Friday, 28 February 2014

Get the Look #3 - Dining Area

Hello Readers,  

Today's "Get the Look" considers a space that is more tactile and rustic than the previous 2 rooms. The dining room / area in the house should be user friendly.  

It is a space for the family to reconcile around a single table and exercise values of love and sharing.  Food prepared by a loving mother should be presented against a backdrop worthy of the effort and care gone into the preparation of a meal.  Dining Areas should reflect the character and habits of the family that fill its seats.

Image from Dustjacket, a blog by Debra

 The dining room above is simple and rustic.  It is placed within a kitchen environment, making it an authentic and informal space.  

one / two / three / four / five / six / seven / eight / nine

- Use of timber and steel as well as the emotive use of candles and flowers lend to an atmospheric space that is inviting and accessible.
- A large "country style" wooden table and bench incite images of wholesome food, served straight out of the pot.
- Bench seating is conducive to family values of sharing.
- Combinations of armchairs, stools and benches provide multiple seating types and add variety to the space.
- A warm rug complements the colour palette and takes the kitchen from clinical to rustic.

All of the items in the product board are available to South Africans.  Click on the corresponding numbers to link to the product website.

If there is a specific look you have in mind and want input on sourcing this locally, please comment with a link to the look you love!

Happy furnishing! ;-)

I'd love to hear from you, please leave a comment. 

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Creative App (Photography) - DMD Panorama

Hello there!

Today's Creative App post is about a panoramic photographing tool which I often use for work and travel.  Dermandar (DMD) Panorama is a photographic app available to Android and Apple users.  This app allows users to take panoramic photographs using their phones / tablets.

In recreation, DMD Panorama finds value in travel.  It assists me in re-creating an encompassing spatial experience that I would have otherwise forgotten. It is especially valuable in scenic environments but shouldn't be ruled out in busy atmospheres like markets, where there is an opportunity to capture the emotion of a moment.

I also found DMD Panorama useful during site visits as a memory jogging tool.  I created a 360' panoramic shot of an internal or external space which I could reference later as an informative indication of the 3 dimensional spatial quality as well as the existing positions of spatial components.

DMD Panorama prompts users to hold their devices vertically, a feature that prevents capturing of floors and ceilings / skies but ensures that the panorama is stitched together perfectly.  After the first shot, the user rotates to the right or left to take the next shot.  The circular indicator lets the user know know if they have gone too far and automatically snaps once the user is in the correct position.  A shortcoming of the app is its resolution of fast moving objects which create a ghost effect during the stitching of two photographs overlapping a single area where the object has moved.  This could also be considered as a creative opportunity to experiment with the accidental.

Once a 360 view has been consolidated, the app plays the 3 dimensional panorama which can then be shared on its own social network or exported as a 2 dimensional image to the camera roll.

Here are a few 2 Dimensional exported panoramas I have taken with DMD Panorama:

Virgin Mobile Cedar Square, Johannesburg

Skate Park and Beach Front, Durban

Chateau de Chantilly, Paris

Chateau de Versailles, Paris

Here are a number of trending Panoramas on the DMD site:

Nicolae Pitis , Poienile Botizei 2012 512
Druid's Temple

I think you can agree that these truly evoke a narrative about the spaces they were taken in.

Happy Panorama!

I'd love to hear from you, please leave a comment.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Hello, it's me again.

Here is a bit about what I've been up to this past week...

I posted this selfie to let my friends know I'm still alive and that my hair looks great.  
Additionally, I love skulls.

I visited Durban for the last few days.  Even though my flight was delayed, I was rewarded with this once I hit the Motherland:

There's nothing more relaxing than a day at the beach!

Suhale and I enjoyed 2 great coffee experiences.  Vovo Telo in Umhlanga matches up to its counter branches in Johannesburg and Pretoria.  We received amazing service from our waiter, Siya.   We also visited Love Coffee on Windermere Road.

Love Coffee has an authentic vibe with its relaxed Durban atmosphere.  
Everything is served impeccably.

I visited my brother's optometry practice, where I met a random child:

He loves Ben 10

I also put his face on a cat:

Durban was wonderful - especially catching up with friends and family and meeting many new faces.  Every time I return, a lot changes, making every single trip interesting.

I have been preparing for my upcoming comedy gig at Arcade Empire in Pretoria next Thursday:

If you're in Pretoria and need a laugh, come watch us - SA's best comics are on the lineup and you won't be disappointed!

Until tomorrow!

A Southern African Safari (a travel memoir) #7

Good Morning!  Please enjoy part 7 of my travel story. 

A Southern African Safari  Travel Memoir  
South Africa - Botswana - Zambia - Zimbabwe - Botswana – South Africa  
17 December 2011 - 24 December 2011 

Entry into Zambia was expensive. Ferry cost, carbon tax, third party insurance, vehicle tax, etc. The Vulture had somehow found his way to Suhale, and assisted him with foreign currency on hand, a convenience that we would pay for. The Zambian currency, Kwacha, was communicated to us as R1 = R500 000 Kwacha. It was at this point that we were ripped off as we later discovered that R1 = R580 000 Kwacha. The Vulture made R300 off us in excess of the R100 tip we provided him with. He pretended to humbly accept our tip while deceiving us through pretention. The border cost us R1400. We paid him ignorantly and made our way to Livingstone, after a 6.5 hour wait at the border.

