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Pamela Buckle aka Little Miss Mission Impossible!
1 Jan 2012
 
     

At heart, I’m a travel and experience blogger; adventurer; radio presenter and gadget gal being dubbed Little Miss Mission Impossible (Little MMI)! Travels and unique experiences like exploring volcanoes or flying helicopters all form part of my world.

I'm a marshmallow loving individual who has the universe to conquer! I want to visit monasteries, ride elephants, experience undersea walking, swim with dolphins and watch the migration of the Serengeti. I want to walk with cheetahs, locate earthquake fault lines, visit a desert and fly on a real hot air balloon. More than anything, I want to explore my own country and learn more about it. The list is endless!

I'm a proud brand ambassador for PowerTraveller, Joby, Faces of Hope and Warrior Race. My travel show, ‘Out on Air’ with Tony Blewitt, is featured on Mix FM 93.8 highlighting our beautiful country!

In a nutshell, I’m an outdoor, dynamic and enthusiastic individual, inspiring both adventure seekers and ‘stuck at home’ individuals to step out of their comfort zones, embracing life with enthusiasm and laughter! 

I feel nothing is impossible on my journey… I don’t have the ultimate access card to all life’s inconveniences but I do have passion for ambition!

http://www.littlemmi.com

SA Businessman Swims Necker Island for a Cause
30 May 2014
 
     

A South African Businessman Swims Necker Island for a Cause

“What you have at the end of your life will be determined by how much you gave.”- Ettiëne Pretorius 

On the 14th March 2014, a South African Businessman swam from Necker Island to Moskito Island situated in the British Virgin Isles to raise funds for Faces of Hope. Ettiëne Pretorius says, “To me personally it’s all about having a balanced lifestyle, being able to do business and create international relationships together while having fun doing it.” 

Ettiëne was invited to Necker Island for a 5 day Necker Meets Oxford think tank, where the top professors of Oxford University together with 20 influential entrepreneurs all over the world came together to discuss climate change and how they as influential individuals can bring change, setting examples of how to build a greener environment. “People with money aren't always influential, but influential people will always have money," says Pretorius. 

Ettiëne Pretorius was born with one sole purpose, to influence the world and to share his passion for business with a burning desire to become one of the world’s top entrepreneurs. He received the “ABSA Top Entrepreneur South Africa award” in 2005 for his clothing company and real estate investments as well as the International Businessman Award in 2013. He went on to receive an International Businessman Award from the J.T Foxx Organisation, and was congratulated by Arnold Schwarzenegger, Donna Karan (DKNY) and Wayne Allan Root (US Vice President candidate). Ettiëne lives by the 10 000 hour rule and backs it up with his ongoing studies. He is currently finishing his MSc in Real Estate while coaching 16 students each month on how to approach the Real Estate Market. His philosophy is simple: “I do not negotiate, I educate. People are my passion, business is my game and money is just a tool.”

Whilst training for Ironman South Africa which took place on the 6th April 2014, Ettiëne decided to train whilst being on Necker which became a motivation to swim from Necker to Moskito Island symbolising a passion to do something for a greater cause, raising awareness for Faces of Hope. Ettiene says, “Being part of a children’s home for 7 years, has changed my life and gave ‘giving’ a whole different meaning. Success defined by me is ‘the power of my choices and the decisions I make to influence other people to be significant.”

On the 14th March 2014, Ettiëne woke up to a sunny morning and stood on the beach looking out towards the direction he would have to swim whilst the rest of the crew got ready to accompany him on paddle boards, power and sail boats. It could potentially be dangerous swimming in the channel as boats are occasionally passing through and wouldn’t necessarily notice a swimmer free styling through the surface of the ocean. For Pretorius the 5km swim was exhilarating and rewarding knowing the purpose behind the challenge. After the swim, Sir Richard Branson together with Ettiëne and the group, had a group discussion about Global Warming where after they explored Moskito before enjoying lunch and a swim in the sea. 

Necker Island and Moskito Island are both owned by Sir Richard Branson. Moskito Island is going to be developed into a premier ecotourism resort and Necker Island is going to continue to reduce environmental impact, setting a great example for other island communities worldwide. To travel to Necker Island one would need to take a connecting flight to the British Virgin Isles and then a short boat trip to land on the shores of the picturesque tropical island in the Caribbean. 

