Monthly Archives: January 2013

Operation getting fit – day 1 (take 2)

Yes, I know I published a post with a similar title a while ago…I am not having an Alzheimer’s streak, I promise.

running%20with%20dogIt wasn’t an entirely wasted resolution either. For a while there, the girls and I went on fairly regular walks in the morning of at least 20 minutes at a time and generally at a fairly fast pace. Except on the occasions that we took the dogs with, and ended up having to drag the one by her collar uphill for the last 100 meters towards the house. We have two daschunds and even though they are sisters, the one is far more enthusiastic and energetic (and thinner) than the other. Going downhill is normally not a problem, but you have to choose the halfway turnaround mark carefully. Once Bianca had to carry Isabella home for 50 meters.

Of course, the enthusiasm of the two human sisters in our house also started to wane a bit after a little while, but most of the time I could drag one of them out of bed to accompany me, and – mark this as an important moment in my history – on a few occasions I went out by myself and even did a bit of a run. It felt great, and even when I had a bad night’s sleep, the exercise in the morning made me feel more awake and energetic for the rest of the day.

And then…the silly season struck. Firstly, the most avid participant of my two fellow walkers started writing exams and was constantly too tired to go out or wanted to look over her work for a last time. Priorities? And then all the lunches, and a few late evenings and other indulgences started and I struggled to drag myself out of bed on a few mornings. Next thing I was snoozing the alarm every morning at 5h15 and sleeping for an extra half an hour. Note…the alarm was still set for 5h15 every morning. With the best intentions! (Coincidentally, this was around the time that I tripped over the energetic dog on our morning walk and ended up sprawled on the tar road, as she decided to challenge a huge Rottweiler along the way!)

But, ladies and gentlemen and peeps all around, it is the new year, and I have to get fit, (or at least a bit fitter) and we are embarking on a new routine from tomorrow. It was going to be Monday, but my eldest complained that she didn’t sleep much the night before, due to annoying mosquitoes, so last night I was ready for the pre bedtime war against the mozzies to eliminate any excuses. To combat my own fatigue, due to lack of sleep and general insomnia, I took two Melatonin’s instead of the recommended one, with the end result that I was unable to get out of bed this morning. But tomorrow morning, there will be no excuses!

The first and most important thing with any new routine, however, is to set yourself some goals…

My first goal is, of course, to get rid of all the after effects of the silly season which seems to have snuck up on me and stubbornly accumulated all around my hips, and stomach and boobs, so that I am spending an extra 15 minutes every morning trying on all my ‘bigger’ pants. Which in itself, is almost as depressing as dodging the bathroom scale in the mornings.

But another, probably more important reason for the new exercise routine is that I booked a trip to Machu Picchu at the end of April and I have been to-ing and fro-ing about doing the hike, as opposed to the train trip up to Machu Picchu from Cuzco. And there is no way that I would be able to do that in my current state of fitness.

English: Early morning in wonderful Machu Picchu

Early morning in view of Machu Picchu

Can you believe how I snuck that little titbit of information in?? I am going to Machu Picchu!! When I published my bucket list last year, a friend of mine in the UK send me a message saying that she and her husband is going to Machu Picchu this year and would I like to join in. After doing a couple of mental back flips in 50 shades style, I replied that I would love to, obviously depending on the time and my leave availability and of course the cost involved!

In addition, it is quite uncanny that this happened, because a couple of years ago, I researched trips to Machu Picchu because my then-boyfriend had it on his bucket list. I was mesmerised and decided there and then that when he turns 40 (which would have been this year) I would take him on a trip to Machu Picchu for his birthday. Of course, we broke up and I sort of moved it down lower on my bucket list, until I got that message from Ingrid!

And I have never been one to tempt fate so I am grabbing the opportunity with both hands and giving my credit card the evil eye back. I even bought proper hiking boots before my trip to Edinburgh, to give me the chance to walk them in a bit. They need quite a LOT more walking in, or I need to stock up on a LOT more blister plasters. I think a few hikes will do the trick. Or I hope so!

So, if that is not enough motivation to get me going, then I don’t know what will do it, honestly!

To love, health, fitness and all that jazz!

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Posted by on January 29, 2013 in Fitness


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A wee bit of whisky tasting…

It was another rainy and dreary day in Edinburgh, but I refused to let that deter me, and the one thing I really wanted to do in Scotland was a whiskey (or whisky like the Scottish spell it) tour. Unfortunately, they cancelled the organised tour I booked to a local distillery, so the next best was The Whisky Experience in Edinburgh itself.

(For the purpose of consistency, I am using the Scottish spelling in this post…I do have spell check!)

The Whisky Experience is a bit of a cheesy tour, I have to be honest. The first 10 minutes consist of a ride that reminded me of Euro Disney, with the ghost of some famous distiller (I think) explaining how whisky is made. I understand it is a bit difficult to explain how whisky is made when you cannot actually show the process, like at a distillery, but nevertheless, it was still informative.

The next part of the experience was an interactive presentation by one of the customer service agents, as they are called, who explained the regions of Scotland where they make whisky, made us sniff at a little colour wheel to illustrate the differences between bananas and spices, where after we had to choose one (yes, ONE) whisky to taste. Once we made our pick, we were ushered into whisky heaven!