7. Sunbird Guest House 

We arrive at Sunbird Guest House in Livingstone at 20h30. This was not too late, since we had mentally prepared ourselves for a midnight arrival time, should we need to travel through Zimbabwe. We meet Jacqueline, manager at Sunbird and she shows us to our room. She opens the door, her face revealing guilt and embarrassment. Suhale had planned the trip, made the bookings and communicated with various lodges as to accommodation and rates. His shock convinced us that this was no joke to push us over the edge into the territory of hysteria. This was what we paid for and this is where we’d sleep the night. 

I drew a deep breath, reminding myself of the safety and survival challenges experienced and consciously decided to accept the situation with grace and humour. Arshad and Zarina are not pleased. They enquire if there is another room, with no success. We share a room for the night. All four of us, slept side by side in the two beds, one snoring, another complaining about sinusitis and the ironic smell of peaceful sleep circulating through the room. We were the grandparents from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – too close for comfort, pleasantly bickering with suffering laughter.  

We awake early the next morning, or perhaps it was that we never really slept, apart from Arshad. Suhale returns from a morning jog, incredibly unharmed and we sit at the dining area for breakfast. Livingstone is hot; there is a humidity that feels almost tropical, an image consistent with the number and size of flying insects that inhabit interior spaces, floating lazily, drunk from the heat. 

Jacqueline serves us our continental breakfast. Continental breakfasts generate an image of a substantial meal with a variety of food choices and all-you-can eat glory. Instead we were served bread, bread, one egg and tea. On that day, Jacqueline apologetically informs us that two items are missing: onion and milk. We eat our breakfast, use Zarina’s packed milk for our tea and then leave for the day.

This is the last part of my written journal, which I might conclude if there is enough interest in this story.  In case you missed it, all parts of the story can be found here.  

Thank you for reading and please stop by again.

I'd love to hear from you, please leave a comment. 

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Expecting Guests? Read these tips! (wifi card & note-booklet printable)

Good Morning!

Today's post is about hospitality.  I don't often receive overnight guests, however on the rare occassion that I do, I am quickly overwhelmed by the negative impression I might give thanks to my inexperience in hospitality.

For this reason, I decided to spend some time planning for the arrival of guests so that I am always prepared.

The guiding principle I used for this thought process was pretend you are a guest in somebody else's house. This is a great indicator as to whether you are on the right track or not.  What makes you uncomfortable when visiting?  What would make you happy?  What were you left lacking?

I have come up with these tips which I hope will assist you as much as I find it useful.

1) Restroom

Nothing is worse than running out of toilet paper.  Make sure your guest is left feeling secure with backup supplies of toilet paper in the main bathroom and some fresh towels in their room.
Equip your guest / main bathroom with a flip lid bin lined with a plastic bag and ensure a supply of hand soap near the wash hand basin.  Put in a small stool or bench for your guest to put down their clothing in the restroom.  If the space is limited, use hooks.

Blow their socks off:  Prepare toiletry sets containing toothbrushes, toothpaste, mini soaps, mini shampoo and conditioners, hand cream, tissues and a razor for overnight guests and have these in your guest room.

2) Snacks

Make sure your guests never have to ask for food.  Orientate them around your home and point out the pantry and fridge contents should they be hungry.  Put out some water and glasses in the living room along with some snacks and fruit and leave these out in seal-able containers.  Be considerate and find out if your guest has special dietary requirements or allergies and prepare accordingly.  

Blow their socks off: prepare a snack box for the guest room with some nuts, chocolates, sweets, biltong and bottled water.

3) Temperature Control

Do your best to ensure your guest is cool and comfortable.  If it is winter, equip the room with a basic heater and a spare blanket.  In Summer, put out a fan if your home is not air conditioned.

Blow their socks off:  Welcome guests with a cooling drink if it is a particularly hot day or hot chocolate if it is cold. Put out some electric hot water bottles in Winter.

4) General

- Respect the privacy of your guests.  Leave a key to their room on the door.  
- Provide your guests with an electrical adapter so that they can charge their cellphones.
- Reassure your guests that they may call on you for anything and let them know how they can do this.  If possible, try to go to bed after your guest does so that they can access you without discomfort.
- Make breakfast.  Wake up early if you need to.  If your guest is planning an early departure, prepare a take away breakfast pack with fruit and sandwiches which they can enjoy on their journey.
- Give your guests WIFI access by putting together a card with your username and password.

{Instructions:  Print and cut card according to guidelines.  Fill in the blanks}

- Put together a few note-booklets for your guests with pens.  This is a considerate touch and leaves your guest with a keepsake once their visit is over.

 {Instructions:  Print and cut pages according to guidelines.  Staple pages together and leave in your guest room with a pen}

- Finally, Exceed your guests' expectations and mount a portrait of yourself in the guest room.  That way, your hospitality extends beyond your physical presence and your guest will feel well attended to!

