Category Archives: Musings

Outlet for expression, general commentary and photography.

Blogging Date to Diarise

It’s a red letter day: June 15, 2011 – at least for bloggers, and more specifically those who would like to grow their readership and maximize their marketing efforts.


BEAUTIFUL LADY CONTEMPLATING BLOGGING

Our wonderful friend Michelle Salater, who has grown her own (Copy Doodle) and other blogs to phenomenal levels of success, is hosting a free webinar on June 15, 2011 at 1pm ET / 10am PT or 7pm here in Johannesburg.

With Copy Doodle recently listed #17 on Technorati’s 100 Best Small Business Blogs, Michelle is well qualified to advise. We have also witnessed the growth of the elite Hills of Africa Travel blog, which she has developed and manages for another special friend of ours, Sandy Salle, CEO. One of the powerful things, among others, that Michelle achieves is to attract media and key influencers via the blogs.

Don’t miss this exceptional opportunity to learn from her first hand via her free webinar, which you can sign up for here: How to Increase Profits and Exposure with a Business Blog. During the webinar, you’ll get an exclusive sneak peek of Love Your Blog, her “new step-by-step system that will show you how to create a business blog that pulls prospects into your sales funnel, saving you time, money, and headaches”.

Despite mine being to date a personal blog, Michelle inspires me to explore improving it, if only to share photography and ideas with a wider audience. I’ll be joining her for sure to find out more, so please stay tuned for something fresh soon πŸ™‚

P.S. While photographing our lovely friend Juanita in our studio, Jina hopped up and settled on the laptop – in her favourite position, right across the touch pad πŸ˜€


JUANITA & JINA CHECKING OUT WORDPRESS

P.P.S. Just in case you’re wondering how the screen is so legible and clear of reflected light, it’s with the help of a little Photoshop magic (sorry, purists ;-)). Of course, I had to select the Wordpress sign up page, being such a big fan of this fabulous platform! Continue reading

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Just for fun

Confession time. Apart from my fetish for capturing cool profile pics, which I’ve admitted before, I have another – photographing perfume bottles. So I was doubly delighted when a generous friend gave me DKNY’s Delicious Candy Apples! My mouth simply … Continue reading

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Marriage & Romance

How wonderful to watch some of the Royal Wedding yesterday, so many years after Prince Charles and Lady Diana’s. Teenagers then, we crowded into our school hall for most of that day, savouring the moment, not to mention the opportunity to skip classes. Even in South Africa, we felt strangely included, similarly to yesterday.

Thanks to the massive scale world media of course, but perhaps also in part because of our British ancestry. At least, that would figure according to Malcolm Gladwell’s fascinating book, Outliers. As for the present, though, Prince William looked dashing, what a beautiful bride Catherine Middleton made . . . and what a gorgeous dress Sarah Burton (for Alexander McQueen) made. I whole-heartedly endorse the fashionistas’ praise πŸ™‚

On the subject of weddings, we recently attended one in Botriver, near Cape Town. I mentioned our pending trip in a previous post, promising some photo’s, but to be honest I took pitifully few – feeling rather too social. Instead, I’d like to share a link to the official photographer’s beautiful blog, which showcases a stunning celebration: Tasha Seccombe Photography. There are four posts altogether, if you feel like a leisurely browse.

It took place on a wine farm in the wildest wind, lending a wintry, Highlands feel. Being partly Scottish, I loved the bagpipes, along with the kilt worn by Warren (the groom) – and the bride, Jen, was simply lovely. Apart from plenty of traditional delights, technology played a role too. Jen’s parents were in England, unable to travel for health reasons, so they shared the experience via Skype. Isn’t that cool?

Our sincerest wishes go to both couples for a magic married life, filled with romance. Being a chik-lit/romance novelist, that’s significant to me πŸ˜€ While in Cape Town, I did take the following pic of Foresters Arms (“Forries” to the locals) because this restaurant and pub features in my first novel, Out of Air, and I wanted a photo for the book’s website. We had a fabulous Friday lunch there, finding it as vibrant today as in 1994, when the story is set:


FORESTERS ARMS restaurant & pub – Cape Town, South Africa

So if you happen to take a trip to the Mother City – and fancy a British feel – put it on your list of places to eat . . . drink . . . and be merry! Continue reading

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“Time to say goodbye”

As prepared as we may try to be, we never are entirely. That just seems to be the way of it. We bid farewell to Tex yesterday, shedding tears for the fourteen years of unconditional love that’s so unique to dogs. Despite dealing repeatedly with death, it’s still somehow inconceivable that one moment he’s with us . . .


TEX AT HOME – Johannesburg, South Africa

. . . and the next he’s not.


