We dived deep into the week with a now traditional visit to the Barnyard Theatre with the Kilners.

The featured show was “Rock on Beethoven” and, to coin a phrase, a good time was had by all. Charles had booked the front row table so we were able to be up close and personal with the artists and a delectable electric violin and blond saxophonist. Charles had his red wine nicked by the rasta Bob Marley look alike – probably served him right with his singalong rendition of Red Red Wine.

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[The Kilner party feasting – where would a picnic supper be without mother-in-law’s meat balls and coronation chicken]

Various labour commitments kept the frivolities to a minimum until Madame and yours truly decided to become tourists and move across the mountain to Kalk Bay. On Charles’ recommendation we went to Live Bait – a bistro style cafe overlooking the Kalk Bay breakwater.

What a great recommendation! Better than his singing.

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The ‘winter special’ – mussels, prawns, line fish with savoury rice and peri-peri sauce. All for a princely R50!

We also discovered the Pierre Jourdan Tranquille – a light, low in alcohol rose : probably the closest to a Luberon rose we have found in CT.

While a Southern Right whale breached and frolicked on the one side of the breakwater we watched with a high degree of amusement at a crane trying to lift the cowling off a buggered fishing trawler. Technical problems abounded as the fishermen had not loosened it from the deck. The result was a few smacks with the axe which did not work and then they all left for another day!

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Suitable fortified by Pierre Jourdan, we decided to find a fish for Friday night’s dinner. We met a ‘tamed’,’trained’ seal who comes and hounds the fisherwomen when they are cleaning the fish for snacks. He bounds out of the water and then snaps until he gets his fill!

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Here I come………

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Don’t I look sweet! Leave him alone, you’ll not win this one.

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We selected a Red Roman (that’s the fish on the left). Madame felt it important to have her picture taken for posterity.

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R10 gets you a freshly filleted fish!

We watched a number of trawlers coming in from False Bay. However, it was one of their cars that caught the eye.

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Lovely sight of the bokkoms hanging above the fish stalls. Bokkoms are Harders (Mullet) that are salted, then strung into bunches and hung up to dry. They are unique to the Western Cape and visitor should leave before trying them out. Fish biltong is a good alternative description.

Friday was the last day of the Cordon Bleu baking course at Silwood Kitchen.

Once again, the car had that delectable whiff of fresh bread: what a feast came back to the Safehouse.

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[Kitka bread ready for the oven. Impressive twirls.]

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[The finished Kitka product – chef is very proud.]

 

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[A still life of the Kitka and some Rich rolls – try the latter with ham, cheese, tomato and a slash of marmite!]

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[The class – proudly showing off their certificates. Watch out Menerbes.]

On Saturday evening we gathered at the Bothas along with the Lowes famille and Will to sup after the rugby. Sue’s signature Beef Wellington was on the menu. It gets better all the time!

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[The dinner team – Well done Suzi and Mark – a great evening, superbly hosted]

Totsiens – Lovonne and Simon xx

                                We all love our tech.

Yes, the iphones, ipads, blackberrys etc. However, let’s face it, this constant texting and checking of the emails at the dinner table and in restaurants is all a bit much.

CBS Money Watch reports it well: “It’s not polite to use a BlackBerry or iPhone at the table. Ever. It’s bad manners, because you are neglecting your dining partners. (I’d rather see people talk with their mouths full. At least then they’re engaged in the conversation.)

The corollary to that, however, is that it’s also impolite for the offended mealtime companions to give the BlackBerry addict a stern lecture. That just doubles the bad behavior.”

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It now appears that in the US, there is a whole etiquette emerging on how to scold these serial offenders!

CBS continues: “That’s what I learned from Peter Post, director of the Emily Post Institute. I’d experienced two different cases of dinnertime thumbs-in-action, and I was looking for a way to express my annoyance without any breaches of etiquette. In one instance, a friend stopped by our house during a long road trip home. We grilled some steaks and fed him on our deck. At the table: my husband, our two kids, moi, my friend and his iPhone, which he couldn’t put down.

In that case, Post advises, I’m allowed to speak up, but I should take the soft approach. “Your goal is not to embarrass him or to cause a problem with your relationship; your goal is to be able to talk to him and have his attention on the table,” he says.”

Another trick they say is: making the device a topic of conversation. “Ask him, ‘Can you show me more about how that thing works? Do you ever run into situations where people get frustrated when you use it at the table?’” Questions like those are supposed to get my point across without the angry words I want to use: “Is that blasted thing more important than the dinner I just cooked for you?”

One last bit of advice from Post: If you have a friend who has a BlackBerry addiction, try to meet at restaurants that have no-device policies. That way you can say as you sit down, “This restaurant is serious about their no cell phone rules, so I’m going to turn mine off.” The friend, you hope, will follow suit.

All power to the people, I say.

The world on Communications has suddenly got a whole lot more interesting.

Google is taking on Skype and Apple wants to do the TV industry what it has done to telephony and music. Dominate it.

Google has unveiled a feature that will enable its Gmail users to call landlines and mobile phones from their e-mail inbox. The new feature broadens Google’s growing array of communication products and creates a potent rival to Skype, which is preparing for an initial public offering.