Ettiëne says, “Traveling as frequently as I have been the past few years, I realized how important it is to create an experience for your customers. Sir Richard Branson has mastered this in every single way possible, which I experienced whilst flying with Virgin Atlantic. With every bit of attention to detail, I choose them time and again. From Upper class to Economy, there is no difference in service and I always feel at home.”

Faces of Hope founder Kerrin Black is privileged to have been chosen by Ettiëne Pretorius to help her raise awareness for the organisation. Faces of Hope foundation “seeks to raise funds for select cancer sufferers to help meet basic financial costs to cover their debilitating oncology treatment”. www.facesofhope.co.za

“Meeting with Sir Richard Branson was one thing, but knowing that this individual has changed the dynamics of entrepreneurship across the globe, living with one passion and goal in mind and changing the world, is a feeling of excitement, humbleness and growth. I am thrilled to have taken the step forward in doing something for a greater purpose and creating awareness for two causes I am personally passionate about,” says Ettiëne.

To help support Faces of Hope, SMS the word ‘Hope’ to 39703. SMS costs R30 per SMS Once-Off. Free SMS’s do not apply. You will need to confirm you are the bill payer or have the bill payer’s permission. Ts & Cs apply.

To find out more about Ettiëne Pretorius visit his official webpage www.ettienepretorius.co.za.

Mountain Sanctuary Park
27 Jan 2014
 
     

Mountain Sanctuary Park

Less than an hour and a half from Johannesburg is a destination that is located in the Magaliesberg Mountains offering any nature enthusiast a chance to be in a serene and majestic setting. The picturesque reserve is a hidden treasure welcoming campers, hikers, bird watchers and anyone needing some time out to relax. 

Arriving at Mountain Sanctuary Park, I couldn’t help but notice the mountainous and rough terrain that surrounded my vehicle. Would we get lost in the wilderness, forced to survive on natural resources and build a shelter using twigs and leaves? How does one make an SOS smoke signal? ~crickets chirp~ 

After meeting my fantastic group, we all huddled together to map out our hiking route before gathering our belongings and setting off on an 8-hour hike towards the slide pools. Along the way we all got to know each other whilst capturing the beautiful view that was displayed before us. We explored, climbed boulders and posed as statues for any passerby image capturing units. 

Just about a kilometre in, I was feeling so tired. You know those moments when you’re panting so loudly but trying to keep it on the low, so you start breathing heavily through your nose closely resembling a charging bull? I couldn’t display my exhaustion... my weakness, I needed to remain strong and a ‘Go Go Power Woman’. I started placing this scenario in a ‘Survivor’ show, pondering what I would do to not get voted out. What would my unique abilities be to bring to the group? Nothing came to mind at that moment... nothing! 

We finally arrived at the cave where we settled down to a picnic lunch whilst admiring the beautiful atmosphere that surrounded us. Departing on our journey once again through crevices and open land, we finally arrived at our final stop on this adventure - kloofing! 

The team quickly changed into swim gear behind rocks and dived into icy mountain pools before venturing up the kloof and exploring uncharted areas.

Thank you to everyone who joined me... you all made this an amazing day filled with laughter and giggles! 

If you want a day out then consider visiting the Mountain Sanctuary Park. It’s not a far drive from Johannesburg and the entrance fee is very minimal. www.mountain-sanctuary.co.za

Dar Amane in Graskop
22 Dec 2013
 
     

Choosing a bed rest location in Mpumalanga is difficult, not because of a lack of accommodation but because every place you view on the internet looks so incredible that it leaves you more confused as to where to make your ‘home away from  home’ base. 

I came across a quaint little place in Graskop called ‘Dar Amane’ that is elevated in the mountains and situated in close proximity to all the places I wanted to explore. Arriving just after dark I was greeted by a row of candles glowing along the walkway and the most delicious snacks of baba ganoush and Moroccan delicacies. Whilst sipping on an ice cold beer, I started surveying my room, and the decor in the room was extraordinary. 

