Wine tip: Diemersfontein Coffee Pinotage

diemersfonteinThe weekend is finally here! Hope you all have some lovely plans. I think I will be both quiet and still throughout the weekend, I’ve completely lost my voice and feel generally very tired (not fun at all when it’s 32 degrees outside). But Lina is going out for dinner with nice company at beautiful Melrose Arch.

We thought we’d give you a wine tip that could be a good match for any of the meals of the weekend. We think Diemersfontein Coffee Pinotage is a really nice wine. It has been one of the favorites for quite some time actually. I know it’s sold in Sweden, but the rest of you out there – you will have to go and search for it. Let us know if you find it!

This is a wine that smells strongly of coffee and chocolate, but it also has a fruity flavor (and toasted oak character with hints of coffee, blackberry, chocolate and vanilla – at least that’s what the ones who know say). It’s great with lamb and beef, but also to drink just the way it is.

Have a nice weekend everyone!

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Cape Town from above

I thought this was really cool!

It’s not as if Cape Town offers ugly and boring views of the ground. The fact that Cape Town is one of the world’s most beautiful cities is something most people know, even if you have not been lucky enough to visit the city. No one can really understand why we chose to live in Johannesburg, but that’s another story …

But to see Cape Town like this from above really adds something extra. This great video was made by a tourist in Cape Town in August this year, with the help of a drone. Watch the movie and enjoy, I suggest you choose full screen!

See more films by Eric Cheng

Sea of purple!

jakarandaIt’s October and summer is fast approaching in South Africa. It feels absolutely wonderful! Even in South Africa it gets really cold in the winter and without any form of insulation in the houses, you never truly escape the cold. Wrapped in the blanket becomes a normal state…

But now winter seems far away, we’re back to skirt and tank top and right now Johannesburg is also graced with flowering Jacaranda trees. These are quite large trees with dark trunk and the flowers are beautifully purple. Along with many cerise bougainvillea bushes they transform Johannesburg into a beautiful sea of colour. Pretoria has even more Jacaranda trees than Johannesburg, between 40 000 and 70 000 trees, hence its nickname, The Jacaranda City.

Interestingly, the Jacaranda trees are not indigenous to South Africa. They were imported from South America in the 1880s, but due to the large number of trees they have become something of a South African icon.

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The South African government has quite recently passed new laws to try to bring down the number of invasive species and to ensure the survival of native species. Jacaranda trees fall into this category, but fortunately they are not in the group of plants that need to be removed. However, no new trees are allowed to be planted, so if existing trees die they can’t be replaced. So let’s hope all the Jacaranda trees here in the area will survive for many generations!

Oscar Pistorius’ verdict

Oscar PistoriusNone of you can have missed that Oscar Pistorius, better known to the world as Blade Runner, shot and killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day 2013. It was a shock to hear about this tragic event. Pistorius was a role model to many and had made a name for himself worldwide.

For more than a half a year the world, but perhaps mostly us here in South Africa, has followed this trial as if it were a soap opera. With broadcasts on radio and TV live from the trial it has undeniably been hard not to get sucked into the drama.

In September, the court ruled that Pistorius was not guilty of premeditated murder, but was instead found guilty of culpable homicide. Today we finally got to know the verdict. The defense wanted house arrest, while the prosecution said that the minimum term that society will be happy with is 10 years in prison. He was sentenced to 5 years in prison. At least 1/6 of this sentence must be served before house arrest will be considered. That is 10 months …

He was also given a three-year suspended sentence on a firearms charge, which will be served alongside the prison sentence. In practice, a sentence that will not affect Pistorius.

Was the verdict right or wrong? Well, what do you think ..?

When is the best time to travel to South Africa?

There’s no easy answers to the question of when the best time is to visit South Africa, as all seasons have their positive and negative elements. It simply depends on what one is looking for and what one wants to do.

