Category Archives: Experiences

Iceland in December: arriving in white

There are a few things that described to us as otherworldly. Arriving in Iceland feels like falling down the rabbit hole.

The flight from Charles de Gaulle was characterised by a world covered in white blankets of thick cloud. We got the tiniest glimpse of Scotland, but save for this one moment are lead to believe that we left the world far behind. Descending into Keflavik airport in Iceland came as a bit of a shock. Partly it’s because the flight felt so short (it is only 3 hours), but mostly it is because we didn’t realise that the white blanket below us was no longer clouds – it was the earth coming up to meet us. A very white, very snowy earth.

Edge of Iceland

We spent the night in Reykjavik at the Icelandair Hotel Natura, which we highly recommend. The hotel offers guests free bus passes you can use throughout Reykjavik and the service is sharp and warm.

Reykjavik is often touted as the small-town-feel capital of Iceland, with tonnes of charm and walk-able streets. We absolutely found this to be true and loved the friendly vibe of the place. If you’re a beer enthusiast, visit the Micro Bar in Austurstræti (click for map). Francois would tell you to get the Gæðingur Brugghús hoppy red ale, which was his favourite of the night 😉 You can see what else he tasted on Untappd.

In the next post – our first day on tour doing the golden circle and its sites.

Bus stop selfie

Cold selfie at the bus stop in front of our hotel.

We

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A slow intro to Iceland

I love making lists. I love being able to tick things off those lists even more, especially when those things are places and experiences from the bucket list.

In December 2014, we spent a week in Iceland. A land of jagged edges and rough landscapes, sprawling countrysides of softly snow-covered lava fields, freezing winds and blissfully warm hot springs. A land of gorgeous contradictions.

We joined a very well structured tour from Authentic Scandinavia, starting in Reykjavik. The tour follows the southeastern coast of the island over the course of a week. The local guide is very knowledgeable and as South Africa doesn’t offer many opportunities for driving in ice, this was the best way for us to travel.

Summarising the experience in one post will result in an essay of epic proportions, so I plan on sharing the tour and our solo day in Reykjavik bit by bit. More to come soon 🙂

The area of Iceland this tour covers.

The area of Iceland this tour covers.

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Receiving 15 aircraft in your back-yard

I’ve always said that I am a little left of normal and this is true of my entire family. Case in point: my sister Christelle is a student pilot, and her love of aviation combined with my mother’s love for cooking lead to this amazing breakfast fly-in.

We proved a while back that the farm where I grew up is the perfect wedding venue, but Christelle took it one step further this past Saturday by receiving 15 aircraft for breakfast.

The morning started with a true Zandfontein wind, blowing everyone setting up to receive guests hither and thither. The weather app on my phone claimed that it was only gusting at 16kmph (just over 8 knots for those aviatory-folk), but it sure felt and sounded like far more.

By 11:00 the wind had calmed down significantly, and the 900m runway had received a number of slings. The helicopters were lined up nicely and Mike Rumble literally dropped in on the festivities.

If you love great food and want to experience something slightly different in the Joburg and Pretoria vicinity, keep an eye on 29 Zandfontein’s Facebook page for the next event. It should be a lovely lunch in October.

 

 

All  images by the author: © catterflyworx 2014. Please contact me if you would like to use any images from this site.

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A cold Easter in the Free State

As I mentioned in my previous post, we spent the long weekend away from home visiting the beautiful Golden Gate Highlands national park in the Free State. Other than gushing about the beauty and complaining about the bitter cold, I thought I’d share my five tips from the weekend.Yes, and some (mostly HDR ’cause I’m a little obsessed at the moment) photos.

  1. If you’re visiting Clarens (which you should!), don’t pay R60 for a pretentious breakfast. Go to the Roter Hahn Bierstube Und Deli and enjoy a very wide choice of German beers with an even better meal.
  2. Pack lots of blankets. Then another one. Also, a hot water bottle.
  3. Take a good single malt with, it fights off the cold.
  4. If you’re camping in a spot that doesn’t get a lot of sun, stay in bed ’till the sun hits your tent.
  5. Visit the vulture restaurant on the Oribi loop drive. Maybe you’ll have better luck than we did and see some of these amazing birds.

 

All  images by the author: © catterflyworx 2014. Please contact me if you would like to use any images from this site.

