Would you like tickets to the Tops Wine Show?

imageI was hoping to put a post or two between all the alcohol posts so that folks don’t end up thinking that all I do is drink wine and beer, but yesterday was a hard mom day and the glorious plans that I had to gush about the wonders of one of our local institutions kind of fell by the wayside in favour of me hiding under my duvet and playing on Instagram for most of the afternoon (and evening). Did you even notice? Of course not!

Now, back on topic…

I mentioned before that there’s a Wine Show happening at The Boardwalk from the 4th to the 6th of August and I’m lucky enough to be able to give away two double tickets to the event. Technically I’m supposed to ask you a simple question like “when is the wine show?” but you all know that simple isn’t always my go-to style…

Because I adore Carnival Themes with An Extreme Passion and because I am a lover as well as a teller of stories, I thought instead that I would ask you this:

What is your absolute favourite Carnival Story?

Did it come in the form of a book? A movie? A tv show? Was your favourite carnival story a personal experience? Tell me what you love. Why you love it. How it makes you feel. Tell me. Show me! My favourite answers get tickets to the show, and if I struggle to decide I will hand it over to Facebookland to help me.

Sound good?

Of course it does!

(If you’re too stuck for an answer, go off and read Geek Love by Katherine Dunn, and The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern,  and then go and watch the series Carnivale and then come back and tell me how awesome they are.)

Otherwise, you can check out my Instajourney with wine here: #nayesexploreswine and leave me some Instalove while you think about your answer.

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From Beer Cocktails to Carnival Style Wine Shows

imageYes, I’ve already spoken about beer today, but last week I was also super stoked to receive a personal invite to the Tops at Spar Wine Show which will be taking place at The Boardwalk on the 4th, 5th, and 6th of August. I’m still not sure exactly how I came to be on this invitation list, but, when it comes to fancy invitations my new policy is to accept politely and ask questions later, lest someone figure out that I somehow got onto the list by mistake. Seems wise, doesn’t it? Otherwise you don’t end up getting to try awesome things like Beer Cocktails or whatever wonderful things the Wine Show has in store for us. As I write this I’m actually considering the life coaching merits of the movie/book Yes, Man – but I digress.

I was stoked to get this invitation for four reasons…

Reason 1.) This invitation is fancier than a wedding invitation and it makes me feel fancy. Feeling fancy is important for us frazzled moms who sometimes aren’t so sure of how good a job we’re doing at keeping it together.

Reason 2.) There was a bottle of wine that came with the invitation. Who doesn’t get excited by free bottles of wine?

Reason 3.) The theme they’ve chosen for this year’s show is The Greatest Show Unearthed  which is a CARNIVAL THEME!!! Anyone who knows me or has paid any slight attention to the little things that make my heart happy will know that I absolutely adore all things carnival themed. I am a silly crazy kind of excited! I absolutely cannot wait for the show!

Reason 4.) They’re letting me take my partner with me which is awesome because fun is better when I share it with this big bear of mine.

This is what the folks from Tops have to say about their event:

LIFE’S A CABERNET AT THE GREATEST SHOW UNEARTHED

The TOPS at SPAR Wine Show is back this August

From Merlot to Malbec, Pinot Noir to Pinotage, The TOPS at SPAR Wine Show presents South Africa’s top wine labels all under one roof. Back in PE for its 7th consecutive year, the event engages wine lovers of all ages and ilk to taste and buy the country’s best bottles directly from wine producers at cellar door and show prices.

Themed The Greatest Show Unearthed for 2016, the event will channel a vintage burlesque experience while expertly blending hundreds of fine wine exhibitors, edu-taining activities, food and festivity between the 4th and 6th of August at the Boardwalk. A highlight not to be missed is the popular Weekend Post Wine Theatre; it presents a series of interactive tasting talks hosted by industry experts and wine personalities.

Visitors are also invited to vote for their favourite wine producer in the “People’s Choice Awards” to stand a chance of winning a case of wine.

Tickets can be purchased pre-show for R120 from www.itickets.co.za or at the door for R140. Price includes a tasting glass, all tastings, access to The Weekend Post Wine Theatre and a map to help navigate the show.

