Be Western Cape Water Wise

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Are you actively trying to save water? When you turn on the shower, fill your bath tub or fill your glass, you probably take for granted the clean water that comes out.

Poor rainfall, extremely low dam levels, as well as a hot and dry summer season is approaching and that means that we all collectively need to start being more cautious of our precious commodity – Water.

Water is a precious resource and since the Western Cape is in the midst of a serious drought we all have to learn how to use it carefully. Every action each of us takes to save water will make a difference!

What do we already know?

We know that no swimming pools may be topped up or filled with municipal drinking water. Covers should be used to limited evaporation. Most hotels have removed the plugs from their baths and are encouraging guests to rather hang-up their wet towels rather than have them laundered each day. That watering of gardens & washing of cars is now strictly prohibited unless done with recycled or grey water. The use of special waterless antiseptic gels or sanitizing wipes, are being used instead of washing your hands with running water from the tap.

Cape Town, sadly continues to be considered a disaster area, with strict water restrictions remaining and likely to do so for years to come as the region recovers from the devastating drought. The City of Cape Town will be embarking on water rationing due to the critical nature of available water supply. This means that the water supply will be disrupted during peak usage times in the mornings (between 05h00 and 09h00) and evenings (between 17h00 and 21h00).

If we all do our little bit to help conserve and save, it will most certainly go a long way. Every drop counts. I implore everyone to become aware and to lead by example. It is our duty to ensure that everyone is fully aware of the situation and indeed are all actively taking the necessary steps to reduce water usage and save our water, save our planet.

  • Reconsider your water usage during peak times. Consider showering outside the peak times
  • Showers generally use less water than baths, therefore it is advisable to shower rather than fill up a bath.
  • Limit your shower time to 2 minutes or less.
  • Limit your showers period! It is honestly not necessary in my opinion to shower twice a day now – especially if you’re not being particularly active. How dirty can you really get just sitting at your office desk all day, really? I’m not saying don’t wash/clean yourself, you can keep up your health hygiene and focus on the main areas…. Where do you think the saying “Portuguese Shower” comes from after all?
  • Rinse, Stop, Lather, Rinse.Wet yourself, turn off the shower, soap yourself up from head to toe, and then turn on the shower just long enough for a speedy rinse off.
  • Use a bucket in the shower to collect excess water, cold water before it get’s warm… do I really need to explain more? Then, use this bucket of water to fill and flush your toilet, or, like me, water my flowers.
  • Turn off the taps whilst brushing teeth or shaving.
  • Ensure all taps are infact closed when not in use to prevent damage/flooding when the supply is restored.
  • Keep between 5 and 10 litres of water available for drinking use, for every four people in the house.
  • Flush only when necessary. You will be amazed at how much water a single flush actually uses.
  • Don’t use the toilet as a Dustbin – use the bin people!
  • If it can avoided, do not launder clothing in hotels as many hotels wash guests clothes separately, even it’s only one or two items.

By adopting these practices we can and will lead to a dramatic reduction in consumption. There is so much more that can be done and EVERYONE needs to do their part!

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Gin & Tonic in the Bush

The Jaci’s Lodges are quickly becoming a firm favourite for me and for both locals and international tourists alike and is it not hard to see why. I was recently sent on an Educational “Learning Tour” with my fellow colleague, Lauren to stay at both Jaci’s Sabi House and Jaci’s Tree Lodge in Madikwe.

All of the Jaci’s properties are alive with bright and vibrant colours all depicting the wonderful colours of Africa. From the brightly coloured painted walls, woven African baskets, rugs, fat sacks to the scatter cushions, it is a colour infusion. It is this use of bold colours that mesmerized me when I first heard about them, these colours make me feel somewhat alive; a dramatic contrast to the browns and greens of the bush. These colours depict the fun and vibrant nature of the owners themselves, as well as their amazing staff. Literally the friendliest and funniest of strangers to meet, relax with and learn from.

Jaci’s Sabi House offers the discerning traveller luxury accommodation exclusively for up to 6 people. Your own house in the middle of the Sabi Sand Reserve that comes with a Chef and House Mother so your every need is well taken care of. “We were waited on, hand and foot by this wonderful team; we have never eaten so much delicious food in our lives, nor tasted such delightful wines!” Complete privacy and the comfort of your own veranda, pool or fire boma nestled under the trees and right in front of a waterhole, which for added viewing pleasure, is gently lit up at night for when the animals come down for a cool nights drink. I admit I was nervous to sit on the swing – my hips and thighs have grown substantially over the years – but these swings are definitely for adult weight – phew. I could happily have sat there for the entire day, nose in a book, lifting my head every so often to watch whatever wildlife just so happened to stroll on by.

