Being a tourist in the City of Gold

81 views January 12th, 2015 By Dianne Bayley

citysearch-red-bus

By Dianne Bayley

I was fortunate enough to have a visitor from Minneapolis in the USA stay with me for a week in early January 2015. It gave me a chance to behave like a tourist in my own province – and it’s something I’ll be trying to do as often as possible from now on.

Durban January 2015: Madame Zingara, Affordable Art Show

80 views January 8th, 2015 By Dianne Bayley

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Affordable Art Show

Running until 17 January 2015 is the Affordable Art Show, hosted by Artspace at 3 Millar Road, Durban. The Affordable Art Show puts original and high quality artwork within the reach of almost every art lover, with pieces on sale for R3 500 and less.

Get there before it closes. Contact details:

Karen Bradtke, Director
Claus Bradtke, Manager
Tel: 031-312 0793
Gallery Hours: Mon - Fri 9h00-17h00
Sat and Pub Hols 9h00-14h00

Madame Zingara’s Forever After Tour

Durban will also be home to the incredible Madame Zingara’s Forever After Tour. If you haven’t had the pleasure of attending a Madame Zingara show, it’ll probably be the best git you give yourself all year! It’s decadent dining, showstopping cirque entertainment and an evening to remember.

The extravaganza runs from 22 January to 22 April at Suncoast. For more information, visit www.madamezingara.com - seriously, KZNers - you don’t want to miss this one!

The mean streets of Johannesburg

110 views January 2nd, 2015 By Kenneth Davison

By Kenneth Davison

Crime is an interesting topic among most South Africans. We accept it as endemic, we believe that the police are unable to assist us and we believe that our situation is worse than anywhere else. To quickly dispel some of these assertions, every major city in the world struggles with crime. The unfortunate reality of city life is that there are a lot of people drawn together and there are a few who feel that the best way to survive is by violating other people.
Bree Taxi Rand
A few months ago, I became a victim of crime in Johannesburg. By all accounts, my incident was mild compared to people that I have spoken to and read about. Despite the ordeal, I feel compelled to tell my little story. Even a minor crime can leave you shaken, angry and feeling completely vulnerable.

I was driving to work on a typical Tuesday morning and I crossed the Nelson Mandela Bridge. When I reached the other side, the traffic light just outside the Metro taxi rank on Bree Street turned red. As I was sitting waiting for the light to turn green, two men approached my vehicle. I only noticed them after the one started talking very loudly (my music may have been a little loud) into my half open window. I assumed he was a beggar until I realised that he was saying, “Your phone or I shoot you!”

In that moment my brain seemed to shut down. I had no idea what to say or do. I looked in front of me and saw the cars moving, I looked back at my assailant and he repeated his instruction while trying to reach for my car keys. Eventually, my brain seemed to come online. I could see both hands of the person at my window and knew he didn’t have a gun to shoot, but I could not see his friend clearly. I surrendered the phone.

Once they started walking away, I felt a rage build up inside me and I hooted my car, got out the door and started swearing at the two men as they calmly walked into the taxi rank. To this day, I still cannot believe the audacity of these two people, in full view of probably over 200 people (it is a busy part of town), with cars driving past, security cameras overhead and security guards across the road. I was upset by losing the phone, but the fact that all the things that are supposed to help prevent crime seemed completely pointless. My emotions were not helped by what came next.

I got back into my car, forcing myself to calm down so that I could drive. At the next block I saw a metro police officer and stopped in the middle of the road to plead for his help. I tried to explain to him that I had just been mugged about 50m away. His response made me cold, as he turned to me and said he is busy working while he directed cars through an intersection with fully functioning traffic lights. The policeman who was supposed to help me refused to do so.

I went to the Johannesburg Police Station and was eventually helped by an officer. I explained my situation and that my phone has remote tracking capabilities. His response astounded me; he told me that they could not open a case until I had blacklisted the phone. For those not familiar with blacklisting, you phone your service provider, they block the SIM card and then black list the actual device, so that if it is ever recovered, it is known that the phone was stolen previously.

It then occurred to me, the officer could track the phone to within a metre if it is not blacklisted, but they will not do anything unless it is blacklisted. Once the blacklisting is done, they can give a case number and you can claim from insurance. I personally think this is a gap which could be used to help clamp down on minor crime. A New York mayor famously said, if we can come down hard on the small crimes, it deters people from doing the big crimes.

