It's Better to Travel than Arrive?

"To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive"

Robert Louis Stevenson, Virginibus Puerisque, 1881.

"Robert Louis Stevenson speaks utter tosh and has

obviously never flown long haul economy class"

Kristy, first ever blog post, 2011.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

I'm Involved in "The Pintester Movement"!

I can hear you all asking, "What's the  Pintester Movement?", which is totally understandable unless you're following the slightly bonkers adventures of Sonja Foust, The Pintester.  Sonja has taken it upon herself to actually try to cook/make/craft all the things we see on Pinterest that look amazing and easy, yet turn out to be difficult and wrong.  She's set up a blog HERE detailing her adventures (slightly NSFW language-wise) and invited us to be a part of a global movement to see how many people can cook/make/craft something from Pinterest and live to tell the tale.

As you all know, I'm slightly addicted to Pinterest, so it's not difficult for me to find something.  However, living in a small German town, it's difficult for me to find the ingredients/crafting items necessary to make things I'd like to try, especially when this month Germany seems to be on a month long holiday, and the shops are always shut on Sundays.  So, I'm dragging out the fabulous "No Knead Bread" recipe that I tried from Pinterest earlier this year.  It works, it's yummy, it's easy, and it's fabulous.  And I think I might just make it again this weekend - there's a new jar of Nutella in the pantry calling my name.

Let's make bread as part of The Pintester Movement!  Aprons on ...

This is my first ever loaf of bread - YUM!

I know I'm a bit late to this whole "no knead" bread thing.  I've seen it on Pinterest a lot and I have friends who have been successfully making it for ages.  I declared that last year I was really going to get into bread making and I made precisely no bread at all - it all seemed just too difficult.  But this year?  This year I'm on it!

I thought I'd start with the easiest bread recipe in the world, and I've now made it three times - it just works!  After I mixed it all together I decided there was no flipping way it would ever work, but it really does - even if it looks wrong at the get go.  I think it might actually be fool-proof, so here we go (my notes in italics):-

  • 750 plain flour (the bog standard stuff you can buy cheaply at the supermarket, you don't need posh flour for this - I tried to make it with rice flour also, and it was edible, but not as good as with boring old white flour)
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry yeast (the granular stuff in the little sachets)
  • 2 cups of water (500ml)

  1. In a large mixing bowl whisk together flour, salt and yeast.
  2. Add water and mix it all together (don't use the whisk here, use a metal mixing spoon, this stuff gets STICKY and you'll never get it out of a whisk - I speak from experience ...).
  3. It's going to look dry and shaggy, and you're going to look at it and think it won't ever work - it will!
  4. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set aside for 12-18 hours (overnight is good).
  5. Heat the oven to 450f (220c).
  6. When the oven has reached 450f place a cast iron pot with a lid into the oven and heat the pot for 30 minutes.
  7. I don't have a cast iron pot with a lid, so I used a Pyrex casserole dish with a lid.  I've read that you can use anything with a lid that isn't going to burn/crack/die in the oven at such a high temperature.
  8. Meanwile, pour/scrape/heft/tip the dough onto a heavily floured surface and shape it into a ball (this is another sticky bit).
  9. Cover with the plastic wrap you used to cover it at the start and let it sit whilst the pot is heating.
  10. Remove the hot pot from the oven and drop in the dough (I lined my pot with baking paper before I put it in the oven the first time, but apparently you don't need to line it - sounds a bit iffy to me).
  11. Put the lid on and whack it in the oven for 30 minutes.
  12. Take the lid off and bake it for an additional 15 minutes.
  13. Remove bread from oven and place on a rack to cool.
  14. When it's cool enough to handle, hack a bit off the end, slather it with salted butter and take a bite.  Then swoon.  And have some more!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Hero Product : Garnier BB Cream

I know that back in September 2011 I did a post about Mac Studio Moisture Tint being a fabulous product, and it is, but Garnier BB Cream is even better (and it's less than half the price!).