Warning - this is a joke!


Do you have additional tips or interesting stories?
I'd love to hear what you think, please leave a comment.

A Southern African Safari (a travel memoir) #6

Good Morning!  Please enjoy Part 6 of A Southern Afrcan Safari, which will be coming to an end tomorrow. 
A Southern African Safari  Travel Memoir  
South Africa - Botswana - Zambia - Zimbabwe - Botswana – South Africa  
17 December 2011 - 24 December 2011 

6. Not so merry Ferry

It is 13h30 and we decide to brace ourselves for another border crossing. We are eager to arrive in Livingstone, a mere 100 km from the border. We queue in the line and stamp our passports chop-chop while the rain pours. We return to the car, which is part of a vehicular queue, to realise that we have reunited with Kobus who has joined the queue behind us. We wait 1 hour, then 2 and start to wonder once again, how much longer.  Arshad asks a young policeman what the progress is and what the delay is about. The policeman replies that we might cross tomorrow morning. He spoke smugly, I distrusted his information, and we are at the front of the line. 

The sun emerges in restored potency, beating down on the dry landscape.While we wait, truck-drivers are waging battles among each other. Revving with intimidation, they cut each other off, squeeze into small spaces and dispute over crossing the line. We are amused and fascinated while Arshad video-documents their behaviour conspicuously, we are unaware that we would be competing for a spot on the ferry with trucks, towed trucks, and other heavy-duty vehicles. 

It is 15h30 and we enter no-man’s-land to join another 1 of 3 queues before the ferry with 15 cars in front of ours, just in our line. Illegal agents posing as alleged truck drivers and vehicle passengers drift as pedestrians, encouraging travellers and reassuring our hope that we would cross the border on the day. A smooth agent, later named “Vulture”, guided Suhale into speeding up the process of crossing the border by traveling as a pedestrian on the ferry, registering the vehicle and stamping his passport before crossing with the car itself. 

Hoping to be savvy about the process, I decide to accompany Suhale with the documentation and money. The river edge was rife with people adorned in dirty African printed textile wraps. They carried cargo on their bodies, as beasts of burden, waiting to leap through the mud and onto the ferry. 

We realise that only 1 out of the usual 4 ferries is working and is transporting both trucks and cars, the ferry can accommodate 16 cars at a time.Zarina sees us off and waves goodbye as I am wrenched out of my comfort zone. I hold Suhale tightly and fearfully, walking and wondering whether I would be trampled or knocked into the Chobe River by an oblivious Zambian’s wrapped cargo. Cars and
trucks compete to get ahead, cutting each other off, using their own sense of judgement as to who goes on next. 

The police overlooking the passage of vehicles are redundant. There is an underlying sense of action here, it is not controlled, regulated or fair. It is spontaneous and happens in the favour of the stronger-willed driver. He who hesitates is lost.

I only realise that we are on the ferry once it starts moving. I assumed we were walking onto what was a platform or jetty, a precursor to the ferry and was expecting a boat of sorts. Robbed of a momentous sense of arrival, I feel us move while the locals are calm, dark-skinned and odorous, I relax. Near me is a woman in printed cotton sheets with a baby wrapped across her back, his head protruding as a lump, exposed to the insensitive shoving and bumps of passengers who pass by with boxes, and luggage. I looked into the baby’s eyes. He was expressionless, comfortable, accustomed to what I felt was abuse. No amount or intensity of knocks disturbed him. He shed no tears, made no sound. He was there and he accepted it with silent dignity. 

8 minutes later, the ferry docks into a muddy bank absent of boating infrastructure apart from make-shift ramps. We disembark shoulder to shoulder with the locals and discover that “Vulture” had been on the ferry with us. He directs Suhale to immigration counter, where he stamps his passport and then to the vehicle registration office. The spaces and buildings are blue, dispersed and difficult to navigate. We cross from one building to the next through inner courtyard spaces. Perhaps it was the speed at which we moved that confused me but I was disorientated and anxious.The vehicle licensing officer did his job and he did it well. As he had informed the person before us, he would not register the vehicle paper work until the vehicle has crossed the border and he could see it with his own eyes. It was 16h00 and he had his doubts as to whether the vehicle would cross by the closing time of 18h00. He was safe-guarding his work as well as our interest by preventing unnecessary expense and not denying us the opportunity to cross the Zimbabwe border instead. Paper work for the car in Zambia would prevent crossing through Zimbabwe.

His doubt convinced both Suhale and me that we would not cross on that day. The odds were against us. We informed the concerned Vulture as to what had occurred and just like that, he disappeared. Suhale and I wait at the bank for the ferry ride back to the car. We discuss the implausibility of crossing on the day and consider going through Zimbabwe, which had border posts closing at 22h00 and 24h00, leaving us reasonable time for travel and passage. I realise with twisted stomach knots that Suhale had stamped his passport at immigration under advisement of the Vulture and that he might have to stamp it again to signify departure from Zambia to avoid legal problems when entering Zimbabwe. We cross with the locals on the ferry, anyway, ignoring the potential problem we had created for ourselves.

