Monday, 28 April 2014

Plettenberg Bay, South Africa - home of Tsitsikamma forest

After driving through Oudtshoorn we decided that there was no point staying in the town for the sake of it so decided to drive straight to Plettenberg Bay (aka ‘Plett’) after we had done the whole ostrich thing in the morning. (read about that here

This was one of my favourite drives so far, purely because  we were driving in the clouds, something I don't recall doing before!

driving the Garden Route in the clouds!!!

Like the other places, Plettenberg bay is a small coastal town, with not that much to do in the centre. The little town reminded me a little of Byron Bay in Australia with its  relaxed  vibe and quite high street, peppered with a few people here and there enjoying an icecream or coffee.

the outskirts of Tsitsikamma 

However, you come to Plett for the scenery, nature and adrenalin filled activities. The surrounding area has so much to offer, from horse riding, sailing, tubing, sky diving, to seeing animals, hiking in the forests and camping..

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Oudtshoorn, South Africa - aka ostrich country

Oudtshoorn is famous ostrich land in South Africa, so the only reason I guess why tourists stop here. We stayed at De Opstal, the address that was descried on our itinerary from Trailfinders as being “on road R328 towards the Cango Caves, 14km outside Oudtshoorn”, which is  about as useful as a chocolate teapot.

Outdshoorn - home of these long legged ugly birds!!!

But it was a quaint lodge with private rooms and balconies overlooking the hillside, with a real homely farm house feel to it. Plus there were little glass jars of homemade cookies dotted about everywhere!    

our room 

cute country feel to the lodge

It was also conveniently located to the ostrich farms. There are loads of theses farms that are sprinkled about in the area, I don’t think you need to go to a particular one, I reckon they are all pretty much the same.

Saturday, 26 April 2014

From Stellenbosch (winelands) to Montagu

The next stop of our road trip was Montagu, about a two hour drive from Stellenbosch. In all honesty, there isn’t much to do there – we chose to stop here because it was in between Oudtshoorn, and seeing as we don’t have a car back home so are not used to driving, we didn’t fancy a  5 hour drive. 

the drive  to Montagu
mountain surround the roads!

Whereas Stellenbosch was a small, quaint town, it was catered to tourists, with plenty of restaurant choices that offered good food, amazing backdrop scenery and an old town ambience. For me Montagu on the other hand was just a small town with simple architecture and amenities, nothing too special.

We stayed at the Mimosa Lodge which was perfect for or needs – a massive room with a huge comfy bed, overlooking the mountains. Oh and free dessert wine in a cute vinaigrette bottle.... As if I needed anymore wine though seeing as I had been on a wine tasting tour since 10am, plus sampled some of the local Montagu rose wines at dinner (just the two glasses though).  

our room at Mimosa Lodge 

The morning of our travels to Oudtshoorn we stopped by the Montagu hot springs (aka Avalon Springs). We were expecting little rock pools and hot  springs to be doted amongst the  greenery and hills but turn out it was more of a family day spot – a series of manmade heated outdoor pools, picnic areas and BBQ spots that were crammed to the brim with local kids. 

the rock face at Avalon Springs

more heated pool than hot springs 

I can see why it is popular with locals and families but if you only have a short amount of time on your trip, don’t feel bad about cutting out Montagu. 

X x X

read part one of Cape Town here

read part two of Cape Town hereread about our  amazing  hotel here

Friday, 25 April 2014

Revlon lacquer balm in 105 (nude): review

I have been playing it safe with the make up this holiday to South Africa as the Boy hates too bright a shade of lippy and seeing as it is our honeymoon, I guess I should try and avoid the things he hates. 