The African/Moroccan designs were remarkable and I was even more surprised when I found out most of the furnishings were created by the owner, Hendry himself. The giant shower, African painted doors and the brightly coloured loo were a few of my favourite features. Something that fascinated me most was going to loo... every time I turned on the light, an extractor fan started. Amazing! I love bathrooms and I’m always interested to see how guest houses make a silly little room into something exciting and decorative! 

The night ended with a delicious home-made Moroccan meal and chocolate meringue dessert!

In the morning I scouted out my surroundings to find I had my own little private rainforest right outside my door. The yummiest breakfast was waiting for me with freshly brewed coffee, homemade preserves and bread. After fuelling my energy I was ready for my adventurous day!

Getting back to ‘Dar Amane’ late at night, I had warm homemade chicken pies waiting for me with some dessert, and homemade biscuits for my tea in the morning. The bath that night never felt better and the electric blanket never felt warmer.

If you are looking for accommodation in Graskop that is focused on making your stay as comfortable as possible, then choosing ‘Dar Amane’ will be so worthwhile. It just goes to show that attention to the little things in life is what makes an experience! 

www.daramane.co.za

Parasailing
14 Dec 2013
 
     

Who in this world would think of coming up with an invention like Parasailing? I mean, taking a little plastic flapping thing and tying it onto a speed boat is not something all of us "intellectual" individuals would attempt inventing. 

I don't think fear is quite the word to describe the feeling of knowing you are up in the air and even though there's water beneath you, that salty H2O liquid is not quite a safe landing, should something go wrong.

I arrived at my parasailing destination and whilst waiting at the edge of the beach for the little boat to fetch me, things kept running through my head. It's amazing how when faced with a fearful situation the "what ifs" start infiltrating your mind and this little voice inside says, "Dooon't dooo it", and then of course you do it anyways. 

I geared up with my little blue lifejacket and got the quick instructions. "So stand there and when you come down, I’ll give signals. Pull on that string to go right and that one to go left, that’s it". That's it? No pilot manual? No 200 page instructor's guide? There was no time to be "bird whisperer" to the seagulls that might fly past. I had to complete a mission... mission to land on the wooden platform. 

Standing on the very small, hard to miss, wooden platform, I felt my body lifting and next thing I was flying! Being above the ocean tied to a thin piece of string made me wonder what would happen if that string snapped? Would I fly beyond the horizon and land on some survivor island where I would make friends with a fellow coconut named "Wilson"? Eventually I started feeling relaxed.

The manly individual started making very strange hand movements from the platform. It was kinda like a "courtship" dance versus the "Macarena". Was this my landing signal? I had to prevail, I needed to breathe, just breathe and keep my eyes on the brown square floating spot on the ocean. That was my safe haven… my comfort zone! I manoeuvered my arm here, my twinkle toe there, and gracefully landed on the platform. I had conquered the air above the ocean... I was a Parasailer! Success!

Will I ever attempt this strange phenomenon again? Now ask me this question... would there ever be a chance that a human being would grow wings?

Rotorua
7 Dec 2013
 
     

Rotorua in New Zealand is an active geothermal area surrounded by dormant volcanoes, boiling mud pools, acidic pools and steam escaping through mountains and roads. Knowing that this area is extremely dangerous, I decided to get myself a tour guide to show me all the highlights of Rotorua. 

The first stop, Maungakakaramea (Rainbow Mountain) is a walk trail through a forest to a scene that is magnificent! At the destination was a crater lake that was this greenish blue colour and the landscape was filled with these little spurts of steam.

I explored heated pools, natural geysers, and then wandered off to a mud area that was boiling and frothing. As I was having a photo taken, one mini mud volcano exploded and came flying at me, almost hitting my foot. It was like a near boiling foot experience. 

A jetboat took us to a geothermal park called ‘Orakei Korako’. Not only does it display volcanic activity but it also has one of the only two geothermal caves in the world. You hear about volcanoes and that our earth is hot, but when you actually witness the sheer power and see massive steamy cracks in the crust, it gives you a feeling of vulnerability compared to this force. All that is between you and these remarkable formations are ‘Danger’ signs… there were moments when what was displayed before me felt so surreal.