Details:

–          Dates: Thursday 4th– Saturday 6th of August 2016

–          Time:

o   17h00 – 21h00 (Thursday & Friday)

o   12h00 – 21h00 (Saturday)

–          Venue: The Boardwalk, PE

 

About The TOPS at SPAR Wine Show:

The TOPS at SPAR Wine Show was launched in 2006 and has since grown to become arguably South Africa’s fastest-growing consumer wine exhibition. Buoyed by its new owners in 2015, the event now hosts five shows around the country in Johannesburg (11th show), Durban (5th show), Nelspruit (2nd show), PE (7th show) and Pretoria (1st show) between May and November. Besides its diversity of quality wines to taste and buy direct from the exhibitors at cellar door and show prices, seasoned wine connoisseurs as well as up-and-coming wine fans are engaged with its fun, edu-taining format that includes the Wine Theatre.

imageIt sounds fun as hell to me!

To my Port Elizabeth friends I just have four questions:

1.) If I run a ticket giveaway will you all take part?

2.) If you don’t win will you come with me anyway?

3.) If you come with me will you dress up? (say yes!)

4.) Where does one purchase stripy stockings?

Have a happy Tuesday, my lovelies!

Becoming a Beer Babe

imageOk so I’m laughing at the title as well. Actually no, I’m not. I AM a babe! *fluffs up own feathers*

Last week Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism invited me on a sort of beer tour which seemed like a serendipitous turn of events since the husband and I have been trying to explore our home town a bit more these days. Of course, exploring and fund fluidity tend to go hand-in-hand so when it comes to all expenses paid “invites” my policy is to respond with a resounding yes! And this particular time I even made my husband take a half day off of work to join me.

Apparently Brewery Tours are a thing around these parts and we even have enough craft beer brewery places to make the tours feasible! Who knew?! We were introduced to the folks running The Dockside Brewery on our mini tour and we got to hear all about the interesting workings of the craft beer world. Believe it or not, this rustic little spot located at The Grand Hotel in Belmont Terrace, not only makes a beetroot infused beer, but on Friday afternoon they launched a raspberry-infused beer as well. And even better than raspberry beer? Raspberry beer cocktails! Yum. Seriously: just yum! (for pics on this adventure check out #nayesexplorescraftbeer)

imageAfter our visit to Dockside, our tour actually got even more interesting. We all hopped on a bus (yay!) and rode off to Motherwell where we all got to hang out at a place called 469 Bar-Lounge – which is a bar slash lounge slash butchery.

Guys: what a vibe! I have to admit it was damn nice to get out of my usual zone and just zen out somewhere new. The music, the people, the food! All of it was damn lovely. We ate a weirdly not-oriental but still spicy chicken with slices of the most incredible dumpling I have EVER eaten. My husband was brave enough to try the tripe and pap. All of it cooked by the cutest woman who took catering to large crowds in a stride that I can only describe as majestic. No stress around here, folks! We only do happy.

As I was sitting there, with a full and happy tummy, sipping on Kasi Craft beer brewed in my own city while listening to a hybrid mix of marimba drums and house music, I couldn’t help but slip into my contented explorer state and just smile. I found the feeling. In my own town I found the feeling. If you’re a traveller you know the one I mean. It’s the one where you are completely out of your space, your comfort zone, and yet you are still content. You still fit in, even though you don’t fit in. It’s that feeling of being in the right place. Being in the moment.

And it’s just a little bit like being in love…

Beautiful Birds of Eden

DSCN5591I think Birds of Eden might be what heaven is like. Or if we get to choose our own heavens, Birds of Eden would be mine. If you like bird sanctuaries, this one will ruin all other sanctuaries for you for life, because it is magnificent. In fact, it is the largest free-flying aviary in the world, and being inside of it feels a little bit like magic.

I love birds. I don’t really know why. It’s not like I had an exceptional cockatiel as a kid and have never recovered from it. In fact I actually don’t like cockatiels so much. How did the segue into cockatiels… My apologies. Moving on…

Oh yes now I know why it segued into cockatiels: because what on earth could I possibly say about Birds of Eden that would properly express how I feel about the place. Very little probably. Or at least very little that wouldn’t have me coming off as a gushy poodle of some sort.

It truly is a wonderful place though. There’s something so special about ambling through the trees along the boardwalk and pointing out each new birdy discovery with your spouse and children. I imagine going alone would be satisfying in itself, but sharing it with my favourite people, ticking off each bird species in the bird booklet as we spot it, getting excited together at the magical shots we’ve caught with our cameras, and grunting in disappointment at the shots we’ve missed, always proves to be an especially good way to spend some time together.

