12 easy ways to be kind to the planet. #Earth hour starts at home

Earth hour is a good excuse for a party, hopefully it also makes us think, educates and changes us.

Being kind to the Earth and reducing your carbon footprint begins at home with little things.

12 simple ways to love the Earth.

1. HAVE A CLEAR OUT.

We are all slaves to consumerism in varying degrees. This means we accumulate “stuff”. Pass on what you no longer need, plenty of places will be thrilled with your junk, clothes that have shrunk, shoes that hurt you, impulse purchases or that hideous vase aunty Mabel gave you as a wedding present and you will never, ever use. …………….I’m sure you have got the idea.

2. REDUCE.

Accept the challenge to reduce your rubbish by half, or more. Most schools have recycling programs, use them. Look at your electricity and water bills and make a concerted effort to lower them.Sometimes just being mindful can change your habits. Get creative, brainstorm with friends and family for tips and ideas. Kids will surprise you with their suggestions. Compete with your friends.

3. DRAW UP AN ENERGY SAVING PLAN for your home  Being green can be expensive so plan, budget and make a start. Start with the little things. Replace old globes with eco friendly ones. Use solar lights for outside areas. We have more than enough sunshine.Turn off lights when you exit a room. Don’t spend 10 minutes daydreaming in the shower.

4. TRAIN YOURSELF to think like an eco warrier. Once you start realising how much we all waste, how easy it is to save, be it water, electricity or petrol, you will start finding it easy to recycle, think twice before you buy something, find creative ways to re-use “stuff” or local places to pass on your unwanted goods to.

 

RE-USE       |       RECYCLE       |       REPAIR       |   SHARE

SAVE    |    WATER   |     ELECTRICITY    |   PETROL   |    MONEY

TOP TIPS

5.  Walk to your local shop if you only have a few things to buy. Good for your health ,your pocket and the atmosphere.

6.  Water your lawn with your washing machine and shower water. A length of pool hose attached to the outlet pipe works like a  dream. The enzymes in washing powder are good for your lawn, bonus!

7.  Solar powered geysers can be expensive. A water saving shower head and a geyser blanket do make a difference, as does turning your geyser down to 60C, and turning it off during peak times.

8. If you enjoy gardening start removing water greedy plants and replace with indigenous ones. Succulents all flower at some point, love being ignored and require very little water.

9. Buy fresh produce as much as you can. It is generally cheaper, better for you, reduces wastage as you shop for what you need, and it does not require unnecessary packaging.

10. Do not drink bottled water, ever ! SA water is perfectly safe to drink, it comes out of the tap. So much better than in a plastic bottle that will take a billion years to biodegrade.

11. Use a cold wash on your washing machine. It really does work.

12. Tumble driers are for emergencies only. Fresh air and sunshine usually do the job just as well.

H A P P Y    E A R T H    H O U R    E V E R Y O N E 

A day for quiet reflection. 6th December 2013

The flags fly at half mast, church bells toll, and street poles are adorned with posters of our beloved Madiba

Newspaper vendors stand silently while the headlines shout with the news that has numbed us.  Image

We knew it was coming, but nothing prepared us for the enormity of the grief we are experiencing.

There is no “bounce” in the city of Cape Town today.

The streets are devoid of the usual bustling and vibrant locals going about their business.Image

The city churches open their doors and offer sanctuary and comfort for all who seek it.

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This woman sings,oblivious to all around her. A haunting African song, her powerful voice unleashing her pain.

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The floral tributes have already started to pour in, the simple messages more moving than the grand words from the worlds leading statesmen. Words of children saying goodbye to their beloved Tata.

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Today in the city, I saw no tears, no outpouring of grief.

I saw a gentleness, as though we all acknowledge the fragility of one another’s feelings today.

I saw kindness, and respect and once again Madiba has united us.

Today is a day for quiet reflection.

Tomorrow and the future will be days for action, to continue the long walk to freedom, to achieve the Rainbow Nation that Nelson Mandela dedicated his life to. It is the least we can do to honour the memory of this remarkable man.

Dignity, integrity, humility, compassion, intelligence, grace, selflessness.

What a role model. We have to keep his dream alive.

Thank you Tata for opening our eyes and showing us what we can achieve with love and forgiveness.

One time, in Cape Town, the wine, the wine glass and the sceptic.

In Cape Town, always expect the unexpected !

