Tag Archives: South Africa

Stress

Whether you feel “I’ve-had-it-with-the-world-and-everything-in-it” hectic,


MALE LION BARING HIS FANGS – Schotia Safaris, South Africa

“get-out-of-my-face-I’m-having-a-bad-day” mad,

MALE LION SNARL – Schotia Safaris, South Africa

or “don’t-make-your-problems-mine” ratty,


LIONESS BARING HER FANGS – Schotia Safaris, South Africa

it pays to remember that stress arises inside.

STRESS:

In response
to a given stimulus,
Stress arises
inside

Allowed to rule,
it wreaks havoc
recognized, unresisted,
it recedes

Powerful,
potential teacher,
Stress offers options
on a silver platter

Succumb and suffer
or choose to transcend,
knowing that the choice
arises inside

©Naomi Estment

Quotes to consider:

“If you ask what is the single most important key to longevity, I would have to say it is avoiding worry, stress and tension. And if you didn’t ask me, I’d still have to say it.” – George F. Burns

“Don’t let your mind bully your body into believing it must carry the burden of its worries.” – Astrid Alauda

“Adopting the right attitude can convert a negative stress into a positive one.” – Hans Selye

God will never give you anything you can’t handle, so don’t stress.” – Kelly Clarkson

“Give your stress wings and let it fly away.” – Terri Guillemets

“Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.” – Chinese Proverb

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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 🙂

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 😀 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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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 🙂

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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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 à 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 🙂
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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 😀 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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A gift that keeps on giving…

Big thanks to the lovely ladies at Well Designed Journeys for featuring a two-post interview with Dave on their beautiful blog, sharing his advice on wildlife photography: Wildlife Photography Tips for Travelers on Safari: Interview with Dave Estment and Wildlife Photography Tips for Travelers on Safari: Part II

This passion has blessed us with countless incredible trips into the African bushveld. It’s one of those gifts that keeps on giving. In fact, we’re off to Madikwe Safari Lodge again tomorrow, courtesy of their head ranger, Marc Lindsay-Rae – a fabulous friend and fellow photographer, who has just won the 2010 Africa Geographic/Canon Photo Competition for rangers and safari guides (with an awesome shot of a mother and calf black rhino charging him). Way to go, Marc! Here he is, with his winning photo (for the month and year):


MARC LINDSAY-RAE with his winning wildlife photo!

For those who don’t know, black rhino’s are endangered, which makes that pic all the more exceptional. We were treated on a previous visit to Madikwe to a spectacular sighting of three together, and a pack of endangered wild dogs on the hunt. It was too dark for decent photo’s, but regular readers of this blog will have seen plenty more wildlife pics in the past. Some stunning ones of Dave’s are included in those two posts at Well Designed Journeys, and here are a few other highlights just for fun:


AMARULA HOT CHOCOLATE – Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa


MORNING BREAKING – Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa


BREAKFAST FOR TWO – Madikwe Safari Lodge, South Africa


MARC, CLAIRE & GREG ENJOYING SUNDOWNERS – Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa


AFRICAN SUNSET – Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa


HEAVENLY SUITE – Madikwe Safari Lodge, South Africa

. . . and a quote from another photographer (as well as actor, artist and writer):

“I have never been in a natural place and felt that was a waste of time. I never have. And it’s a relief. If I’m walking around a desert or whatever, every second is worthwhile.” – Viggo Mortensen

Wishing you all a wonderful few days, until we return with more wild magic to entice you to visit the bush soon too 🙂

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Twin Anniversary and Engagement Celebration!

This is a special day for us. My twin sister Ruth was married 20 years ago today at the gorgeous Alphen Hotel in Cape Town, where she had lunch with her husband, before their party tonight. By complete chance (if there is such a thing :-)), Dave proposed to me 16 years ago today on Signal Hill, from a spot right about where this photo was taken:


TABLE BAY and ROBBEN ISLAND from SIGNAL HILL – Cape Town, South Africa

He had Table Mountain in mind, but was too impatient, or tense, to wait for the cable car queues. We weren’t aware of it then, but apparently both sites are situated on significant energy meridians. I haven’t looked into this, but true or not, it was certainly auspicious for us. That year we celebrated with Ruth and Etienne, since dinner was already planned on their behalf. We’ll enjoy ours in Jo’burg tonight, and drink a toast to them too!

I don’t usually include pics of myself in posts, but today is unusual – and being identical twins is curious to some 😉 – so here’s a recent one of the two of us together:


NAOMI & RUTH – by DAVE

Heart-felt thanks to my beloved husband, for asking me to marry him all those years ago, and pressing a beautiful ring into my hands – which I almost dropped down the hillside, because Dave has the most stunning blue eyes imaginable . . . Continue reading

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SA’s Champion Lady Racer

Petite Nicole van Aswegen is perfectly at home mixing it up with the men. On the race track, no less. She and Janine Mitchell are the only two women who regularly compete in South Africa’s National Super Sport motorcycle racing class. As the 2010 – and first ever – winner of our all ladies’ 600cc class, Nicole was featured in last month’s issue of MCSA (MotorcyclingSA Magazine). Here’s a scan of the article:


Scan of Motorcycling SA’s article on Nicole van Aswegen

It was my pleasure to do Nicole’s promotional shoot, producing the two studio pics in the spread. Here are two more, for a little fun and glamour:


Nicole van Aswegen (photograph by Naomi Estment, OV&P Studio)


Nicole van Aswegen (photograph by Naomi Estment, OV&P Studio)

Nicole has achieved a lot, since starting out in 2006 on a 50cc bike. Gym and kick boxing keep her in peak condition, while she also works in the motorcycle industry, as a successful rep for MotoSport Distribution. Completely committed to racing, her heart is set on the international arena. In the meantime, she’s focused on defending her SA Ladies Champ title here at home. Way to go, Nicole!