When we reach the bank, we see that Arshad and Zarina were optimistic and had moved in the queue, but we were not convinced that this was substantial enough. We update them on our failed attempts at saving time and our suggestion of going through Zimbabwe. Kobus and his wife join us at our 4x4 wondering what we had experienced as they had their own doubts in spite of encouragement from the agents of no-man’s-land. We express our interest in travelling through Zimbabwe in convoy with Kobus (who had no map) and communicate Suhale’s passport stamp issue to everyone. Kobus’s wife, with highlighted blond high ponytail and equally high pitched voice expressed her irrational fear of travelling through “a country like Zimbabwe” and that she was afraid of Suhale’s passport stamping “happening to her”. Her paranoia and stress was contagious and nauseating, but fuelled by prejudice.  

It made Zarina sick and stressed her out too. We understood why Kobus cursed; it was a coping strategy to manage stress generated by Mev Kobus, who didn’t seem to want to travel in Africa in the first place. Suhale decides to cross with the ferry as a passenger one more time in order to stamp his passport. It is 17h00 and my anxiety overwhelms me to the extent that my stomach churns burns and tumbles. I need the bath room but this is the least of my concern. I hope and pray that my husband makes it back with the ferry in time and stamps his passport. There is no way of contacting him from across the border should he be stranded. I liberally communicate all my emotional and physical reactions to Arshad and Zarina who listen, comfort me and joke that Suhale can swim across the Chobe River. I knew my husband well enough to recognize that he would attempt this if push came to shove, crocodiles, hippos and all. He was a survivor.  

Those 20 minutes were the most uneasy and uncomfortable minutes of my African experience. The Vulture made a shy reappearance, walking past us evasively, as I directed all my anger towards him. He was the reason for Suhale running around like a blue-ass-fly (an expression adopted from my father for hopeless situations resulting from incompetence and stupidity). We watch the ferry approaching as I hope with all my heart that Suhale is on it for we estimate that this would be the last ferry returning. Suhale leaps towards us, a smile on his face: the poster-child of reassurance.  Everything is going to be ok. My bowels stabalise. I did not care if I had to poop in the bush or sleep in the car, as long as Suhale is with me. 

It is 17h30 and we decide with Kobus to wait in the ferry queue for just 30 minutes more because you never know. Trucks bully cars, tensions soar and brakes screech. This final ferry before 18h00 takes 2 trucks and 4 cars. We are left in the lurch, not astonished, time wasted and yet hope still lingers and the policemen walk through the queue counting cars. Could this mean that the ferry will return? Our faith in the police had wavered; they had not exhibited any control or even self-confidence, for that matter. We decide to wait anyway, because another half an hour in the context of 5 hours is insignificant.

Indeed, miraculously, the ferry returns beyond its 18h00 cut-off time, as an act of good faith to collect as many cars as possible and offer safe transit into Zambia to those who waited all day. In the words of a policewoman at the border post earlier that day, “patience pays,” and in this case it did. Arshad drives the 4x4 onto the ferry as the 3 of us cheer the car along with every last breath in our bodies, emotions running high through incredulous laughter as the Ford Ranger ascends. Kobus makes it too, along with the other 8 cars around us. We triumph.

Africa = Adventure.   If you have enjoyed the story and would love to read more about our Southern African adventures, please comment... 
I'd love to hear from you, please leave a comment.

Monday, 24 February 2014

Beautiful Find - Retronaut

Hello Readers,

I want to share an amazing website I stumbled across called Retronaut. 

Retronaut is a photographic database of images dating throughout history curated and presented on a website which is run by a team of 5 individuals.

The pictures are categorized chronologically, according to subject matter and according to popularity.  Some collections include a contextual write up providing further insight. 

As a lover of antiques, photography and history, I was fascinated by the extensive collection of photographs and the range in subject matter available on the website. 

Here are a few of my favourite photos:
This is especially interesting, as I visited this site in December.

Retronaut's contribution to historical documentation is commendable.  Having received positive testimonials from the likes of BBC, there is no doubt as to the credibility and quality of the site and its content.

Beware!  Retronaut is a time trap.  You might lose track of time, losing yourself in another time.

I'd love to hear from you, please leave a comment.

A Southern African Safari (a travel memoir) #5

Good Monday Morning Peeps! Here is Part 5 of A Southern African Safari to enjoy with your morning coffee!   Get Parts 1 - 5 here.

A Southern African Safari  Travel Memoir South Africa - Botswana - Zambia - Zimbabwe - Botswana – South Africa 17 December 2011 - 24 December 2011 

5. Baobab

We awake early on Day 2, pack the car and prepare to leave. Zarina, who had stored the meat in Emoyo’s freezer the night before, had efficiently made sandwiches for the day’s trip. As we pack, Suhale and Arshad chat with another traveler, a middle-aged man named Kobus. Kobus was from Kempton Park and his children were guilty of noise-making the day before. 