This little story is a reminder to myself to always keep an open mind, as you never know when you will learn something new, make new friends and be delighted by fresh ideas and interesting people.

I am not a wine lover. Even a “spit ,don’t swallow”  tasting has me slurring, stumbling about ,and results in a mean hangover.

Rather sad considering I live in the Cape, with the best wine in the world on my doorstep.

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I am  not a foodie. I like food I can eat, not photograph.

I am unable to get excited about food pairings and new fads in “food fashion”. I like a menu that lists food I have heard of, rather than a work of literature with more adjectives and verbs than nouns.

I am not fond of domestic chores.

So….. I am not sure how I ended up at a wine tasting at I love my laundry, but there I was one Tuesday evening.

I think it is a Cape Town thing. Wonderful people doing interesting  things in strange places.

This was more like a magic  experience than a wine tasting .

It was presented by Tarryn Thomas, representing  Riedel , the glassware company.

Riedel design and manufacture varietal specific  crystal glassware. They contend that the architecture of the glass (specific design of the bowl, stem and base) is key to experiencing all four sensations of a good wine, namely the bouquet, texture, flavour and finish.

In wine ignorant terms, read aroma, feel, taste and aftertaste. 

To start off, each place setting had 4 differently shaped glasses and a  Joker glass.

Tarryn gave us an interesting introduction to the different wine regionsglasses and how the geographical conditions impact on taste. She then spoke about the bouquets and flavours we could expect to taste, while I rolled my eyes, thinking this is all a lot of pretentious nonsense.What happened next did not turn me into a wine lover. It did remove all my scepticism and convince me that glasses make a difference and wine does have a multitude of smells, tastes and aftertastes.

With each wine, we first tasted it using the Joker glass, then we poured it into the correct  glass for the varietal and tasted again. A little prompting from Tarryn assisted in identifying the more subtle aspects of each wine, but the difference was unbelievable. From my unsophisticated knowledge and vocabulary, my comments are next to each wine we tasted.

 

1. MARQUéS de RISCAL Rueda Sauvignon Blanc 2012. 

In the Joker glass:  YUK, like sucking a mouthful of old coins.  Metallic and sort of dirty tasting, the after taste resulted  in a grimace.

In the Riedel Savignon Blanc glass:  Wow! how did you do that?

I could smell pineapple and a clean summery aroma of something fruity. The taste was refreshing, clean and light, a liquid citrus fruit salad.

2. LOUIS LATOUR Grand Ardèche Chardonnay 2011

In the Joker glass: It smelled like old leaves and  mouldy  tree stump. (I like to garden, so I know these things)

In the Riedel Oaked Chardonnay glass: I could smell vanilla and spice.   The taste, with some concentration required, revealed a nutty, woody taste, a medley of flavours and it was very smooth on the palette. (see I am already starting to sprout the lingo)

We then poured and tasted this Chardonnay from a Savignon Blanc glass.  It was almost unpalatable. This truly highlighted the differences in shape between 2 Riedel glasses, and the dramatic influence the shape of the glass has on the aroma & taste of each varietal.

3. BORDEAUX Saint-Estèphe Private Reserve 2009

In the Joker glass:  Heavy and bitter, it had a sour, earthy  smell…….  You know when the fruit bowl needs to be emptied, and those tiny fruit flies are having a feast, and the juice has oozed down to the bottom of the bowl? Well, if you licked that bowl, you get the idea!

In the Riedel Sauvignon Blanc glass:   Rich rather than heavy, very fruity, nothing I could specifically identify, but pleasant and grapey, it made me sleepy, relaxed, warm and a little bit drunk?

4. PETER LEHMANN Barossa Shiraz 2008

In the Joker glass:  GAG! It was like sipping red cough mixture with a hint of used teabags. I wanted  it out my mouth immediately. Taste bud assault deluxe. Give me water NOW!

In the Riedel Shiraz glass:   A velvet smooth texture with a taste of aniseed, a fruity plum flavour and an after taste of honey. I had to take another sip to be sure I was not imagining things. If I were to become a wine drinker or an alcoholic, this would be what I would choose .

 

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Kind thanks to Tarryn Thomas of The Reciprocal Wine Trading Company (Pty) Ltd. for the words below.

