I derive an immense (read unnatural) amount of joy from stumbling upon products that exceed expectations in terms of form, function and utility. I’ve been travelling to Johannesburg a lot and needed a handy wheelie bag to get me from A-Z with enough space for some clothes and my laptop and cables and things, but small enough to constitute carry-on luggage. I’m a stickler for design so wanted something slick and easy on the eye: enter the Incase travel bag range. You know Incase, the’re famous for Apple device protection. Well, they’ve remained true to their promise and expanded their range into luggage; I treated myself to the nifty Hardshell Roller. The roller has a protective glossy outer shell on the one side and the rest is upholstered in a beautiful grey fabric with green accents, like the wheels. The inner has storage compartments for days including a section specifically designed to keep your Macbook safe, and an expandable zip for when that credit card gets used a little more than anticipated. Here’s the Hardshell Roller and some of the other bags in the family:
Neat, hey? You can buy these bad boys in South Africa exclusively through iStore.
It’s less than two months until the FIFA World Cup kicks off in Brazil. I know right, where did those 4 years disappear to? I must admit, Brazil’s not featured all that prominently on my must-visit list, however after stumbling upon this Cara Delevigne for Vogue Brazil spread this weekend, I’m kinda bleak I’m missing out on the phenomenal photo opportunities that the game and country will present – I mean, colour and culture for days! Also, I have total eyebrow envy right now…
If, like me, you won’t be experiencing the Brazil fever in person, then catch it live and in HD on two dedicated SuperSport channels. You can also follow @SuperSportTV and @SuperSportBlitz on twitter. Click here for a little inspiration.
Best you dust off your vuvuzela!
Photographs by Jaques Dequeker
My guy and I decided to get out of town on the long weekend a couple weeks back, nose aimed at Grootbos. I’ve been taunted by this Western Cape getaway destination for an age on Instagram (they do a great job on social media, by the way) and I’m chuffed to finally have crossed this off my ‘must-experience‘ list. Although I must admit it’s now firmly on my ‘to visit in winter‘ list; wine and fire-places in abundance.
Grootbos is five-star rated and is nestled between the mountains and sea on the Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, an eco-paradise. It’s an easy 2 hour drive from Cape Town, just 30 minutes beyond Hermanus and a stone’s throw from Stanford, my favourite South African town. It’s the kind of place where you’re greeted by name, a smile and nothing is ever too much – the service is outstanding. We stayed at the Forest Lodge, but other options include the Villa (sleeps 12) and the Garden Lodge. Upon arrival you’re offered a drink and a list of all the complimentary activities at your disposal during your stay – win! We opted for an advanced horse-ride out in the reserve. There are beginner and intermediate options too and I’d encourage this activity – it’s a great way to see the reserve and the trails, horses and facilities are world-class. Some of the other activities include exploring the ancient caves in the area, game drives, 4×4 flower safaris, bird-watching tours and beach picnics. There are also some paid options like scenic flights, quad-biking, shark cage diving and visiting Dyer Island. We opted for some R&R at the spa.
I suppose I’ve saved the best for last: the food. You won’t go hungry during your stay. Enjoy a casual, buffet-style breakfast and lunch, both with menu options. Then brace yourself for the gastronomical five-course dinner, reinvented daily by Executive Chef Duane Lewis.
I could ramble on for ages about the breath-taking private lodges nestled in the fynbos, the conservation programmes, the design and decor, the outside showers, the amazing swimming pool, the fireplaces, but I’ll let the pictures do the talking. Do yourself a favour and add Grootbos to your travel to-do list, you wont be sorry.
Photographs by Derrick Carolin
And now for the exciting bit! I approached Grootbos about offering a reader giveaway and they’ve very generously offered a winter weekend break for two. I need you to click here to check out all the Grootbos experiences on offer, and then tell me which one tops your to-do list by commenting on this blog post. For an additional entry, follow @Grootbos on twitter, and then leave a second comment here telling me you’ve followed them.
T’s & C’s: The prize includes five-star accommodation for two at Grootbos Lodge and Nature Reserve, including full English breakfast, three course lunch, five course dinner and all activities offered on the reserve (except boat trips, spa treatments, beach horse riding and scenic flights). Kindly note that all beverages will be for your own account, valid from 01 May – 31 July 2014. Subject to availability. Competition closes midnight on April 17th. The winner will be announced on the Morning of Friday April 18th.
I’ve been looking for an old-fashioned dress watch for ages and finally managed to find one; Daniel Wellington. The range is simple, classic and now available in South Africa at Latitude33 (Cape Town) and Toast & Co. (Johannesburg) or online via KIPH. I opted for the Classic St. Andrews Lady in rose gold; I have a thing about brown leather. Here she is…
Here’s a little look at their men’s and women’s ranges, or you can check out the lot online here at www.danielwellington.com:
This year GAP invited me to join their global ambassador program STYLD.BY. It’s essentially a collective of bloggers, influencers, artists, photographers and stylists who create content for STYLD.BY, GAP’s lifestyle blog. The idea is to put together a few looks using a key piece, and this month’s theme is Spectrum of Colour and how to incorporate pops of colour into your wardrobe. I chose to feature the 1969 Destructed Sexy Boyfriend jeans which I am basically living in at the moment. The skinny brown braided belt is also from GAP. Here’s my first look, I’ve used bright red lips to inject a bit-o-colour into the look…
That’s my staple wardrobe; whites, blues and brown leather. I’m trying to be more adventurous with colour, especially using lipstick. It’s such an easy way to transform a look. My next edit is a little more on the sporty side. These are my favourite PUMA running shoes and I thought I’d let them see the light of day in a look that doesn’t comprise spandex alone…
And lastly, as we gear up for a rainy Cape Town winter, this is how I’d add a colour pop to a comfortable weekend look…
Photographs // Craig Kolesky
I was recently invited to experience the annual marula fruit harvest with the Amarula brand team in Phalaborwa; a once in a lifetime opportunity. 70 of us were flown from around the country to the Kapama Private Game Reserve to experience the brand and its roots in all its glory. Last year Samsung had approached me with the proposal of a review of the NX300 camera and this trip provided the perfect opportunity to put it to the test. Before I get into the technical review of the camera, here are some of my favourite pictures from the trip. Note, I’m not a photographer. Hell, ISO sounds like something delicious you frost a cake with. That said, I think these turned out pretty well despite my lack of skill/knowledge.