Google faces an entrenched adversary. Last year, Skype became the leading carrier of international voice calls. In the year to June 30, Skype’s registered users rose from 397m to 560m. Gmail has just over 200m users.

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In a GMail promotion designed to attract new users, Skype calls to the US and Canada will be free for at least the rest of the year. Calls to other countries will be as low as 2 cents per minute, and will not include a connection fee. The service will become available to US Gmail users in the coming days.

On the same side of the States, Apple has announced that it’s taking on the TV industry.

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Breathing new life into its struggling Apple TV product, Apple says it will offer mainstream television show rentals.

The new 99 cent pricetag per TV show and deals for rentals from Disney’s ABC, News Corp’s Fox could come as soon as Wednesday at a just-scheduled a press event on its entertainment gadgets.

Wow! Can’t wait!! Who said that the customer wasn’t King!

Portfolio Collection founder and CEO Liz Westby-Nunn writes a tribute to one of South Africa’s hospitality industry greats – Mr David Rawdon.

David Rawdon (85) died on Friday, 13 August 2010. David was the quintessential entrepreneur whose pioneering spirit as a visionary, hotelier and talented interior decorator saw first the creation of Rawdon’s Country House in the KwaZulu Natal Midlands – the first of the Country House hotels in South Africa. David then sold Rawdon’s and acquired and developed Lanzerac near Stellenbosch in the Cape, which was the first Country House in the Cape and became the place to visit. David also purchased and redeveloped The Marine Hotel in Hermanus.

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[Image of David Rawdon from Matjies Show and Tell Blog]

Many well-known personalities of the hospitality industry in South Africa have been trained by David Rawdon during their tenures at Rawdons, Lanzerac, The Marine Hotel or Matjiesfontein. David’s great understanding and love of history and interior design created exceptional places and Matjiesfontein is certainly the place where David Rawdon’s incredible creative passions found a home, and many faithful followers. David acquired the entire village of Matjiesfontein during the late 1960s and, after detailed and loving restoration work, Matjiesfontein and the Lord Milner Hotel re-opened in 1970. David then sold both Lanzerac and The Marine to focus on Matjiesfontein.

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[Matjiesfontein Transport Museum – Image by Gary Bembridge. CC license]

In its heyday, Matjiesfontein offered the best in hospitality to an eclectic mix of visitors, and over the years many rich and famous folk have visited the Village. Matjiesfontein is a National Heritage Site, and is a wonderful tribute to its original founder James Logan and to David Rawdon, whose love and dedication have ensured that the spirit of Matjiesfontein lives on.

My first recollection of Matjiesfontein was in 1976, when we spent an unforgettable weekend there with the family. Matjiesfontein was established in 1884 by a young Scottish immigrant, James Logan – Matjiesfontein was a railway stop on the line to Kimberley, and seeing the benefits of the invigorating dry Karoo air for lung ailments, Logan set about establishing a ‘watering hole’ for the well-heeled and soon the likes of Olive Schreiner, Randolph Churchill and Rudyard Kipling were visitors. Olive Schreiner lived in Matjiesfontein in her own cottage for a number of years. With this cast of characters, who could resist the history of the Anglo-Boer War, walking across the vast plains in the early morning of the Karoo finding scraps of metal from the thousands of British soldiers camped there during the Anglo Boer War? But perhaps the best experience was the Village itself, where the living cast of characters, both staff and guests made for memorable days and convivial evenings in the fabulous little pub, or the unforgettable David Rawdon dessert buffets in the main Dining Room of the Lord Milner Hotel – where dressing for dinner was still de rigueur in 1976.

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[Matjiesfontein Post Office – Image by Gary Bembridge. CC license]

Thank you David, for creating such an exceptional and extraordinary place, a place which has created so many happy memories for so many of us. May your final journey be a time of well earned and well deserved rest.

Liz Westby-Nunn

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[The Lord Milner Hotel]

For more gems of wisdom from Liz, go to www.travelblog.portfoliocollection.com/

You can always rely on the acerbic (some say ‘strange’) Germaine Greer to put things into perspective:

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[News clip: UK Daily Telegraph]

Every day something new turns up in Africa.

The Scenario: Leave the country on transfer. Return 9 years later. Try and renew your driver’s licence. Format has changed. You are no longer on the system. Get a new one!

No problem. Off to the aptly named Gallows’ Hill traffic office in Cape Town. After 60 minutes in a queue characterised by professionals who queue for mobile-phone toting ‘buppies’, you arrive at the counter:

“You will pay penalties because you did not convert before 2003. R400! go to 8 Dorp – and you will get the letter to say you can now get the new card” – I am told. Also, go over the road to a tent where you get 4 pictures – R220. A kindly soul in a black outfit told me that ‘8 Dorp’ was, in fact, 8 Dorp Street where the Western Cape Government Roads Infrastructure Department has its home.

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[The Holy Grail – the back of the SA licence]

Off we go. At ‘8 Dorp’ we are greeted by the dark hue of the rainbow nation, upstairs at Room 100-4, we are greeted by the lighter colour of the rainbow but they all only speak Afrikaans (wasn’t that the language of the oppressor?)