The Riedel Story: 
Legend has it that +-40 years ago a gentleman dining at a restaurant bore witness to the sommelier pouring wine into his water glass by mistake. A ruckus ensued but before the offending glass could be removed, the gentleman asked to taste his wine in that glass. Noticing that certain flavours were emphasised and others down played, he began to wonder whether there was something more scientific about the shape of the glass. That gentleman was Claus Riedel of Riedel glassworks. After much experimentation he found that the bowl shape and glass size affected the way the  ‘nose’ and taste of the wine was captured and directed, deducing that each varietal benefited from a different glass shape and so the varietal-specific wine glass was born.

My clumsy words do not do justice to the wines or the difference the correct glasses make. You really have to experience it to believe it.

These glasses make a superb gift for anyone who enjoys wine and come in a variety of price ranges, starting at very affordable.

 

 

 

Answers to destination confusion. Western Cape tourism regions

Western Cape Regions

The Western Cape is divided into 6 tourism regions listed below, and some people have a fairly good idea of where they are.

Cape Town  |The Cape Winelands  | The Garden Route & Klein Karoo  

The Overberg  | The West Coast  | The Central Karoo

Western Cape Tourism Areas

These main regions are broken down further into municipal districts, and to many people, a confusion of overlapping named routes, areas, valleys and towns.

This is not a definitive list of every town in the Western Cape, but rather a guide to what is where, and a compelling argument for the value of a good map.

1. CAPE TOWN:

Cape Town refers to 8 areas namely the City Centre, the Atlantic Seaboard, the Southern Suburbs, the Northern Suburbs, the South Peninsula, the Blaauwberg Coast, the Cape Flats and the Helderberg.

Confusing  The CBD or City Centre is also referred to as the City Bowl. The Bo Kaap refers to a neighbourhood of few streets in the city, rich in Muslim history and culture. De Waterkant Village is on the Fan Walk that links the city and the Cape Town Stadium. It is home to the trendy Cape Quarter shopping or lifestyle centre, bars, pubs, clubs, coffee shops and restaurants.

More confusing. The Helderberg is the area around Somerset West, 44 km away from Cape Town. The Helderberg is also a region of the Stellenbosch Wine Route which falls under the Cape Winelands tourism region.  http://www.wineroute.co.za/

The Southern Suburbs is where the Constantia Wine Route is, http://www.constantiawineroute.co.za/ while the Northern Suburbs is where you will find the Durbanville Wine Routehttp://www.durbanvillewine.co.za/

The South Peninsula is where you would experience the Cape Point Route http://www.capepointroute.co.za/ and the visit the Republic of Hout Bay.

That is CAPE TOWN,  the least confusing of them all.

2. THE CAPE WINELANDS.

Where do we start. This does not just refer to Stellenbosch and Paarl, so lets do the first area breakdown of 5 district municipalities that are being used for tourism destination marketing.

Witzenberg refers to the towns of Ceres, Tulbagh, Wolseley. Here you will find the Tulbagh wine route, nice and easy.  http://www.tulbaghwineroute.com/

Confusing  Some of the wine estates here are part of the Breedekloof Wine Route. ( see Breede River Valley)

Drakenstein refers to Paarl and Wellington and logically the Paarl Wine Route and the Wellington Wine Route.  http://www.wellington.co.za/

Many estates on the Paarl Wine Route seem to be listed as part of the Stellenbosch Wine Route while others are part of Paarl Vintners.  http://www.paarlwine.co.za/

Stellenbosch refers to the town of Stellenbosch.

Very confusing  Stellenbosch Wine Route takes confusion to a new level, having 5 sub routes named Greater Simonsberg, which overlaps with Paarl, which is part of Drakenstein, and includes the Dwarsriver Valley in case you were wondering, Helderberg which as we previously mentioned is part of Cape Town, and Bottelary Hills which is a name unknown to most Capetonians, let alone visitors.

 le confusion  The town of Franschhoek  falls within the Stellenbosch district, however they seem to stick to Franshhoek Wine Valley and  Vignerons de Franschhoek for their marketing.  http://franschhoek.org.za/vignerons-de-franschhoek/

Breede Valley is code for the towns of Worcester, Rawsonville, Touwsrivier and De Doorns. Within the Breede Valley http://www.bvmt.co.za   we have Breedekloof which is  the Rawsonville and Goudini area, The Hex River Valley which covers the De Doorns area.

