Wolf Rules

It’s been quite a year for our little household.

Between packing up our lives and deciding to move across the country, starting a new job, trying to decide what I wanted to do, giving freelancing a try and driving for 18 hours with 2 cats the Photog and I were a touch strung out and frazzled.

We needed a holiday, yes even from Cape Town. Time for just the 2 of us, preferably with minimal human contact. I find living in a city, even one as amazing as this, leaves me feeling a bit touchy after a few months and something inside me craves dusty nature, starry skies and no cellphone reception.

Thanks to a brilliant site Budget Getaways (which I’ll definitely use for future Cape travel) I found exactly what we were looking for, without breaking our fragile bank accounts.

Gecko Creek Wilderness Lodge, in the Cederberg mountains, hooked me with a photo of a man in a hammock overlooking the bush. Too good to be true?

This is where I spent a large part of my time. Accompanied by G&T’s and my book.

The lodge is self catering, the rooms are wooden cabins with no electricity and there are communal bathrooms. So it’s not a luxury break, it’s a back to basics break. Oh and it has a wolf. And there is a long list of rules for staying with him.

But he’s super chilled. A real down to earth type.

The nearest town is Clanwilliam, which was voted South Africa’s best small town, and the region boasts large quantities of citrus and rooibos. There’s a cute tea house in the town that has over 100 flavours of rooibos tea and does a very interesting tea tasting that explains the process of making rooibos. Neither of us were huge rooibos fans before but the tasting definitely opened our eyes and we came home with a few boxes of delicious tea for my growing collection.

And thanks to the Photog’s ability to sniff out a wine farm in any vicinity we even came home with bottles of great wine, but that deserves a blog post all to its own.

Cederberg, I love you. And I didn’t even get to hike around and see the San paintings or waterfalls. Next time less gin and I’ll bring my takkies.

Burned By The Dragon

When the Photog sent me a mail some moons ago saying he had gotten us tickets to Little Dragon I was very happy. Thanks to him I’ve discovered some great bands and when Friday rolled around I was looking forward to reliving the early days of our relationship; rocking out to live bands and dancing like teenagers.

Not even the rain put a dampener on our spirits as we arrived at the Biscuit Mill happily tipsy from a shared bottle of wine. We got in, made our way around and looked for the bars.

There was only one bar.

No matter I thought, we should get drinks now and then we’d be able to enjoy Felix Laband, another highlight of the night I’d always wanted to see live.

Getting our drinks in a reasonable time was impossible however. The crush was quite intense and we went in from the side, hoping to get better service. It took even longer as the electricity kept tripping as an extension plug was getting wet.

Eventually, success and we made our way to into the crowd to get down to some Laband greatness. He doesn’t interact much with the crowd but he’s one of those DJ’s who loves what he does, you can see he just gets into the music. However the stage was a bit low, I wondered what it would be like when Little Dragon came on.

*insert photo here

Then I got thirsty, so I made my way back to the bar. Same problems as before, just far, far worse. But I used the elbows I was given and got back just in time to scream Little Dragon on to stage. The crush had migrated from the bar to the dance floor, not great, and the too low stage meant I didn’t see much. But I didn’t let that stop me from jumping, waving my hands in the air and shouting out the lyrics with great abandonment.

*insert great photo

Eventually the crush got too much though so we made our way towards the back and I went to the bathroom to touch up my makeup.

Cue first feeling of worry. I unzipped my bag and couldn’t find my makeup purse. Strange, as I dug I didn’t feel my brand new iPhone either. Cue feeling of intense panic. After emptying the entire thing onto the floor I had to admit there was no cellphone and no makeup.

Cue cries of anguish and many tears. And disbelief at how they had managed to move my jacket wrapped over my bag, around my body, unzip it, unzip the inside pouch, get my makeup and iPhone, and zip it all back up, without me feeling a thing.

If these pickpockets devoted their time and skills to a legal profession they would be great successes.

Needless to say the evening was ruined and we went home in a very bad way.

I discovered a few days later the pickpockets had been rife in the crowd, and the Joburg show was no better with security being bribed and allowing too many people in and with the same terrible stage setup.

Overall – disappointing. It’s irritating that when known musicians come here we are all supposed to feel so grateful that we should just accept poor event organisation and having our belongings stolen.

