The Thomas T Tucker Shipwreck trail – after the fire


Last time I was in Cape Town, fires were ravaging the mountains. It was early March, and for days the blaze continued, spurred on by strong winds and dry vegetation. Fynbos, the indigenous vegetation in the Cape, requires fire every 15 years or so as part of its life cycle (smoke causes many seeds to germinate, and fires clear away old and dead plants), but the extent of the fires was large this year and it was sad to see the mountain burning.

At the end of August I returned to Cape Town again and went walking with a friend at Cape Point nature reserve at the southwesternmost point of Africa, where we came across part of the area burnt by the fires. There are many great walks here, and we tried one I hadn’t been on before, the Thomas T Tucker Shipwreck trail. It was a cool and windy day, but hiking is great in most weathers, I love to see how places look different in different seasons. Whipped up by the wind, the ocean looked fantastic, and you could easily image how many ships met their demise. The peninsula wasn’t named the Cape of Storms by Portuguese explorers for nothing. Continue reading

Middle Europe Weekly Small Pleasures #10 – Changing seasons

It’s been a while since I updated on the little pleasures that make the week good!

First it was really busy at work, and then I was away on holiday for two weeks. The first week I was at home in South Africa (always a BIG pleasure, nothing small about that!) and the next week we went on holiday in Slovenia and Croatia, which was also fantastic. But here are some of the little moments I’ve enjoyed over the last weeks.

While summer was still here, swimming and playing badminton at the lakes, and a weekend trip to Cesky Raj and Prague with our friends.

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Spending time with the kitties and dogs in Czech. I miss having pets so it’s always great to spend some time with these guys.

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A trip home meant springtime in South Africa. I went on hikes, visited the beach and Kirstenbosch garden, marvelled at all the spring flowers at West coast national park, enjoyed the sunshine and most of all just enjoyed being home. It was also nice to have my car back for a few days!

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During the 2 weeks I was away from Berlin, summer suddenly disappeared and autumn arrived in its place. That means it’s time for cold weather foods such as goulash and stews, and seasonal foods like pumpkins and pomegranates. It’s also time to start doing some indoor sports such as squash and climbing/bouldering.

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To read what other people around the world have been up to this week, check out A New Life wandering. Have a lovely week!


City biking for dummies (like me!)


You can even use a basket to carry home the rest of your BBQ. After this we renamed my bike the Braaicycle. Only South Africans will get this!

Unlike many Europeans who have been riding their bicycles around cities since they were yea high, those of us from other continents often have to learn about city biking the hard way. I wobbled off on my first bicycle in Berlin not having ridden a bicycle since childhood, and never in a city. Not that cycling isn’t big in South Africa – sports cycling and mountain biking are common, and there are two big international races held there, the Cape epic (a mountain bike race) and the Argus cycle tour (a road race). But until recently there were not many cycling lanes in the city and cycling as a means of public transportation was not that common.

Here are some basic things I’ve learned about cycling in the city after living in Berlin: Continue reading

Travel memories and trinkets #2: Croatian souvenirs

Although it’s only been just over a week since our trip to Croatia, it feels like months ago after a busy first working week back in Berlin. In a city that seems to be in a decidedly autumnal mood, with lots of rain and chilly evenings, summer days at the coast seem a lifetime away. So this morning was a good time to look over our souvenirs from the trip. I decided to put them all together for another post in the travel memories and trinket series.

It’s always fun seeing what items other countries have for sale. In Croatia, many of the towns have the distinct scent of lavender, with all the lavender sachets sold. The climate on the coast allows many aromatic herb plants such as lavender and rosemary to flourish, we saw a lot of it growing wild, and on the mountain we also saw sage. Olive trees and fig trees were also common, and delicious figs, both fresh and dried, were easy to come by in the markets. Candied orange peel was another sweet treat available. There were also many people selling honey, both along the roadside and in towns, from many different flowers including lavender. A liqueur containing honey, called medica, was also available and we saw lots of bottles of it for sale in Primošten.

A big surprise was coming across the multitude of souvenir stalls selling their wares in the basement level of the palace of Diocletian. Amongst other things, jewellery and other objects carved of local stone were for sale. We found a stall selling products made from onyx and bought two little cups as well as some beautiful dice.

Our final souvenir we bought on our very last day in Croatia, in which we spent the morning on one of the pebble peaches swimming in the clear, green waters of  the Adriatic coast. It was a huge beach towel on which a map of Croatia was printed. The reason we liked it is that during our road trip we’d been to many of the places on the map. Every time we use the towel we will remember our wonderful trip to Croatia, the beaches, mountains, ancient Roman ruins, fish dinners and lively towns.

Have you been to Croatia? Which were your favourite local products, and did you take anything back home?


Weekly Photo Challenge: Monochromatic – Snow Scenes


I saw snow for the first time when I was 19, just a sprinkling in London that was enough to turn the ground white for one night. Watching the snowflakes falling was magical. It was midnight and I ran outside in excitement, my grandmother’s sister came out with me to make sure I didn’t catch cold. After a while she left me there, watching the snow. When I was all alone, two foxes appeared in the field opposite the house, I can still see them standing there in the snow, watching me.

When I moved to Europe again at the end of 2012 I finally saw lots of snow, and every time I see it, it still amazes me. The way it transforms the landscape is also something astounding. Some photos I’ve taken in the snow, you would think it’s a black and white photograph, so that’s why I’ve chosen some snowy scenes for this week’s weekly photo challenge, Monochromatic (although I suppose technically black and white are not colours!). Here are some of them below. When skiing on a misty day, only the bright clothes of the skiers add a splash of colour.

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Road tripping from Czech Republic to Slovenia and Croatia

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Originally we had a hiking holiday in Slovakia planned, but due to some bad weather we decided to spontaneously head south instead to find some sunshine. Many Czechs and Germans go on holiday to Croatia, and we knew it had both sea and mountains, so it seemed like the perfect choice for a quick getaway. I’m a bit short on time to write these blog posts so decided to make some notes in the car – here is our road trip travel diary complete with Instagrams I made along the way – more photos to follow soon in a photo diary! Continue reading

September One Photo Focus challenge: Pendennis Castle

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This month’s One Photo Focus challenge was a lovely photo of Pendennis castle by Benjamin Rowe.
I love castles and old buildings. Often photos of monuments such as these can also be transformed into great line drawings. This can be done simply in Photoshop Elements by going to: Filter –> Artistic –> Poster edges. For different effects try playing around with the three options: Edge thickness, Edge intensity and Posterization.
To add writing into your drawing, just click on the Horizontal Type Tool. You can change the text type, size and colour in the toolbar at the top of the screen.
Have fun!
Here is the original photo that was used to create this line drawing. You can check out what other people did with it by heading over to the challenge webpage.
OnePhoto Focus Ben Pendennis Castlesmall