I am tree hugger

Friday, March 28, 2014

Trees are one of my favourite subjects to photograph. My instagram feed will testify. I just love how each tree has something to give - a story to tell;  a fruit to bear; producing livegiving oxygen and that they make earth so beautiful!

 Trees talk to each other, did you know? They warn each other when danger is in the area, such as a large flock of insects or a whole bunch of giraffes. The tree then secretes some chemicals, making the leaves bitter or poisonous and not very pleasant to eat. I learned this fun fact on an evening game drive once. We couldn't see anything, so I just kept asking questions about trees. 

So, when GreenPop, a social business that believes that greening and sustainable living can be fun, approached me to work on one of their campaigns, I nearly fainted.

The great folks at GreenPop are currently running a project called Trees for Zambia, where they are trying to raise as much money as they possibly can to assist in planting trees in the town of Livingstone. This forms part of combating deforestation, which is tragic occurrence in modern day living. 

Did you know that Zambia has approximately 50 million hectares of forest, 
with an estimated deforestation rate of 250 000 to 300 000 hectares per year? 
That should certainly make you sit up straight and DONATE! 

Now, if I make the most donations out of five other Joburg bloggers, 
I will get to travel to Zambia to help plant these trees! 
It will be a dream come true!  

What can you do to help? Well, through crowdfunding on Givengain, you can buy a tree! 
Only R120 - that's not even a decent dinner in a restaurant these days.

And if saving the world one tree at a time isn't motivation enough for you to buy one, here's a little something extra. For every tree you buy, your name will be entered into a draw to win a little holiday at a game resort in Botswana! So make my dream come true and help yourself to a fantastic getaway!

Owning a Jack Russell

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Anja today tells us about what it is like to own a Jack Russell, or more than one of them. 

My dad has been obsessed with having Jack Russells his whole life - even as a kid they only owned Jack Russells. 

So, when he started his own family, it was just natural to add Jack Russells to it.

We got our first Jack Russell when I was 8 years old, and we named him Jack. (Don't judge us - I know people who've called their cat "Kat".)

Jack was the best dog ever. He was very entertaining - his weird antics made us laugh every single day.

When he was a puppy he was SUPER naughty. He ate/humped/chewed everything. 

Seriously. He ate Blitz, matches, a R50 note and a car phone charger. Oneday when we were on our way somewhere he saw a dog on the outside of our car, and out of frustration of not being able to sniff its butt he destroyed the window panel. (The cushion under the window.)


But in between his naughtiness he was a beautiful, intelligent dog. He used to play better soccer than anyone on the Bafana Bafana team (which isn't difficult) and he was a very talented detective.
We used to hide tennis balls from him because he lost his shit when he played with them. It got so bad that we actually put the balls in the freezer, just to throw him off the scent.
After 15 years of living with us he passed away last year. It was very traumatic and it took us a year to move on. (We'll never forget him.)

We now have two Jack Russell puppies - I told you my dad is obsessed! I can already see the parallels between them. Like Jack, they enjoy digging holes and leopard crawling in small spaces.

Here's a summary of Jack Russells:
- They are fiercely loyal and intelligent dogs.
- They have ENDLESS energy and need to be walked/played with everyday.
- Your garden isn't safe from them. They will dig holes in it.
- They need lots of toys as puppies, and will probably destroy most of them.
- They love leopard crawling in confined spaces, but don't worry - they always get out.
- They're always keen for a drive, whether it's 5km or 5000km.
- They will love you forever and ever. (Like all dogs)

Want to know what it's like to own a boxer, staffie, border collie or French bulldog?

Some thoughts

Thursday, March 20, 2014

This might be a short work week, with tomorrow being a public holiday - Family Day and Human Rights Day - which I am aptly spending with my family. My brother and his wife share March as their birth months and we are going to celebrate that. We are also going to laugh at my brother when the episode of Noot vir Noot he was in airs. Yes, it might be a short week, but I have learnt so much.

Life is fleeting. It can be over in a second. Relationships can be over sooner than expected. Don't put off that phonecall with your mom, kiss your loved ones goodbye in the morning - tell them that you love them.  Go for that coffee that you've been promising for such a long time. Go for long walks with your person.

You don't always have to argue.

Teamwork is important.

Instead of complaining, ask how you can help.

If you had an argument, so what, cuddling is more important.

Say yes more often.

The tv isn't everything. Switch it off every now and again.