I wish I could build a tiny little cottage at the bottom of that valley, under all those beautiful birds, and just spend my days being surrounded by them. They’re noisy, no doubt, but at the same time they are somehow very peaceful.

And so very special…

My Instagram pics of Birds of Eden can be found here: #nayesexploresbirdsofeden

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5 Monkeys in Monkeyland

DSCN5028Where are we at now? Three weeks since we got back from our road trip? Four? I can barely remember… This week alone has already felt like three weeks all on its own. So actually I wouldn’t mind going back in time a little and finding myself wandering back through Monkeyland, back when life was simple and my children didn’t need rescuing from bullies. Perhaps I should just take us all on another trip again? If only my bank account could agree with that!

Back to Monkeyland though…

Monkeyland and Birds of Eden are two of my absolute places in South Africa. I’ve been to Monkeyland 3 times and Birds of Eden 4 times, and I can still say that I’d be happily up for revisiting both again any time.

DSCN4952I can’t say I’ve been to many sanctuaries in my lifetime, but in comparison to the few that I have been to, Monkeyland is an undoubtedly superior space. Mankeyland is basically a fenced off piece of forest (I won’t pretend to know the dimensions, but it’s big!) where rescued and rehabilitated monkeys (and lemurs – so many lemurs!) can live out the rest of their days in “freedom” while still being cared for and fed by humans. The creatures in Monkeyland come from all over the world. Most of them are rescued or surrendered pets or performance animals, who are not capable of surviving in the “real” wild. While this is a bit of a sad thought, it does at least provide a way for folks like you and me to experience the wonder of these creatures without having to resort to frequenting the horrors of the nearest zoo.

Taking a tour guided walk through this place is an exceptional education for both young and old and I can’t recommend it enough for anyone touring through The Garden Route.

I wish so much that I could just quietly hang out in the sanctuary with my camera for hours on end, quietly waiting for the perfect photo opportunities to present themselves, but alas time and circumstance meant that in reality  I could only shoot off a couple of snaps as we wandered through the trees. I did a terrible job, but I have shared a couple on Instagram (follow me please – barely any of my instameet friends are following me back and I need some validatory love!) and tagged them with #nayesexploresmonkeyland if you’d like to check them out.

 

I can’t think of a cool aliterationy title for this post on Wilgewandel

DSCN4868I’m not quite sure where my slightly (a lotly) obnoxious mood came from because it’s not often that I’m in a good mood and cold at the same time. Actually never. I grew up in Molteno. I’ve been known to spend entire winters in a fog of gloom and sadness. Do you know how hard it is to pee when the thought of taking your clothes off brings you to tears? It’s brutal, man. And I at least have four walls around me!

Oh yeah… I was trying to talk about Wilgewandel…

When Ty and I got married we went on two honeymoons. The first one was the disastrous cruise to Bazaruto that ended up being rerouted to Port Elizabeth (yes, we’re still tender about that and we don’t wanna talk about it) and the second honeymoon was a road trip to Cape Town via the Wine Route and then back home via the Garden Route.

Anyway, one of the places we stayed at was Wilgewandel just outside of Oudtshoorn. It’s a little farmstay type place that has a lot of animals and a farmstall and camels and stuff. In other words: it’s a weird place to be without the kids. I kind of wanted to stay there during our family road trip this time, but it was way out of my budget for all five of us, so instead we decided to just pop in for a visit and let the kids hang out and play while we indulged in some coffee and goose watching.

Of course, the first thing that happened was that the geese chased my kids (Bridgette and Noah – Thomas is too dignified to be chased by geese) and they screamed really loudly so I had to pretend that I didn’t have kids while I was pretending to enjoy the really bad cu
p of coffee. It was hard.

The place is fun though and the kids liked wandering around. And they have alpacas and really one day when I’m big I am going to figure out how to breed alpacas because oh my god those things are so cute! Although: I might prefer llamas because it’s really fun to say llama… You know you wanna! Say it with me: LLAMA! 

13487913_10157159140655094_2005616977_nOh yes: Instagram pics can be found at my #nayesexploreswilgewandel tag and also check out Noah’s Instagram because his pics are kind of cute as hell too.  You have to go and look at my peacock pic because it’s really pretty and I’m not sharing it here because I want to manipulate you into giving me some Instalove (or hate if you think my pic is not all that, which it possibly isn’t) because I really really like Instagram, ok?

