Tag Archives: travel

Shop around the clock


You get many different types of people in shopping centres. And you get many different types of people doing many different types of things in shopping centres. One would think people go to shopping centres to do as the name suggests – shop. However, people’s activities are not always informed by the name of the establishment.

I have, unfortunately, spent a great deal of time in shops and shopping centres of late. I say unfortunately because I don’t like to shop. I love things, and having things, but I don’t like the act of actually shopping for the things. And I’ve been shopping more often lately because of Christmas. Yes, I Know it’s just gone the middle of October but, in the monthly magazine industry, we work two months in advance. So, while you’re sitting enjoying a lovely glass of wine and some salted nuts, looking forward to your end of year hols at the beach, we’re recovering from Christmas and new year, working on Jan and planning for Valentine’s Day. It gets very confusing.

Anyway, back to the shops. I’ve been shopping a lot of late as I’ve been looking for Christmas food to feature. Which is very difficult as the shops are only just starting to put out their tinsel and colorful baubles. Food will only come later. I know this because I’ve traipsed the malls flat and found very little. What I have found is lots of different types of people:

The family enjoying an outing

These people are easily recognized by their sheer volume. I say volume and not number because they take up so much of the room at the mall. There are always eight of them: Mom, Dad, Aunty, Granny, and four children of varying ages and activity levels. And they tend to wield their trolley like a weapon. Beware of this type of person.

The giggling teenage girls

Pic from wallpaperswala.com

Pic from wallpaperswala.com

This species is easily spotted by the sound they emit (high pitched, loud squawking) and the wattage generated by the reinterpreted 80s neon clothing they’re sporting. They  tend to travel in packs of three or four and are generally harmless unless they’re walking four abreast and have their smartphones out. Then you have no hope of passing them and may as well settle in for the duration.

The uber-cool teenage boy

Pic from tvtropes.org

Pic from tvtropes.org

Easily identified by the hoodie over his head, the spotty complexion, hunched shoulders and falling-down pants. This mostly harmless, often-feared group is heard before it’s seen due to the cellphone blasting tinny techno as its owner lurks menacingly in a corner.

The traveller 

Pic by Rick Marshall from digitaltrends.com

Pic by Rick Marshall from digitaltrends.com

You’ll recognize this type by the backpack, crocs and socks and camera dangling from a colourful, African tribal-print strap around the neck. They’re most often found congregated around McDonalds looking mildly perplexed. Travellers tend not to walk very quickly, which is surprising because one would assume  they do so much of it. If you’re short of time, avoid MacDonalds and the iStore as they search for adapters for their iGadgets.

If, after reading this, you’re more wary than before, you may want to shop online. Alternatively you can just get in and out ofthe mall as quickly as possible. Preferably with a POA (plan of action). That’s where we come in: Grab a copy of the November issue of Essentials, on shelf on Monday, and see the fab shopping ideas we have for you.



I’m leaving on a jet plane

So tomorrow I’m flying to Cape Town for a lunchtime launch for a well known store’s Christmas food products. I’m excited but, I have to admit, a little nervous too. And there are a couple of reasons for this…

1. I’ve never flown anywhere alone before. I know… I’m 33 and I’ve always flown with someone – my Mister or, when I was younger, my parents. So this first trip alone is a little scary. And very grown up. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I still think of myself as being 17, so doing grown-up things is daunting.


2. I’ve never been more than a few kilometres away from my baby, Holly. And now I’m going to be on the other side of the country. With no car! Not that having a car would help me but still, I’d feel somehow more in control if I had transport I was maneuvering by myself. But I’m being dropped at the Gautrain station by Mister, zoomed to the airport by the train driver, flown to Cape Town by a pilot and driven by a driver to the launch. I’m going to be completely out of control. The. Whole. Day. (You’ve probably gathered that I’m the type of person who feels more comfortable when she’s in control of her environment and situation. If not – I am.)


3. I’m going on a plane without luggage. And, for some reason, that makes me feel really uncomfortable. Like I won’t have what I need when I need it. But that’s ridiculous. I’ll have my giant mommy bag with everything I usually carry around and never use. For some people it may be freeing travelling unencumbered, with just the wind in their hair and their boarding pass in their hand – but not me! I need to be weighted down by bags and jackets and books and scalding coffee and a sarmie.

4. I may sit next to a strange person on the plane. One who wants to chat or who has broccoli in his teeth and who’s wearing an anorak. Whenever I’ve flown with my Mister I’ve always used him as the security buffer between me and weirdly-dressed (an smelling) strangers. I have a thing about my personal space and aeroplanes definitely test me by insisting I invite other people to sit virtually on my lap or grunt in my ear.

