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A festival where the family’s welcome

It’s been six consecutive years that I haven’t missed the White Mountain Festival. From the very first year this small but fabulous festival grew on my heart like a woolly moss you might find growing in the mountainous area.

Originally started in 2006 as an alternative for the more sedate Splashy Fen fans, and organised by the same group, C-Weed Productions, White Mountain, situated at White Mountain Lodge just outside Estcourt, was intended to cater for families and folk fans.

Word spread almost immediately after the first festival and soon it was attracting a healthy crowd of around 2000 music-lovers, which is about as big as it will get. I couldn’t help but compare my latest visit to my recent trek to Oppikoppi. Though White Mountain may involve music and camping, it couldn’t be further removed from its’ northern counterpart.

For one thing, you can replace the hard, red dust with green verdant pastures and picturesque mountains. The setting is truly stunning. You get a feeling of peace as soon as you drive into the main camping area, which is equipped with basic ablution facilities – also unlike Oppikoppi. (If you’re lucky you may even score a hot shower!)

With a single main stage where the majority of the action takes place, the pace is leisurely. There’s no need to rush around to see your favourites. It’s best to grab you gear and get comfy in front of the stage for the day.

Around you you’ll find people napping, sipping on cold Craft beer from Notties Brewery or coffee to keep off the mountain chill. You’ll see toddlers shaking their nappied tushes to the tunes. You’ll see old friends laughing in camping chairs and new friends being made around the bonfire. The food selection isn’t huge but what’s there is hearty – homemade potjikos, delicious shwarmas, vegetarian curry, pizza and giant burgers! Continue reading

10 things to do this Heritage Weekend

Whether you’re staying at home this Heritage Day long weekend or you’re heading out to explore South Africa, we’ve got some ideas of places you can visit and events you can enjoy to celebrate!

In KZN…

1. White Mountain Festival

Acoustic music in the mountains… what more could you ask for? Brought to you by the same experienced crew that produce Splashy Fen every year, White Mountain is its’ smaller, mellow cousin. Discover new local artists or support your favourites, all while indulging in the magical mountain vista. Take the family for an unforgettable experience.

2. Witness Hilton Arts Festival

Broadly considered to be KZN’s premier arts and culture festival the annual Witness Hilton Arts Festivaland produces a sterling programme of drama, comedy, music, cabaret, arts and crafts, children’s theatre, Mindscapes discussions, workshops, films and exhibitions appealing to all who visit the festival each year. This year will mark the 20th anniversary of the festival.

3. Fun in the Sun

For the fourth year running over 3000 KZN electronic music lovers will once again gather on the banks of the Hazelmere Dam for a massive outdoor festival involving two days of house, dance and electronic music, Swimming, Tanning, Partying and fun times.

Gauteng

4. The Cradle Festival

Head to where it all began to celebrate in the ultimate Heritage Day place. Expect musical performances from the likes of Louise Carver, and Idol’s winner, Elvis Blue as well as the Cradle Festival Wine Weekend, which includes cheese and wine tastings, as well as loads of fun activities and competitions for the whole family to enjoy. The daily kids programme offers parents peace-of-mind and a day-off to spoil themselves and relax while being able to enjoy the live entertainment, cheeses and wines. A Craft Expo allows exhibitors from the Cradle and surrounding areas to showcase their business and service offerings. Continue reading

Top 5 KZN North Coast Beach Wedding Venues

Though we initially aimed to find the best beach wedding venues in Durban, the North Coast in particular proved to be a more popular option – just a few minutes outside of Durban you’ll find unspoiled beaches that stretch for miles just begging for a breath-taking wedding!

1. Canelands Beach Club & Spa

Canelands Beach Club and spa is a stylish and modern beach retreat just metres from Tiffany’s Beach, Salt Rock. With 10 spacious bedrooms that sleep a max of 20 guests & a restaurant serving 3 meals daily, Canelands is just intimate enough to create an exclusive & personal beach wedding for up to 100 guests – all overlooking the magnificent Indian Ocean.

2. Palm Dune Beach Lodge

This stunning yet rustic lodge is a premier North Coast wedding destination with direct beach access and options for an indoor or outdoor deck celebration. The cosy ambience is offset by fine dining cuisine and luxurious accommodation and an in-house spa. Their in-house wedding co-ordinator will make sure nothing goes amiss and the couple can enjoy their day stress-free.

3. Salt Rock Hotel

Expect affordable luxury at the Salt Rock Hotel. Set amongst the leafy green North Coast jungle, this venue is central – just 20 mins from the airport – with plenty of accommodation and amenities close by. There are several different indoor and outdoor venue options, catering to small or large parties, including a unique elevated glass room with a stunning ocean view.

