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.
Where do I even begin to describe my obsession with stationery? It started at a very young age, and to put it into perspective, I still have all of my Sanrio, Winnie the Pooh and Disney writing sets, complete with pencil crayons, stickers and my first pencil case. I’m 30 years old, ffs. I’m also obsessed with flowers, so you can imagine my delight when I saw the Rifle Paper Co. lookbook for the 2013 In Bloom range come to life on Instagram. This idea, and these pictures, make my heart so happy…
One day when I’m big I want to be Anna Rifle Bond and own everything ever made by Rifle Paper Co.
I stumbled upon fashion, textile and home-ware designer Orla Kiely via Instagram a while ago and it was love at first sight. Quirky, pretty, sometimes old-fashioned, right up my alley. Alexa Chung is a huge fan and wears her so well. I hope to add a piece of Orla to my wardrobe soon. Here’s a look at the Spring 2014 collection, inspired by the Girl Guides and generations of British travelers to Africa and India. Swoon!
A year ago I experienced Enmasse for the first time when it opened its doors in Johannesburg. As a thank you for the review I did for them, and the subsequent traffic from said blog post, the Enmasse team in Cape Town treated me to a spot of pampering recently. But before I get into it, they’ve offered you a spot of pampering too, so be sure to read on. The Enmasse massage experience is truly unique, and you’ll understand what I mean the minute you enter its doors. Dark walls, dimly lit with pops of neon and orange, a stark contrast to the white linen you change into and the beds and partitioning in the massage room. It’s a kind of eerie energising awesome with a sexy soundtrack.
The experience starts with tea and you choose one from 16 blends created by Enmasse Tea Merchants. It’s all part of winding down. You then move upstairs to the open plan massage room, privacy offered by partitions. My Thai masseuse was tiny, her strength deceiving. The 60 minutes were over too quickly, but the massage firm and effective. I decided to end my experience with a Hot Cross Bun Chai latte and a flick through Vanity Fair on the sofa underneath a blanket. Bliss.
Here’s my experience in pictures…
Enmasse have kindly offered my readers some lovely prizes and a fabulous offer, here’s the deal:
Win a 60 minute Enmasse massage valued at R395: comment on this blog post to be entered into the draw – entries close August 4th 2013
Win one of 2 x R250 massage vouchers: like both Enmasse and brandslut on facebook and then let me know you’ve done this by commenting on the Enmasse post on my facebook page - entries close August 4th 2013
Upgrade your 60 minute massage to 90 minutes at no extra charge: this one is for brandslut readers only, you’ll need to mention you heard about the deal on my blog - valid until end August
Buy 3 Enmasse teas and get one free: valid while stocks last
I’ll announce the prize winners on Monday August 5th. Prizes and offers may be redeemed in both Johannesburg and Cape Town.
Last month I received a hamper of Dove lotions and some other products to try. The DeepCare Complex lotions are perfect for the dry winter months, and they claim to nourish your skin for up to 10 days. I like my lotions thick and extra nourishing, so the body lotion for Extra Dry Skin was my favourite within the range. I found the variant for Normal Skin a little too ‘thin’ for my liking, but that’s personal preference. I didn’t put the 10 day claim to trial because I’m addicted to moisturising, but I skipped a few days which is something I never do and didn’t experience any dryness or itchiness in between – something I’ve experienced in the past when using competitor products. I found the nourishing beauty shower range great too, particularly as they’re rich and creamy and not too foamy. Is foamy even a real word?
I love that Dove is supporting its great product range with some equally amazing, meaningful and relevant marketing globally, here are two recent campaigns that if you haven’t yet seen are well worth a watch…
I recently had the opportunity of walking the iconic Hoerikwaggo Trail with a group of bloggers, courtesy of Sedgwick’s Old Brown. 2 days, 10 people, 25kms from Silvermine Reserve to the top Table Mountain. It was hands down one of the best and hardest experiences of my life. The aching legs didn’t matter so much sitting around the campfire listening to the folky sounds of the Black Handed Kites, sipping on Sedgwicks with new friends and delicious campfire fare. This blog post requires no further introduction, the video and photographs tell a better tale.
Thank you Sedgwick’s for helping me tick this off my bucket list. I have a new respect and appreciation for the mountain I see every day, and can’t recommend the experience highly enough. Click here to book a guide through Ridgway Ramblers, here to find out more about the Hoerikwaggo Trail and here to book the lovely Orange Kloof Tented Camps.
[Intro image courtesy of Andrew Brauteseth]
I love discovering amazing new local products. I think South Africans can be a little pessimistic about home-grown consumables, especially where beauty products are concerned. I stumbled upon Oh-Lief recently and my experience has been wonderful. If you follow me on twitter you’ll know I’m a stickler for service, so the knock on my door with my delivery less than 24 hours post me e-mailing my order through scored major brownie-points. This is what I ordered…
- Grapefruit Lip Balm
- Grapefruit Olive Body Wax
- Grapefruit and Lime Hand Lotion
- Grapefruit and Sweet Orange Body Wash
I’m a big fan of grapefruit, okay.