Listen more, talk less. Not just to voices, listen to the birds singing, dogs barking, be happy that you are alive. Be grateful.

Exercise. It does your body and mind so much good. If you have a body in a fairly good working condition, use it.

Don't hold grudges.

Just be happy, it is also good for your health.

Love unconditionally.

10 Things to do in Johannesburg

Monday, March 17, 2014

An American friend of mine is coming to visit in June and I cannot wait to meet her. Her name is Sheila, we met through blogging, and you can check out her blog here. She is just the most inspirational lady! It's going to be awesome!

So, she was wondering what to do in Johannesburg, as she'll be here for a day or two and I thought that there could be no better way to tell her about the stuff to do than write it in a post.

South Africa is known for its game, so of course I'm going to start with the animals.

1.         The Lion Park, Lanseria
It boasts some pretty awesome wildlife, including bontebokke, meerkats, cheetahs and of course lions. You can interact with the cubs, go on a gamedrive, have lunch at their café and peruse their curio shop. They also have a very curious giraffe and ostrich, which you can feed!

Check out their website here and my posts on the park here and here.

2.         Joburg Zoo, Zoo Lake and The Bowling Club
The zoo, which covers 55 hectares of land, has every animal you can think of! You can even go for a run (when there is a marathon), or just have a chilled picnic on the zoo lawns while listening to the animals. Right across the road is Zoo Lake, which is the embodiment of chill. Visit the Moyo Restaurant, feed the ducks or enjoy the afternoon at the bowling club – cheap booze and good vibes! 

3.         Arts on Main, Neighbourgoods and 44 Stanley
Scattered around the city, these three markets offers the best of local eateries, culture and crafts. Arts on Main and Neighbourgoods are smack bang in the city. These are must see places, even if it is just for the people who frequent them. When visiting Neighbourgoods, make sure to check out the Nelson Mandela Bridge! Check out my posts on them here, here and here.

4          Greenside
Not just is it a stunning leafy suburb with a few parks to hang out in, including neighbouring Delta Park and Emmarentia Dam, but it is also one of the best party spots in Johannesburg. Glen Eagles Road has some great restaurants and clubs and it is always hustling and bustling over weekends.

Occasionally, these parks also have music festivals to attend! 

5.         Parkhurst
On that same note, the nearby suburb of Parkhurst is also a must see. 4th Avenue is packed to the rafters with the greatest eateries in the city – The Wolfpack, Craft, Espresso and Jolly Rogers are but a few to mention. People frequent the area for long walks with their dogs, so don’t be surprised when you see a few dogs in the restaurants.

 6.        Sandton, dahling
Snobs galore and hosts a huge shopping centre, Sandton City - which has been dubbed the richest square mile in Africa. That's all I'll say about it. Also has a Nelson Mandela statue. Worth a looksee. 

Outside of Johannesburg, but still close enough to count

7.           Lory Park Zoo, Midrand
You get to play with leopards! 'Nough said! But, you can also gawk at all the beautiful birds, have a braai, growl at their pumas, lions and tigers or have some fun with the other animals in this small, yet amazing zoo! Check out my post about Lory Park here.

8.       Hartbeespoortdam
Only about an hours drive from the city, there is much to see and do at this beautiful dam with it's mountainous area - from going on the dam; to mountain biking; to going on the cablecars - it is well worth the daytrip to this lovely area.

9.          Bush Babies Monkey Sanctuary
Also in Hartbeespoortdam, the naughty little monkeys at the sanctuary will steal your heart! 

Boasting a breeding pair of Verneaux Eagles, a waterfall, indigenous plants and lush gardens, the botanical gardens is the perfect place for a family picnic! It also has a number of other bird species, a few tortoises and interesting art pieces to keep you busy.

Is there anything that you think I missed that my friend must-must see? Please comment below!

Do you remember your first kiss?

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Yesterday, I found this video of the filmmaker Tatia Pillieva, who asked 20 strangers to kiss on camera. I found it so awkward that I kept on pausing every two seconds, just to work through my own anxious feelings. (Believe me, you didn't want to sit next to me when I was watching the Grey's Anatomy episode of April's wedding aftermath - that took me forever. Flip had to pause every two seconds because I was shouting at the tv so much. I just couldn't bear it. My ANXIETIES!)