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Golden Gate in HDR

image

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We’re spending the Easter weekend in the Golden Gate Highlands National Park. Stunning mountains and freezing temperatures are the first two things that come to mind. These two panorama images, taken on my HTC One, were a spur of the moment experimentation with HDR. I’m quite happy with the results.

Full report back at a later stage (when not posting from my phone and dependent on patches of signal).

UPDATE: Photos and a few tips in the next post.

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And all was well

At the end of my week in London in 2012, I visited the Warner Bros. studio tour of the making of Harry Potter. This was by far my most anticipated experience of the trip. If you’re a Potterhead and have the chance, this should definitely be on your bucket list! Get the audio-guide (narrated by Tom Felton) and immerse yourself for a few hours in the wonderful world of film and magic. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves. There are a lot of them, so keep scrolling!

Sets and set details

Costumes

Props and portraits

Artwork and odds & ends

 

Scale models

Hogwarts model

This is the crème de la crème of the experience. The entire model has miniature torches and lights simulating people passing in front of them. To appreciate the full-scale of the model, I’ve added a photo from the Daily Mail to the bottom of this post from their article on the model of Hogwarts. The lighting in the room where the model is kept cycles through a few phases, simulating night and day, showing  the model in all its immense glory.

From the Daily Mail article: Proud: Jose Granell, model supervisor, is pictured with the model of Hogwarts Castle. It has been used for every one of the Harry Potter films.

From the Daily Mail article: Proud: Jose Granell, model supervisor, is pictured with the model of Hogwarts Castle. It has been used for every one of the Harry Potter films.

All  images by the author: © catterflyworx 2012. Please contact me if you would like to use any images from this site.

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London in October

In October 2012, I spent eight days in a surprisingly sunny London. I was actually there to work with the Waggener Edstrom London team, but I made sure to have some extra time to explore the city and tick off an item from my (unpublished) bucket list. I arrived on a bright Saturday morning, ready to take on the city.

London has tonnes and tonnes of sites to see, museums to visit, and pubs to explore. I managed to see a lot taking into consideration that I only had the Saturday and Sunday of the weekend I arrived, and the evenings after work.

My first point of business was to buy a local UK sim card. After getting lost all over the show in Europe in April (with a husband to navigate), I thought I’d place my trust in the Google. The second point of business was an Oyster card. Clearly I had my priorities sorted out, and I strongly recommend that you do this as well if you’re unfamiliar with the city.

After checking into the hotel, I set out to “pursue that flighty temptress, adventure”, only to realise nothing has opened yet. After waiting around, a little tired from the long flight, things started looking up and I managed to visit the Jubilee market, Trafalgar square, the National Gallery (amazing!), the Houses of Parliament, and Westminster Abbey. I joined a Swede who stayed in the hostel with me, and we had a fantastic Indian dinner in Brick lane.

On Sunday I checked into the Charing Cross hotel, and ticked Tower bridge, Shakespeare’s Globe theatre, the Tate modern (holy crap, when can I go back?), Millennium bridge, St. Paul’s cathedral and Camden town off my list.

My week nights were filled with random pubs, amazing restaurants, and revisiting some of the sites I’d already seen to take a few photos of them at night. My last visit before departing London the following Saturday, was the National Portrait gallery and the very bright M&M’s World in Leicester square.

There is one other element that I’m saving for a post of its own, one that deserved taking a Friday afternoon off and going all the way to Watford. “To be continued…

Reflecting on London

M & Ms World, Leicester square

All  images by the author: © catterflyworx 2012. Please contact me if you would like to use any images from this site.

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We watched “A good man goes to war” last night, and this poem has been stuck in my head. It’s amazingly sad and incredibly awesome.

“Demons run when a good man goes to war
Night will fall and drown the sun
When a good man goes to war

Friendship dies and true love lies
Night will fall and the dark will rise
When a good man goes to war

Demons run, but count the cost
The battle’s won, but the child is lost”

– Steven Moffat

Moffat gives me chills

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Dîner en Blanc Johannesburg 2013

We spent Friday night at the very first Dîner en Blanc Johannesburg, which was also the first DeB in South Africa. It was fantastic! There are more photos on the Facebook page as well.

All  images by the author: © catterflyworx 2013. Please contact me if you would like to use any images from this site.

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