A Postcard from Stellenbosch, South Africa

Greetings from Toronto. My fast paced life is a little too full on at the minute, and while I am tired, I love it so I am not going to complain. However, after two long haul economy flights (from Capetown via Jo’burg to London, and London to Toronto), I was thrilled to wake up in a bed this morning. An actual bed! On the ground! Before I get stuck in here, for I have a busy week ahead, I wanted to share a little bit about Stellenbosch with you. I tried last night but fell asleep next to my laptop. I need to set some work / life boundaries.

So, Stellenbosch. All I knew was that they produced a lot of good wine, and that the surroundings were pretty stellar. Yes, that was all true, but there was so much more. Terrific restaurants, stunning views, the light, and the lovely warm generous people. Within a few days I was already starting to plan my second visit to the area, there is so much more to explore. [Read more]

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A Postcard from the Overberg, South Africa

Greetings from Stellenbosch, in South Africa. Although I am not going to share photos from there with you today. Today, I am starting with the Overberg, where I spent my first couple of days. There is only one hour time difference between here and the UK and so no jet lag (that beast), so we got started straight away.

The Overberg is to the east of Capetown in the Southern tip of South Africa. Roughly an 11 hour direct flight from London. I left in Spring and landed in Autumn to turning falling leaves and gorgeous sunsets. Wildlife and eco tourism is a focus, and wine is made here and lovely olive oils too. The Overberg, with it’s gentle pace and laid back approach to life, was a perfect place to start, relax and soak all that beauty in.

We started with a chilled day at The Marine, capped off with a lovely tasting menu matched with local wines at The Pavilion. We went on a boat to see seals and other wildlife and went on a plane ride over the sea, from where we spotted several schools of dolphins surfing (how joyful!) and a few enormous great white sharks (both activities with Grootbos)

First thoughts? Beautiful, obviously, but also, WOW, dining and hotels are very accessible here in terms of price. A tasting menu at The Marine in Hermanus (a five star Relais & Chateaux property) costs only £30, and a room at Grootbos, including all meals (a five star lodge with immense views and activities) starts from only (approx) £120 per person. I am planning a holiday here already.

Enough of the factual detail, I will compile a post on that soon for your reference. For now, a postcard. More on Stellenbosch and #Stellenblog soon.

This campaign was created and sponsored by the Stellenbosch Wine Routes and Destinate in partnership with  iambassador. I maintain full editorial control of the content published, as always.






Beating a Fug with a Round Up: Beijing, New Zealand & South Africa

Gorgeous New Zealand – near Wanaka on the South Island

I am in a fug. Just a little one. Nothing serious.

I just peered over the parapet at a giant to do list and I now feel incapacitated. I had to cancel something I really wanted to do (go to The Stone Roses in Manchester with some friends – it is a long story). I want to run out of my house and not come back for a bit. Maybe hide on the common.

But that would be silly.

So, instead I am going to practice in a little evasive activity. I am brilliant at that (and I know that is not a good thing). Head in the sand, radio on, bopping in my chair and fantastically ignoring that thundering to do list which is booming in a corner of my brain.

There are many sections to my to do list. This job of mine, self employed as I am, has many lovely things that I enjoy. Then there are also the grim things underneath, the engine that keeps things going. The invoices, chasing invoices, pitching for work, writing proposals. The administration. It causes me to clutch my head in a Munch style Scream pose and despair. Occasionally.

My head hurts.

So briefly, some denial. And some photos. In my efforts to avoid productive activity I went through the last few months picking some highlights. I actually had to go through everything for some work stuff, so it wasn’t as evasive as I first implied. It wasn’t even evasive at all. I am deep in denial about everything. It is really a list of the things that I will be writing about over the next few weeks, a pictorial to do list, if you like. Now that the photos are edited, there are few excuses. It is a start, eh? (that eh is for you Canadians, as it is Canada Day, ahem :)

I best get back to it. I have a proposal to finish that (sadly) won’t write itself. First a coffee. Maybe an episode of Modern Family (as I finish the post I watched SIX). More evasive activity, I told you I was very, very good at it.

Peking Duck at Duck de Chine in Beijing

The best dumplings that I have ever had, and now dream of in Beijing (also at Duck de Chine and with egg yolk custard in the middle)

The inside of that glorious dumpling

With a Beijing snowman

Making noodles at The School House in Beijing

Picking vegetables for lunch with Annabel Langbein, in her garden in Wanaka, New Zealand

More lovely New Zealand

I caught a fish! (then smoked it on a beach and ate it) – in Wanaka, New Zealand

I was told HAD to try a certain burger, so I had one delivered to the airport. Decadent.

Sunburned but having a great time at a chilli farm in New Zealand

Gorgeous flowers near Capetown in South Africa

Climbing Table Mountain via Skeleton Gorge – more than a little work and mildly terrifying – those ladders in the background are enormous!

… but then not even half way up, you start to see things like this

… and then at the top, this. Gorgeous. But not again, I got the cable car back down ;)