Langeberg is the collective noun for the towns of Robertson,http://www.robertsontourism.co.za   Montagu, McGregor and Ashton. Here we have the Robertson Valley Wine Route.  http://www.robertsonwinevalley.com/

Route 62.  This is apparently the longest wine route in the world. It goes through most regions of the Western Cape and into a whole new province, the Eastern Cape.

Confusing  Only a small section of Route 62 is on the road designated R62, this is the area of 237km between Montagu and Oudtshoorn. The total distance of the R62 route is 850km.

When travelling on Route 62 you could be on any number of these roads depending on the area you are in. R46, R44, R310, R60, R317, R43, R341, R339  http://www.route62.co.za/

3.  THE OVERBERG

The Overberg is synonymous with Whale watching, Shark cage diving, Cape Agulhas where the 2 oceans meet, (not Cape Point as so often incorrectly told) and Hermanus, a coastal town and tourist delight. http://www.hermanustourism.info/

Confusion. Also referred to as the Overberg Coast or Whale Coast, yet 50% of the towns in the Overberg are over 80km away from the nearest coastline.

Recently I have encountered a partial breakdown of the Overberg region into the  following areas. Cape Agulhas area which includes the towns of Arniston, Bredasdorp, Elim. L’Agulhas, Napier and Struisbaai. The Cape Whale Coast which encompasses Gansbaai, Hangklip, Stanford, and Hermanus, and then we have The Greater Swellendam area http://www.swellendamtourism.co.za/   which includes all the inland towns and villages of Barrydale, Swellendam, Malgas, Stormsvlei and Buffeljachts River, and the coastal village of Infanta.

Vaguely confusing   Wine routes in the Overberg region go by the following names. The newest name is the Cape South Coast wine area.Other wine routes include the Elgin Valley Wine Route, http://www.elginwine.co.za/  the Hemel en Aarde wine valley or the Hermanus Wine Route, http://hermanuswineroute.com/  Stanford wine route and Bot River Wines, many of the Bot River estates are also covered by the Green Mountain Eco Route.  http://www.greenmountain.co.za/wine.html

More confusing  Villiersdorp, a town in the Overberg, falls under the Worcester Wine Route which is the the Cape Winelands region

4.  THE WEST COAST

The West Coast is divided  into 6 areas as follows. The Swartland, The Peninsula,  Bergrivier,  Cederberg,  Matzikama and the Hardeveld. Confusion. The name Matzikama ?

The West Coast wine route seems to be the major wine cellars in the  whole tourism region.

The Swartland area includes the towns of Darling, Malmesbury, Riebeek- Kasteel and Riebeek-West, Moorreesburg and Yzerfontein.

It is home to the Swartland Wine and Olive Route http://www.swartlandwineroute.co.za/   as well as the Swartland Revolutionhttp://www.theswartlandrevolution.com/ and the Darling Wine and Art Route.

Confusion. The Peninsula area is not to be confused with the Cape Peninsula in Cape Town. This region is about 150km away and is the Cape West Coast Peninsula and includes the “Jewel of the West Coast” Langebaan. Home to golf, water sports, seafood and most outdoor activities you could think of. The West Coast National Park and the West Coast Fossil Park are both in this area.  http://www.capewestcoastpeninsula.co.za/

Bergriver area is obviously named after the river which starts in the Franschhoek area, which is miles away from the West Coast. However it is not too confusing and has a number of quaint towns, riverside accommodation and loads of natural beauty.

Cederberg area is where you will find the incredible mountain range of the same name, as well as the Olifants River Valley. Rooibos Tea, citrus fruit, wine and seclusion define this area. The towns of Clanwilliam, Citrusdal, Lamberts Bay, Leipoldtville and Lutzville are in this area.

Confusion. The Olifants River Valley wine route covers a large part of this area but also includes the Matzikama area to the North and the Bergrivier area to the South. http://www.cederberg.com/

Matzikama is probably not the easiest name to remember. It means “place of water”.