I was told that this area is very unpredictable so I walked through the park as quickly as possible, knowing that with my luck in timing, I would be there when everything decided to erupt. 

http://www.orakeikorako.co.nz 

Before I explored a little more of Rotorua we stopped at a lookout point of a volcano called Mt. Tarawera which previously erupted in 1886. Apparently this volcano eruption is one of the worst recorded natural disasters in New Zealand and destroyed the ‘eighth wonder’ of the world. They say that Rotorua is due for another eruption from Mt. Tarawera, and all I could think of was how happy I was to be returning home soon. 

After all my steamy experiences, we travelled through Rotorua, viewing Maori villages and more lakes. An interesting fact that the ‘Jetboat Captain’ told me was that apparently people living in Rotorua have a shorter life expectancy because of all the fumes and gases that surround the place. 

This was truly one of the most incredible experiences I have had, and it has given me a new respect for our earth.

Simple Camping Weekend
24 Nov 2013
 
     

Simple camping weekends away are always a great solution to ‘getting away’ on a budget and although you may feel like time is not always on your side, finding a resort close enough to your home will give you the added advantage of not having to take too much time off. Approximately 45 minutes away from Fourways, Johannesburg near Hartbeespoort Dam is a camping resort called Hartbeespoort Oord Resort. The resort offers green, luscious grassy stands that are surrounded by ample shade and electrical points. The nearby ablution facilities are clean and neat and there is a kiosk available for any necessary basics, cold drinks and snacks.

They have some great facilities for the kids including a large jungle gym, cold and heated swimming pools, tall waterslide, Skateboard Park, trampolines and putt putt etc. There is a large lapa, bar area and restaurant for hire and if you’re not the adventurous camper and would prefer alternative accommodation, the resort does offer self-catering log cabins and chalets.

For a quick weekend away, it’s close enough to leave after work and still have time to set up camp before sundown. A great tip is to pack a microwave meal for the kids for the first evening so you don’t have to figure out dinner just after you’ve busily been setting up camp. It is not always the greatest to spend a weekend camping in the rain! Besides having to pack up muddy equipment, no one is comfortable to actually enjoy the weekend. We would suggest checking the weather report before taking yourself or your family into the outdoors.

Hartbeespoort Oord Resort is an affordable option to get away with the price being R200 per stand (4 adults) per night and the activities near the resort are endless.

If you could like to know more about the Hartbeespoort Oord Resort, visit: http://www.hartbeespoortoord-resort.co.za

If you are looking at taking a simple camping weekend away, check out my simple camping weekend check list here: http://outonair.com/index.do?ix=39941

Umhlanga Sands Revamp
16 Nov 2013
 
     

Growing up as a child you have certain memories that seem to last a lifetime and for me that was always the holidays and adventures my parents took me on. A few locations became imprints in our holiday planning and there were always those same hotels or resorts that we seemed to revisit, ones that became the centre of our family vacations and added to the excitement of our every year gathering. 

Umhlanga is situated just North of Durban along the inviting and warm Indian Ocean and is a magnet for holiday makers all year through with its beautiful beaches and relaxing atmosphere. Umhlanga Sands has a remarkable reputation dedicated to providing a comfortable, affordable, safe and memorable stay. Considering they’ve just had a modern revamp… I needed to investigate. 

My room overlooked the ocean with the waves holding onto a few shimmering sun rays above its breakers… I was in KwaZulu-Natal paradise!  

The resort’s Mediterranean layout with umbrellas, palm trees and crystal blue pools displays a light and airy architectural atmosphere adding to any holiday experience. I was amazed to discover how the resort contributes towards the environment. The aircons automatically turn off when sliding doors get opened, windows are tinted to keep the heat out, they have their very own worm farm and all the water and garbage gets recycled. I applaud all their efforts! 

Just a few steps away from the heart of the lobby is the beach! I always treasure the moment when I first place my feet on the sand particles when arriving at any coastal destination. Umhlanga is a beautiful town with its hotels and resorts stretched along the beachfront and promenade welcoming guests to take a morning jog. 

Umhlanga is one of my favourite destinations on the North Coast and the Umhlanga Sands is a great choice for both business travellers and families needing accommodation that has superior facilities and outstanding service. 