I've been using the Garnier BB Cream for about 6 months now and it's brilliant.  Garnier makes several kinds of BB Cream, but I've got very oily skin and this particular product has a Matte finish, so it stops the oily glow I used to get with the Mac product.  I can pick this product up for about €8 on special at the supermarket or pharmacy here in Germany.

It comes in two colour blends (yes, only two, weird) and I bought the lighter coloured one first.  I wore it for a few days and it had great coverage, but people kept asking if I was sick, so I figured that one wasn't for me!  I then bought the darker one and it really is great.  It blends well, stays on all day and really covers blemishes and pigmentation issues - and even though it's darker, I don't look like a burnt biscuit (very important!).

If you want to find out more, here's a link to Garnier's US web page (because I figure you want to read about it in English), but if you've got oily skin like mine, make sure you buy the Matte Effect BB, not just the general BB.

It can look a bit weird when you first put it on, so my advice is to put it on and then DON'T FREAK OUT.  Give it a minute or two to settle onto your skin (whilst you're doing your mascara and lippy, or drying your hair, or something) - then you'll be fine.  Oh, and it comes in a 40ml tube, so it's perfect for travelling - you can take it in your carry-on!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Instagram : Akademie Street Guest House

Further to my blog review last week, here's my Instagram shots of the gorgeous Akademie Street Guest House - check out that breakfast fruit platter!

The first course at breakfast ...

Keep your eyes open, there are lovely little things everywhere.  I found a guy making these birds just off the main street and managed to get two home with me, without them being squashed in my luggage.

There were some fresh Pomegranate seeds on our breakfast platters.
These lovely ripe ones were hanging over our pool.

Dutch doors lead you inside to the library, which is jam packed with lovely books and magazines.

Anna, the owners dog, enjoying some sun in between belly rubs from guests.

I wonder what was behind these shaded shutters ...

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Win a Trip to MACATOO!

I know I blogged on your chance of winning a trip to Macatoo last month, but you had to be able to get to horse shows in the US or UK to be able to enter (I wish!), but now the lovely team at In The Saddle are giving you all a chance to enter via their Facebook page!

I entered via their Facebook page last year and I WON, so get thee to Facebook, find In The Saddle, and get entering!  It's nearly €8,000 worth of amazing experiences and being treated like royalty in the middle of the Okavango Delta, Botswana.

I'm also going to try to link to the entry page HERE, but I'm not entirely sure it'll work.  Click and try!

It really was the holiday of a lifetime, something we'll NEVER forget, so I wish you all the very best of luck.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Hotel Review : Akademie Street, Franschhoek, South Africa

After our amazing Macatoo experience, we headed to Cape Town for a week, spending the first few days in Franschhoek in the Cape winelands.  Here's a wee bit of info on the history of Franschhoek:-

After the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in France in 1685, when Protestantism was outlawed, hundreds of so-called Huguenots fled their homeland, 277 of them arriving by ship at the Cape of Good Hope.  Many of them were given land by the Dutch government in a valley called Oliphantshoek (Elephant's Corner) - so named because of the vast herds of elephants that roamed the area.  Soon after they settled here, it became known as Franschhoek (French Corner).

This heritage lives on today with the Huguenot monument standing proudly at the top of the village.  The museum nearby chronicles the history of those brave pioneers, with each of the original Huguenot farms having its own fascinating story to tell.

We found the wonderful Akadamie Street Boutique Hotel and Guest House on and they luckily found room for us.  We stayed in the charming Vreugde ("joy") suite, with it's HUGE Cali King sized bed, glorious bathroom and our own private garden, plunge pool and patio.

All of the different Akadamie Street Guest Houses join through winding pathways and meet at the beautiful site of Twyfeling - the Cape Dutch main home where breakfasts are served under a vine-covered patio by your hosts.

The staff at this family owned and run boutique hotel were absolutely first class, as is the property.  Your nightly rate includes the contents of the posh mini bar and all the yummy snacks in your room, as well as a breakfast that will make your eyes boggle - it was truly glorious.  I'll try to post a separate picture of the fruit plate that was presented before orders were taken for our hot selection - it's a work of art.