Sigh. Not the start to the weekend I had envisioned.

(Excuse the lack of photos – who knows where they are now or who is looking at them)

 

 

 

 

In The City I Love

There is not just something about Cape Town. There is Something about this city. Numerous tweets and blogs attest to the absolute passion that its residents have for this incredible city.

I myself have an ongoing love affair with this city. Not the kind which is whispered over illicit phone calls and carries on in seedy motel rooms with a pristine bible on the nightstand, but the kind that you want to shout from the rooftop bar, tell your parents about and change your Facebook status for.

It all started when I was 18 and culminated in some serious commitment when I packed up my life, my boyfriend and my cats and made an 18 hour journey in a car with all three to make Cape Town my permanent home.

Love inspires you to do these things.

What do I love about my city?

To start with it’s beautiful. Jaw-dropping, Instagram inspiring, I’ve got to move here, beautiful. With Table Mountain on one side, the ocean on the other and amazing architecture, wine farms and forests in-between just your drive to work is something.

It’s a vibrant and creatively diverse city, just a walk down a side street to get a coffee will inspire you to write a play, sculpt and start a band and when you get to your coffee spot, you’ll probably find someone there who is doing all three and would love to work with you on your vision.

There’s always something to do. For everyone. No matter your taste. Adrenaline junkies, nature lovers, restaurant connoisseurs, fashionistas and the ordinary Joe Blog who just likes a good burger and beer, Cape Town has what you’re looking for in spades.

I could list a whole lot of things here but for my submission for the ‘3 Things in the City’ I Love contest by Velvet Escape, Traveldudes and Wimdu.co.uk, I can only write about 3 things (the title tells me so) to do or see that will make you fall head over heels for Cape Town.

1. Go taste some delicious wine.

Good wine is good for the soul. True story. And in the Cape we produce some of the best wine. And some of that wine is to be found on the Constantia wine route, just 15 minutes drive from the centre of the city. Follow the wine route and you can taste the world renowned Vin De Constance, a favourite of Napaleon, at Klein Constantia,

2. Go eat some amazing food.

One of Cape Town’s nicknames is Tavern of the Seas and it’s pretty appropriate considering the wide array of food experiences you’ll find in the city. High dining, hipster restaurants, food markets, molecular gastronomy, it really just depends on what you are in the mood for or what you want to try.
My truly favourite restaurant of the moment though that I think embodies the food spirit of Cape Town is El Burro, a very awesome Mexican restaurant that just takes creativity and good food to a whole nother level. And there’s an excellent selection of Tequila. Enough said.

3. Go to the beach.

Like everything else it does Cape Town doesn’t just give you one type of beach to lounge on, there are a host of choices that are all as varied as the swimming costumes you find upon them. From Clifton whose beaches are full of the young, gorgeous and tanned, to Noordhoek where horses and surfers roam, to Simon’s Town home to some very cute penguin bathers, and more besides. My favourite of the moment has to be Noordhoek. The looooong walk, the view and the dunes are very soothing.

I could wax lyrical for about another 20 posts but it wouldn’t come close to conveying how spectacular this city is. Get your extra memory card, book a ticket and come see for yourself!

End Of The Month Furtainment

Since moving to the Mother City I have experienced a drainage of funds quite unlike anything my poor bank account has seen. It’s possibly worse than the great spend of ’09.

So in the interest of all broke explorers out there, here are some great (cheap) things I like to do in the stad.

  • Go feed some squirrels in Company Gardens. Super cute, furry and tame – just quite impatient so don’t delay in handing over the goods. It will cost you R5 but if you can’t scrape that together things are worse than I thought and you might be tempted to catch one and take it home for dinner (and not as a guest).

  • Go wine tasting. And you don’t have to go too far – Constantia is great because it’s kinder on the petrol. A lot of wine farms will have a lower tier free tasting, if not most won’t go past R40. In Stellenbosch and Franshoek the bigger wine cellars charge for tastings but try find smaller cellars.  They’re not as commercial and often have more intimate set ups where you can chat to the winemaker.
  • Go to the beach. Not really an option Winter, or it could be if you’re a brave soul or if the Cape Town weather gods deem that day to be a sunny day.
  • Go visit one of the many great markets around the city, Cape Town Magazine has some good lists. Just don’t go hungry as you’ll end up spending a small fortune on cheese (trust me) or try fill up on the free samples. If there’s two of you work in a team so it doesn’t look like you’re that customer just scarfing all the free bits.
  • Go for a walk on the promenade with ice cream in hand (just not when it’s storming, those high waves are deceptive).
  • Go walk in the forest. We now live near an actual forest. Where faeries set up bars and Jack and Jill got eaten by a witch in a ginger beer house, or something like that.
  • There’s an awful lot of physical stuff towards the end of this list; for those who aren’t so inclined go find a cat, put it on your lap and sit somewhere with a view.