It’s so convenient to bring your kids on holiday with every room meeting basic needs such as a kitchenette with a microwave, game plug ins for all those gaming enthusiasts, DSTV with kids channels, activity programmes for the kids, restaurants and entertainment - all aimed at children. The fact that one doesn’t even have to leave the resort to have a remarkable time, just shows that Umhlanga Sands is keeping up to their legacy of ‘Kid is King’. 

Umhlanga Sands Resort may have had a revamp but their heart is still as warm and welcoming as ever! 

http://www.tsogosunhotels.com/resorts/umhlanga-sands

Driving Range
9 Nov 2013
 
     

The world of golf can be a very daunting sport for many women who feel it’s either too difficult, more of a man’s sport, or it’s out of their league and very ‘clicky’. I wanted to show ladies that golf can be so relaxing, beneficial for their careers and really fun when they know a few basic techniques. 

Martin Whitcher Pro Shop kindly sponsored a group of ladies a golf lesson at Randpark Golf Course. I sent out invites to a few fabulous women and the response alone left me in giggles. “What do I wear?”, “Can I wear ski pants to play golf?”, “Do we need clubs?” and my favourite “Should I bring an extra pair of heels for the club house later?” This is the exact reason why I think we need more lady golfers out there on the big wide pastures of greens. Women bring character and other little details of importance that men perhaps wouldn't consider…

The ladies were treated to a very insightful lesson with Martin Whitcher on how to hold a club correctly, hitting a ball, some swinging techniques and basic rules. 

Observing how the ladies were figuring out how to get their ball lifted off the fake grassy patch was so entertaining to watch and once again instilled in me the reason why I love and enjoy golf so much. This is what it’s all about- having fun! Everyone was having such a great time and most of them already developed a sound effect for their flying balls and a ‘jiggy’ dance for ecstatic proud moments.  

After finishing our entire lesson, we all headed off to the club to enjoy some chilled drinks and a lunch. It was a real eye opener for the ladies to see the relaxed and ‘vibey’ atmosphere at the club, also showing them that golf isn't as ‘clicky’ as they thought and that there is a place for women joining the sport. 

For those of you who don’t want to get seriously into the game but would love to just have fun with it, then go down to a driving range, get a bucket of balls (± R20), hire a club and enjoy! Perhaps end your experience having some breakfast at the halfway house or lunch at the club. However you do it, it’s a great idea to get out into fresh air!

Markets in JHB
2 Nov 2013
 
     

The weekend morning sun wakes you up with its rays peeking through your window and before you know it, kids, dogs, cats and anything with an AA battery come soaring towards your bed. Questions like, “so what are we going to do today” start disrupting the once still and silent atmosphere.

There are many markets that are open on weekends that provide an opportunity to get out and inhale fresh air whilst enjoying delicious food and vibrant surroundings.

Here are a few recommendations in Johannesburg:

Saturdays

Bryanston Organic and Natural Market- Thurs and Sat: 9am-3pm

“The emphasis is on quality hand crafted goods, unique art and photography, clothing made from natural fibres, a deli filled with rich, wholesome foods and, of course, fresh organic and naturally grown produce.”- http://www.bryanstonorganicmarket.co.za

I personally love this market. It’s so relaxing to sit under the trees enjoying a cuppa coffee and a delicious piece of cake whilst listening to the live musician. If you want to catch up with some friends then this is a fantastic option!

Jozi Food Market- Sat: 8.30am- 1pm

“The aim is to encourage the support of LOCAL small producers. It’s a healthy and fun way to shop- its outdoors! Patrons can relax with a coffee/drink under trees, and there’s plenty of space for kids and dogs to play!”- http://www.jozifoodmarket.co.za

Neighbourgoods Market- Sat: 9am-3pm

“The market takes place over two floors of 73 Juta Street, a Johannesburg landmark building featuring a large scale concrete facade by Edoardo Villa. The second floor features an extensive rooftop area with views over the city.”- http://www.neighbourgoodsmarket.co.za

This vibrant atmosphere offers good food, provided by great local farmers, gourmet chefs, and producer’s etc.  all in one fantastic market!