Kobus would also be heading to Zambia on that day. Like us, he plans crossing the Chobe - Kazangula border via ferry between Botswana and Zambia, even though his wife had some-how managed to throw away his maps of Southern Africa. Kobus was profane, even in front of his 9 year old son. “She fokken threw it away!” I found his vocabulary reckless, however things have a way of being explained without direct explanation. 

Our trip between Francistown and the border was prolonged by construction. Wilderness borders the highway in a surprising manner, yet consistent with African stereotypes. While travelling along the make-shift road alongside newly constructed tar, Zarina announces the smell of elephant dung.  Amused, we travel further to be confronted by two elephant adults alongside the road. Although prepared by the road-side signage that elephants occupy these lands and Zarina’s keen sense of smell, we gaze in complete surprise at the creatures peacefully chewing on the trees, blissfully ignoring us.  As we travel further along the highway, we spot a bull elephant. He is enormous and mythical-looking, with giant tusks and flapping ears, we understand the gesture* and move on. We were traveling on Botswana’s national highway, which also happened to be the heart of wild Africa.  It was surreal.  

Since Chobe was a mere 180 km from Francistown, Suhale suggested that we visit the Baobab trees of Chobe before crossing the border. We arrive in Chobe to encounter a queue of trucks spanning over 1 km. When questioning a truck-driver about the queuing, we discover that the trucks were waiting to cross the border and that some of the ferries were not operating. The delay was only affecting the trucks and the car ferries were operational. “How long have you been here?” Arshad asks. “Weeks, maybe days,” the driver responds. We leave him with sad smiles, sweets and good wishes, without realising our own fate.  

We stop at a shopping centre to buy some fresh bread for sandwiches. The centre was alongside the Chobe River and the use of the toilet cost 1 Pula, including toilet paper.  The toilet attendant accepted our coins from her make-shift office, which was once a wheelchair accessible toilet. Her resourcefulness extended to the transformation of what was once a toilet seat for the disabled into a chair for her behind. 

On the way back to our vehicle, we walk along the river edge and meet a man with a boat. He is enthralled by Suhale and wants Arshad’s “badni bottle” for drinking. After explaining the use of the bottle, the man stops asking. As we return to the 4x4, we observe a warthog with its babies, proudly familiar with humans, marching in the shade under a truck. Heart-warmed, we continue.  

The baobab could not be missed. Enormous, glorious, present and bold, it was a sign of God. This tree was beautiful. In spite of its vandalism, inconsiderate context and polluted environment, it had its dignity and it brought s joy. Arshad climbed the tree. 

We appreciated the baobab, which was worth searching for.

*Natural Africa is beautiful in that its wilderness is preserved.  Out creatures are amazing because they are untamed and unpredictable.  We love visitors, but please remember: wild is wild!  Don't provoke our animals.  They will unjustly suffer death for defending themselves.  Watch this:  Elephant attacks vehicle in Kruger National Park.

;-) Thanks for stopping by and see you soon!
I'd love to hear from you, please leave a comment.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Enjoy Everyday

Don't look so blue... 
While the weekend is winding down, remember that every day you live, it is YOUR life to live by. 

Image from Fre-ya, a blog by Freya

So set the rules, make the most out of this life, be the best you can be and, most importantly, 
 make the effort to enjoy every single day!


Friday, 21 February 2014

Get the Look #2 - Home Workspace

Hello Readers & Happy Friday!

As I mentioned in last week's post, the weekly "Get the Look" post, will contain a popular interior look I have found on Pinterest and a product board of local (available in South Africa) alternatives I have put together so that you can source the look for your own home!  Check out Get the Look #1 - Living Room!

Today's Get the Look post focuses on the home workspace.  Given my recent decision to start a home office, I have been scanning Pinterest for some inspiration on creating a welcoming work station. 

The home workspace should be kept neutral to allow focus and concentration.  This room should be equipped with accessible storage opportunities for paper and stationery.  Depending on your workspace needs, this room should be customised to make your work easier and more efficient.

Image from designsponge

The workspace above combines a light, white and natural palette with timber floors and accents in patterned black and white, as well as typographical posters.  

one / two / three / four* / five / six / seven
- The Eames Eiffel chair is outstanding and adds design character to the workspace.
- Trestle tables are versatile in that they can be dismantled and reassembled easily.
- This space provide multiple layers of storage:  The tiered cart provides a mobile storage solution for any loose items one might store in a home workspace.  Shelves with drawers allow you to hide away unattractive objects and are a universal storage solution. Storage boxes make it simple to categorise items that you need to store. Clipboards allow you to display work orientated lists and inspiring quotes to keep you focused and motivated.
- * Item four is available at Typo stores.

All of the items in the product board are available to South Africans.  Click on the corresponding numbers to link to the product website.

If there is a specific look you have in mind and want input on sourcing this locally, please comment with a link to the look you love!

Happy furnishing! ;-)

I'd love to hear from you, please leave a comment. 

A Southern African Safari (a travel memoir) #4

Good Morning, It's Friday! 
Please enjoy Part 4 of my travel memoirs.  Earlier posts can be found here.