This awkwardness made me think back to the first time Flip and I ever kissed. It was on our first date, we were standing in my foyer of my flat, saying our goodbyes for the evening, and suddenly Flip just grabbed me, dipped me and kissed the hell out of me. I was telling a friend how grateful I am that this was actually how our first kiss happened, that we didn't have to go through any awkward stances and chitchat like these lot did above - I mean, I honestly wasn't expecting this really shy guy to kiss me out of the blue - but he did. And my friend said: "just like he did at the wedding."

And then it hit me - our first kiss in our marriage was probably an exact replica of our first kiss ever. Except for the wedding part. And the white dress part. Pretty awesome, right?

Coincidentally, we are married five months today. I can't believe five months has already gone by. The old adage that the first year is the most difficult has definitely rung true on a few days, but there is no-one else I would rather spend my days with. I love you Flip!

Black Betty Designs

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Top two pictures from Visi

On a soaking wet Sunday, I somehow convinced my husband to go to a market I have never heard of before. (Yes, I am a bit oblivious to life in general). We didn't have any other plans and decided to give The Collective, at 3 Desmond street, in Kramerville, a visit. I was expecting something like Neighbourgoods, but instead was surprised by a very small, not-at-all crammed market with mostly clothing and jewelery.

Now, The Collective is a pop-up market and "includes beautiful local and international clothing designers, jewellers, ceramicists, fabric makers, furniture designers, vintage clothes collectors and home ware specialists."

The eats included Paul Ballen's amazing ice cream (which I wanted to buy with all my might, but it was just too cold), croissants, eggs Benedict and coffee.

We didn't stay long, just perused the stalls and got out, escaping to the heat of our car as quickly as possible. I think if it was a warmer day it would have been fuller.

On of the stalls that particulalry caught my eye was Black Betty Design, with its dainty little rings and necklaces. I'm looking for a very delicate chain bracelet and thought that they might have something, but alas. Their other designs are to die for though!

The range also makes use of polki diamonds, which is just beautiful! This is what they have to say about it.

Diamond cutting changes a rough diamond into a chiseled angular stone. Since Polki Diamonds are basically uncut, they have far less fire or brilliance when compared to chiseled diamonds. Their beauty is subtle. These diamonds are mined from the earth and retained in their natural form with virtually no modification. Raw and virtually uncut.

Every Polki diamond is unique and we wanted the designs to highlight this ancient stone’s organic, raw and imperfect qualities. These imperfections are highlighted by coating the under sides of our diamonds in sterling silver before they’re encased in 14 karat gold and then captured into various settings. This process ensures that all the rough lines are accentuated and reflect through each stone. Fourteen karat gold is the perfect metal to case these stones in because of its pale gold colouring which complements the grayish Polki hue. The casing mimics the shape of each stone which once again captures its naturally raw shape. The setting of each piece has carefully been designed to throw the entire spotlight on the diamond, settings are delicate and simple, uncomplicated just like the naturalness of the stones.

Polki diamonds are evergreen and are right for all ages and occasions. These very beautiful diamonds are very honorable when received with a pure heart...

The art of using Polki Diamonds in jewellery has been a tradition for centuries in the states of Rajasthan and Gujarat in India. In Rajasthan, wedding jewellery and family heirlooms are considered incomplete without these uncut beauties.

The Polki Diamond maintains it’s value in all markets internationally and are a great investment.

 photo blackbetty.jpg

The Hartbeespoortdam Cable Cars {the big staycation}

Monday, March 10, 2014

Hey there! This is part two of our staycation, that I forgot all to write about. The last installment was about the Van Gaalen cheese farm, just outside Hartbeespoortdam. Today, I bring you other things to day while at the dam.

Did you know that Hartbeespoortdam also has cable cars? Not just Table Mountain you all. Many of us northerners might know this, but not a lot of people know that it has also been recently renovated. The last time I went up there was in primary school and the cable cars were scary and shoddy. You had to be either too young {and subsequently uneducated} to go up there, or entirely out of your mind.

The cable cars were non-operational for seven years while a private company not only upgraded the system, but also the mountain it was built on. You see, in primary school there wasn't this awesomely cheap bar where you could chill the whole day and view the little town below to your heart's content.

What to do:
Once at the top, you can - besides gawking at the views or freaking out about the paragliders above you and asking random strangers to send you the pictures that they had just taken with their cellphones - attempt to walk the Dassie Walk. Although not long or tedious, it is a bit of a stretch if you go there on a very HOT day. We trekked it anyway.