Sundays

Fourways Farmers Market- Sun: 9am-2pm

“The market boasts round about 61 vendor stalls, selling carefully selected produce and products that are produced locally and of the finest quality. We have children's play area, a picnic area and seating area under tall pine trees…”- http://www.ffmarket.co.za

Market on Main- Sun: 10am-3pm

“Our stallholders are Gauteng based food and design fanatics, our venue is Arts On Main (the first child of the thriving Maboneng Precinct) and our friends are you!”- http://marketonmain.co.za


Every Second and Last Saturday of the Month

Irene Market- Every Second and Last Saturday on the Month: 9am-2pm

“The market offers ample safe parking, kids' entertainment, a fully-licensed tea garden, numerous food stalls and over 300 exhibits with wares ranging from art & craft to clothing, delicacies, antiques, flowers & curio.”- http://irenemarket.co.za

Visit Pilgrims Rest
26 Oct 2013
 
     

Nestled in the eastern escarpment region in Mpumalanga, Pilgrim's Rest is a living museum forming part of South African history and it’s monumentally known as the place where the first gold rush in South Africa began. I couldn’t wait to go back to 1873 where once wagons and oxen roamed!

As soon as I arrived in town, I made my way to the ‘Information Centre’ to gain some history and background to some of the shops that are situated along the road. Every wood and corrugated iron building... every aspect of this town tells a story. It was fascinating standing in a street that was once a dirt road where a community would go about their everyday lives accepting deliveries... saying their goodbyes and even walking in the hope of discovering gold in the nearby creek. 

Across the street ‘The Royal Hotel’ is a proclaimed National Monument and still has guests staying overnight from all over the world. Its infamous ‘Church Bar’ that was once a chapel shipped from Cape Town is an impressive location to have a cold draught. If you’re not looking at spending the night in their Victorian dated bedrooms then this is still a great place to have some lunch to refill your energy levels before exploring further. 

Whilst investigating all the buildings, I was astonished at the items that were used back then. I couldn’t imagine ironing my clothes with a heavy doorstop looking object and even being dressed up in long winter looking dresses with the heat that we get in this country. 

Exploring the Old Print House I noticed a poster of ‘Jock and the Bushveld’ and it dawned on me that these were the very streets where Percy Fitzpatrick used to travel to deliver gold field supplies from Delagoa Bay with his trusty dog companion - Jock. Sometimes it puts things into perspective when you read an incredible story like ‘Jock’ and you actually visit a piece of that history. 

Climbing up Cemetery Hill, famous for its ‘Robbers Grave’, I passed the Methodist Church that was built in 1911 and looked back down at the little town almost hidden amongst the trees. 

Although there has been some negative news sparking about the future of Pilgrim's Rest, it still is a great place to visit on the Panorama Route. It does seem a little neglected but I think through everything the tiny town still deserves our support.

Stroke a White Lion Cub
19 Oct 2013
 
     

The African sun rises over the horizon signifying the start of an adventurous day. Lions roar, elephants roam the savannah, a herd of buck take a quick drink at the waterhole and the meerkat scouts for its next nibble. The dawn brings about a flock of birds fluttering in the tree outside my window and I can almost smell the damp of the grass outside... okay that’s just my bath towel hanging over the door but you get the idea! 

The ‘Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve’ is one of Johannesburg's Big 5 Tourist Destinations and reaches tops on my list of ‘must see places’. This privately owned reserve is situated in the ‘Cradle of Humankind’ and features some endangered and rare species which you are almost guaranteed to view. 

I was on a mission to touch a white lion and I knew this was going to be a tough challenge considering I’m walking food for these magnificent creatures. I have to admit, the thought did cross my womanly intellectual lobe of perhaps going in disguise as a bush and making bush noises. As much as I do take things a little across the boundary at times, there is one thing I know about Africa and that’s show wild animals respect! 

White Lions have been mistaken as albinos but they’re in fact the result of a recessive gene and originated from the Timbavati region of South Africa. There are an estimated 300 White Lions in the world so having this encounter with a cub is extremely precious to me and something I will treasure for a long time to come. 

Walking into the lion cub camp, I just loved the way they were so relaxed under the covering, not at all perturbed by my presence. I was told to pat them hard, as they may mistake me for a fly on their backs and that wouldn’t be a good thing. Being a fly in a lion’s presence could mean having fewer fingers (if flies even have fingers) or worse, being eaten! 

