Festive season traps


The holiday looms, and so does Christmas. All you want to do is chill out after what’s been a hard year. But that’s not always the easiest thing to do – you know the bit about life being “the thing that happens while you’re making other plans”.

For some, chilling out may mean booking a camping site 20 km from the nearest village a year in advance. Or going into a Trappist monastery until the festive season is over.

But most people will have a more sociable time – either at home, visiting relatives, or at the seaside somewhere. Who knows, you might need to get back to the office in January to get some rest. In order to get the most out of your break, try and avoid the following festive season stressors.

Guests galore. You have a big house, and over Christmas it fills up with aunties, grannies, nieces, uncles – you name it. Instead of looking after four people, you are now looking after twelve. This is no holiday for you, as you are the unofficial entertainment committee, the caterer, the conflict resolution specialist, and the local cleaner. If you live in a popular destination, you might have to put your foot down. Or at least put together a duty roster for the cooking and the cleaning. And, for heaven’s sake, don’t feel you have to be the unofficial tour guide. Take a day or two off and let the guests entertain themselves.

Feeding frenzy. Food, food, food. It’s all over during the Christmas season and it’s lying in wait for you everywhere, and we’re not talking about celery sticks either. It’s chips, cakes, cheese snacks, chocolates, to name but a few. And, after all, you’re on holiday. So why not? That’s fine, but just don’t get into a new habit. Most people end the festive season with quite a few kilos that were not there in November. Don’t become a festive season fatty.

Booze bonanza. From the office party to friends’ homes, to family barbecues – booze is no stranger to the festive season. And often, other people are paying for it. By all means have a beer or two, if you’re not driving, but don’t binge on booze. Drinking too much is something that carries its own punishment with it, a bit like eating that second helping of hot Indian curry. And do remember, that everyone likes you to have a drink or two, but nobody likes having a social embarrassment at their parties. Fall down drunk, or insult one of the other guests, and you can be sure you’ll be off the party list. Forever.

I’m so lonely. Some people wish everything could be a little quieter. Others wish for a break from the peace and quiet and they dream of the phone ringing or a horde of guests arriving. The secret is to arrange a few things in advance. Invite people for supper, get a friend to go with you to a movie, or organise a day or two away in a different place. Don’t wait until the festive season is upon you before doing something about your social calendar. It’s not going to happen by itself.

Exercise inertia. Most people give their exercise regimes a break during the festive season. It is, after all, the end of the year. Problem is, many people overindulge completely on the food front at the same time, and coupled with a fortnight of couch-potato-ism, your waistline might be expanding at the rate of knots. Go for a walk with the family, run along the beach, play volleyball. Do anything to burn up those extra calories. And get back into it early in the new year.

Credit card crisis. The last of the Big Spenders. If that describes you in the shopping centre with your Christmas bonus and your credit card, you’re obviously a sucker for all those Christmas ads. And you’re going to be stony broke in January, and depressed in February when the credit card statements start arriving. Point is that you can probably buy just as nice a present for R100 as you can for R200, or R400. You just need to plan it well. It’s the thought that counts, not the size of the present.

Sunburn stress. The sun in the southern hemisphere is vicious , and skin cancer is a real danger. And remember that the damage is cumulative. Burning yourself to a crisp or having a whimpering and sunburnt child on your hands, is no way to spend Christmas. Speak to your pharmacist and get a high-factor sunblock before you head for the beach. And speaking of the beach – watch out for bluebottles or pieces of broken glass in the sand.

Crowd control. Think of Christmas, and what many people see are teeming masses of people in a shopping centre, all of them with a mission, and accompanied by at least two unwilling and exhausted kids. It can be avoided – do your gift shopping in November and do a bulk grocery shop before 15 December. Milling crowds can be exhausting, and elicit everything but the Christmas spirit in you. In fact, it can bring on a bout of trolley rage.

Gift of the grab. Frantic last-minute gift-buying is a killer – not only don’t you get what you are looking for, you also spend a fortune on it. Rather than give unwanted and expensive presents, go for gift vouchers – at least people will appreciate them, even if they are not the most personal of offerings.

Family fest. Family. You get them, you don’t choose them. And never is it more obvious than at Christmas time when Uncle Freddy is holding forth on all his achievements, or Aunt Doris is slurring after her third beer. Or your cousin’s kids are running around screaming, chasing your poor cats. Then there are the endless questions about when you are going to tie the knot, have babies etc. Family get-togethers seldom do much for your self-esteem. Just repeat the mantra, “It will soon be over for another year.”