Johannesburg can be a rough place and all crime tends to hurt the victims involved. Take precautions when travelling in the big cities, keep your windows closed and be aware of your environment as things can change in an instant. Be safe out there.

Jackson’s Real Food Market

169 views December 22nd, 2014 By Jacqui Thompson

By Jacqui Thompson

For lovers of artisanal goodies this store is paradise. The store has a natural charm and it’s easy to imagine it nestled in a valley between sun-drenched crops and green pastures filled with gambolling farm animals.

North West Province for amazing adventures

4,128 views December 15th, 2014 By administrator

Pick the flight you fancy, the land-based activity you love, the water sport you want … this province has pretty well got it all zipped up!

Close to the both Pretoria and Johannesburg, the North West province, complete with wide open spaces, rivers and dams, and abundant game, is a great place to escape to for a day, a weekend, or longer.

ellieinpilanesbergThe game-viewing in this province is amazing, with the two flagship destinations being Pilanesberg National Park and Madikwe Game Reserve. In both, you can do the standard vehicle-based safaris, as well as a walking safari, which gets you a lot more in tune with the bush. The birding, too, is excellent, with an overlap of lowveld and Kalahari species. As well as these two big ones, there are a number of smaller reserves, many of which surround dams or vleis, which make them excellent birding and fishing destinations.

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Mpumalanga, land of the rising sun

1,699 views December 12th, 2014 By admin

mpumalangaThe sun rises on a mecca for adventure lovers, art lovers, beauty seekers, game seekers, fishermen and vast flocks of flamingo

The land of the rising sun. That’s what they call Mpumalanga. And its sun certainly has been rising in the past few years. Mpumalanga has undergone a tourism boom - and it’s not hard to see why. With easy access to the best parts of the Kruger National Park and the scenic Blyde River Canyon, as well as Swaziland and Mozambique, the province is pulling the crowds.

Mpumalanga has also become something of an artists’ haven in the past few years, and the region boasts interesting art routes, wonderful curio and craft, as well as good shopping, music and contemporary festivals and happenings. The Mozambican influence is evident in the cuisine and local culture, and there’s a good Swazi mix too! And for action adventurers, Mpumalanga has everything from gorge swinging and bungee jumping to serious 4×4 trails and river rafting.

Scenic drama

Incredible canyons and wild gorges, ancient caves and vast tracts of bushveld … there’s plenty of natural drama in Mpumalanga. The province’s greatest wonder is the 25km-long Blyde River Canyon, third largest in the world. You can also check out the world’s oldest dolomite caves - we’re talking 2 000 million years - at Sudwala, near Nelspruit. And, of course, the world-famous Kruger National Park is also at the wild heart of Mpumalanga.

As fences have gone down between Mozambican, Zimbabwean and South African national parks, the Kruger has become part of the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Park (GLTP), also known as “the world’s greatest animal kingdom”. At 35 000km2, the GLTP is being developed for 4×4 adventures, hiking, game viewing, birding, fishing and eco-tourism.

Tourism regions

Mpumalanga is divided into seven different tourism regions:

Lowveld Legogote

Lowveld Legogote includes the capital city of Nelspruit, the wild-horse town of Kaapsehoop, creative and eccentric White River and the vibey township KaNyamazane. Seat of the provincial legislature, Lowveld Legogote is the urban centre of Mpumalanga, and the best place to restock, replenish, refuel. If it all gets too much, take a quick break in the Nelspruit Botanical Garden right in the heart of the city. The incredible Sudwala Caves fall within Lowveld Legogote, and are a must-see - especially for kids!

Panorama

The flagship region of Mpumalanga is the Panorama. As the name suggests, this region scores a bit fat 10 on the Scenery Scale. And it’s all because of the Blyde River Canyon. The canyon is the world’s third largest and the most “green”, that is, the most treed. Take a self-drive adventure along the Panorama Route. Scenic highlights are God’s Window, the Three Rondavels and Bourke’s Luck Potholes. The Panorama region includes the small towns of Hazyview, Sabie, Graskop and Orighstad, and the quaint little village of Pilgrim’s Rest, a living museum of the gold-rush days. Hazyview is a major gateway to the Kruger National Park, and Graskop is a thriving forestry town, known for its arts and crafts (and pancakes). The awesome Long Tom Pass goes from Sabie to Lydenberg or vice versa. It’s 57km long and it reaches 2 149m above sea level at its summit.