I loved reviewing the Samsung NX300. And I won’t bore you with the technical details until the end where I’ve listed them in bullet points for those who insist. But for amateurs like me, interested in taking a decent photograph with a camera that’s easy to navigate, small enough to carry around without the hassle of big bags and lenses and things, then the NX300 is your guy! It’s got fancy features like built in WiFi which allows you to share via your smartphone and social media, but two of the things I like most are its design (there’s something retro about it) and its shutter sound. It makes that amazing, raw old-school ‘click click‘ sound.
The Samsung NX300 also comes with some nifty Instagramesque editing filters to help you get the effect you’re after. If you’re not comfortable with editing on the camera, it comes bundled with Photoshop Lightroom 4 which is also easy to use and fun to fool around with. I edited some of the photos in this post with it for the purpose of this review.
Samsung NX300 Product Features:
- Comes in 3 colour options: all white, silver & black, brown leather & silver
- WiFi direct link, share to Android or iOS via the Samsung Smart Camera App, option to save to camera and smartphone, or camera only
- Remote viewfinder function via the App
- Movie recording functionality
- Smart filter settings
- Bundled with Photoshop Lightroom 4 software
- Large APS-C sensor with excellent high ISO performance
- 18-55mm kit lens
- No viewfinder
- No built-in flash (attachment only)
- In-camera battery charging (accessory available)
If you’re wondering about the elephants in the last few photos, this is the orphan herd from the incredible Jabulani Camp at Kapama. These elephants were rescued from Zimbabwe by Lente Roode and rehabilitated. The attempt to release them back into the wild was unsuccessful as they’ve only ever known humans. They now live in a semi-wild camp at Kapama. Go ahead and add this experience to your bucket list!
When I travel to new cities I can’t help but consider the PR and brand machines behind them. New York, Paris, Vancouver and, well, any Scandinavian city are right up there with the best of them. And don’t for a second think that the positive PR is all organic; beaucoup de cash is spent by city tourism departments on generating awareness, creating new news, profiling hip new places, securing movie locations etc. My thought thread always leads to the same place: Johannesburg needs better PR.
If I had a Rand for every time I’ve promoted Jozi to a stranger I wouldn’t have to work. I caught myself doing it on a flight from Cape Town last week with an elderly couple from Raleigh, North Carolina. That conversation prompted me to write this; it’s something I’ve wanted to do since I left Johannesburg a year ago.
But before I get into the stuff that makes Johannesburg awesome, I need to say this:
You see, what’s worse for me than ignorant foreigners is ignorant South Africans. Enter *that* Capetonian. You know the one, the one who hot-foots it out of Johannesburg faster than a Mitchell’s Plain gangsta in a new Opel Astra OPC. The one who goes to Midrand for a meeting and declares Johannesburg a shit-hole. The one who once visited a relative in Kempton Park and decided Johannesburg is ugly. The one who’s never been to Johannesburg but could never live there.
This person is Johannesburg’s worst enemy. But I’m not here to sling mud; I’m here to say that we all have a role to play in promoting this incredible country in which we live. And that means talking up cities and places other than Cape Town – she needs no help, having won nature’s lottery. Johannesburg on the other hand needs a leg up, and it’s up to us to give her one. That includes you, Capetonians.
One of the most memorable conversations I’ve had was around a dinner table in Gloucester Road, London with dear friends of mine Clare and Omar. She’s British, he’s Pakistani, and they have a knack for throwing dinner parties of epic proportions and bringing together people from all over the world. After too many cigars and fine Tequila one night I found myself having a debate with a Mexican and a Pakistani over which city was more amazing; Mexico City, Lahore or Johannesburg. We weren’t finding some sick pleasure in recounting horror stories about crime and poverty, we were PRing our native cities.
Crime. I’m not going to pretend it doesn’t exist in Johannesburg. It does. As it exists the world over. I’ve had one experience with crime. Fortunately for my brother and I we came out on the lucky end of what I fear could have been an awful encounter in an alleyway trying to access a hotel in the wee hours of the morning. Oh, and that was in Cincinnati, Ohio. Every city has ruin, dangerous bits and no-go zones. So, no-go there! And for God’s sake don’t venture there in your khaki safari attire with your camera slung around your neck. You don’t do that in New York or in London, so don’t do it in Johannesburg – it’s not a safari.
I was born in the Johannesburg General Hospital in the 80s and grew up in Benoni. Somewhere between the mine dumps, Bunny Park and the East Rand Mall a love for the place was born. Instead of it waning as we moved overseas for my father’s work, it grew. In 2010 I was finally reunited with my birthplace and it exceeded every expectation I had of it. Here are some of the reasons I love Johannesburg, some of the reasons I’d encourage any visitor to spend some time there and not simply pass through en route to Cape Town or the Kruger National Park. I heart Jozi because of…
If you’ve got any other tips, must-sees, must-dos, please add a comment. And if you share my sentiment, please send this to someone, foreign or not, who thinks Johannesburg is ugly. One by one we can help PR this incredible city.
*I’ve linked all images to their sources. If you’re the owner of one of these images and would like it removed, or credited within the caption, please just drop me a line.