HOME WITHOUT TEX – Johannesburg, South Africa

There’s comfort in the peace of his passing, which mirrors the overwhelming majority of his life – apart from the terrors of our Highveld storms. Here’s a pic taken some months ago, before the rapid acceleration of old age, showing the gentle soul we’ll always treasure:


TEX – older

For the record, here’s another in younger years:


TEX – younger

R.I.P. beautiful boy. Our love goes with you, like in this haunting song by the brilliant Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman:
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Move over BFF, we’re talking MBF

Mind you, “Best Friends Forever” is in many ways synonymous with “Man’s Best Friend”, at least as it applies to doggie years. It’s just the lifespan discrepancy that causes heartache. Still, the joy supercedes, so we come back for more of the same magic. As our beloved old boy, Tex, gradually prepares for a graceful parting with this world, our whirlwind puppy, Quest, is developing his inborn flair for the successor role.

While Tex’s tired legs can no longer match the eagerness of his spirit, Quest’s energy is boundless. Nothing delights him more than a super social, team walk. We often indulge him at a beautiful local park, which also forms part of our morning cycle route. Here are some glimpses of this favourite playground:


Dam at Marks Park, Johannesburg


Men with their dogs – Marks Park, Johannesburg

Now for some serious opposition to the theory of dogs looking like their owners: the miniature, airborne ball of fluff (in the middle) is Max, the Pekinese who belongs to Simon, the big tattooed, tough guy! Or the other way around, depending on your perspective, as so eloquently expressed in the movie Babe – where the animals speak and their respective people belong to them πŸ˜€

Already the bond between Dave and his dog is unbreakable. Quest would forego his food in favour of a car ride, to anywhere and everywhere Dave has to go. Aside from being a tough guy (and closet softie), Simon is a talented photographer as you can see on his blog, GotMilk Photography. He took this telling pic of Dave and Quest together:


Dave & Quest – Marks Park, Johannesburg

Although Quest excels as MBF, he still has time for his own BFF, and it seems there’s some truth to the saying that “opposites attract”. You guessed it: the German Shepherd and the Pekinese are best of friends. During a break from Quest tumbling Max like a dishwasher on full speed, Simon snapped this shot of them panting under a tree:


Max & Quest – Marks Park, Johannesburg

All told, however, I’d say Quest’s priorities are pretty clear. Dave is number one. They love hanging out together, engaged in male bonding, like watching sport on TV:


Dave & Quest hanging out together

In case you’re thinking I feel left out, not to worry. I have a personal WBF, in the form our gorgeous Norwegian Forest Cat, Jina. What could be cosier than a pre-dawn cuddle under the covers, with her gentle purr vibrating beside me?

Finally, an aside, following my last post: Dave is cycling above because an old lower-back injury from his pro racing days continues to haunt him, making walking any distance extremely painful. Recent intensifying of the pain, together with loss of feeling in his foot, necessitates a spinal fusion, which is scheduled for the first week of May.

This means that I won’t be posting a host of enduro articles, since he’ll be off his motorbike for about three months. We’re still going to Cape Town for a wedding and to visit family, though, so I’ll certainly share some photo’s from the Mother City. Have a wonderful few days in the meantime, everyone! Continue reading

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Playing catch-up

OUCH! Eleven days offline following a severe lightning strike – that was frustrating. Our iPhones helped, but let’s face it, they’re not a satisfactory substitute. What a relief to be fully connected again!

In the meantime, the 2011 enduro season is well underway. It kicked off with the Enduro World Cross Country held a few weeks ago at Hartebeespoort Dam near Johannesburg. Regular readers may remember this venue from last year, but here’s a pic to set the scene:


Nomadik Tents at Enduro World Cross Country, Hartebeespoort Dam

and another to put things in perspective:


Extreme Action from the EWXC Extreme Event – Feb 2011

Fortunately, the rider was fine. Tumbles aside, it’s a great sport – one that draws an awesome crowd together amid some of Southern Africa’s rural splendour. A case in point was the recent Enduro World training tour to Swaziland. We were hosted at the lodge overlooking the magnificent Maguga Dam:


A view from Maguga Lodge – Maguga Dam, Swaziland, Southern Africa

While the guys (and one gorgeous girl – Kirsten Landman, SA’s top lady enduro racer) sweated on their bikes, the rest of us relaxed,


Maguga Lodge deck, overlooking Maguga Dam, Swaziland

enjoyed a sunset cruise,


Sunset over Maguga Dam – Swaziland, Southern Africa

and explored the local arts and crafts centre, including the phenomenal Coral Stephens Handweaving industry:


Arts & Crafts centre – Piggs Peak, Swaziland


Coral Stephens Handweaving shop – Piggs Peak, Swaziland

The recent Lesotho Enduro was the first national race of the season. It took no prisoners; unanimously rated as hard core. Way to go, Dave, finishing 5th in the Masters Class and mere seconds off the podium – despite “youngsters” sneaking in from Seniors, while he’s another year older with nowhere else to go πŸ™‚

In between pit stops, we crew kicked back and took in the scenery:


Mealie field in the early morning – Lesotho, Southern Africa


Herder with goats and enduro pits in the background – Lesotho

Although there’s always the tension that accompanies extreme sport, enduro is far less demanding on us than the riders. Still, tough as it can be, I reckon this smile tells a story:


Dave Estment – Maguga Dam, Swaziland

It’s the reason we’re preparing for the Enduro World Cross Country this weekend, and the Montagu national the next – another perfect excuse for a few days in Cape Town . . .

