South Africa

Monday 25 May

My two months in this country have suddenly drawn to a close, and I can only conclude that I MUST see more!

I’ve really enjoyed it here. There people, the food, the beautifully crafted, carved, painted items you can find on the market. I could easily spend a months wage, even with the incredibly favourable exchange rate!

Cape Town was particularly special, but one short weekend there was not enough. I would love to return, re-visit the fantastic Mzoli’s, and see what other activities and history this querky town has to offer.

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I’ve heard of these “Baz Bus” trips, a hop on hop off bus that spans the coast of South Africa ending in Cape Town. It’s made my ‘To Do’ list!

Port Elizabeth was also a nice place, and definitely made special by the Cubata restaurant! It’s well worth returning just to go there!

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With the exception of Cubata, one thing I did find difficult in this culture was the famous “Africa time”, and the total “no rush” attitude… While sometimes welcome, the event oraganiser in me couldn’t quite adjust to a world where things don’t run at the agreed time for the agreed period! Load Shedding, in particular, doesn’t help this (although it does make for some fun and frightening games of Hide and Seek in The Dark!) And ordering food in a restaurant could also be less easy to predict than you might think… If they’ve run out of what you’ve ordered, you’ll generally just be brought something else!

Now, this is Gary:

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He’s the owner of a relatively new taxi firm, who made being new in Port Elizabeth that much easier! His knowledge of the area is only that which can come from someone with a life-long knowledge of the place. He’s always happy to help you, gives great tips on places to visit, helps you find great value for money restaurants, and even goes as far sometimes as to jump from his car and quickly walk you around an area, be it the Board Walk or the Airport, just to make sure you know where to find what. And to top it all, he gives the cheapeast fair compared to any other firm in town! So, if you’re in Port Elizabeth and you need a cab, give Gary a call and tell him you got his number from Lauren!

Call: 083 704 6691

WhatsApp: +27 83 704 6691

As for my experience with Kwantu… Well, I enjoyed it there, but it wasn’t what I expected, nor what I felt I’d paid for. From Real Gap, I purchased a Game Ranger Internship- something specialising in Wildlife Conservation. When I arrived, I was given a Nature Guide Internship, something training me to take tourists out on Game Drives. While I certainly saw some interesting stuff, and I learned a thing or two about tracking, there was no focus on wildlife conservation with the exception of a module I read in a book, and I certainly would never have knowingly paid to go somewhere that keeps caged animals! I have contacted Real Gap regarding this issue, however thus far they seem to feel they can fall back on this internship containing one module on wildlife conservation, and are refusing to admit any fault. Even though they are advertising it by an entirely conflicting title, and on day one of the internship our book actually states this:

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The battle for them to be fair enough to change the name of this product as advertised on their website continues! But in the meantime, based on this experience and poor handling of a legitimate complaint, I wouldn’t recommend anyone books through Real Gap in a hurry!

But, that bad taste aside, independently of Kwantu,I have really enjoyed South Africa! I hope to return here again in the near future with friends and family, to show them my many tasty finds, and to discover all the more this country promises!

The Taj Mahal

11 March 2015

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Yesterday, we visited the extraordinary Taj Mahal in Agra, which overlooks the River Ganjes is quite honestly even more beautiful in person than I could have imagined! Built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan as a loving gesture for his wife who sadly died when giving birth before construction was completed, it now houses their tomb.

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To consider this was all done by hand is really hard to get your head around! It’s absolutely flawless, with perfect symmetry everywhere you look!

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Had to be done.

 We’re now heading back up to Delhi where we’ll be catching the overnight train 9 hours all the way up to Palampur, and have stopped for lunch on the way where I found this

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Uttapam!

Just like my sister and I had together in the Thali Dahl in Bristol just before I left!

It was delicious! I just wish she had been here to enjoy it with me.

I also managed to find somewhere to stop and get some post out!

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Keep an eye on your doormat!

If you think an inability to use the internet is a good enough excuse not to read my blog, you can think again.

 Yesterday I visited my Grandma at her home to give her a book I had made for her.

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It’s a collection of all the posts on the blog over 2014!

Now, obviously I didn’t give it to her for the recipes, she requires no help there! But I’m going to miss her dearly while I’m away, and I simply wanted to share my own memories with her, and give her the opportunity to reminisce on the memories we made together, as I like to do from time to time.

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She just loved it! She said she’s going to ration it while I’m gone and then reading it will make it feel as though I’m still there 🙂

We agreed it’s to become an annual gift 😉

She must have been pleased, because after that she treated my Grandad and I to a steak dinner!

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corrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

Another great evening with two people I love very much.

Gooseberry Duck

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My Dad loves gooseberries. He always has. My Aunt Kris, his sister, recalls him stealing them from the neighbour’s gooseberry bush when they were kids. In fact, he very rarely shuts up nagging for a gooseberry pie or a gooseberry crumble or some kind of gooseberry treat. Nag as he might, it never happens. That’s why gooseberry duck seemed like the perfect main course for his birthday!

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