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Safari is good all year round, but the best time to travel is during winter and spring, say from May to October. There’s less vegetation, which makes it easier to spot the animals, and because it doesn’t rain, there’s less and less water available for the animals, so they seek out the watering holes.

Along the west coast we are each year treated to a great show, when the first rain of spring falls and transforms this dry and rather barren landscape into a fireworks of bright colours, when the ground is covered in flowers. It’s impossible to say when this annual flower parade will occur, but the safest bet is probably August – September.

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South Africa has a long coastline and both the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean offer wonderful adventures. Beach life is perfect in KwaZulu-Natal all through the year with warm and sunny conditions, even in the middle of winter. But if sun and sea is most important to you, you should travel between November and February.

From mid-June to November is the best time for whale watching and for scuba diving the period from April to September is the best choice for most coastal areas, except perhaps for the coast off Western Cape.

Diving with Great White Sharks is something that can be done all throughout the year, but the best time is during the winter months. From when the baby seals are born in November and through to March, there is so much “natural” food for the sharks that it’s more difficult to attract them to the boat, which reduces the chances to experience sharks up close.

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And if you don’t want to travel when all South Africans have their vacation you should avoid December and January.

In short – every season has something to offer and there are of course no bad time of the year to travel to South Africa!

Baboons

The other day we received an email from a client who is about to travel to South Africa, with the question “how does one handle baboons?” Hahaha, yes how does one handle baboons…? Not at all, preferably. If you visit South Africa, you will probably see a lot of baboons, they are often seen along the roads so please drive carefully.

At Cape Point, for example, there are plenty of them, and here they have learned that there are a lot of people and a lot of food and here there can sometimes be a few close encounters. The advice we can give is to keep your distance, and hide all the food and even food bags. If you’re in a car, close your windows and enjoy watching them, they are fascinating animals!

 
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When we visited the Kruger National Park in early August, we saw lots of baboons and they are really fun to sit and watch, in the safety of a car. We stopped at one of the rest stops to stretch our legs and here we got to see how cheeky baboons in these environments can be. Visitors who planned a nice lunch break, were literally robbed of their food bags only to see how the thieves parked just meters away to munch on all the goodies they managed to get.
 

Rain, rain, rain, rain beautiful rain!

fireAs a Swede, it feels slightly strange to wait and long for rain. It is rarely something to look forward to in Sweden, but if you live in South Africa this is something that happens every spring …

At least if you live in areas that have summer rain, and only summer rain. In Johannesburg, where I live, most of the rain falls between October and March. There is some rain in April and it can also be some scatter showers during winter, but it’s really not more than a few drops.

So now, in early October, this is something that everyone here thinks and talks about. We are all very tired of all the dust that finds its way into just about everywhere! It’s actually one of the few times when the South Africans also talk about the weather. Usually one merely states that it’s sunny or cloudy and people give you strange looks if you ask how many degrees it is.

When it rains here it pours. There is rarely a Swedish grey sky that, day after day, emits a steady amount of rain. It is usually a dark black sky, the wind picks up properly and a raindrop is probably the size of a teaspoon. And the whole thing is accompanied by an amazing spectacle of lightning that lit up the whole sky and thunder so powerful that the windows vibrate.

As soon as the clouds pull in, expectations increase. And if the wind picks up a little, one can literally see the longing in people’s eyes when they look up to the sky to almost encourage the clouds to let go of a little water. But so far nothing, or at least not here in the northern parts of the city.

dark_skiesWell, last Sunday there actually was some rain. And when the first drops fell on the tin roofs in the area, I saw the neighbors jumping with joy, and the balconies were slowly filled with people and we all stood the with silly smiles looking up to the skies, and welcomed the first real rain. Or so we thought … It was a teasing rain from a pitch black sky, but we didn’t get much more than a light shower that only left a spots all over the dust cover.

So we continue to wait. Continue to look up at the sky. Continue to dust. Continue to bet on when the first rain will come. And we will rejoice when it arrives!

This post was written by Julia on 7 October 2013