For info about our studio, or to view portfolio images, please visit www.ovpstudio.com.

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Celebrating Southern African Getaways

Sincere thanks to the fabulous Christine Searle at SA-Venues, for including me in her awesome post: South Africans share their favourite local getaways! It’s a total treat to participate and discover what’s special to others too 😀

Picking only one favourite was impossibly tough, given the abundance we have here – as well as how privileged Dave and I have been, thanks largely to friends, family and our professional photography. I narrowed it down to the African bushveld, because I believe that nothing compares to the ‘soul vacation’ this offers. Here’s the longer list, incorporating more of Southern Africa and a few of the countless highlights we’ve enjoyed:

Londolozi private game reserve, SA – leopards:


LEOPARD CLOSE-UP – Londolozi Game Reserve, South Africa

Madikwe private game reserve, SA – wild dogs:


AFRICAN WILD DOG – Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa

Schotia Safaris, SA – lions:


MUFASA – Schotia Safaris, South Africa

Welgevonden private game reserve, SA – rhino’s & elephants:


RHINO SILHOUETTE – Welgevonden Game Reserve, Waterberg, South Africa


ELEPHANT SILHOUETTE – Welgevonden game Reserve, Waterberg, South Africa

Timbavati private game reserve, SA – buffalo:


BUFFALO BULL – Timbavati game reserve, South Africa

Khwai River, Okavango Delta, Botswana – abundant game and raptors:


HIPPOS AT SUNSET – Khwai River, Okavango Delta, Botswana


FISH EAGLE TAKING OFF – Khwai River, Okavango Delta, Botswana

Central Kalahari Game Reserve, Botswana – wide open spaces and occasional cheetah:


DAVE checking photo’s on our roofrack – Central Kalahari Game Reserve, Botswana


CHEETAH RUNNING – Central Kalahari Game Reserve, Botswana

Mozambique – scuba diving, especially Guinjata Bay’s manta rays:


MANTA RAY WITH REMORA FISH – Guinjata Bay, Mozambique


ME SCUBA-DIVING – Mozambique, Southern Africa

Lesotho – enduro riding, in particular the extreme Roof of Africa:


ROOF OF AFRICA 2010 – Lesotho, Southern Africa


VIEW OF MALUTI MOUNTAINS – Lesotho, Southern Africa

Cape Town (where I grew up) – family, fun, Two Oceans & Table Mountain:


TABLE MOUNTAIN from V&A WATERFRONT – Cape Town, South Africa


VIEW OF CAPE POINT – Cape Town, South Africa

As far as wildlife goes, we’re planning perhaps the pinnacle trip for September next year: Serengeti under Canvas in Tanzania with &Beyond Africa, which follows the migration in luxury tents. CAN’T WAIT, especially since it will probably include scenes like these:


WILDEBEEST RUNNING – Masai Mara, Kenya


HOT AIR BALLOON ABOVE MIGRATING WILDEBEEST – Masai Mara, Kenya

I wasn’t lucky enough to accompany Dave to Kenya, where he shot these last two pics, so that’s high on my wish-list of wildlife destinations, along with others in Southern Africa, such as Namibia (where I was born), Zambia (where my father was born and raised) and Zimbabwe (where some of our special friends come from). And that’s just for starters. Ah, AFRICA…what’s to do but LOVE YOU?

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Judgement

Judgement can be unjust.


VULTURE COMING IN TO LAND – Moholoholo, Hoedspruit, South Africa


VULTURES FEEDING – Moholoholo, Hoedspruit, South Africa

It’s a steamy summer evening near the Kruger National Park. Anticipation spikes the sunset as we pull up to the ‘vulture restaurant’ at Moholoholo (“The Very Great One”) rehabilitation centre. A simple patch of sand to us, the spot is significant to the birds. Dozens of them. The moment the carcass thuds to earth, they swoop in from their circling. A bombardment of quietly beating feathers flares dust into the air, muffling soft tearing and crunching sounds. Not a single squawk is uttered.

Each species knows precisely what to do. Larger-beaked prey ‘openers’ jostle beside their cousins who pick the bones clean. The ten minute melee is marked by precision feeding, highlighted with huge hops and tugs of war, as well as the intermittent scampering of a warthog. He’s having dinner too, snatching morsels from the heaving heap.

As swiftly as it began, the meal is over; barely a scrap to mark the spot. A flurry of large bodies lifts off and flies away. No wonder Nature is not strewn with waste. Among the less endearing of her feathered set, vultures sometimes receive a bad rap. Perhaps not the prettiest, they each have a part to play. As we all do.

Quotes to consider:

“Judge a tree from its fruit, not from its leaves” – Euripides

“We judge others by their behavior. We judge ourselves by our intentions.” – Ian Percy

“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” – Carl Gustav Jung

“The tendency to turn human judgments into divine commands makes religion one of the most dangerous forces in the world.” – Georgia Harkness

“. . . It’s one thing to feel that you are on the right path, but it’s another to think that yours is the only path.” – Paulo Coelho

“Although I cannot lay an egg, I am a very good judge of omelettes” – George Bernard Shaw

Here are a few more pics taken by Dave:


VULTURES & MARABOU STORKS – Moholoholo, Hoedspruit, South Africa


WARTHOG WITH VULTURES – Moholoholo, Hoedspruit, South Africa


WHITEBACKED VULTURE – Moholoholo, Hoedpsruit, South Africa


WHITEBACKED VULTURE – Moholoholo, Hoedspruit, South Africa

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