The hotel has a friendly dog, Anna, who put us very much in mind of our lovely Archie.  Anna will happily befriend you and she's lovely, but I'm sure that if you're not a dog person, the staff would be very helpful in that respect.

Akadamie Street is two blocks back from the main street, and it's VERY walkable.  Franschhoek is very safe to walk around, day or night, and it's incredibly beautiful.  It reminded us a lot of Hahndorf in South Australia - friendly, pretty and lots of cafes, restaurants and lovely little gifty shops stocking lots of pretty things you don't need, but really want.

I can't say enough good things about this glorious place, it really is top notch.  And it's got FREE WIFI, just like all the nicest places - yay!

Akadamie Street
Boutique Hotel & Guest House
5 Akadamie Street
South Africa  7690
Phone:- +27 0 82 517 0405

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Are You Sure?

This sticker was on the dash of our hire car in Cape Town.  

I'm assuming they don't mean that the drivers side floor should be covered in mud and horse hair, whilst a large wet dog lays across the back seat, farting in his sleep?

Think it through, Avis!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Macatoo : Packing List

The lovely team at In The Saddle send you an information pack a few weeks before you head off for your Macatoo experience, and there's a packing list in it which was really helpful, but now that I've actually been and done it (and bought the t-shirt!), I can tell you what I did take, and what I really wish I had taken.

Please remember that we were there in the last week of March, when the flood waters are low, so there's not much swimming of horses or getting soaked, though there's definitely riding through water and lots of splish splashing.  Different times of the year bring different weather conditions.  Also, the lovely Macatoo ladies do laundry every day, so you don't have to pack a different outfit for every day unless you're an utter glamour-puss.  And if you are an utter glamour-puss, this may not be the perfect holiday for you - just saying.

  • I took two pairs of Dublin cotton joddies, one black and one dark blue and green check.  Looking back, the black pair were too hot and I’d probably go for something in a lighter colour next time.  I thought of buying some traditional buff/khaki coloured joddies, but honestly, my legs look like uncooked sausages in them, and no-one deserves to see that first thing in the morning.  Just make sure whatever you take are the colours of the bush – don’t bring your purple joddies with stars on them (don't judge!), your horse will look at you strangely (as will everyone else) and the wildlife will stay well out of the way.
  • I rode in my old RM Williams black jodhpur boots and they worked just fine.  You could wear high boots, but it’s REALLY hot here.  
  • I also bought a new pair of synthetic half chaps which were great.  Some of the staff ride in full length suede chaps, but I think they’d be too hot for me. 
  • I bought two pairs of summer riding gloves and wore one pair only once.  They were black and just far too hot in the sunshine, it felt like my hands were in little ovens.  My tip is some cheap leather palmed string backed ones – easy for your hands to breathe.
  • I packed about 4 tops to ride in, all darker colours, and they did the job, but the absolute best thing was the African Horseback Safari shirts that they sell in camp.  They are khaki coloured, cotton, button up with front pockets and the logo embroidered on.  They seem to “breathe” much better than anything I had with me, and they have a good collar that I stood up to keep the sun off my neck.  Oh, and they're really reasonably priced.  The long sleeved t-shirt I packed was far too hot and I only wore it once.  I ended up buying the mans size small khaki shirt, I thought it was better than the womans and I loved the pockets that had velcro closures.
  • Gorgeous Vera from Austria, who was working in the camp, wore singlet/vest tops and some of the staff wore t-shirts, but you’re riding through thorn bushes and brushing against scratchy trees – I think long sleeved is definitely the way to go.  You can always roll the sleeves up.
  • Take a bum bag/fanny pack for your camera, sun cream, tissues and lip balm.  Make sure your camera is attached to you somehow.  The last thing you want is to be taking a photo and have to leave in a hurry (it happens) and your camera with all of your fab shots hits the dirt, never to be seen again because it's in the digestive tract of a lion.
  • I had a bandana which I wore knotted around my neck, sometimes soaked in water to try and keep me a bit cool (it dries out very quickly!).  It also helped to keep the sun off.
  • Wear a helmet!  The staff aren't going to make you wear a helmet, and many don't themselves, but I discovered before leaving that pretty much all travel insurance is void if you come off a horse on safari without a helmet and hurt yourself.  I brought with me a Dublin vented light helmet (400grams).  The vents are great to get some airflow when you’re out in the sun.
  • Make sure your sunnies are on a cord around your neck so they don’t fall off when you’re riding – if they do, you don’t get them back.
  • Last, but definitely not least, pack some talcum/baby powder or Anti Monkey Butt Powder.  Really.  Don't forget this.  It's on In The Saddle's packing list, but somehow I didn't pack it and had to have some come in on the safari plane about two days into the trip when my butt was getting rubbed raw after riding 5-6 hours a day in 35c (I know, it's not pretty).  Just pack it, even if you don't need it.  PACK IT!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Fig, Marmalade & Apple Pudding Cake