A Southern African Safari 
Travel Memoir
South Africa - Botswana - Zambia - Zimbabwe - Botswana – South Africa
17 December 2011 - 24 December 2011 

4. Snake-walker

We cross Martin’s Drift to enter Botswana and decide to refuel. It is not uncommon for South Africans to cross the border just for fuel, Botswana fuel is cheaper. We discover that the Pula is stronger than the Rand, but the extent of the discrepancy was manipulated from place to place depending on fuel attendants, shops, informal sales people and service providers. The accurate rate was R1.00 = 1.08 Pula, a minute difference, often translated to 1: 1.25 by the opportunistic. The fuel was still cheaper than in South Africa, even with exploitation.

Finally, we reach Francistown, attempting to decipher the directions provided by the lodge we would be staying at. We decide to ask for directions to Molapo estates, the area. We stop at another hotel, isolated along the main road. It is alone and large with opulent facade treatment. The manager emerges, provides us with directions and insists we check in to his hotel. He was wheeling and dealing with a fake smile in a fake golden interior amongst chrome clad plastic furniture. It was gaudy, bad-taste, the misconception of luxury and completely unbearable. 

We drive around more and stop at a water purification plant for more directions. A lady at the security point stands up and gestures expressively as to how to get there, she turns her body to orientate her mind and swings her hips and arms as a car would swerve. She is characteristic and comical, Zarina and I giggle with shame while Suhale asks for elaboration. This is too much and too funny.

We arrive at Emoyo Villa at 16h30 that day, tired and sweaty and our rooms are not ready. We wait outside until dry bedding arrives. Beryl, the receptionist, asks us to bear with her as they have had recent floods. We sit in patience in the lappa outside, it is calming and peaceful, with birds and insects and crafted wicker chairs. Beryl makes us a pot of the best tea I would have in this African Safari. She brews it with lemon grass, discovered in the garden by Arshad and Zarina, who encourage her to add it to the tea pot. Suhale jokingly asks for biscuits and Beryl hospitably sends someone to buy a variety after we insist that she shouldn’t worry.

We ask Beryl about traditional Botswana food and she provides us with an extensive list: Mopane worms, pap, boiled and pounded meat made with salt, pumpkin baked with mielie meal and beef. Beryl is friendly, obliging and open. We enjoy her company and finally check into our rooms without towels.

Staying at Emoyo Villa was like visiting an absent minded aunt for the night. Frustrated babies cry and keep everyone awake, their exhausted parents fight through gritted teeth with awkward restraint and the bed spreads are old fashioned. The rooms were clean. After showering and failed attempts at sleep, we decide to return to the solace of the lappa and discuss our plan of action for day 2. Here, I discover through discussion with Arshad that some rooms received extra towels while we were still awaiting our first set. We found this annoying and disrespectful and Suhale diplomatically complains and settles the account while the three of us remain in the lappa.

We notice many worms on the floor moving in a typical worm way, yet somehow this surprised me. We also identify a rhino dung beetle, tough and clad in armour. Once Suhale returns, we gossip about the other occupants, the towels as a misunderstanding and plan our route for the next day. The crying baby tires and ceases and we return to the villa.

I walk ahead and open the door, with Suhale behind me. Suhale yelps out a sound I’ve never heard before “Whoeewwhh!” and as I turn around, I see a brown house snake recoiling and slithering away from me. I remain unalarmed, completely oblivious that I had just stepped on the snake (with open shoes) before opening the door, with Suhale witnessing all.

Staff members and occupants of Emoyo Villa flood out to determine the commotion as Suhale and Arshad try to get closer views of the snake that had slithered with cowardice under a car. A man emerges from the Villa and wants to know what’s going on. We tell him about the snake and he asks, “But why are you killing it?” His naive concern was amusing.

The freak occurrence of stepping on the snake and surviving landed me the courageous nick-name of “Snake-Walker”.

Africa is unpredictable!  Read how we experience the unimaginable from Part 5 onwards...

I'd love to hear from you, please leave a comment.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Ask Me on Ask Nanima?

Hello everyone! 

On Tuesday, I posted "Ask Me on Ask Nanima?" regarding the Ask Nanima forum I will be hosting as a design expert on the Ask Nanima website.  

Here is a bit about what the forum is about:

Your home is a place of solitude. It is the place you wake up every day and it the space in which you enjoy the company of your loved ones.  Our most treasured memories are formed in our homes – It is necessary that our homes become a beautiful backdrop to our colourful memories.  

Zakkiya has decided to partake in the Ask Nanima décor drama forum where she will be available to respond to your home design and décor questions using her industry knowledge.  She will also provide insight and tips on achievable home face-lifts as discussion topics.  

- Ask Nanima

The forum is now open for discussion, have a look and ask questions, I'll be happy to help with some useful tips!  

Creative App (Photography): Afterlight

Hello Readers,

A year ago, I bought myself an iPad.  In spite of the debate surrounding Apple vs Android, I have to say that I love my Apple device and it has changed my life.  This is in no disrespect to Android - I don't own any Android devices so I have no debate to offer.  This post is therefore written from the perspective of an Apple user.