Our game drives were nothing short of phenomenal, seeing 4 out of the Big 5 on our first day. Climbing into our open top safari vehicle and finding warm blankets with a Bird Book too just added to the already bubbling excitement one experiences when starting out on your first game drive. “The thrill of afternoon sun downers standing in the middle of the bush surrounded by goodness knows who or what has never made an ice cold Gin & Tonic taste so good, especially when the sun has set and you are literally faced with total darkness and nothing but the stars and the bushes nocturnal sounds”. So many giggles were had by all when our guide announced that the “Lava-Tree” was behind that bush…

We were lucky enough to experience the thrill of transferring via air in a Cessna – this is by far the quickest and best way to travel when doing more than one area in the Kruger – HOWEVER! I still find myself catching my breath when I talk about this. I have a fear of small planes…. I asked for a rather large Gin & Tonic before. Happy to say I’ve done it, don’t get me wrong, you know me, i’m all for adventure but as I get older I seem to be becoming less braver… hmmmm.

The view from up there of the traversing wildlife and beautiful scenic sprawling landscape is just breathtaking. Thank you to my pilot for keeping me distracted with these views, I knew what you were up to and a appreciated it greatly!

On arriving in Madikwe from Sabi, we headed straight to Jaci’s Tree Lodge, a mere 15 minute drive from the airstrip and what unfolded next will forever remain one of our most favourite experiences! Imagine, if you please, a herd of 9 Elephants swimming in the water… Now imagine seeing it a mere 3 meters away from these frolicking giants at eye level! Yes, eye level from a specially built “Terrapin Hide” in the middle of the waterhole. The hide is accessed via a submerged tunnel and features a water-level viewing window, allowing unparalleled views and an opportunity to capture some incredible images. This again, it one of the things that drew me to this lodge.

Jaci’s Tree Lodge is built high above the ground like the tree houses of your childhood, only each room is massive, with bathtubs one could swim in and outdoor showers to delight and tingle your senses. “There is nothing quiet as refreshing as an outdoor shower surrounded by seemingly endless nature and the sounds of the morning birds or the mighty roar of the lion”.

Our game drives in the Madikwe Game Reserve were first class. The reserve is close to the edge of the Kalahari Desert and this location offered up a completely diverse game viewing experience from that of the Sabi Sands Reserve. The morning game drive was probably the most magical! We hadn’t even really started to set out and already we came across 4 lionesses and their cubs feeding on a kill that must have made in the early hours of that morning. After watching in awe for a while, our ranger then got the call on his radio that there was a pack of wild dog which had been spotted. Off we went to find them – and find them we did. A pack of wild dogs with their pups! To see this endangered species in the wild is rare and a truly heart-warming experience altogether. We even got to experience the Alphas feeding the pups. How lucky we are indeed. With the excitement and thrill of seeing our first wild dog ever, we continued on our game drive with a quick stop for a delicious morning Amarula coffee before heading back to the lodge for the most scrumptious breakfast.

After breakfast it was sadly time to say goodbye to the bush and to the people who had been all smiles and ever so to attentive to our every need. I cannot believe my luck, to have been invited on this educational and to have seen so much!

 


Affairs with London

Waffles for breakfast with lashings of maple syrup? Don’t mind if I do…

Mom and I went out separate ways on Monday morning after breakfast. Mom to John and Maureen, and I’ve just realized that I have no cooking clue as to where that actual is… *frowns* Myself to Wandsworth to meet up with my darling friend Chrissi who relocated here a year ago and my dearest friend Daniela who flew in from Berlin for the week. So special and so lucky am I to have such supportive friends. We three girls haven’t been together for just under three years so this was indeed a special time. We headed out by taxi (which might I add is pretty cool these days, booked via an app and automatically deducted from your account – great). Anyways, we ventured out to the National History Museum to the Butterflies Sensational exhibition and this was just so lovely. Hundreds and butterflies all shapes sizes and colours flitting and fluttering around you. Chrissi and I both took on passengers for the trip. I really did feel all light and airy-fairy after that and I would highly recommend that as a quick outing or date spot.

Off to a small wine and cheese cafe and we three were finally having the long awaited wine and gossip session we’ve been waiting to do and is just not the same over Skype.