The Dassie Walk not only offers you an almost 360 view of your surroundings, with markers and a little bit of history of every viewpoint, but also shows off the fauna and flora of the Magaliesburg. If you were lucky, you could spot some dassies. We spotted a tree agama (or Bloukop Koggelmander in Afrikaans.)

These little lizards, which can be about 13 cm to 30 cm long are beautiful with their blue heads. But boy do they pack a punch. I've been bitten by them quite a few times and they hurt like heck!

What to eat:
If you are peckish, you can either order a picnic basket - that is prepacked for you - or drop in at the Cafe Buggatis at the top, or the bottom. There is also this fantastic little self-service shoppe at the top, which on this particular day, was selling massive pizza slices. As we already had a huge breakfast at the cheese farm, we snacked on the FREE chips in snackbowls and some biltong bought at the bar.

What to drink:
The bar at the top was stocked to the brim with alcoholic and non-alcoholic options. But a firm favourite of this HOT day, was slushies mixed with vodka. We sat at the bar, as all the tables were already occupied. 

I also learned on this day that I am a huge sucker for placebos, as I got tipsy on Rock Shandy. I thought it had alcohol in it okay? Turns out it is just bitters, soda water and lemonade.  

Tickets sell at R160 for adults and kids R90. If it is a really hot day, make sure you have a bottle of water handy while standing in the queue, as the inside of the building is hot as all hell.

Life: a narrative

Monday, March 3, 2014

She locked herself out of the house again, wondering why she even bothered attaching a bright orange lanyard to her keys. Must have left it on my desk again, she thought. But she is in desperate need of a pee, and has to drive to the petrol garage down the road for this purpose.

She is on the phone with her mother, talking about espaliering the plant in front of her house. How does one go about, is it complicated, do I need to cut it, is the gist of the conversation. It is cut short. “Mom, I have to go, there is an old man lying in the road.” She stops her car, leaves it idling, her possessions lying on the front seat, up for grabs to any passersby. He is lying next to an island in the road, struggling to lift himself up, like a turtle that had been turned on his back. It might be a trap, she thought to herself, but knew it isn’t as she picks him up. “Thank you ma’am,” he says, struggling to his feet. He isn’t drunk, but something’s wrong. He is unsteady, unbalanced, could barely walk.

“Do you know his family?” a passerby asks. She answers no, and asks the same question back at the stranger. “Yes, but I do not have their number. He lives in the squatter camp.” She nods, says that she will take him to the hospital first. “Take me to Dr Marcus,” the old man says. The scene of him lying in the road, a truck nearly hitting him, keeps playing in her mind. How long have you been lying there, she asks. Since four this afternoon, he answers. She is struggling to keep the tears back. It was half past six.

He gives her directions and they end up at a familiar Italian restaurant. The doctors’ office next to it is already closed, but the pharmacy is open. “I have to get out of the car, get some fresh air.”

The pharmacist knows the old man, says that he works in the parking lot, he’s a car guard. “Can I get you anything,” she asks him. “Just some water, and headache tablets. My head hurts from the fall,” he answers. He sits down on a drum. “Tonight, I work,” he adds. An argument between the old man and the woman ensues. No, he says, I have to work. “My children need to get to school in Hammanskraal, I need the money,” he says.

She refuses. “I’ll buy you food and give you money, you are not working tonight, you are ill and need to get home.” He admits to being at the clinic earlier the day, where he also fell. “I was on the ground for two hours before I got up,” he adds. Did no one help you, she asks. No, comes his answer. His old face is full of grief and wrinkles. How old are you, she asks. Fifty seven, he answers.

“I used to be in the police, but in 1976 I quit, because they were killing my brothers.” She swallows back the tears. She takes him home; the sun is starting to set. At the squatter camp, people are gathering around her car, but no one is willing to help. Instead, she gets looks of hatred. “Is he drunk,” someone asks? No, she says, he is sick. “Yes,” another says, “I saw him going to the clinic this morning.”

The old man named Tony tells her to leave. “Your windows are open, they will steal your things. They will hurt you.”
“Can I take you to your house?” she asks.
“Only if you want to, but I wouldn’t risk it. You must leave.”

She drove off, not knowing the fate of this man, only praying that he will be safe and that he will survive. She didn’t get his phone number. He couldn’t remember it.

This is a true story. It was last week Thursday. I couldn't stop crying when I left. I pray that this man is okay. 

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