UK newspaper readers vote Cape Town “Best World City”


The Telegraph Travel Awards for 2008 were released today and New Zealand, Australia and South Africa were voted the readers’ “favourite destinations on earth”; while their favourite cities were voted as Cape Town, San Francisco, Sydney and Vancouver.
The Mount Nelson Hotel in Cape Town was named one of the favourite city hotels in the world to visit.

More than 25 000 readers were polled in Britain’s biggest survey of travel habits and an overwhelming 92 per cent of them maintain that the financial crisis will not affect their choice of holiday destinations. 96 per cent of the readers polled refuse to downgrade their holiday accommodation.

The readers’ favourite destinations (outside of Europe) can be identified as ones where the pound has strengthened against the respective foreign currencies in the past year (the Australian and New Zealand dollars, and the South African rand). The same can be said for the choices of cities, with the exception of San Francisco (where the pound has fallen against the dollar).

The Telegraph readers’ holiday budget remains high – more than half of the readers polled spent more than £1,000 (R15 220) on their last holiday: one in six spent between £2,500 (R38 000) and £5,000 (R76 000) and one in twenty spent more than £5,000.

“As Britain enters a new winter of discontent, taking a break may never feel more needed, but the value for money it provides will be scrutinised like never before,” said Charles Starmer-Smith.

“This is why, during belt-tightening times, readers return to destinations they know – namely, the English-speaking former colonies.”


Beat the recession with best value wines


The 2008 Best Value Wine Show which is hosted by Grand West Casino this year, takes place in the Market Hall, Entertainment Centre on Tuesday 2 December form 17h00 -21h00

The show once again offers Capetonians the opportunity to taste and purchase around seventy value-for-money wines from twenty South African wineries under one roof. All wines included in the 2009 Best Value Booklet have been tasted and rated by Wine’s independent panel and costs less than R60 per bottle. Prices start at R18.

“Many of the wines on offer at the show are available on supermarket shelves, but one rarely has the opportunity to taste them at point of purchase. This show offers the wines for tasting by the winemakers or representatives from the wineries themselves and thanks to Grand West’s efficient staff, the wines can be ordered, paid for at cellar door prices and taken home directly from the show,” says Cobie van Oort, one of the organisors.

An exciting culinary addition to this year’s show is the creation of an informal bistro restaurant inside the venue where visitors can enjoy a light meal at a reasonable price whilst waiting for their order to be made up. Alternatively the upmarket Quarterdeck restaurant in the main casino building, a short walk away offers Best Value Wine Show ticket holders a special on their lavish buffet of only R99 per person, for that night only! (Usual price R130 pp)
The cost per ticket is R60 per person, which includes the entrance fee, a tasting glass, a copy of the Best Value Wine Guide 2009 and an order form with all participating wines and prices.

Tickets are limited and bookings are essential. Contact Björn van Oort of CVO Marketing at (021) 981-0216 or send an email to bjorn@cvomarketing.co.za to book. Tickets are also for sale at the Quarterdeck Restaurant in the Casino complex

Visitors are welcome to come sample the Kumkani Chardonnay Viognier 2007 with is lemon, peach, honeysuckle and vanilla aromas. Other brands from the company of wine peopleTM will also be showcased.


Silver lining for the company of wine people at the India Wine Challenge


The company of wine peopleTM delivered sterling results at the India Wine Challenge: its newly launched Arniston Bay Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2008 and Kumkani Sauvignon Blanc 2007 were both awarded silver medals.

The Kumkani Chardonnay Viognier 2007 received a bronze medal while the Arniston Bay Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2008, Arniston Bay Reserve Shiraz 2007 and Kumkani Shiraz 2005 all got the Seal of Approval.

The Arniston Bay Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2008 also clinched a gold medal at the recent prestigious Veritas Awards – South Africa’s longest running wine competition – and winged it onto the 2009 South African Airways On Board Wine List. Top quality grapes, sourced throughout the Western Cape, were used to create this premium wine. Consumers are subsequently rewarded with cut grass and green pea aromas, typical Sauvignon Blanc character on the palate, crisp acidity and a good finish.

The Kumkani Sauvignon Blanc 2007 – which won a silver medal at the AWC Vienna International Wine Challenge – has expressive fresh aromas of ripe figs, green peppers and Cape gooseberry. With a rich mid-palate and a long finish, this wine was made to be enjoyed with food.

Brand and business development manager at the company of wine peopleTM, Mark Lester, said: “It’s always encouraging to see our wines perform so well, especially on the international stage and considering such a respected panel. The endorsement expressed by these distinguished panelists can only motivate the winemaking team, who ultimately should take credit for creating these great wines, to reach new heights. Our superb achievement highlights our depth as a quality South African wine producer, and I’m confident that ultimately our performance will contribute to a greater presence for the category as a whole in the exciting Indian market.”