I am often caught (embarassingly so) taking photos with my iPad.  This is because:
1. I am a dork
2. I love documenting my observations through pictures &
3. This is my cellphone:

Cellphone incapable of photography.
Image taken with iPad ;-)

Afterlight is a photograph editing app which I downloaded last year onto my iPad.  It offers the same retro editing capabilities as Instagram, however it is not a direct social platform.  After editing a photo, you can share it on any one of the major social platforms or save it to your camera roll.

Here are some examples of the raw image above edited on Afterlight:

Afterlight offers users standard photo editing tools (brightness, contrast, saturation, shadows, highlights etc.) but combines this utility with options of filters and frames as well as light leaks and spots which can be added in preferred combinations.  This provides the user more control in upgrading a photo to communicate the intended spirit.

As an amateur photographer, I have used Afterlight to upgrade my photos in a way that they are presentable enough that I am proud of them.  Here are more examples:

Afterlight is currently only available on iOS and will become available for Android users this year (2014).

What are your favourite photo editing apps?

I'd love to hear from you, please leave a comment.

A Southern African Safari (a travel memoir) #3

Good Morning!

If you haven't been here before, welcome!  I will be posting about my exciting adventure around Southern Africa in 2011.  Read Part 1 and Part 2 first. ;-)

A Southern African Safari 
Travel Memoir
 South Africa - Botswana - Zambia - Zimbabwe - Botswana – South Africa
17 December 2011 - 24 December 2011

3. Ready Steady Go

Bright and early at 5am and we are ready to go, this is summer in South Africa. Your eyes open with the sun rising and cheerful energy overwhelms as the birds chirp and the trees rustle. I gesture good-byes to my oblivious cats, take one final breath in my home and finally, leap into the 4x4. And so it begins. Day 1’s road trip was pleasant. We chatted and chatted and snacked on the road, updating each other, observing the changing landscape of trees, savannah, mountains, trees, singing along with CDs and telling jokes.

Grobler’s Bridge border, 370km from Pretoria, appears in the distance beyond the 30 cars in front of the gate. We stop, chat to other travelers, stretch our legs and exchange guessing games of how much longer we wait. The pause before the gate was surrounded by rural farmland, informal villages and its people. The village people shamelessly sweat and walk, loosely clothed, barefoot and excited about seeing the city people. Children wave as the heat waves. I am sweating too, but self-consciously as
other bodily functions take control and I need to use the bathroom.

Remarkably, the sky was filled with white butterflies, in new metamorphosis, fluttering to their deaths on the windshields of moving vehicles and reduced to grimy splatter, no CSI mystery here, just butterfly suicides, a hopeless and amusing tragedy. Arshad and Zarina decide to do some insider investigation and discover how to finish quicker by filling out forms and waiting in the immigration queue while Suhale and I wait at the car.

2.5 hours sounds long and felt long, but is really not long. Once we parked beyond the gate, we found Arshad and Zarina at the SARS and immigration line. This was a narrow queue in a narrow building, barred uncomfortably with only one official staff member offering service through narrow wall openings during the peak December holiday period.

Although not so much a shock than a realisation, the fact that Government buildings and official waiting areas are designed as uncomfortable sardine-can-packed single file areas in exposed African sunlight with crying children and nowhere to sit is telling. We spent 2.5 hours waiting, with no seating, garden or shade, but at least there was a toilet and police everywhere.

This is how we left our country.


Are you ready for Wild Africa to take over? ;-)

I'd love to hear from you, please leave a comment.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

What I've been up to


It has been a week and a half since I've started posting on Winking Plum!
In going from a busy office to a home office, there's always the fear that I might get lonely.

Whenever I feel that way, I remind myself:

 This image is from Wiffle GIF

I have me. 
I also have Looseal.

Happy Wednesday!  

A Southern African Safari (a travel memoir) #2

Good Morning!

Please enjoy part 2 of my travel log.  Read Part 1 first.

A Southern African Safari 
Travel Memoir
 South Africa - Botswana - Zambia - Zimbabwe - Botswana – South Africa
17 December 2011 - 24 December 2011

2. Preparation and Packing

What does one take on an African safari? We made a list. In my mind, food was crucial, not as much for survival as for pleasure; a factor that could make or break me. We decided to split the shopping list and bring along items which we already had at home. Suhale decided to purchase two plastic crates which contained loose items in a water-proof and portable manner.

The large crate contained the following:Canned food (baked beans, tinned fish, tuna, onion and tomato, spaghetti in tomato sauce, sweetcorn, vegetables), sachet food (pasta, smash), pasta, paper towels, paper plates, plate-holders, dish cloths, cutlery, pots and pan, 1l steel cups, foil, chopping board, onion (which was not allowed across the border but smuggled through), long-life milk, tea, coffee, sugar and oil.

The smaller crate contained non-food related items such as:Torches, matches, lighter, insect repellents, sun block, washing powder, dish washing liquid, sponge, toilet rolls, picnic mat.

A cooler bag containing butter, and meat was also packed, but due to fear of meat-confiscation (foot and mouth disease regulations) across the Botswana border, Zarina cooked the steak and par-boiled the sausages. She also packed raw marinated chicken and a bag of peaches which were over-looked at the border.