In the meantime here is a pic of my husband and I swinging together that you won’t find on Instagram because I took it with the Sony Xperia and those pics are ALWAYS too damn big to fit on Instagram unless I purposely crop them with extra space which I never remember to do.

 

Spelunking is a Dumb Word

13608329_10154086372406117_428368562_nSpelunking is when you explore caves, right? Because otherwise my title doesn’t make sense. I’m too lazy to Google it. I’m right though, aren’t I? And it is a weird word. Spelunking. It sounds like something went super wrong. But like jokey-wrong. And there aren’t many things that could go wrong when you’re inside a cave that could be considered jokey-wrong. You know? Like things going wrong inside a cave would be things like cave in  or spontaneous explosion causing a cave in or flash flood. Oh giant rat monser. Not good. Much death. No.

Anyway – we went to the Cango Caves on our Family Road trip and it was kind of awesome because even though I went when I was about 11 I did not remember much about it except for the part where my friend Angeline forced me into The Devil’s Chimney and I had to learn lamaze breathing in a very short space of time. Well done to 11-year-old me for not having a panic attack. This time I skipped The Devil’s Chimney. Of course I blamed claustrophobia/time/expense for the skip, but let’s face it: this ass wasn’t going to fit in that hole this time.

In all seriousness though: take your kids to see the caves. Encourage them to ask the guides questions. The Cango Caves are an exquisite sight to behold and the history behind their discovery is fun to listen to. Far more fun than anything you might read in a book at least. If the vastness  and magical sparkle of this place doesn’t overwhelm you, it may be that you need to be a little nicer to your inner child. That little thing wants to come out to play! Ok?

Also…it’s not possible to walk around in that place and not go crazy trying to remember what show/movie had a cave scene with giant dodgy rats in it. Was it Doctor Who? Was it Merlin? Was it Atlantis? Do I need to rewatch all of those shows to see if I can find them? Well yes, obviously…

If you’d like to look at about four pictures that I took at in the caves then check out my #nayesexploresthecangocaves hashtag on Instagram. They’re really crap though. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. I should stop talking now. It’s getting weird.

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Review: The Girl on the Train

The Girl on the Train
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**********THERE ARE SPOILERS IN HERE**********

Now that we’ve got that out of the way…

I finally managed to borrow this book from someone (thank you Caroline!) and I spent the weekend discovering what all the fuss was about.

I have admit that despite being someone who reads a lot of crime fiction, I did particularly enjoy this one. It was obviously written with a lot of care and attention to detail. The characters struck me as well rounded and human without being like those intolerable anti-heroes that seem to be popular these days but who I detest and can’t read about.

Anyway – I’m not going to go on and on about the gist of the story, but I will mention that I found it particularly refreshing that it didn’t turn out to be a Gone Girl situation. It was more real than that. All of it was real. From the gaslighting done by the main character’s ex, to the violence she experienced at the hands of not one, but two men.

Actually the whole thing was just creepy because it wasn’t too hard to imagine any of it happening for real.

View all my reviews

Is the Owl House haunted? Because it should be…

DSC_0144-01-01A trip to Nieu Bethesda is a given when it comes to touring around the Sarah Baartman District so obviously we had to go out of our way on the way to Oudtshoorn (if you look at a map you will see that from Graaf Reinet these two places are in opposite directions…) and pop in to the home of fossils and owl decor.

The road to Nieu Bethesda is paved with not very much. Unless, of course, you count stunning views of valleys and a farm stall or two along the way. Ok…maybe it’s just one farm stall. But there are a lot of monkeys on the side of the road as well as warthogs so that’s kind of awesome. I wonder if folks who live in other countries get to see so many animals along the sides of their roads. I bet you not! Not like us at least… *insert winking emoji here*

Now, contrary to popular opinion, I have to admit that I find Nieu Bethesda to be kind of…well…a little bit creepy! And I do realise that we’re not actually supposed to admit this…but come ON folks! You can’t tell me that while you’re driving around those dusty dirt roads that it doesn’t occur to you how this teeny hamlet might be an excellent location for a new South African horror series to take place in.