Confusion  This area is also referred to as Southern Namaqualand.  Vredendal, Van Rhynsdorp, Lutzville, Klawer, Doringbaai, Nuwerus, and Strandfontein are the towns you will find here. Wines, wild flowers, whale watching and unspoiled beaches in this area which becomes more sparsely populated as you head North. http://tourismcapetown.co.za/leisure-travel/sub_region/namaqua-west-coast

Hardeveld area is in the extreme North and is very remote. The National route from Cape Town to Namibia, the N7 runs through this area and the whole of the West Coast and is part of the fairly new Cape To Namibia Route http://travelnewsnamibia.com/archives/travel-news/adventures-activities/time-to-explore-cape-to-namibia-route/#.UhTwr9IweSo

5. THE GARDEN ROUTE & KLEIN KAROO

This is probably one of the better known areas to South Africans and visitors alike. The area stretches from Albertina to Storms River, and includes the well known tourist towns of Mossel Bay, George, Wilderness, Sedgefield, Knysna and Plettenberg Bay. Golf courses, nature reserves, game and safari ranches, elephant and other wildlife sanctuaries , water sports, hiking trails and scenic routes are abundant throughout the region.

Confusion. The name Eden is often used, this refers to the district municipal area and is used in a fair amount of marketing material. This municipal area is broken down into areas, most of which are named for the towns, however Bitou refers to Plettenberg Bay and Hessequa is the area that includes Albertina, Heidelberg, Stilbaai, Riversdale, Witsand and Gouritzmond. Here we also have the recently marketed area of Goukou River Valley which is near Riversdale.

The Klein Karoo, also part of Eden, area refers to the inland towns of Oudtshoorn, Dusseldorp and De Rust.

Maybe confusing.  Prince Albert, being just 111km away via the scenic route through De Rust and the Meiringspoort Pass, or 70km away via the dramatic Swartberg Pass is often included in Oudtshoorn marketing although it is part of the Central Karoo region.

The Klein Karoo is where you will find everything to do with the ostrich industry, and the world renown Cango Caves. This area is sometimes referred to as the Karoo or the Swartberg area. The Klein Karoo wine route is in this area. http://www.kleinkaroowines.co.za/

General confusion. This entire area is also referred to as the Southern Cape area, in the Western Cape Province. Tsitsikamma and Garden of Eden are also found fairly frequently in descriptions of this area.

6. THE CENTRAL KAROO

The Central Karoo is the biggest area but is sparsely populated, with only a handful of towns, namely Beaufort West, Three Sisters, Laingsburg, Majiesfontein, Prince Albert Road, Nelspoort, Merweville, Murraysberg and Prince Albert .

Vast and uncomplicated ,the Central Karoo has no fancy sub areas, oddly named routes or pretentious areas. It is the place to go to get away from it all, commune with nature, really look around and find wonderful things and peace and quiet. Hiking in the unforgiving mountains, walking through the veld, discovering the history of the Khoi-san people, seeing the stars clearly, noticing the ever changing flora and enjoying the .slower way of life in these remote towns.

Karoo lamb, olives and the warmest hospitality to could ask for are what this region is all about. Big African skies, space to breathe, real people and open hearts.

Confusion.  None.

So the big question is are we out destination marketing ourselves?

Do we have too many conflicting destinations, routes and areas?

Is it only locals who are baffled because they are not reading tourism marketing copy?

 

 

Why blogging should be taught in kindergarten

When the world finally implodes and vanishes up its own anus, I shall be in my happy place called Blogland.

Stepping into the blogging community is a culture shock.

It is a different world with a set of values that would resonate with your grandmother.

It is a respectful and gentle world that embraces all opinions, supports and encourages novices and advocates integrity at all times.

We have become accustomed to the notions of self and instant gratification, admiration for ruthless ambition and an increasing inability to really communicate and engage.

Blogging is about sharing. Not vacuous “I just ate a pizza ” sharing, bloggers share their expertise and insights freely, in part as self promotion but also as they have embraced the concept that knowledge should be shared. It seems to encourage the innate kindness in people.

If other social media is described as “I am, I can, I did, I like, look at me  me me me me me me me me me me me……..

Blogging is “can I help you, let me show you, you could try to, here is how to, I like what you did, I see what you did, I have connected you with others who will also assist and encourage you.”

So I say, teach blogging in kindergarten. We could raise a generation who see integrity as the core of who they are, who love to share, who respect themselves and others, who engage in their communities both real and digital and who are helpful and supportive of others.

Thank you to the travel blogging community for helping me find my home,  a special mention must go to Meruschka,http://to.ly/mG4w   Dawn Jorgansen ,http://t.co/KKqxDIC0bh and all members of Face Book South AfricanTravel Bloggers http://to.ly/mG4D