Big girl panties

So tomorrow I’ll take my well-packed mommy bag, stocked with everything I may need in the far reaches of the country. I’ll pull on my big girl panties and navigate South Africa’s first high-speed underground rail system alone. I’ll sit next to the perfect stranger, whom the airline teams me up with. And I’ll listen silently as they cough, sneeze and grunt right next to me.

And, finally I’ll relinquish transportational control to the professionals. I’ll look at it as a type of ‘flooding’ therapy session or Fear Factor where I’m forced to confront my deepest fears. Let’s just hope there aren’t millions of beetles going clickity clack that I have to cover myself in. That’s where I draw the line.

A tale of a few cities

New york london parisThis post is about not travelling. And, because I have so much to say on the subject, it’s been written in two installments. With a cliffhanger – just like Charles Dickens used to do.

New York smells like burnt bread. Paris smells like sulphur and burnt cocoa. London smells like rain and petrol. Every city I’ve been to has its own distinct smell. And, for years after I’ve been to a city, I often experience smell-ja vu and I’m transported right back to the streets of that city.


When I left school I never felt the urge to go travelling. I didn’t have an image of myself as a back-packing, dreadlock-sporting, hostel-sleeping, toilet sharing, The Beach-emulating adventurer. I had friends who went to London for a year or so, worked in bars and did some travelling around Europe. My Mister himself did his fair share of adventuring too: he worked on a kibbutz in Israel for a few months and he worked as a construction worker, tie salesman to the rich and famous and as a barman in London.

I did go to Paris and London for a short couple of weeks after I left school and I loved every second of it (despite the fact I was as sick as a dog that’s eaten a putrefying kipper). I was blown away by the sights of England’s capital and I wasn’t even frightened away by the little foreign man who followed us around Earl’s Court saying, ‘Book room for three! Book room for three!’

London2 London was everything it was meant to be: from the grey skies and continuous, bone-chilling damp, to the concrete, moss-covered gargoyles on the rooftops of centuries-old buildings. We walked that city flat, starting right after our eggs, bacon, tomato, baked beans, chips and toast builders’ breakfasts from Benjy’s. We saw The Royal Albert Hall, Westminster Abbey and the Tower Bridge. We wondered around Hyde Park, listened to angry doomsday lunatics at Speaker’s Corner and got lost in the gardens of Kensington Palace.

Eiffel tower And Paris was just as amazing as I always imagined it would be. The Eiffel Tower was omnipresent and imposing, even though we somehow managed to walk right past it while searching for it. When we booked our hotel room in Paris we did so on the spur of the moment while in London and we didn’t really know what we were doing or where we should be staying. We didn’t know a Rue from a roux or a Maison from a mason. We were bound to fail.

We ended up in a hotel in what I can only call the Parisian equivalent of Johannesburg’s Hillbrow. We’d booked a room that had an en suite bathroom (a real treat after our shared with 10 pther travellers bathroom in London) and a TV but, when got there, our room was sans television. So we insisted. And mimed our insistence to the dour woman at reception who spoke no English and very French French. And, after almost storming the Bastille to get what we saw as rightfully ours, we finally got our TV. And watched Full House dubbed into French and didn’t understand a word of it. And New York. I’m almost at a loss for words. Almost, but not quite.

Here’s looking at you, kid

King Shaka Airport

We were at King Shaka International Airport in Durban on Sunday after having spent a long weekend there with my family when I witnessed my very first Love Actually moment. In fact, it was more than just a Love Actually moment – it was your quintessential rom-com denouement. Let me set the scene and tell you how it went down. Ronan

Please, if you will, imagine an appropriate soundtrack playing unobtrusively over the airport speakers. Perhaps Ronan Keating’s When you say nothing at all. Visualise a busy airport gate with passengers queuing and rushing to board their flight (it was nothing like this – we were just about the last three passengers to board a Kalula.com flight from Durbs to Joburg – definitely not JFK or Heathrow).Man with heart

Anyhoo. So there we were clambering through the airport after scoffing down the slowest egg croissant orders in the history of the world, my Mister, me and the baby, our bags, her pram, stuffed cow and blankets. When we got to the boarding gate there stood our hero, carrying his heart in his hand (this is no metaphor – I swear he was holding a big red velvet heart) along with a gift. He was on his phone to his girlfriend/potential fiancée, asking her to just tell him yes or no and saying he couldn’t wait as the plane was about to board and he couldn’t change his flight.

