the best craft beer.

Darling is the name of a ridiculously pretty little town on the Cape West Coast, just 77 km from Cape Town travelling on the N7 and then onto the R304.

Darling is also referred to¬†as the “flower of the West Coast”¬†after the prolific wildflower displays in early spring (September, October) The town is best known for these wild flowers and¬†for our unique home grown funny man “Tannie Evita” who performs at¬†Evita se Perron.¬†

The town is an eclectic mix of old, new and arty, but it is a community who are mostly working together and getting it right, creating a very pleasant place to live in, and offering numerous attractions to draw the visitors to the area.

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I stayed at Darling Lodge owned and run by the delightful Stephen, a Swiss national who has been in Darling for just three years but is part of the community and totally in love with the town. The lodge is an immaculate Victorian home with all the modern amenities you need. The gardens and pool are made for long lazy days, drinks outside, and if you are lucky, you might be there when the locals arrive for drinks, snacks and an open air movie under the trees.

Stephen has become something of a Darling expert, ask him about the birding, hikes and MTB Trails in the area. He seems to be able to make anything happen effortlessly.

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Kit and Rene Haslam of Bistro 7¬†make dining out feel like having dinner¬†at a friend’s home where the host just happens to be an outstanding cook. All dishes are made from fresh, seasonal products and sourced locally wherever possible. It is child and pet friendly and a delightful spot for lunch or dinner¬†where ¬†food is savoured slowly.

When you go to Bistro 7, do look out for Shiva, the Golden Labrador of Darling. Shiva lives at the Ormonde wine estate but he belongs to everyone in Darling. He does his rounds daily, visiting many establishments for titbits or a head scratch and he always pops into the local vet to say hi to the staff who cared for him when he had biliary. His last stop every night is at Bistro 7 where he waits patiently for his Eisbein bone before heading home for the night.

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Described as ” the funniest treasure hunt through an historic village ever!”¬†¬†The Darling Mystery Trail¬†is a great way for the whole family to explore and learn about Darling. The cost is a mere R25 and includes entry into the museum. Walk it, ride it, solve riddles, ¬†and hunt for geo- caches if you like. Use your GPS,¬†your phone or your just brain, you will have fun, find a treasure and stand a chance of winning a Darling weekend valued¬†at R2000.

So hopefully now you have a feel for Darling, it’s sense of fun, the unhurried¬†country pace and the varied attractions on offer. Being in Darling is thirsty work so I am delighted to introduce you to¬†Darling Brew.

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Philippa and Kevin Wood of Darling Brew are experienced beer drinkers, having sampled many many brews during their adventures through Botswana, Mozambique, Kenya, Rwanda, Zimbabwe and Zambia.

They believe that YOU ARE WHAT YOU DRINK! 

In this hectic lifestyle we lead SLOW living has become something of a luxury, as time is the one thing we never seem to have enough of. Darling Brew believe that slowing down is so important that it is central to everything they do and why their slogan is Slow Beer.  Slow for the  fermentation process, and the accompanying lifestyle.

They presently have  three core beers. A Pale Ale, an Indian Pale Ale and a Light Lager.

Each beer has been carefully crafted and named after endangered or misunderstood South African wildlife. Who knew beer drinking was an educational, conservation experience.

Order a Slow Beer inspired by the Geometric Tortoise, a Black Mist if the Verreaux Eagle interests you, a Silver Back to cheer for the Honey Badger, a Native Ale to toast the Roan Antelope or a Bone Crusher if you identify with the Spotted Hyena.

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One thing they are not doing slowly is growing.

New venue opening on December 1st 2015.

Exciting times are ahead as the new home of Darling Brew takes shape. In accordance with the ethos of conservation and the protection of the biodiversity of Darling, the location has been thoughtfully chosen in the industrial area.It is encouraging to know as far as possible repurposed materials have been used, and that the beer bottles are used up to nine times before being recycled.

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Walking around the building site it is already possible to visualise how Darling Brew are going to bring the brewing of beer and the current taproom experience of beer tasting and light meals under one roof.