4. The Boathouse

A popular venue with old-world charm, The Boathouse is also known for affordable class in a stunning setting. Ceremonies can take place on the sand or the expansive deck and all will be tailored to the bride’s particular specs. Comfortable & stylish rooms are available on the premises and the in-house restaurant serves top quality food.

5. Fairmont Zimbali Resort

Zimbali is a uniquely luxurious environment populated by decadent homes, stunning 5 star resorts and unbelievable natural beauty. While the Lodge is the most popular venue, there are other venues on the property that cater to the true beach wedding, allowing couples to say their “I do’s” on the flawless sand of the private Zimbali Beach. There are also several restaurants & reception venues that can accommodate a varied number of guests.

Riding the waves of Nostalgia

While the majority of sportsmen are looking into the future for newer and more advanced gear, the tide is turning slightly in the North of Durban, where local surfers are becoming enamoured with a craft as old as surfing itself – wooden surfboards.

As the only manufacturer on the East Coast, Robert (Rosh) Honeyset of Dolphin Surfboards has been surprised and delighted by the reaction of the local surfing community to the hobby he loves.

“My late father used to build wooden surfboards in the 50′s & 60′s and started Dolphin Surfboards in 1958 in Durban. He closed the business in the 60′s when he travelled oversees and I decided to start making them again as a hobby but it is slowly becoming more and more popular,” he explained.
Though Rosh’s dad taught him many of the old tricks of the trade, he’s had to learn the rest through long hours of patient work.

The ancient Hawaiians were the first to create surfboards from wood, becoming world-renowned for the Alaia – a thin, finless board that varies in size up to ten feet in length and up to 19 inches in width. Today, the Alaia’s are Rosh’s most popular creations, with his new “Handguns” – small handfins for bodysurfing – coming in a close second. Continue reading

Top 5 Durban Indian Restaurants

By entering into a debate about Indian food in Durban we do realize we’re wading into treacherous water! There are almost too many options and everyone has their own particular favourite! With this in mind, we tried to stick to certain parameters in our judgement – not including restaurants outside of the “Durban” area or restaurants that qualified more as take-away spots.

That said, honourable mentions need to go to the following favourites: Seabelle in Westbrook, the Salt Rock Hotel, House of Curries, Little GujaratHollywood Sportsbook and the famous Goundens, who incidentally won our Top 5 Durban Bunny Chows handsdown!

1. Britannia

A landmark in every sense of the word, it’s incredible how Britannia and it’s accompanying restaurant Capsicum are consistently recommended for their curries. There was simply no contest when asking locals and out-of-towners alike. A full refurbishment in 2000 has elevated this spot to cult status, which is visible by the continuously packed parking lot, especially on weekends!

2. Indian Summer

Tucked away in Durban North, Indian Summer’s food has slowly but surely developed a sublime reputation in and out the area. Hailing from Mumbai, friendly owner Bimal might talk you through the menu, offer recommendations and take orders. His authentic, tasty and value-for-money alternative to run-of-the-mill starters are a hit!

3. Vintage

An upmarket and beautiful restaurant perfect for romantic date, you can’t help but love Vintage. The multi-Indian menu runs the gauntlet from traditional North Indian to Goan and Hydrabadi. The Kababs from the Tandoor oven are best teamed with a good wine from their carefully selected wine list.

4. Jewel of India

One word comes up time and again when people talk about Jewel of India at the Elangeni Hotel – Authentic. This is one of the handful of Indian restaurants in the city that is just as popular with Indians as other clientele. Thanks to its location, Jewel also serves a wide variety of foreigners who often remark on the friendly service & sumptuous decor.

5. Indian Connection

One of the newer establishments in this list, Indian Connection has nevertheless begun to make a big impression on the Durban foodies, owing to a tasty and authentic menu & friendly service. The venue is well situated in a beautiful old Morningside house where beautiful Indian art, modern decor and twinkling fairy lights all add to the delightful ambience.

A Guru for the modern Girl

Beverley Burne was a nightmare school pupil. Always staring out the window dreaming up delightful products to sell her friends, she always knew she wanted to be an entrepreneur. This coupled with the fact that she’s far too bossy to work for anyone else and it was only a matter of time before she created Guru Girl – a colourful and inspiring line of clothing, accessories and stationary with a hint of South African flavour.

Amongst other things, Beverley is a non-conformist, who wears a bindi (colourful dot worn on the forehead) daily to remind herself to stay unique & keep looking forward.

Safindit: Tell us a bit about yourself & Guru Girl?
Beverley: After trials,errors and years of tribulations, I can confidently confirm that my brand Guru Girl™ is a culmination of all of my strengths rolled into one AND my friends are excited…very excited! Over the past few years, I have realized that life is far too short to be doing anything other than what I absolutely love to do. I am an artist at heart, armed with a vivid imagination. After a tough patch in my life Guru Girl™ became the channel through which I could see the light and energy of all things good and is the ever-evolving, optimistic, never give up side to my personality!