Stroking these incredible creatures made me wonder why on this earthly orb would people want to hunt these animals for a trophy? What pleasure does one get from killing such a remarkable beast? It makes me wish I could gather up every animal, build a giant ark and protect them all! 

If you are looking for an opportunity to be close to wildlife then I would really suggest visiting 'Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve' - www.rhinolion.co.za

Walking with elephants
12 Oct 2013
 
     

Plettenberg Bay, "Bahia Formosa" (Beautiful Bay) is situated approximately 27km from Knysna and is a popular tourist destination along the Garden Route. The views of the Outeniqua and Tsitsikamma mountains encompass the landscape with its golden beaches, indigenous forests and wine route.

About 16km from Plett is The Crags, Animal Alley situated near Natures Valley where I would be fulfilling one of my biggest dreams on my water tower list- Walking with African Elephants!

Walking towards Marula, Jabo and Thandi, I suddenly felt a sense of vulnerability. Here I was, this tiny mouse compared to these giants… I was in their territory, in their home and I knew I had to have consideration when interacting with them. I didn’t want to become a flat pancake.

I was introduced to the elephants and found my place amongst the herd to take a walk with them into the forest. I was shown how to hold my arm behind my back with my fingers slightly curled so that Thandi could hold onto my hand with her enormous trunk. I was about to experience holding the inside of an elephant nose and I stood there hoping there wasn’t any nose boogers to accompany that! Can an elephant sneeze? *gulp*

Walking with these majestic creatures was an exhilarating experience to say the least. I kinda walked as far forward as possible with the worry of Thandi stepping on my toes. The handler explained to me how even if I tripped and fell in front of her, she would step right over me, careful not to trample me.

Whilst walking through the forest and I had this unusual feeling that overcame my every sense of being. There is something about being in the presence of such a magnificent animal that brings on a peculiar emotion demanding instant ‘Twinsaver’ tissues. Elephants have an amazing way of somehow telepathically interconnecting with your soul that just brings tears to your eyes.

Standing in the forest next to Thandi, I got to interact with her… feeling her wavy ears and staring deep into her dazzling eyes with long eye lashes. She had such a sense of compassion and empathy, I felt privileged to be standing next to her. It was as if she authorized permission in the animal kingdom for me to be standing so close and it saddened me to think about the amount of elephants that are being poached and abused.

We returned back from our forest adventure and fed the elephants some pumpkin treats which they loved and appreciated. What a day!

Lifeguard Towers
5 Oct 2013
 
     

I believe conquering little ambitions adds such flavour in life and sitting in a lifeguard tower gazing over the ocean has been one of mine. I don’t know what it is but perhaps the beach lifeguard dwellings remind me of tree houses and forts I used to build as a child.

Lifeguard houses have been important entities on beaches all over the world providing lifeguards a sanctuary to be seated and to be lifted high above the ocean to scout for any potential dangers or rescue requirements. To the swimmers of the salty H2O, lifeguard houses have been the beacons or markers to help locate where towels were placed and they’ve aided in giving people a sense of safety knowing someone is watching their backs.   

Arriving at Melkbos beach in Cape Town, I just stood for a moment and took in all the scenery. The sun gleaming off the waves, surfers striding with all their gear and the white sand inviting me to get my feet dirty... being in this environment is always my ultimate unwinding moment.   

Finding a lifeguard tower is easy but getting the chance to sit in one is another story. Lifeguards protect their towers, their interpersonal beach zones and it’s almost like there’s this invisible force shield surrounding the structure prohibiting anyone to even remotely touch a plank of wood unless invited.

If I was going to climb one of these wooden pillars, it was going to take a lot skill. It felt like I was playing a game of paintball, trying to capture the flag.

Sitting in a lifeguard tower was like sitting on an extremely high bench which wasn’t that comfortable. Lifeguard houses should have automatic detecting scanners that scan the ocean, detecting trouble and air conditioning. I still loved looking over the ocean though!

Of what I actually know of lifeguards exist in fairytales such as ‘Baywatch’ with their skilful art of running in slow motion, constant glow and perfectly styled hair that’s even flawless when swimming and emerging from the water. Beyond all that lies a very serious job that involves people’s lives on a daily basis.