The largest whisky collection in the world!

The largest whisky collection in the world! (a section of it…)

The tasting room is surrounded by huge cabinets on all sides, filled to the brim with the largest whisky collection in the world! Not a single duplicate or a single bottle that has been opened before. It was totally awesome. I sent a picture of this room to a very good friend (who shall not be named), with whom I have once shared a few very expensive whiskies! He replied that he saw a blog coming, and suggested it be a comparison between men and whiskies. And then asked me if it wouldn’t be awesome to be able to taste a variety of men (like a whisky tasting) before choosing one!

Now, I am not much of an expert in whiskies, and neither am I much of an expert in men, but I can see the method behind the madness here…and I do love a challenge!

So here goes. To illustrate how well I concentrated during the whisky tasting, I will follow the recommended steps for a proper single malt whisky tasting! (By the way, I upgraded my whisky tour, so that I could taste four of the whiskies on offer…damn that with choosing one!)

DSC00283s1.      Colour

The colour of the whisky can provide some clues as to the wood used in the maturation process, which can give some indication as to what the whisky will taste like (if you are clued up enough of course). For example, an ex bourbon cask from the US (all whisky casks are pre-used barrels, they don’t use new casks) will result in a lighter colour whisky than for example ex sherry casks. On the other hand, there is no way of telling the maturity profile of a man by simply looking at him. Some of the most innocent looking men, can turn out to be the biggest liars. How many times have you read articles about serial killers, and time and again, the neighbours will all profess that he had the normal boy-next-door look?

Whisky 1 – Men 0

2.      Body

When you swirl a whisky around in a glass (like a wine glass), it should coat the sides of the glass and then run down the sides in ‘tears’, called the legs of the whisky. The younger the whisky, the faster and closer together the legs will run. It is also an indication of the alcohol content. And generally an older whisky will be better than a younger whisky. Simple! With men, you can normally tell the age of a man fairly accurately by looking at him without swirling him around to see his legs, although it could be a very interesting exercise. Personally, I prefer men with their legs over something else…but that’s not the point here…The point is that some men mature and get wiser as they get older, but some others are probably better savoured when they are young and tossed out when they reach their sell-by date.

Whisky 1 – Men 0

3.     Mouth feel

This is used to test the intensity of the whisky and is not quite the taste part yet. Here you are supposed to take a small sip of the whisky, hold it in the middle of your mouth and then swallow. We are attempting to assess how fiery the whisky is. Stronger whiskeys will apparently ‘burn’ for quite some time longer than others. If you ask Cher’s opinion about men, she will tell you that it is all in his kiss. I can vouch for the fact that a good kiss does not necessarily mean that the man is good for a long term relationship, but I think a kiss is a very good indication of attraction and if there is attraction, then at the very least the man can prove to be a good short term distraction. So, maybe on this score, I will give the men their point!

Whisky 0 – Men 1

4.     Nose

That, for the uninitiated, means the smell or aroma of the whisky. It is recommended that you first nose the whisky neat, passing it under your nose, about an inch underneath. And with time, apparently, you will be able to tell a whisky that has flavours of vanilla, fruit, toffee, raisins etc apart. Personally, I think a good whisky smells like a really good whisky and you can probably get high just from the smell of it! This is a tricky one, because I love a man who smells good. It is an indication of someone who looks after himself, and cares about his appearance and how he comes across, so for me this is a pretty important aspect as well. So, I am going to give this one an equal score.

Whisky 1 – Men 1

5.     Palate

Now we are at the tasting point where your taste buds will confirm or add notes to your tasting notes. Apparently the master whisky distillers do not even taste the whisky as they can tell more from the smell and other areas than from the actual tasting itself. We apparently have a lot more sensory organs (like taste buds) in our noses than in our mouths (or in any event can recognise more smells than we can taste different flavours), so this is the theory behind this one. From my non-expert position, I don’t really care too much whether the whisky tastes like cinnamon or toffee or lemons, as long as it tastes good, so this is a pretty important part for me! I don’t often get to taste men, but I would certainly not put this high up on the list of things that will distinguish the men from the assholes, so I will give this one to the whiskies…

Whisky 1 – Men 0


The end result is an overwhelming win for whiskies! And on top of that, there are the following points in favour of whiskies as well:

  • You can ask other people’s opinion about a good whisky without hesitation and they will share their views openly and unreserved!
  • You make the bulk of your investment in a good whisky upfront, thereafter you can just enjoy it.
  • The whisky will make you feel beautiful and there is no need to keep telling the bottle how handsome and desirable it is.

But alas, I have to be honest, I would rather wake up next to a sexy man, than waking up with a whisky hangover! So, men have their uses…if only we could pick out the nice ones without worrying whether he will notice the Christmas dessert on our hips!

Slainte Mhath!


Posted by on January 17, 2013 in Passions


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Memories of Cape Town

Home sweet home!