 

Knysna Is Mine Oyster

Moving to the Cape has opened up a whole new set of experiences for me to drag the Photog to, taste/drink and blog about.

Not that I had to do any dragging when I mentioned the idea of the Knysna Oyster Festival. I’d never been but when the name of a festival contains one of my favourite foods, it’s guaranteed to be a good time. Before he met me the Photog wasn’t a big oyster fan, things have changed (luckily for him). So we packed up, found a kitty feeder and embarked on our first proper weekend away since the big move.

We arrived on the Friday and I was in such a state of anticipation of that first tasty mollusc that we just threw our things into our room, took a photo of our view and made our way into town.

Even though neither of us had been to Knysna before things were made super easy thanks to Tabasco, their oyster hotspots, and GPS. They compiled a great list of places serving all sorts of oyster specials, from the fancy schamcny, to the downright budget. All we had to do was look at our list and pick where we wanted to try first. I chose Harry B’s because I liked the sound of oysters done in sherry and it was just down the road from our B&B.

They had more than just oysters cooked in sherry. There was a whole array of scrumptious sounding dishes, from steak stuff with oysters to oyster stuffed calamari but we’d already booked dinner at Cafe Z in the Pezula resort so we just had some fresh oysters to get our tastebuds in the mode of the weekend and the sherry ones. I’ve never been a big fan of cooked oysters, often they’re cooked into rubbery balls of tasteleness but this was not the case with the sherried beauts. Delicious sauce and soft, juicy oysters made our first hotspot a very good one.

Dinner was Cafe Z in the stunning Pezula resort. I’d seen some good reviews of it online and happy customers tweeting about it so we booked on our way down. First stop was a good cocktail in front of a roaring fire and my exhortation to the Photog to find a way to keep me in this sort of style constantly. The thing I love about 5 star places is the service. From walking in the door, to ordering at the bar to the restaurant we felt like the most important people there; a girl could get used to that. The food was worth the trip, especially for the chocolate brownie ice cream peanut brittle mouthgasm.

Saturday started off with the Photog’s man flu taking him down for the count. Luckily I’d bought the pharmacy with me so I dosed him up and head out scouting our day’s activities. At lunchtime he felt up to continuing so we made our way to another hotspot, the Oystercatcher, for some lunchtime oyster goodness and bubbly. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten 12 oysters at a time so the level of happy was quite high at this point.

It just got better with a stop off at the Mitchell’s beer garden. Knysna is home to the Mitchell’s brewery but it was closed on the weekend so we settled for a tasting of all 8 beers. Then we needed to find warmth so we klapped another hotpsot, the Turbine hotel. It’s a really cool hotel in a power turbine. They’ve restored everything beautifully and the hotel bar feels like you’re inside a steampunk watch.

Too much fun was had and we hit the flu wall so it was an early night in our very warm room at Bradach Manor, complete with bath in the enormous tub and some champers. Sunday was the last chance for mollusc madness so I quickly slurped a couple more. Oysters before 11, another first for me.

And then it was off home with a tummy full of deliciousness and a happy pair of explorers.

Tasting the Swartland

This weekend was a good one for the explorer team.  Well it must’ve been to force me to get up off my lazy butt and actually compose a blog entry.

On Saturday we were lucky enough to be taken along to an invite-only wine tasting at the Sadie Family wine estate in the Swartland. The Photog and I have become increasingly interested/obsessed with wines and wine tasting since I gave him the awesome gift of a wine course you can complete in the comfort of your home, from Under the Influence (great course by the by).

It helped me make sense of all the ‘poncy’ wine talk, tasting notes and what people really mean when they say “this wine has a good nose”.