That night we tarted ourselves up with what we could all throw together from our suitcases and went to a speakeasy called NightJar. Now, this place was intriguing. Live jazz and cocktails so creative they literally blew smoke and all served in various ways from tea pots to iron owls or wooded boxes. A wonderful night out and really what I needed.

My affair with London as I am now calling it has been adventure after adventure and I must say, I have really missed this place. So great to be back that it almost feels like home. I am so excited to see what’s in store for the remainder.


Dancing… #Clrglondon14

World Champs kicked off for me only on the last two days and in those last two days I think I’ve probably gone through every emotion possible.

This mad, money making rat race cream of the crop gets even more mind blowing and extravagant than the previous year if you can believe… The glits and the glam, the talent and the tension is honestly something that you really need to mentally prepare yourself for.

We danced out hearts out and I’m pretty sure our feet raw, and man oh man I had almost forgotten that incredible feeling you get when you walk out onto the worlds stage, dance and then THAT feeling of utter accomplishment when you take your final bow.

On a personal note, I also remembered one of the reasons why I retired when I did. The immense pressure is something I do not miss, which is funny, because I don’t ever really remember feeling the pressure when I was a fully fledged competitive dancer. Stepping out and away from it then returning is like throwing all your emotions into a pot, sprinkled with age and hindsight then leaving said pot to simmer. The problem with leaving anything to simmer is that it does eventually get hot and while I am so loath to admit this to the world, Um, well the 5 of you that actual do read my rantings… I did have a full on melt down the day before and those tears just streamed.

This was an amazing adventure and not many can say they reached the top but daaaaaaaam I’m so glad it’s over – well, until next year I guess.


So begins England

After a rather disappointing BA (British Airways) flight the full weight of the Easter holiday season, in it’s hysteria began. Thank goodness for the book I had I keep me entertained while doing the two step shuffle in the boarder control lines. Not even the UK passport holders had it easy breezy.

Right, so I’m pretty good with the underground and what not but first order of business was to main line caffeine and find my hotel and second family. Phone almost dead, coffee in hand, back pack, dress bag and hold luggage – ya, just picture it. I thankfully only had a short brisk walk from paddington station to the very quaint Saint David Hotel. My lodgings for the next few days…

Another coffee and a quick “I have arrived” message to my specials in SA, then Mom and I were off to Kent. 38min by train but bloody far out, we were off to visit my moms cousins and his lovely family… I think that means second cousins to me or some such family tree antics. The last time we all saw each other was the last time we were here for tea with the queen, some 8 years ago.
Champagne, coffee, cakes and pastries and of course the mass photo shoot with the usual giggles and blue steal poses.

Afternoon turned into evening and dinner, by the time we got back home to our respective hotels I was so ready for bed. Sadly, a good nights sleep was apparently not on the cards for me, with a “proppa chav” fight breaking out down on the street, with thee most colorful language ever. Smashing of bottles and shouting profanities that would put fight club to shame.

Dancing antics to follow….


World Champs.

7 years ago I, along with 8 others from our studio, the Duncan Studio of Celtic Dancing, qualified as a team for the World Championships. Today, 7 years later I join another group of amazing talented dancers from the studio to dance in the 2014 World Irish Dancing Championships in London.

Now how this all came about was 100% my Mother (who is our dancing teacher) and her devious ways…
“It would be so special if you and Jonathan were to come out of retirement and join the team… Jonathan said he’d come dance if you do”. *seed planted* and I willingly agreed, I mean who wouldn’t?? London Town and winter sales, yes please! Unbeknown to me, Susan in her devious ways had approached and given the exact same seed planting speech to Jonathan who then also agreed! Ba-da-bing, caught, hook line and sinker.

And so began the late night and all day Sunday rehearsals. The endless debates about everything from stocking grades, hair pieces (yes, I shall be donning one of them 2 Min noodle bun wig things). What shirts the guys will be wearing and on what freaking count do our arms go up!!! *inside joke, snorts*.

Bla bla fish paste – I’m totally freaking out!

Gone are my competitive dancing days when nerves were never an issue for me but now find myself having random day dreams that are nothing short I terrifying.

What if I get injured?
What if I miss my plane?
What if I don’t get injured, don’t miss my plane and forget my dress! Aaaaaaaaaah. Day dreaming sucks – takes a deep breath and imagines already being with my incredible team.

Now, most of these young talent dancers have already been at the champs competing in the solo rounds – putting SA on the map once again! When I say, imagining being with my team calms my nerves I’m really not kidding, these guys are pro’s and after so many months of blood, sweat, blisters and tears I’m missing my 2nd family.