I'm a great one for ripping recipes out of magazines and newspapers whilst I'm travelling, and I tore this out when we were in Cape Town in March.  It's South African foody Andrea Burgener's tweak of Nigella Lawson's Marmalade Pudding Cake, and I tweaked it again as I'm not a huge fan of marmalade.  I halved the amount of marmalade and added in some fig jam to make up the amount.  Serve it straight out of the oven if you can, but you can nuke it to warm it up later if you need to.  Let's cook!

Marmalade & Apple Pudding Cake

My notes in italics ...

Serves 8-10

  • 250g butter at room temperature
  • 120g light brown sugar
  • 1 big Granny Smith or other green apple, grated (I used a normal red apple, didn't have a green one)
  • 120g good marmalade
  • 120g fig jam (I think you could use any kind of jam really)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 225g self raising flour
  • Zest and juice of one orange (didn't have an orange, but found a bottle of lime juice in the fridge and used that)

  1. Preheat oven to 180c
  2. Butter an ovenproof dish about 24cm square (or equivalent volume round)
  3. Mix butter with sugar, apple and two thirds of the marmalade (or marmalade/jam mix)
  4. Add eggs, flour, orange zest and half the orange juice
  5. Pour into dish, level the top and bake for around 30 minutes
  6. It's better to under than over-cook this one, so keep an eye on it
  7. Whilst cooking, melt the remaining marmalade/jam mix with the remaining orange juice for the glaze
  8. Once the cake is out, dribble the glaze all over the top
  9. Eat immediately if you can, with some cream or ice-cream

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Restaurant Review : The Butcher Shop & Grill, Nelson Mandela Square, Johannesburg, South Africa

After spending the afternoon at the wonderful 28A On Oxford in Sandhurst, we jumped into a cab and headed over to Sandton City, specifically Nelson Mandela Square, to look for somewhere nice for dinner.

There are lots of restaurants and bars to choose from, but after walking around a bit, we decided on The Butcher Shop & Grill.  After all, who can resist a restaurant with the tag line "Well Hung & Aged To Perfection"?  Not I, that's for sure!

I started with the Izimbambo Zemvu (aka Salted Lamb Riblets), and then a lovely little Fillet Steak with a baked potato and a side of Monkey Gland Sauce.  Yes, I said Monkey Gland Sauce.  Because how could you not?  Don't panic folks, apparently it's got no actual monkey glands in it (we're not in "Raiders of the Lost Ark" here) - click HERE for a recipe just in case you want to whip it up at home to freak out your dinner guests.

We were ably assisted by the gorgeous Selina who was very friendly and constantly smiling.  About an hour into dinner I was absolutely exhausted from the 10 hour flight the night before, and started to fade out.  Selina suggested we take the remainder of our bottle of red to the adjoining sports bar to watch the last of the rugby before we headed back to the B&B.  Hubby was thrilled with this option, and we watched Wales CRUSH England 30-3 in the Six Nations, before we headed off to bed.

Go and see Selina and try some Monkey Gland Sauce at The Butcher Shop & Grill - YUM!