Sadie Family Wines have the best white blend in the country, as voted by the John Platter guide, Palladius. So my taste buds and I were pretty excited on Saturday morning.

I’ve never been to the Swartland before; in fact I didn’t know it even was a wine region (Cape newbie over here). It is beautiful, and so peaceful.  No crowds of tourists seeing how many wine farms they can fit into one drunken afternoon. No signs advertising ‘free’ tastings or great restaurants.  Just little dirt tracks leading up to simply elegant wine farms.

The tasting was a sneak preview of this year’s vintages, divided up into the old vine series and the flagship series; the Palladius and their red blend the Collumela.

The winemakers are two brothers Eben and Nico Sadie, and they are a fresh, unconventional breath in the wine industry.  Eben believes in creating wines that aren’t like anything else.  He wants to make wines that perfectly express where they come from and that year’s vintage.

All of their wines are blends and contain quite a few varietals I’ve never tasted.  The old vine series was delicious, and the Palladius lived up to its hype. The signature red Collumela was beautiful as well and would age so well, if I can just get the Photog to buy me a bottle to start our wine cellar.

After a lovely afternoon of tasting, chatting and nosing we headed to the nearby town of Riebeek Kasteel to get in some rugby time and eat a good meal to soak up our efforts.

We paid a visit to the Royal Hotel where the locals were filling up the bar to watch the game. The hotel is a refurbished 19th century colonial, complete with verandah, cane furniture and palm fronds. And it has a great barman, Job, who will make you the best Gin and Tonic you will ever taste.  Hendricks Gin with cucumber, elegantly served and the perfect ending to a day of wine tasting.

South Africa won (yay) and we finished our day at Bar Bar Black Sheep. It has a reputation for being one of the best bistros in the winelands and I couldn’t agree with this assessment more. The décor is a rustic hodge podge of old furniture, framed recipes, eccentric paintings and a gigantic vinyl covered fridge. All the ingredients in their dishes are locally grown and organic and you can taste it.

We shared a delicious Fisherman’s Lunch Tin to start, which made me so glad that I have gotten over my dislike of sardines. On a side note the baked lemon is meant to be eaten, if you like, I tried it and well it wasn’t for me. Three of us had pies, chicken and springbok, which were baked to perfection with tender and juicy filings. The Photog had the risotto to be different (and to give me the opportunity to taste something else). I’m glad he did, the crispy, baked balls of rice combined with the tomato sauce and cheese was worthy of quite a few stolen mouthfuls. We were too full for the rhubarb pie – when last did you see that on a menu? But I’m not worried, I know we will be back and I will arrive hungry (after a G&T or two across the road).

Moving On Up

I am here.

In Cape Town.

Nothing got broken, lost or stolen and both my furbabies are still with us. I do not have a laptop as yet so blogging has kind of taken a small corner in the backseat of all I still have to get done.

Let me just tell you something – moving cities is not for the faint-hearted.

Some helpful tips for other adventurers out there:

  • try not to let your significant other go on shoot the week you are moving and packing
  • don’t think you can drive from Joburg to Cape town in less than 18 hours
  • don’t think that your two cats will be fine in the car for all that time
  • don’t think stopping off at numerous garages to sneak them into the paraplegic toilets will help
  • do consume lots of coffee, energy drinks and whatever you need to get you through it
  • keep the goal of your new destination in mind – it’ll help you push through the inevitable driving cramps

OR

you could just fly yourself and your pets down, send your car on the train and get there far less frazzled.

But whatevs, I like doing things the hard way.

The moving company we used was great.  When we were looking into movers at first I got some scary quotes and envisioned us selling our belongings and living like gypsies in Cape Town. But then I checked Gumtree and got more palatable ones. Shop around, and tell companies if someone is offering you a better deal.  They’ll often try to better the quote.

And don’t underestimate how much stuff you have. I thought we didn’t have a lot, until I realised we filled up like 6 black bags of rubbish and I hadn’t bought enough boxes.

But also learn to breathe. And drink. I consumed numerous gin and tonics during the packing and sorting phase.  It will get done, you will move everything and you will get to where you’re going.

I did.

And now that I’m here I am so happy I made the move. I am in love with our little french style duplex. I am in love with the fireplace and red wine from all the wine farms we’ve been visiting (a blog post awaiting).

And I think our furry tenants approve of the garden.