Personally i love a deep and dark lip, favouring the pillar box reds and vampy purples. One thing we do agree on in make up though is a nude lip colour and one that I have bee rocking on this trip in particular is the one from Revlon - laquer balmin 105 in "demure reservee".

staple nude colour 

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

The Winelands, Stellenbosch, South Africa

No trip to South Africa and Cape Town would be complete without a trip to the famous winelands –miles of glorious mountainous landscape and an obscene amount of vineyards and varieties of wine. We were  told that this is the perfect time to come as it was the ‘winelands secret season’… the summer days are just hanging on whilst we turn into Autumn, but there is a cooler taste in the air.

no trip to Cape Town is complete without a wine tour!!!

We arrived at our hotel in Stellenbosch at 9pm and normally booking on for a wine tour for the next day wouldn’t have been an issue. Except tomorrow in our case was Good Friday so no tours were operating on this bank holiday.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Cape Town part two: Table Mountains, Penguins, Seals, Kirstenbosch Gardens, Cape Point

With only 4 nights in the South African capital, it was a tough game fitting everything in. One of the trips that we decided to do combined the penguins, seals, gardens and cape point. Not normally a fan of tours, this was actually great - small group of 10 and plenty of time to see the attractions plus none of the hassle of navigating our way round!

We went with Ilios who were actually really good at this tour guiding malarkey!

Kirstenbosch gardens

Penguins, seals, Kirstenbosch Gardens and Cape Point

Penguins are one of my favourite animals (along with the slow lorris, ducks and sausage dogs FYI) so no trip to Cape Town was going to be complete without seeing the African penguins at Boulders Bay. We decided to book a tour for this, which turned out to be an all day thing and not just admiring the penguins.

Monday, 21 April 2014

What are the benefits of flaxseeds?!

About three or four years ago I was advised to start incorporating flaxseeds into my diet and ever since have sprinkled a little here and there over my foods. When I first started using flaxseeds, they weren’t really common place but now they are readily available in the high street health shops and feature more and more in recipes and baking.  I know that they are good for you and that they are full of fibre, so I have brought a little tupperware box of them to South Africa with me to sprinkle over my brekkie and salads when we are on the road.

I bought these from Holland & Barraett

But before I went away, flaxseeds had got me thinking….
what is it about the flaxseed that makes it a health food? What are the benefits? Why was I recommended to add it to my diet (my memory doesn’t stretch back that far)?

So I did a little research in my quest to know more about their health benefits…

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Camps Bay Retreat Hotel, Cape Town, South Africa

For the start of our adventure, we had four nights in Cape Town. When we left the capital for our twelve day road trip along the garden route, one of the things I was sad to leave was our hotel. Less of a hotel actually and more of boutique B&B set in some lush surroundings, this is one of the best hotels I have ever stayed in.

the veranda and gardens overlooking the sea

We stayed at the Camps Bay Retreat, in the laid back beach area of Camps Bay, which we were informed, numerous times, that Camps Bay was the area for the rich and famous! 

one of the lounges  

Friday, 18 April 2014

Cape town part one: city tour, V&A waterfront, shark diving

Last weekend me and the Boy left Heathrow airport, bound for South Africa for a three week epic adventure, starting in Cape Town. We only had 4 nights in Cape Town but I am pleased to say that the place didn’t disappoint! We loved it there.

Friendly people.
Delicious food.
Cheap wine.
Picture worthy scenery.

Camps Bay 

A great start to our honeymoon. 

With such a short time here, we certainly managed to cram a lot in! From shark diving to enjoying the views from cable mountain to generally eating my body weight in great food. 

Camps Bay beach front 

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Fake eyelashes from Ardell 101: review

Whilst my natural eye lashes are fairly long, they are few and far between, meaning that even when I curl and mascara them, they aren’t very full or fluttering. Therefore, I rely heavily on my fake eyelashes to ensure my eyes have a bit of character to them! Especially as I wear glasses which I can find "hide" the eyes. 