The Butcher Shop & Grill
Nelson Mandela Square
South Africa
Phone:- +27 11 784 8676

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Spa Review : Dream Nails Body, Sandton City, Johannesburg, South Africa

Coming from a very long and cold winter in Europe, I definitely needed a bit of body maintenance in the warmth of South Africa, so I quickly ducked in to Decadence Dream Nails Body in Sandton City to see if they could squeeze me in for a pedicure.

Just over an hour later, I walked out with gorgeous looking feet after being scrubbed, rubbed, snipped, massaged and painted, all for the princely sum of R210 (about €18).  Most of the prices were about half what I would expect to pay in Europe (or less).  Check out their price list HERE.

They seemed to be able to do just about anything, including mani and pedi at the same time, as well as someone from the hair salon over the way nipping in to pop extensions in whilst your nails are being done.  It was a really modern, busy and clean space, I would definitely go again.

Decadence Dream Nails Body
Sandton City
Shop L31A
Sandton City Shopping Centre
Level 4 (opposite Stuttafords)
Phone:- 011 784 6699

Monday, May 6, 2013

Hotel Review : 28A On Oxford, Sandhurst, Johannesburg, South Africa

On our way to Botswana we had one night in Johannesburg and I spent a while trying to find somewhere that was both affordable and nice.  Hotel rooms seemed to be going for mad prices, and after a few days of looking around, I branched out to B&Bs with the brilliant result of finding 28A On Oxford.

28A On Oxford is in Sandhurst, which is next to Sandton - Sandton is a great safe area with a lovely big mall (Sandton City) and entertaining area in it (Mandela Square etc.).  You can walk to the Sandton Mall from 28A On Oxford, though I probably would just ask them to call you a taxi - it's not far, and it can be hot walking there.

I contacted 28A On Oxford via email and had an almost immediate response which was incredibly helpful.  28A On Oxford offers 8 suites situated in a lovely garden setting, surrounding an outdoor pool with loungers.

After a bit of back and forward via email, we booked one of the junior suites for a very reasonable price and advised that we would be arriving early after a 10 hour overnight flight from Zurich.  The staff immediately offered to have a car meet us on arrival at the airport and promised to have fresh coffee waiting for us at the property.  Talk about customer service!

Our transfer to the property from the airport was smooth, and we sat in the glorious open seating area having a coffee (much needed!) whilst they finished cleaning our room and we were escorted across the grounds well before check-in time to the surprise that we'd been upgraded to one of the most beautiful suites available.  Fabulous!

Staff were amazing, coffee was amazing, room was amazing (beautifully decorated L-shaped room with king sized bed, sofas, coffee table, coffee making machine etc.), shower was fabulous (very important!) and we spent some time at Sandton City before crashing out on the loungers by the pool in the sun.  Dinner was offered at the property, but we went back to Mandela Square for dinner and people watching in the evening.  Breakfast the next morning was scrumptious (wide selection) and the helpful staff then organised an airport transfer for us.

Oh, and like any good hotel should, WIFI was provided for FREE - yippee!

Instead of a standard hotel room, try 28A On Oxford - it's so much more personable, friendly, and affordable.  You'll be glad you did!

28A On Oxford
Boutique Bed & Breakfast
28A Oxford Avenue
Johannesburg, Gauteng
South Africa  2196
Phone:- +27 0 11 783 0492

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Oh My Goodness!

My blog has had over 20,000 hits!  Thank you so much!  It's rather lovely that so many people care enough to visit my page and read about my adventures, rambling waffle and musings.  Anyway, thanks for putting a smile on my face and I hope I can continue to make my blog posts interesting enough to keep you coming back.

Have a lovely day!

Thursday, May 2, 2013


Today was meant to be grey, cool and raining. Instead it was so sunny and warm that you just know Spring has properly arrived. The leaves and grasses were so vividly green that it was almost as if they were glowing.

Thought I'd try to load a few shots from Instagram and try to post this blog from my phone. Fingers crossed!