I think lifeguards are incredible people who have such a responsibility in taking care of people in oceans or any place where water is concerned. It takes an extremely special person to take on the job of saving lives and it’s a profession that needs to be taken seriously. We should be grateful for their presence!

Perfect Cuppa
28 Sep 2013
 
     

Making the Perfect Cuppa Cappuccino

I stared at my little humble Cappuccino maker with such discontent. Where did it all go wrong? Why couldn’t the kitchen appliance and I just get along? It was almost like there was a miscommunication between what I wanted and what the machine wanted to produce and this was all about to change.

I arrived at the ‘Seattle Coffee Company’, equipped with my trusty pair of heels and mini portable image capturing unit. This was it... I was going to perfect my cappuccino brewing skills.

Danny Spence, the proud owner of the ‘Seattle Coffee Company’ greeted me with the biggest smile that made me ponder how many cups of espresso he already had that morning?  

If there is one thing I know about manly individuals, they love their gadgets and this personality was not going to give up the chance to show me his finest possession... a mega, super coffee maker! It’s almost like at that moment everything went into slow mode and the environment zoomed in on the silver beast in all its magnificence.

Danny started explaining the different key factors that presents a perfect cappuccino and I was fascinated! This man is more than just a business owner; he is passionate about every step in the coffee making process.

Watching everything in action, I started taking tips:

  • Temperature: The kitchen ‘King Kong’ gets this just right! 
  • Coffee Beans: African coffee beans have more of a citrus flavour to them whilst beans from South America have a sweeter taste. Asian coffee beans are bolder (whatever that means). 
  • Grinding the Coffee Beans: If you’re making an espresso, make sure your beans are ground super fine.
  • Compacting the Coffee: The tighter and more compact the granules, the longer it will take for the water to run through it creating a honey like, thick substance full of flavour. 
  • Steaming: When steaming one shouldn’t hold the frother thingy so close up as you will get what I would call a splatter milk artwork all over your kitchen. Best to make sure it’s more down so that the COLD milk rotates and you get a hissing sound for a few seconds.

After Danny showed me a few impressive latte art finishes... it was my turn to give this whole process a bash. You get people who have been born with the barista skill and then you get individuals like me who let’s just say... try!

I would just like to thank Danny Spence from ‘The Seattle Coffee Company’ for accommodating me. Not only is their coffee superb but the people working there for me, make it all worthwhile!

Relaxing in Paternoster
21 Sep 2013
 
     

The Western Cape is picturesque with so many beautiful towns or villages to explore! The horizon on the sky seems endless and the transition from the city to the open landscape of fynbos is magnificent with the sand dunes making up so much of the topography. 

Paternoster is a fishing village that is approximately 90min from Cape Town. This charming little village is surreal, with white washed beach houses, crushed shell driveways, a long white beach and massive coastline boulders making up this romantic getaway destination! 

Whatever beach house you rent in Paternoster, it’s going to surprise you with its simplistic decor and small touches of the locals' artworks. Though every house was white with blue shutters, each villa had its own characteristic... its own identity! 

The best way to get to know Paternoster is to discover it by foot! The sand on the beach was so soft that my feet just sank between the sandy particles leaving an imprint between my toes. I found a little seafood restaurant on the beach that served fresh fish and wine with a delightful atmosphere.

As beautiful as Paternoster is, many say there’s not much to do... then why visit Paternoster? Well I’ve come up with my own list of what to do and here it is... 

- Get a beach house with a balcony and view of the ocean and watch the sun rise in the morning! A hot cuppa tea will just make this ideal!
- Take a walk on the beach and climb the boulders! Best to do this at low tide because you can see some awesome sea life living near the rocks.
- Whale watching! This area of the coast is great to watch whales...
- Relax!
- Eat crayfish sold by the locals... not sure how legal this is but super yummy to try!
- Have sundowners at the local seafood restaurant on the beach and enjoy a fresh piece of hake!
- Walk down the small streets and admire the houses and scenic views!
- Travel to Cape Columbine Lighthouse and go on a tour! Driving through this reserve and checking out the coastline is also an incredible experience.
- Sit on the beach and reflect with hot chocolate!

If you are looking for a quiet little place to visit that truly is inspiring and welcoming, then Paternoster is a wonderful option.

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