I don't go away for the night without my fake eyelashes so I have obviously bought a stash with me to South Africa. Just in case I lose one of two of them on my travels! 

these are my go to eye lashes

I have been wearing these fake eyelashes for some time now but they have recently have had quite a few compliments from passer bys so I thought it was best time I blogged about them.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

How to survive (and enjoy) a long haul flight

Today  I am buzzing and overly excited. More excited than a fat kid having VIP rights to the Ben and Jerry’s factory.

Because after a loooooong 8 month wait, I finally get to go on my honeymoon to South Africa and Dubai!!!!

erm, not sure if this gonna close!!!!

I have a brilliant flight time of 20.30, meaning today has been a leisurely day of a lazy breakfast, a bit of exercise and treating myself to a pedicure.

this is OPI 'koala bear-y'' in case you liked the colour 

Whilst today is not technically a part of the holiday, the preparation, the airport and the flight is all part of the fun for me.

I have been fortunate enough to have started flying long haul from a young age (I took a 32 hour flight when I was 18 months old to my mum’s home town in Okinawa, Japan) so I guess I have grown up accustomed to long haul flights and flying in general.

However, although I love flying, I know that a long haul fight can be boring, stressful and dam right uncomfortable. So every time I fly, I make sure it is as easy as possible. 

Flying can sometimes feel like you’re cattle, being herded into a tin, to be herded out the other end in 12 hours time. But there are things you can do to regain control and therefore be happier and more relaxed and comfy…

Today I want to share with you my top tips for happy flying from the things I have learnt over the years.

Top tip 1: choose your seat

This is a top tip that my dad shared with me from an early age...choose your seat before you fly. 

If you are not a plane geek like my dad, I don’t expect you to know the difference between the seating arrangements of an A380 and 747, then take a look at Seat Guru to advise you where to sit.

Think we'll be flying on an A380 on our emirates flight

My dad’s advice was to never sit by the toilets – people queuing next to your seat, the smell and the noise is a long haul flight no-no. Also be wary and avoid the exit aisles, bulk head seats and the seats in front of the partitions as these usually are where the on board cots are as I learnt a couple years ago on my way back from Cambodia. The exit rows may have extra leg room but the trays and the tv does have to be stowed in the arm rest, which shaves a couple of inches of the seat. Also there is not place in front of you to store your luggage! 

Personally I have chosen an aisle seat as I have the bladder of an incontinent gnat and don’t want to have to keep asking, or worse, trying to discreetly climb over the other passenger, every hour when I want the loo.

Another area to avoid is the last row of the plane. The seats may not recline, as they back on to a wall and they're often located right near the toilets. On the plus side though, they are only two seats instead of three, so you have a little extra space to your side by the window to store stuff.

*(an A380 has 450 seats depending on the layout just in case you were wondering)

Friday, 11 April 2014

Cubana latin american restaurant, Waterloo, London

Due to a mini emergency my dad has had to make a trip to London (he normally lives in sunny Cambodia) so whilst it isn’t the best timing for me (I have a LOT to do before I go on my South Africa adventure this weekend), I took the opportunity to see him.

I had to squeeze my dad in between my work, and seeing as I had a meeting in Waterloo 7.30pm this evening and his train gets in to Waterloo station, the meeting place was obvious. At the end of Lower Marsh road, near to the station, there is a restaurant called Cubana” that I have walked past a thousand times but not yet ventured in to, so this was the perfect place to meet my dad for a spot to eat. Even more so as they have a cocktail happy hour 5-7pm, everyday!

enjoying the happy hour and some Cuban food

The restaurant is a Latin American theme, serving up a mean mojito and South American dishes. I love a restaurant with bit of a theme under any circumstance and I am a sucker for a bit of novelty and fun. The theme of this place is obviously Cuba, and that is reflected in the colours, designs and art work, as well as the menu. The restaurant is bright, bold and cheerful, seats and tables sporadically scattered about the place and on various levels, creating a fun mismatched vibe to the place.

this place is bright...

...and bold

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

"The Tetley" bar and kitchen: Leeds

At the weekend, I took a trip up North to Leeds for a few days with the girls. We hadn’t planned much for the weekend, so it was filled mostly with catching up, watching re-runs of The Valleys and a lot of eating!