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  • A large parking area will¬†provide secure, dedicated parking for all vehicles, including ¬†tour busses, Quantums and other touring vehicles.
  • A children’s play area and a garden have been specially designed for families and outdoor fans.
  • A tasting room and bar on the mezzanine floor will overlook the working brewery.
  • A downstairs tasting area is¬†wheelchair friendly.
  • The dining menu will¬†offer a¬†selection of inspired light meals that enhance the unique flavours found in the¬†artisan beers. All produce used is locally sourced, free range and organic.
  • A Creative Centre is planned, and could¬†have the potential for¬†opportunities ¬†for local crafters.

Inside the new building all kinds of impressive shiny vats and complicated machinery are ready to be tested or wrapped up waiting to be put to work.

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A three vessel system will facilitate increased capacity and uninterrupted brewing 8 times a day, producing 3000 litres of delicious Darling beer at a time. It is here where the new beers will be lovingly developed.

Watch this space as Darling Brew plan to release two new beers every quarter and more unique pairings to complete the taste experiences.

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I asked Kevin and Phillipa what they are most excited about regarding this new venture. I love their answer.

Significantly growing the ability of Darling Brew to create more beer and more exacting and consistent standards.This means that everyone that wants a Darling Brew beer can have one and together with the wildflowers, Evita se perron, the wine, the toffees, the art and people, be the export products that makes Darling so unique.  

Their dream is becoming a reality. Cheers to 100%  proudly crafted and enjoyed in Darling

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Thanks to WestCoastWaySA for hosting me in this awesome little town.

Want more information regarding beer pairings and other details to enhance the taste experience?

Take a look here for an in depth look at the infographic shown below.

Pocket friendly Cape Town and views with a difference.

The distinctively cheerful, bright red busses are a common sight in Cape Town, taking tourists and locals to all the best places in the city. You name it, City Sightseeing have a hop on hop off bus going that way.

Not content with showing you the city, the Peninsula, the Winelands and the townships, they now have a way to show you a very different view of Cape Town, one from the water.

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It could be said that the V & A Waterfront is the heart of tourism in the city, and what better way to get orientated than seeing it from the waterways of a working harbour..

I hopped onto one of these water busses on Sunday  and was totally captivated by the sights of the city seen from a different perspective.

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The 30 minute tour starts just behind the Two Oceans Aquarium  on the V & A Marina, continues under the Bascule bridge and into the Victoria Basin, then under the swing bridge to the Victoria basin, before returning to the starting point.

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I am not a big fan of plugging in ear phones to hear a scripted commentary. This is mainly because I prefer to move around to get photos and have to keep unplugging the darn things, but also because I personally prefer a more interactive approach.

That said, the commentary did provide many unusual and interesting facts like the name of the huge band who had their yacht built in one of the shipyards, what was once the tallest silo in South Africa, and what a ‚ÄúSynchrolift‚ÄĚ is.

I will not spoil you with the answers, do the tour, it is only ZAR40.

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The commentary also provides information on activities and attractions at the Waterfront. I would highly recommend it for orientation before exploring the area on foot.

The return trip provides fantastic views of Table Mountain as the early explorers must have seen it, it really is impressive  from this angle. Lion’s Head and Signal Hill look over the bay and call you to drive up for the opposing views.

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TIPS.

  • If you want to get great photographs do not do as I did and cruise at midday. Rather take the first trip at 9am or the last trip at 5pm when the light is better and the glare off the water is greatly reduced.
  • If you are a first time visitor to Cape Town, do this trip first as not only is it good for orientation, it also provides a lot of information that will assist you in making the most of your time at the V & A Waterfront.
  • If you are on a budget this tour is very affordable and allows plenty of time to enjoy the FREE walking tour of the city offered by City Sightseeing at 11am or 3 pm every day.

For more information on the variety of tours offered by City Sightseeing,or to book online,  visit the website . Discounts are offered for online bookings and there are great combo packages on offer.

Enjoy Cape Town.

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