Thursday, May 23, 2013
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
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
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.
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!
Boutique Hotel & Guest House
5 Akadamie Street
South Africa 7690
Phone:- +27 0 82 517 0405
Saturday, May 18, 2013
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
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
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 ...
- 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)
- Preheat oven to 180c
- Butter an ovenproof dish about 24cm square (or equivalent volume round)
- Mix butter with sugar, apple and two thirds of the marmalade (or marmalade/jam mix)
- Add eggs, flour, orange zest and half the orange juice
- Pour into dish, level the top and bake for around 30 minutes
- It's better to under than over-cook this one, so keep an eye on it
- Whilst cooking, melt the remaining marmalade/jam mix with the remaining orange juice for the glaze
- Once the cake is out, dribble the glaze all over the top
- Eat immediately if you can, with some cream or ice-cream