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Perfect excuse for cake

Not that we need one πŸ˜€ – but my blog turned two this week:


Chocolate Cake

And far more significantly, Dave and I are celebrating the 16th anniversary of our marriage (today) and wedding (tomorrow), so this goes out with a huge hug and kiss to the husband of my dreams . . . and to all the great cyber friends who have made this blogging journey such a joy!

On the subject of marriage and blogging, here are two quotes to consider:

“Marriage is more than the sum of its parts.” – Unknown

“A blog is merely a tool that lets you do anything from change the world to share your shopping list.” – Unknown

My apologies for neglecting not only this space lately, but also all of your beautiful blogs. Photography, commissioned writing, and the start of Race Season has taken precedence. Hopefully, though, things will settle down soon – after the national enduro in Lesotho perhaps, which we leave for tomorrow πŸ˜‰ Continue reading

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Saving a Turtle

Another big thank you to Hills of Africa Travel – for being simply the best! Today, they’ve featured the second part of their interview about my novel (chick-lit/romance) on their blog: Out of Air: A Story of Sheer Inspiration – Part II.

In case you’re wondering about the book’s title, a fellow writer and student on my first novel-writing course, Leilani Basson, suggested it during a brainstorming session. This followed a discussion about the inspiration, which includes scuba diving. Dave is a long-time instructor, and introduced me to it almost twenty years ago.

We shared an amazing experience once, when he saved a giant leatherback turtle from running out of air. It was held fast to the sea bed by three fishing lines, attached to triple-hooks in its mouth. Wedging his diving knife handle into the huge beak, Dave gradually worked the hooks out, freeing the turtle to come up for air. Through it all (15 – 20 minutes), it seemed to relax into a kind of trance, as if realizing he was there to help.

This is one of my most special underwater memories, contributing to certain key scenes in Out of Air, as well as the title. Metaphorically, it relates to Gina’s breathless state of being as she strives to navigate the storms of her search for true love.

I don’t have a photo of the leatherback, but here’s a loggerhead sea turtle instead:


EYE TO EYE WITH A TURTLE – Loggerhead Sea Turtle, Mozambique


LOGGERHEAD SEA TURTLE WITH SCUBA DIVERS – Mozambique

My sincere thanks to Leilani, and especially Dave. Without him, Out of Air would not exist – for countless reasons.

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A Novel Valentine

Sincere thanks to the stunning team at Hills of Africa Travel in the USA, for requesting an interview about my novel for their blog. This has been the catalyst for creating the website www.outofair.com – artwork by my gifted stepson:


OUT OF AIR website – Home page screen shot

The article will take the form of a two-post series, the first on Monday 14 February, which is Valentine’s Day. That also happens to be the day the story begins. If you’re not familiar with it, take a look at Chapter 1 to discover Gina’s Valentine surprise – not what she had in mind for her romantic dinner Γ  deux!

Hills of Africa Travel are also the reason behind the penguin pictures on the website, because it was while documenting their magic Soul Safari 2009 that we visited Boulders Beach in Cape Town. Here’s a snippet of video we created from the encounter. If you watch closely, you will spot the camera in Dave’s hands πŸ™‚
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“Mud, mud, glorious mud!”

This was certainly the case at Madikwe Game Reserve last week. In a show of sympathy for all those devastated by recent floods around the world, Johannesburg and surroundings have been drenched in downpours over the past while. Madikwe is a mere 3-odd hours’ drive from here, and seems to have shared in the rain too.

Luckily for us, we sneaked into a window of great weather and had the BEST time. Well, probably not better than the African Wild Dogs, who made a meal of the left-over puddles:


AFRICAN WILD DOG wallowing in mud – Madikwe Game Reserve, SA


AFRICAN WILD DOGS cavorting in the road – Madikwe Game Reserve, SA

It wasn’t all rosy, though, like one morning when a Landcruiser got stuck in the mud πŸ˜€ Our ranger saved the day, so we witnessed the good deed:


LANDCRUISER stuck in the mud – Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa


BUSH RESCUE – Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa

This was the reason for venturing off-road, which caused it all – understandable really!


TRACKS UNDERWATER – Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa

Later, we struck it lucky, courtesy of more puddles, when two lionesses squatted to drink right beside our vehicle. Tell me it gets any better than this!


LIONESSES drinking – Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa

There was more magic in store, thanks to the rain. The pan was a sea of yellow flowers:


RHINO & ELEPHANT in a sea of yellow flowers – Madikwe Game Reserve, SA

This is our head-ranger mate, Marc (of my previous post fame ;-)), getting down low with his Nikon. Don’t you just love it?


MARC LINDSAY-RAE in action – Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa

As you can imagine, we had plenty to talk about at the gourmet dinner every evening:


MADIKWE SAFARI LODGE dining area – Madikwe Game Reserve, SA

I could carry on, but instead here are links to my Facebook albums, which tell a lot more: Handful of Highlights – MADIKWE, Jan 2011 Playing on the Pan – MADIKWE, Jan 2011

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