As you know, I spent some time during my holidays in Scotland and the UK and after I came back I drove down to Cape Town with my gorgeous girls to spend some holiday time together before I go back to the grindstone.  I will definitely write some more about Scotland, Edinburgh and the UK, but freshest in my mind is the trip to Cape Town!

For those of you who don’t know, Cape Town is approximately 1 500kms from Johannesburg, so that is quite a drive.  And I started driving (by myself, as none of my two daughters are at the driving age yet…when can they get a learner’s license again???) on the day I landed from the UK.  The reason for this crazy move was so that I could actually be in Cape Town for New Year’s eve.  The alternative was to drive down on New Year’s day…which probably would have been even worse.

It is a very long drive indeed, but all and all must be one of the most beautiful long drives in the world.  You literally go from the highlands of Gauteng, through the plateau and grasslands of the Free State province, over the Gariep River into the mountainous Swartberge, and then through the Karoo (semi-desert), through the winelands of the Western Cape until finally you drive through the longest tunnel in the Africa (4kms) to reach the outer lying areas of the Cape Town and finally you see Table Mountain and you know the end is in sight.

View of Winelands en route to Cape Town

View of Winelands en route to Cape Town

We have been to Cape Town many times before and I am not going to bore you with the details of our trip, but wanted to show you some pictures of our journey to give you a little glimpse or taste of the beauty we encountered.

Clifton beach

Clifton beach

We took a drive to Hout Bay and had some fish and chips at Snoekies and then made our way along Chapman’s peak to Noordhoek.

Hout Bay harbour

Hout Bay harbour


An old boat on Hout Bay harbour

Chapman's peak drive

Chapman’s peak drive

View from Chapman's peak drive

View from Chapman’s peak drive

The girls on Noordhoek beach

The girls on Noordhoek beach

The views in Cape Town are breathtaking.  On the drive back from Noordhoek you get a point where the roads converge and you can literally see the ocean on both sides of the peninsula at the same time (or almost).

We also did a fair amount on shopping (as girls do) and we love Sea Point with its mish-mash of shops, from boutique shops to little Chinese no-name shops to gourmet restaurants and dodgy take away places.

We did a couple of trips to the Cape Town Waterfront and on one trip we went out on a catamaran cruise which took us out to Green Point.

Life on a catamaran...

Life on a catamaran…

On our second last day we went up to Table Mountain for sunset and the views were stunning.  (I bought my new DSLR that day, so a couple of the pics were taken with the new camera).  The wind was icy and the south easter was blowing gusts of cloud over the mountain with the end result that you had clear moments in between moments where you could hardly see more than 10 meters away.

Clouds billowing over Table Mountain

Clouds billowing over Table Mountain

Sunset from Table Mountain

Sunset from Table Mountain

On our last day, we went to Ratanga Junction for my youngest daughter’s 11th birthday and then started the long drive back again.  I couldn’t resist taking a view pictures with the new camera on the drive back…

Childhood road trip memories

Childhood road trip memories

A storm brewing over the Free State

A storm brewing over the Free State

Looking at these pictures warms my heart and soul.  This country is so beautiful, if only we could take a  moment and look!

At long last we were home safe and sound.  I don’t think I will do a road trip again soon, but I don’t regret doing the drive.

Maybe a shorter trip next time!


Posted by on January 14, 2013 in Travel


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Bring it on 2013!

Happy New Year!

Okay, I know it is a couple of days into the New Year already, but I have been spending some lovely family time with my kids and my brother who lives in Cape Town.

With my family on New Year's eve

With my family on New Year’s eve

For the first time in a few years I can look back at the year we just waved farewell and acknowledge that it was a good year. It had its share of pain, heartache, disappointments… but these were more than made up with treasured memories, moments of joy and lots of laughter.

For 2013, I wish to be able to continue this run and, apart from the normal New Years’ resolutions everyone else makes (getting fit/losing weight/being healthy/blah-di-blah-di-blah), I have decided that this year I want to do some things that will bring me joy! So, here goes…

  • I want to find one thing in every day to appreciate, whether that be a beautiful sunset, or the smell of the scorched earth after an afternoon thunderstorm or a giggle shared with my daughters. A bit like having a stop-and-smell-the-roses-moment every day.
  • I want to learn the words of We didn’t start the fire by Billy Joel. All of it, so I can sing along when it plays!
  • I want to take loads of pictures of my kids, the beauty around me and try and capture some of my memories. I am still toying with the idea of buying myself that DSLR, and doing a short photography course…
  • I want to make a point of going out for weekend lunch drives and see some of the glorious countryside around Joburg.
  • I want to read more books and stories that will transport me to other worlds, places and eras. Savour the words, and the descriptions and lose myself in the sea of literature.
  • I want to travel some more. I have a few great plans for travels this year, which I will share at another time.
  • I want to do a few things this year that scare my socks off.  Like doing that tandem sky dive or just going to Gold Reef City more!
  • And mostly, I want to spend more precious time with my loved ones, my kids, my family and my amazing friends.

Wishing every one of you who, for some reason or another, keep reading my posts and sharing laughs and tears with me, a beautiful year!

Lots of love!


Posted by on January 6, 2013 in Family, Passions


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