Sunday morning we woke up thinking that we had to do something “cultural” with our time in Leeds and Steph suggested Tropical World. I was initially sold, mainly by the meerkats (I love a meerkat) and the butterfly house (Charlie and Nat hate flying things, so the idea of them enclosed in with a load of flying insects sparked the mischievous inside me). However we realised it involved the effort of getting a bus so we gave up on cultural. So our next best ideas was to do something that we do best….eat.

Where to eat was an easy decision – let’s go somewhere close to home. And Steph came up trumps with our luncheon venue which was a stone’s throw from her flat. Perfect.

picture from The Tetley

So even though less than 12 hours beforehand we were scoffing some dirty pizza in a kebab house, we headed to The Tetley.

It took my tired self a while to understand that this wasn’t Tetley tea but Tetley as in the ale, and even longer to understand that this wasn’t just a restaurant. The light bulb moment was when they offered a pint of Tetleys and I thought that a pint of tea was a mental idea! Then it clicked.

What’s “The Tetley”?

The Tetley is a centre for contemporary art and learning’, housed within the 1930’s Tetley Brewery HQ. The building contains art, culture, meeting rooms and galleries (which unfortunately were being refurbished so we didn’t get our cultural again), all within a relaxed and open space.

Steph chilling and pretending to be intellectual 

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Wheat free banana and cocoa nibs protein bars

Sometimes healthy eating can be a pain in the arse, especially when you are trying to eat well on the go. One answer I have for this is homemade flapjacks and protein bars.

Full of protein, these are an easy snack that you can make in bulk, freeze and eat on the go. These bars are slightly drier than the other flapjack recipes I have made so expect them to be like bars, not fluffy, floury cakes.

tasty afternoon snack 

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Zesty apricot and orange protein ball snack

Have you jumped on to the protein band wagon? Upping your intake with shop bough protein bars?

Whilst you may be congratulating yourself for your healthy efforts, how about starting to make your own!

easy to make protein balls 

Protein bars sounds like they are going to be time consuming and difficult to make, but they are actually one the easiest snacks to prepare, plus you can make them in bulk, freeze them and you can control the flavour!

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Trilogy Rosehip oil: review

As you may have seen, I recently went away a few weeks ago for a few days of skiing in Andorra. In case you didn’t see, let me inform you that whilst on that trip I engaged in a few moves that I can only describe as “unintentionally acrobatic” – including, skiing backwards, back flipping over a fence and skiing on my chin. All moves that were quite impressive but bloody hurt!

Of all of them though, the skiing on the chin has to be the most painful, as my epic fall on top my face, and continuing to go down the mountain (it weren’t even a mountain at this point, it was a very flat blue run) resulted in ‘ice burn’ on my chin and nose.

For those of you that have not had the pleasure of face skiing let me enlighten you. Ice burn takes a lovely layer of skin off you but you don’t actually bleed which left me with a scabbing chin for the next five or so days.

Whilst it provided entertainment for the girls, I was actually a wee bit worried that this was going to be a red scar for some time. However, my lovely aunty Caz saved the day with this...

rosehip oil saved the day

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

"Muriel's Kitchen" kitchen and cafe in South Kensington, London

Last Tuesday, I completed my twelve week ballet course at the National English Ballet school in South Kensington. For those past twelve weeks, every Tuesday we passed the most inviting little kitchen deli right next to South Kensington station called Muriel's Kitchen. The window display of cakes, slices and pastries have had our mouth’s watering so we promised ourselves that once we completed the course that we swing by after our last lesson.

Food pervs Georgie and Liz 

So last Tuesday evening that is exactly where me, Liz and Georgie had our dinner.

Although we were tempted in by the mouth watering cakes, we actually started off pretty healthy and all opted for the “salad plate” meal where you could chose 4 of the deli options.