Wild Frontier

The imposing Mkonjwa mountains are said to be of the oldest in the world, which makes for an interesting start to the region they call the Wild Frontier. The region borders Mozambique, Swaziland and the southern tip of the Kruger National Park, and includes the historic towns of Barberton, Komatipoort, Kaapmuiden and Badplaas. Explore the cradle of geological life, walk in the footsteps of gold-diggers and fortune-seekers, relive the heady days of pioneers, garter-snapping barmaids and highway robbers. The Wild Frontier region also offers access into Swaziland, and along the N4 into Mozambique.

Highlands Meander

Mpumalanga’s Highlands Meander is South Africa’s premier fly-fishing mecca, often referred to - by reason of the number of visitors from the province’s urbanised southern neighbour, Gauteng - as Trouteng. Set among its highlands and grasslands, streams, dams and wetlands, are the little towns of Belfast, Dullstroom, Lydenberg, Waterval Boven and Onder, and Machadodorp. Famed for its charm and mountain scenery, the region has some of the subcontinent’s rarest birds, amazing wild-flower displays and excellent rock climbing, and it is a mere two hours from Gauteng on the N4.

Grass and wetlands

Mpumalanga’s best-kept secret is Chrissiesmeer, the subcontinent’s largest natural freshwater lake district. The village, situated in the central grass and wetlands region, is surrounded by 270 lakes and pans that attract more than 20 000 flamingo every year. The region borders Kwazulu-Natal and the Free State, as well as the kingdom of Swaziland, the last absolute monarchy in sub-Saharan Africa. It includes the agricultural centres of Carolina, Hendrina, Ermelo, Volksrust, Piet Retief, Amsterdam, Breyten, Lothair and Morgenzon. Chrissiesmeer also boasts a mysterious giant footprint in rock that matches one in Canada, and hosts an annual frog-watching festival in summer and stargazing festival in winter. It is a wetland of global importance and one of the premier birding spots in the country.

Cultural Heartland

Most famed for its Ndebele culture, the Cultural Heartland includes the north-western towns of Witbank, Middelburg, Siyabuswa, Groblersdal, Marble Hall and Roossenekal. You can take a self-drive route to visit cultural villages with painted houses, beadwork and arts and crafts on display. There’s also a Boer War history route for buffs.

The region is also home to assorted watersports, mainly on the Witbank Dam, the largest municipal dam in the southern hemisphere, with a catchment area of 3 540km2.

Cosmos Country

Cosmos Country is hardly the name you’d expect from a region that is the centre of South Africa’s fuel-from-coal production, but in late summer, the area redeems itself when the local cosmos flowers in a riot of pinks and whites. Cosmos Country lies in the south-western part of Mpumalanga against the Free State and Gauteng borders, and includes the towns of Secunda, Delmas, Leandra, Bethal, Standerton, Balfour and Greylingstad. East of Bethal, the areas of Carolina, Ermelo and Piet Retief are important for sheep farming, and this is also home to the Ndebele people, who are famous for their colourful house painting, beadwork and crafts.

www.mpumalanga.com

All you want for Christmas: Razer gaming headset for XBox One

131 views December 10th, 2014 By Dianne Bayley

citysearch-razer-cool-techBy ITShowcase.co.za

Razer™, a world leader in connected devices and software for gamers, is proud to announce the latest addition to Razer’s arsenal of Xbox One™ peripherals with the release of the Razer Kraken Stereo Gaming Headset for Xbox One.

The choice PC headset of eSport athletes around the world, the Razer Kraken Gaming Headset is now available for the Xbox One and comes fully equipped with powerful 40 mm neodymium magnet drivers that are tuned for clear high and mid-ranges, as well as deep immersive bass for powerful lows. The Razer Kraken Gaming Headset for Xbox One has been ergonomically designed with plush circumaural padding that creates sound isolation for a superior gaming experience.

“Our Kraken headset series has always been popular with gamers who are looking for high-performance audio and product quality,” said Min-Liang Tan, Razer co-founder and CEO. “Like the Xbox One, the Kraken Gaming Headset for Xbox One is designed to provide gamers with unparalleled power and performance. This new headset is joining the Razer Atrox arcade stick for Xbox One and we are excited to expand our console line further in the future.”