No problem. Get a letter from your previous employer, come back and we’ll give you a letter for Gallows Hill. Penalties? Now its R440!

The letter arrives. We go back. Back to Gallows’ Hill.

60 minutes then the Enquiries counter. We get the magic green form. too much for one day. I’ll come back to-morrow. In the meantime, Madame has short-circuited everything and got her green form approved, paid her money and told to wait 6-8 weeks for her new card. Lucky soul.

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[Even the Traffic Department has car guards!]

I return. I’m told go after lunch, it’s less busy. I do so. Green form in hand, plus the pictures, plus R440-00 and I have my eyes tested.

“Wait, sir”. Your licence is now classified as a ‘conversion’ – go around the corner and you’ll find a whitey (his words!)- he is the manager – he must sign your application”

Whitey signs and says to me: “Why penalties?” I explain. He crosses them out. “No penalties”. I return. Counter clerk says “No man! He’s given you the wrong code. Wait. 20 minutes. Clerk returns. Do fingerprints. “Go to cashier counter and pays your money”.

I approach a gentleman called Justice behind the counter. He taps on the computer. ‘Sir, wait a bit, you’re not on the computer’. 40 minutes. Justice returns.

“Sir, you move to fast for the system.” “Sorry”, I say, “what do I do now?” Justice giggles as only Justice can. “We fix it!”

20 minutes. I now have two ID numbers in the system. I have paid R25 penalty. I have a Temporary Driving Licence. I must wait the obligatory 6-8 weeks for my card.

Happiness!!

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[Indian Mail]

 

Implosions are in fashion in South Africa. Zapiro’s cartoon this morning aptly sums up what has happened to the post-World Cup euphoria in a mere couple of months.

The Public Service strike turns ugly, the President goes to China (shades of the Pakistan PM going to the UK during the floods), and still they try and suppress the press.

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[cartoon source – Zapiro in The Times of South Africa]

Africa is not boring – no sir.

This week has been no exception. As our social whirl nose-dived and dedication to the grind stone soared we have been rocked by events such as the continued debates around the apartheid-style Protection of Information Bill, the Public Service strike, daily Government corruption revelations and the piece de resistance – the noon collapsing of the famous Athlone Towers.

The Argus newspaper headlines said it all: 11h54:26. Yes, they pulled the trigger a bit early.

And, let’s not forget the continued shenanigans of our Monday and Friday visitor, Maria. Not content to hide car keys, ferret away briefcases, repack cupboards, and hide hammers, she now has developed a new trick: just as Madame’s roses are opening in the vase – chuck them away. She also now telephones on a Sunday to check whether we are OK and to let us know that a “Sunday without Church, is not a Sunday at all”.

South African media are being rocked like never before with the Government seemingly intent on quashing any criticsm and eradicating anything which smacks of investigative journalism. At last, business is weighing into the debate with retail giant Pick ‘n Pay placing this ad in the local press:

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It’s all rather scary and while South Africa has shown immense resilience during the past few decades, this will test the limits. The latest public sector strike is showing the frustration of the workers to the new Black elite – they can’t understand the profligacy and corruption when they struggle to make ends meet. Do the ANC hierarchy care? Time will answer this question and maybe, just maybe, some of them will have been voted out.

The world will watch and wait. Behaviour like this does not encourage investment and it’s fertile ground for a big split in the ruling party and a viable opposition.

On a lighter note and paradoxically when we’re talking about investment, we had the privilege of viewing a property on the Atlantic Seaboard that some overseas friends are building.

The pictures tell a little of the story:

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[The back of the staff quarters – an orangerie. Fronting this is a two bedrooms and bathrooms and general living rooms and kitchen]

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[A view from the first floor of the main house showing the embryo of a long pond, paving and general landscaping]

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[Scenic view from the roof of Table Mountain]

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[The two houses (staff and main) will have imported Balinese floors, tiles, doors, door frames. Our friends like the odd statue or two as well. The garden has been planned with various ‘setting’: tropical, provencal, desert, ornamental]

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[The pool excavation has begun – palms not indigenous, imported!].

On Friday evening, we were invited by Richard, Emma, Sam and Will to the Ambassador Hotel’s larny restaurant Salt, to say thank you for having them in Menerbes.

Great evening and in keeping with the wintry evening, red meat in the guise of rib eye steak and Springbok loin was the chosen fare.

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[Lipitor or Crestor – optional extras]

Madame has continued with her baking course at Silwood Kitchen.

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On collection, the car smelt like one of the finest French bakeries you could ever imagine. The eating has lived up to the promise!

Top left: a Household Brown Bread. Made by a new Cape Town mill called Eureka who are producing a stone ground flour with no additives, preservatives or chemicals.

Bottom left: Walnut Bread. Made with whole grain flour.

Right: Seed loaf. An adaptation of a recipe used to make bread during World War 11 – now with added sunflower, sesame and poppy seeds. Whole grain flour.

Totsiens – Lovonne and Simon xx

Click on:

www.zoopy.com/video/4x9b/athlone-cooling-towers-implosion

to view!

[source: www.zoopy.com]

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