Oh-Lief was started in 2010 by sisters Christine and Louiza who were dissatisfied with the range of chemical-free, organic body products on offer in South Africa. When Christine fell pregnant the sisters decided to experiment using locally sourced organic products, old family recipes and ‘love’, which is an ingredient in all of their natural baby and body products.
“Our name references olive oil, which is the main ingredient found in all our products, as well as our love for all things natural. Our products do not contain any harsh chemicals, artificial fragrances, petroleum, parabens, artificial colours or nut oils. We use a base of organic olive oil and beeswax, which is combined with the natural properties of a number of other organic ingredients to form a complete range of products that is ideal for all skin types”.
I’ve been using my Oh-Lief products for a few weeks now and no, they haven’t changed my life or reduced my cellulite, but they feel and smell great and I like knowing that I’m using something natural, organic and good for my body. I can’t vouch for this, but apparently the range of products for babies is also fantastic, so go check it out if you have ankle-bikers or one on the way.
I don’t know what’s gotten into me. I guess it’s the media, or the trend Gods, or subliminal advertising, but all I know is I want stuff with animals on it. Yes, I know cats are the new black, but I’ve always loved animals and I’m totally keen to rock out with animal inspired things this winter. I recently bought a bear/mouse (not entirely sure what it is) woolen hat from Mr. Price and it inspired me to write this post. Here are some of the things I’d love to get my paws on. See what I did there?
Have a happy Easter filled with things with bunnies on them!
Last week I was invited to what can only be described as any girl’s dream event: an intimate evening with Shimansky. Diamonds, bubbles, sushi, pampering, you get the picture. What was the occasion? Well, you see Shimansky operates from breath-taking premises in the Clock Town at the V&A Waterfont, and given the nature of jewellery stores and workshops like this one, Mr. Shimansky and his team wanted to share with us the business’ accessibility, hospitality and offering. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t (under normal circumstances) step foot into a super-premium jewellery or diamond franchise for fear of the dirty looks I’d receive from the saleswomen who raise their evil eyebrows at anyone who looks ‘too young to be in this store’. I experienced precisely that at the iconic Tiffany store in New York last year. Pity, because I walked in with intentions to treat myself.
From the first encounter with the hostess at the entrance to the store, to the final wave goodbye, we were met with nothing but genuine generosity and hospitality. “Try on every ring in the shop!” and “Let me get you a necklace and some earrings to complement that rock. And then wear them for the rest of the evening and enjoy them. They’re nature’s gifts and deserve to be enjoyed and appreciated”, were some of the remarks made to me by the lovely Shimansky ladies. For the first time ever I felt zero judgement when asking to try on a R500 000 cushion cut diamond ring.
The workshop and showroom are hidden from the reception area which is mall-facing, for security reasons, and I’d imagine this to be a barrier to entry to most. But I’d like to encourage you to pay Shimansky a visit next time you’re at the Waterfront. The experience starts with a visual tour of the history of diamonds. I’m a geek for history and facts and absolutely loved this part. The world’s most famous and valuable diamonds’ replicas are on display and the sheer size and brilliance of these bad-boys can scarcely be comprehended. I was astounded by the black and white photographs of Kimberly when *that* diamond was discovered on the farm of the De Beers, and the mayhem that ensued thereafter. Here’s a picture of what Kimberley looked like during the diamond rush, and some others taken along the tour.
And did you know that a diamond was first gifted as an engagement rings by Archduke Maximillion of Austria (top right) in 1477? He aptly chose the stone for its enduring qualities which represented his love for this lady, Mary of Burgundy. We owe this guy, big time.
The tour leads to a walk down the workshop corridor where all Shimansky diamonds are cut and crafted on site. I loved being able to peer into the workspaces of the master-jewellers who so effortlessly create the magnificent jewellery we buy and wear. We too often forget about this part of the process. It’s rough, real, hot, sweaty and dangerous, a complete contradiction to the flawless showroom we enter next.
This is where [some] women’s dreams become a reality, and where the rest are afforded the opportunity to dream, like we were. Hair, make-up and nails done, Pongracz in hand, we pounced. My victim was said cushion cut, micro-set and surrounded by tiny diamonds. It was love at first sight and I didn’t take her off all night. I also had an affinity to the yellow diamonds, perhaps because I’m blond and love mangoes, I don’t know. What I do know is I had to wipe the drool from my chin.
The evening culminated in a toast by Mr. Shimansky himself, a session in the photo-booth and a prize draw which saw Emma walking away with a bottle of Shimansky My Girl with a diamond in it. Bitch Swoon. And in the end we pretty much had to be kicked out, which, in my opinion is the marque of a truly successful event. Thank you Mr. Shimansky for spoiling us and for inviting us into your home with such open arms. I’ll be sure to pop in regularly from now on, even if only for a cup of tea with your incredible staff.