The Razer Kraken Gaming Headset for Xbox One features a unidirectional microphone that translates crystal clear audio with balanced natural sound tones. The flexible design allows gamers to conveniently flip the microphone out of view when not in use.

Bundled with an audio control unit that fits perfectly on the Xbox One controller, gamers will have easy access to multimedia controls right at their fingertips without the need to interrupt their gaming sessions.

For more information on the Razer Kraken Gaming Headset for Xbox One, go to www.razerzone.com/gaming-audio/razer-kraken-xbox-one

Price: US: $99.99 / EUR: €99.99

Availability:
RazerStore: Available Now
Worldwide: December 2014

Headphone features:
• Optimised weight for extended wear
• Closed ear cup design for maximum comfort
• Frequency response: 20 – 20,000 Hz
• Impedance: 32Ω at 1 kHz
• Sensitivity (@1 kHz, 1 V/Pa): 110 ± 4 dB at 1 kHz Max
• Input Power: 50 mW
• Drivers: 40 mm, with Neodymium magnets

Microphone features:
• Frequency response: 100 – 10,000 Hz
• Signal-to-noise ratio: 50 dB
• Sensitivity (@1 kHz, 1V/Pa): -42 ± 3 dB
• Pick-up pattern: Unidirectional

Audio Control Unit features:
• Proprietary port for connection to the Xbox One Controller
• Dedicated volume control and mute button
• Individual controls for game and chat volume

About the Razer Kraken Gaming Headset for Xbox One:

The choice PC headset of eSport athletes around the world has now come to the console. The Razer Kraken Gaming Headset for Xbox One is engineered to deliver rich precise audio while isolating noise from the outside, so you can enjoy high-quality sound from its large 40mm Neodymium magnet drivers for hours on end. The unidirectional analog microphone leaves no room for miscommunication and can even be flipped up out of view when not in use.

The included stereo headset adaptor removes the hassle of having to take your hands off your Xbox One controller when you need to mute your microphone or turn up the game or chat volume. By having all the controls you need right at your fingertips, you won’t have to stop your gaming session to reach for your audio controller.

See more at ITShowcase.co.za

Romantic festive season with Chef André & High Stakes Restaurant

219 views December 1st, 2014 By administrator

emerald-high-stakes-chef-andre
Thinking of treating someone special this festive season? Take a 45 minute drive from Johannesburg to Emerald Resort & Casino, where Chef André Bezuidenhout is the Head Chef at the upmarket steak restaurant, aptly named High Stakes. Here he specialises in producing indulgent gourmet cuisine with an impeccable selection of fine wines at an exceptional location.

Sage & onion stuffing for that fabulous festive meal

559 views December 1st, 2014 By Dianne Bayley

Home-made and made-from-scratch almost always beats the box version of foods . . . and this sage and onion stuffing is no exception. It’s also a chance to put some real love – and taste - into your Christmas lunch or dinner.

Ingredientsfestive-sage-onion-stuffing
50g butter
1tbsp oil
1tbsp fresh sage, chopped
1 large white onion, chopped
100g breadcrumbs

Method
Heat the butter and oil, and cook the onion until it has softened. Stir in the breadcrumbs, sage and seasoning.
Place in a baking dish and cook in a preheated oven at 180°C for 40 minutes.
Take the sage and onion stuffing out of the oven and serve with your Christmas roast turkey (or chicken) and some delicious gravy made from the juices in your roasting pan.

Which wines for which desserts?

2,247 views November 30th, 2014 By Juliet Cullinan

6-asara-biscuitsBy Juliet Cullinan

Restaurant menus always begin with a cursory glance at the starter and mains and a serious study of the desserts.  My sweet tooth guides me like a homing pigeon to this section.  Instinctively the flavours, ingredients and spices in the various puds swirl through my mind like a kaleidoscope of flavours.  While I’m able to match spices with food with great ease, desserts take more time as the selection of wines suited, is far more limited.

Key factors in the marriage are:

1.    Matching sweet desserts with sweet wine.
2.    The wine must be sweeter than the dessert.
3.    The aroma of the wine must dominate the pudding flavours.
Balance is essential.  The wine should be matched against the acid and sugar in the dessert.  Very sweet desserts will make the wine tannic and acidic on the palate.