Other essential items for packing were a gas stove and jerry cans for fuel storage due to shortages in Zimbabwe. We also packed snacks including chips, chocolate, sweets, biscuits and sandwiches. The padkos consisted of chicken burgers, vegetable burgers and sausage rolls.  Personal packing items included; passports, medications, caps, swimming clothes, water-proof jacket, sunglasses, takkies, open shoes, and day-to-day clothing.

Because we decided to use Suhale’s father’s 4x4 for our journey, some paperwork had to be completed in order to ensure legal passage between countries. This included a letter from Suhale’s father confirming permission to identified drivers to use the vehicle in specific countries and a certified copy of the car log information.Other than these documents, a list of serial numbers of all electronic equipment (laptops, cell-phones, cameras, GPS, music players) was required at the Zimbabwe border. As a precaution, it is recommended that certified copies of passports also be made and stored in a location away from the original passports. 

A map book of Southern Africa and a GPS with maps of Southern Africa were packed for navigation. We carried 2 reflective “car-guard” vests and a magnetic ZA sticker too.Botswana and Zambia are malaria zones, so packing mosquito repellents and taking anti-malaria medication was crucial. I decided to not take malaria medication since I suffer from side-effects and opted to rigorously apply repellents to myself although I was still bitten during the trip.

Budget: We decided to work within a budget of about R3500 per person including accommodation, petrol, tolls, border costs and activities. This seemed ambitious for a week-long trip, but we each put down R1000 towards a kitty at the start of the trip for travel costs.Paper work, finances and packing aside, we were ready to go.


Are you enjoying the story? ;-) 

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Gifts from my garden (label printable)

Good Afternoon!

Given the recent summer rains, my outdoor potted herbs have been experiencing a growth spurt.  My mint, particularly, has been taking beautifully.  Thinking back at the sapling I purchased a year ago at the Boeremark, I am very proud of how substantial my plants have become.

This does leave me with plenty of herbs and the opportunity to share my fresh mint with friends and family.  To add a special touch, I designed a "from the garden of" label to personalise my herb packaging.

{Print on card and cut along guidelines.  Staple on packaging.  
For a rustic feeling, use paper bags and print the label on brown card.}  

Happy gardening! ;-)

Ask Me on Ask Nanima?

Hello, there! I hope you are having a fabulous day!

For some of you who know me, you would know that I have some history with the Ask Nanima brand.  In 2012, I participated in the Ask Nanima Lunch Date competition.  It was an exciting experience and although I was a runner up,  I enjoyed the challenge and did my best.

Below is a delicious dish I cooked in the competition - a Rocket Fueled Mushroom! Yummy!

 Image by Shoot Cake from Ask Nanima, a blog by Nanima

Since the launch of Winking Plum, Nanima has asked me to consult as a design expert on her website forum.  How exciting!

Once the link and forum is set up and ready, I will announce it here and on my facebook page!
I cannot wait to share some design and decor tips for your home and lifestyle!

I'd love to hear from you, please leave a comment.

A Southern African Safari (a travel memoir) #1

Hello Readers!

I’ve decided to share with you daily, excerpts of a piece I wrote two years ago.  This is a travel memoir.  It is a record of my experiences during a trip with my husband and friends around Southern Africa during December 2011.  Although it is imperfect, this piece has been hidden behind a desktop folder for too long and I feel it’s time it is shared!

As a side note, I wrote this directly after my year of studying masters.  Reflecting on that year, my writing style here is in complete contrast to my dissertation.  After a year of writing academically, I (amusingly) found balance in indulging in descriptive story telling.

Writing gives me joy.  I hope you enjoy reading these memoirs as much as I enjoyed writing them!   


A Southern African Safari 
Travel Memoir
 South Africa - Botswana - Zambia - Zimbabwe - Botswana – South Africa
17 December 2011 - 24 December 2011

1. The Planning

That November’s Sunday afternoon was well-spent on ice-cream cones and waffles with golden syrup in the Pretoria heat, joking and planning our December African safari.

We were four individuals, two couples. I, Zakkiya, was just recovering from a strenuous master’s year of studies, Suhale, my husband was bursting with anticipation over tiger fishing in the Zambezi River and Arshad and Zarina were excited about getting acquainted with Southern Africa and experiencing adventure. I didn’t have a single hope or expectation but the tradition of braaing under the night sky and playing Scrabble after dinner. To me, this was typical of any holiday and I looked forward to it.

Suhale had planned the trip for us all. Along with having had prior African travel experience, he was enthusiastic about taking me and showing me. Contrary to my usual need to control, I was relieved to relinquish responsibility and all too happy to go along with the ride.

The usual questions of, “what should we bring?”; “what will we eat?”; “where are we going?” and “what’s on the itinerary?”, coupled with map calculations, jerry cans, board games, white-water rafting and planned day-to-day activities could not have prepared us for the journey ahead, for Africa had its own idea.


Liked what you read?  Read Part 2 tomorrow morning!
I'd love to hear from you, please leave a comment.