So, on a personal note, I’d like to thank my amazing teacher and Mother for her devious ways. The countless efforts she has put in with us all, all the late nights spent organizing with all the other amazing parents. Happy to not have my inbox bombarded anymore. Haha!

To my team, I love you all and I am so completely honored to be up there with you! Here’s to owning it up there! Fired Up!!!!


The borough, Manhattan.

The train ride into Manhattan each day has quickly become my bed. I had every intention of using this hour of quiet time to blog or read but with all the early starts and late nights that dam rocking sensation kept lulling me to sleep. Sleeping or snoozing for an hour on a train kind of knocks you for six when you now have to go full swing into the madness that is the Manhattan business borough *no the for yawns*. So stock standard each morning when mom and I emerged from the grandness of Grand Central we’d go straight across 42nd street to the famous grand central cafe for a coffee before we start our excursions falling instep with all the locals – HA! We don’t even wait like the tourists do for the lights to change when crossing the street *learning fast*.

To date we have explored pretty much everything in Downtown and Uptown Manhattan my favorite few places being Times Square which is so major because its the junction between Broadway and Seventh Avenue so there’s this mix of restaurants, entertainments, clothing stores (that are 5 stories and stay open till 2am!!!) and it is totally insane at night. I mean it’s bright and colourful and busy and nonstop flashing in your face during the day but at night it turns into this illuminated wonderland that becomes (if even possible) more crowded. To give you an idea of how many people bustle in and around I came across a survey done in 2011, Times Square is the most visited tourist attraction in the world with over 39 million people visiting annually and approximately 300,000 people passing through daily! Mother F, they weren’t kidding when they said daily. 20 minuets in and I was ready to running klap the next person who walked into me the only problem being that I would land up klapping the whole of Times Square. So what did I do? I stood in the middle of the road while the traffic light was red and took pictures without fools getting in the way of my shots. A boer maak a plan neh!

Exploring Central Park was divine and by far a lot quieter. Well I’m a tourist and it is winter after all but you really do feel like you’ve left the madness of the city because you can no longer hear the streets only birds. We actually sat down for tea / lunch / holiday eating all the freaking time… and we’re joined by about 10 fat little finches. Not shy at all flying right up to my plate to peck at my bagel.

Central Park is 843 acres or 3.4 km’s and I think we only walked about 1 km while following little pathways that wound around a pond taking pictures of all the almost blossoms on the trees and daffodils starting to show themselves – so relaxing to just wonder around. I did feel like tripping a runner after my tea / lunch / stuff my face session out of jealousy and guilt. There are so many runners and foreign nannies pushing strollers. My best view of the park was from the top of the Rockefeller building, Top of the Rock as the locals say.

Apparently the views from the top of the rock are better than the Empire State building and they were… Scary being so high up, those of you who know me know that I’m not a fan of heights especially when there is no protective glass or boundary. I now understand why NYC has so many jumpers – my God those buildings are high! The cars looked like the size of my baby toe nail and I couldn’t make out a single person on the streets! Yikes!

Next on my agenda was the MET. The Metropolitan Museum of Art baby and I almost ran the last block of Central Park dragging my Mother along to get there! I got such a fright when I rounded the corner and saw all the renovation scaffolding, I would seriously have been mortified if it was closed! A 5 year old whirlwind of a tantrum would have ensued big time.

Each touristy thing I’ve been to I has kinda left me feeling a bit like Ebenezer Scrooge being that I kept converting back to Rands and at some places feeling a bit ripped off but not here, here I was more than happy to pay the 25 Dollars (which I think is very little for what you get to see actually) and I could have spent days in this place. Funny, I’m not by any means religious and no amount of staring at the millions of Jesus and Mother Mary Renaissance paintings could turn me BUT each museum I have been to throughout the world has always made me feel like I’m in a holy place or my holy place and the MET – Wow, the MET is everything I wished I could have been talented enough to become and how the world has been shaped. No amount of books or googling can teach you what you learn from the great art from the ages. And please not just drawing and painting but sculptures, architecture, carpentry, printing, textiles, lighting gosh just about everything!

I spent 3 glorious hours in here and it wasn’t enough. I felt like I was running from room to room trying to see everything I could but the MET is just too huge and we were on limited time unfortunately but I can’t wait to go back and do it all over again! I bought the most stunning book on all the Art in the MET and devoured it in one sitting. Bliss!

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