I tried to hang back a little to listen in on his superbly dramatic conversation but my Mister had tramped off down the ramp and I looked like I was hanging back to listen to his conversation. My Mister was completely oblivious to the dramatic and possibly life-changing events unfolding a few meteres behind him.  I asked him if he’d heard what had happened and his response was: “Ja shame – that guy’s having a problem with his flight”. Boys. Sleepless in seattle

This is what happened in my head. Boy on phone is having a long distance relationship with girl on other phone. They’ve been taking turns flying between Durban and Joburg to visit each other. But it’s been getting harder and harder to be apart and the novelty and Sleepless in Seattle ness of it all is wearing thin. Finally he convinces himself that proposing to his long-distance love is the best way to rectify the situation. In his head he proposes, she says yes. They move to Durban to pursue his career. It’s perfect. What could go wrong? Well, apparently, she could not say yes immediately.

During the flight I happened to glance up over the baby playing on my lap, eating my hair and licking my face, and saw our story’s protagonist conveying his tale animatedly to a very pretty (plain) air stewardess. I did consider asking her to confirm my literary suspicions but we were hustled off the plane before I got a chance.  casablanca-2

As we trudged wearily out the airport at the other side, I again spotted our hero waiting for, I can only assume, his girlfriend/potential fiancée. But we left before I could see what happened. I like to believe that his girlfriend decided that saying yes would indeed make her exceptionally happy and that they were very lucky to have one another in their lives.

Birthday bizarre


A few days ago we celebrated Caryn, our fashion editor’s birthday and with this being a new blog and March being my birth month, I’ve been thinking a lot about birthdays. Particularly mine. I’ve always believed that my birthday is the most important day of the year and fully expect others to see it as such too. Don’t get me wrong – it’s not because I have an overblown sense of importance but rather because I get so unbelievably excited about my birthday that I want everyone to feel as happy as I do. I still count the sleeps until my birthday from at least a month before the big day and I start right after Christmas with the, ‘You can get me those shoes/that car/pink fluffy things/those earrings/an orang-utan for my birthday’ to my long-suffering and patient Mister. Bless him – I used to wake him in the middle of the night and demand, drill sergeant-style, ‘When’s my birthday, Mister?’ This may have been a cruel and unusual method of getting him to memorise my birthday, but it worked – he’s never forgotten it! So there’s a top tip for you: If your own Mister has the tendency to forget your birthday you might want to try this tactic. It’ll work for memorising shopping lists and anniversary dates too.

I’ve been trying to decide how I should celebrate my birthday this year, 33 being a weird in-between kind of number that’s neither here nor there, and I’ve been struggling to find something that really excites me. Because I still believe myself to be 17, there’s the part of me that really wants to cake on the make-up, get tarted up and put on my dancing shoes to go clubbing. But then, when I start thinking about the logistics of a babysitter (not too many 17-year-olds have to worry about that), a designated driver, that my dancing shoes are actually quite uncomfortable and will pinch my toes, what to wear and the crucial afternoon nap before the big night out, I get really tired and just feel like lying down.


So, clubbing it won’t be, but how about a weekend away with friends? I began thinking about possible travel destinations and how to accommodate the incongruous tastes of all the friends. I know my husband is quite fond of rubbing a couple of sticks together and playing with fire, what man isn’t, so he’d quite enjoy eating straight out of a tin of baked beans while camping. But there are the friends who refuse to roll off an air-mattress onto the floor, pick leaves and insect bodies out of their hair and begin the day with a spring in their step. They require a comfy bed, crisp white linen and a hot bath to get a spring in their anything, so camping is out of the question. There are the friends who’d like a sophisticated hotel, with lie-ins in the mornings, fabulous high teas in the afternoon and elegant dining experiences in the evening. Think Sex in the City meets the Burj Al Arab in Dubai.

And then there’s me, with a seven month old baby. The words sophisticated and elegant no longer feature in my vocabulary (having been replaced with ‘milestone’ and ‘smelly nappy’) and probably won’t for at least the next 19 years. Right now, with an average sleep count of approximating 4,34 hours per night, an ideal holiday destination for me would be a lumpy couch. Or a yoga mat on the floor. Or even a towel under the tree in my garden. You see, my standards for holiday destinations at this point are not very high, so I’ll be really easy to please.

If you’re also looking for a great place to get away from whatever for a little while, somewhere that doesn’t feature the aforementioned lumpy couch, the March issue of Essentials has some great travel destinations for you to peruse while you soak away your worries in a hot bath with a glass of wine. There’s a beach holiday, a country stay or a couple of bush breaks to choose from. Whatever floats your boat down a meandering river, or blows your hair back on a hike, you’ll find it in the March issue.