Imagine it: a weird cult of animal carcass-wearing locals pretend to be completely normal during the day, but at night they gather in the forest and eat the babies of the collection of permanently pregnant women they keep locked up in a shed somewhere. And you just know there’s going to be a scene where some woman who is eight and a half months pregnant is hiding behind a praying shepherd in the middle of the night, trying to convince herself that no, those things did NOT just move. 

And why are these weird cult people evil? They’re evil because they spent too much time with the demons that inhabit OWL HOUSE!

Yes. I said it: Owl House is TERRIFYING! (more…)

Family in the Valley

imageYes, it’s already two weeks since I got home from our little Family Road Trip and I’m STILL talking about it. Perhaps I should start to learn to blog in real time…but I can barely get it right to Instagram in real time (unless I’m at home and hanging out with my cats) let alone somehow manage to write a couple of hundred words about something that I kind of reckon other folks should try (heehee!) so here I am: still talking about our Road Trip.

Now I took the housebound and the squidgets to Graaff Reinet mainly because I wanted them to see The Valley of Desolation because it remains one of the most beautiful places I’ve been to. Now, I get that some people find the place overrated, but I just don’t. I love the silence. I love the view. I love the echo potential.

imageOf course the kids loved it, which made me particularly happy because I do often worry that they might lose their sense of wonder to their computer games and the television set. (As an aside: Why does the media or just people in general keep telling us that will happen? As if we don’t have enough stress…)

The Valley is just outside of Graaff Reinet and is obviously one of the main tourist attractions around there. It doesn’t cost a lot to get into the reserve and it’s an easy drive to the top. You can hike around there if you like, but it’s pretty user-friendly for those of who who – like me – are not so keen on anything heavy while on holiday.

So why should you go? Because the soul needs food, and this is what soul food is…

For more pics of our Valley of Desolation exploration check out #nayesexploresthevalleyofdesolation on Instagram.

 

 

 

Booking Accommodation

13427723_10157146666340094_332521799876792001_nI’m back to trolling booking.com for accommodation options for top secret travel ideas at the moment and goodness I must admit that I’m not getting anywhere! Experience has (already!) taught me that a good photographer can make the dodgiest of places look lovely, so at the moment I am a little apprehensive because the places I can afford in the place I’m currently checking out already look a little suspect, so my imagination is going to dark dark places. But that’s part of the fun of adventure, isn’t it? Roughing it in funny accommodations?

Luckily, our last trip didn’t surprise us with any accommodation that looked good online only to end up being bad in reality. I’d love to think that’s a uniquely South African hospitality trait, but the truth is I was just lucky. My kids exclaimed “This place is awesome!” at each place we booked into, and each time I replied, “Of course it is! I chose it!” Sometimes when you’re a mom you have to pretend you’re a magical unicorn instead of admitting that you’re just as surprised as they are that the affordable place you booked for five people to stay in didn’t end up looking like something from a horror movie. (more…)

The Rejuvenating Effect of Small Towns

13530793_10157173065070094_1707521580_nI live in Port Elizabeth these days, but up until I was 17 years old I lived in the teeny tiny town of Molteno. Don’t know where that is? No worries, neither does the rest of the country! Maybe it’s just me, but coming from a small town makes it seem weird as hell to go on holiday to a small town. That’s just nuts, man! Holidays? Holidays need bright lights, or something. Or the sea, at least. No?

13522519_10157173066300094_141075267_nLately I must admit to feeling a LOT differently.  Is it age? Is it that the time I lived in Molteno and the time that I have lived in Port Elizabeth are about to become equal? I don’t know…but I’m falling in love with the small towns around our country, and while I don’t think I will easily go back to small town life, I certainly am enjoying indulging in it as a visitor from time to time. There’s beautiful architecture to be found – especially the churches and old municipal buildings. There are quirks. There are sweet people. There are exceptional views. Rolling mountains. Vast plains. Fresh air.  Starry skies beyond your wildest imagination. Silence. *sigh*

It is no wonder that these small places get visitors from city folk so often. This last weekend (gosh it’s already a new weekend and I’m only getting around to this now!) I moseyed on through Jansenville, Graaff Reinet, and Nieu Bethesda and despite their smallness I do kind of wish I had had far more time to take all they have to offer in. They are life and energy of a different sort. They offer sensory pleasures that our cluttered city minds sometimes forget to indulge in. They are a feast for body, soul, and mind.

And I really should make a point to explore all of these little places more often…

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