More than 500 wines from across the globe were entered into the India Wine Challenge 2008, currently in its second year and the country’s only major independent wine competition. A panel of 14 distinguished judges such as founder of the London International Wine Challenge and IFE Chairman Robert Joseph, president of the Indian Wine Academy Subhash Arora, and sommelier Magandeep Singh were amongst the panelists.

Kumkani Sauvignon Blanc is TOPS


Kumkani Lanner Hill Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2007 continues to ride the wave of success as it was selected for WINE magazine TOPS at SPAR Sauvignon Blanc Top 10 list.

The wine which has received a record rating of 4 stars by WINE magazine for all three vintages of the Lanner Hill released thus far, was recently also crowned the best Sauvignon Blanc in South Africa at the SA Terroir Wine Awards. Its red counterpart, the Kumkani Cradle Hill Cabernet Sauvignon, has been equally successful, winning gold at the prestigious Concours Mondial de Bruxelles competition earlier this year. The Kumkani Lanner Hill Sauvignon Blanc 2005 and 2007 vintages both scored 4½ in the John Platter Wine Guide.

The grapes for this expressive Sauvignon Blanc were harvested from David Tullie’s farm, Lanner Hill, in the Groenekloof ward in Darling. The full-bodied wine boasts with ripe gooseberry flavours and has a crisp, lingering finish.

Executive director of winemaking, Nicky Versfeld, said: “Kumkani Lanner Hill is a deserving recipient of this award – 2007 was an exceptional vintage and shows the very best Sauvignon Blanc characteristics. We are delighted that this wine continues to go from strength to strength.”

Brand and business development manager for SA, Johan Erasmus, said: “This award, together with all previous awards, once again confirms the recognition Kumkani enjoys within the industry and the market place for its superlative and consistent quality. These wines are a testament to the passion with which they are crafted and we are very proud to be able to share them with the consumers.”

Robben Island – An uniquely South African destination

This week’s uniquely South African destination

Robben Island Museum
For nearly 400 years, Robben Island, 12 kilometres from Cape Town, was a place of banishment, exile, isolation and imprisonment. It was here that rulers sent those they regarded as political troublemakers, social outcasts and the unwanted of society.

During the apartheid years Robben Island became internationally known for its institutional brutality. The duty of those who ran the Island and its prison was to isolate opponents of apartheid and to crush their morale. Some freedom fighters spent more than a quarter of a century in prison for their beliefs.

Those imprisoned on the Island succeeded on a psychological and political level in turning a prison ‘hell-hole’ into a symbol of freedom and personal liberation. Robben Island came to symbolise, not only for South Africa and the African continent, but also for the entire world, the triumph of the human spirit over enormous hardship and adversity.

A visit to Robben Island is a deeply felt experience for South Africans and foreigners alike. Its identity is linked to the heroic lives of the people who struggled with the consequences of unjust incarceration.


Prince William and Harry to ride in uniquely South African charity event

Britain’s Princes William and Harry are set to embark on a gruelling off-road 8-day motorcycle rally in South Africa next month as participants in the 2008 Enduro Africa charity event.

Enduro Africa is a unique and challenging motorbike adventure in aid of local charities in Southern Africa. It is set up to raise money to donate motorbikes every year to help transport casualties and medicines as well as to provide health care in rural villages.

Money raised from the adventure will be divided equally between UNICEF, the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund and Sentebale, a charity established by Prince Harry to help disadvantaged children in Lesotho. Organisers hope to raise at least £300 000 (R4.6 million) for South Africa and Lesotho.

The princes, both accomplished riders and motorbike owners, will join a group of about 80 people on a journey that will take them through some of South Africa’s most rugged and isolated terrain in the Eastern Cape’s Wild Coast.

The journey is set to begin and end in Port Elizabeth, passing through towns such as Alicedale, Queenstown, Coffee Bay, along Mazeppa Bay, Hogsback and Port Alfred.

The royal brothers will join groups of eight to 10 riders travelling together during the day with all 80 volunteers camping together at night.

A spokesman for Global Enduro, an adventure company which runs the Enduro Africa event, said since both princes were in the army, they would “have the grit to get through because it’s not easy.”

“There are no road signs and it’s not like riding anywhere in the UK so they will need a guide. They will go through game reserves, tribal areas and wild areas,” he said.

A Clarence House spokesman said “The Princes are looking forward to the motorcycle ride that will raise money and the profile of Sentebale, a charity very close to their hearts, and two other major charities in southern Africa.”