S: How did the idea for Guru Girl come about?
B: A couple of years ago, I literally woke up one morning with the words guru and girl roaming around my mind! A friend of mine put me in touch with a graphic designer who came up with a logo that is now Guru Girl™. I immediately knew there and then that Guru Girl™ was going to become the “thinking girl’s” hello kitty and that she would appeal from tiny tots to extra large ladies. (Only after I had instructed him to adorn her with a red dot on her forehead, was I ready to develop her unique personality!)

I wanted to create a brand that was totally endearing to all girls (big and small) … a brand that was a little upside down and back to front … she is the anti thesis of Barbie … if you look at her, you will see that she is not symmetrical at all and yet she is so beautiful! She is not any particular creed or shape or colour … and yet when peeps see her they are immediately taken with her philosophy and the way she thinks … she is here to remind peeps to love unconditionally.

S: What is the Guru Girl aesthetic/philosophy?
B: The way she looks, the way she thinks, the fact that she understands that she is not a perfect, uptight, symmetrical brand? Once you have seen Guru Girl™ you will never forget her? She is unforgettable… Continue reading

KZNPO’s mobi hits the high notes

In an age where classical music seems to be dying out and national orchestras not always well supported, it’s exciting to see that the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra (KZNPO) has a mobisite. Embracing digital media to market their brand is a major step in bringing classical orchestral music to the masses.

The overall design of this mobisite is great. I like the look and feel a lot. The colours and images chosen really suit the KZNPO brand of class and sophistication as well as creativity. The buttons and tabs decorated with music notes especially are a cute touch that endeared the site to me immediately.

As far as content goes, there’s quite a lot going on here. That said, it’s all valuable. The About Us section details the history and current state of the KZNPO, lists the musicians and staff, advertises vacancies by instrument and gives all relevant information on booking the KZNPO for functions.

 

Under the World Symphony Series, you’ll find event listings for all up-coming performances in the series. I was impressed that this was kept up to date and each event had comprehensive information on the works to be performed etc. This is definitely one of the most important areas of the mobi. This is the info music-lovers will most likely need on the go. That said, there’s an ‘Featured Event’ button at the top of the Homepage too. When clicked, you won’t find anything there. This led me to believe there were no performances, until I looked under the World Symphony Series section. In the same area is a Photo Gallery button, which also currently has no pics. Granted, pictures probably aren’t high on your priorities for this mobisite, but I’m of the opinion that, if the button/tab exists, it should take you somewhere/ serve a purpose – otherwise, get rid of it.

The Community Engagement area is also chocabloc with valuable content from their youth development strategy to (very interestingly) and invitation for new scores!

Under subscriptions, you’ll find everything you need to know in terms of buying season tickets, including a full price model and benefits. This, to me, is also an extremely important area. Maybe so much so that it needs a flashing ‘Buy Tickets’ button on the Homepage? Just a thought…

Overall I think the KZNPO mobisite is well designed and contains a wealth of information – though sometimes I feel like it’s a bit wordy for a mobile platform. They should consider reworking some of the blurbs so that people don’t need to read quite as much to get the point.

8/10

Daily Collection

B & Being in Umhlanga – linger by the seaside

Long before it was the buzzing metropolis it is today, Umhlanga was the favoured holiday destination of many an in-lander.

Famous for its’ laid-back village-ish charm, fabulous surf conditions and gorgeous year-round weather, Umhlanga has grown somewhat since those infant days of tourism.

Today, it’s glorious beaches are popular not only popular with the Gauteng holiday-makers, but attracts business people and foreign tourists as well.

Whether you’re just popping in for a quick business visit, staying the weekend for a romantic break, or bringing the whole family for a December vacation, Umhlanga has a wide range of B&B accommodation available – most notably the award-winning Teremok Marine and Sandals.

Daily Collection

Holmes Hangouts – Designer Durbs

The Holmes Bros have become synonymous with Durban.

Their laid-back style, surfer-street mentality and quirky designs can be spotted all over the city on people from all walks of life.

We caught up with them a while back, as they were about to open a new store in Cape Town and Gary & Laurie gave us some insight into their successes and the idea behind their rebrand.

They also told us where they like to spend their time when they’re not working or travelling – which is most of the time!

More than fine at Cafe 1999

There aren’t many restaurants in Durban that would fall into the category of ‘fine dining’, but there are a handful that produce the kind of food that has earned them a stellar reputation. One of these is Cafe 1999.

The weekend before we went there for a friend’s dinner party, Cafe 1999 had been exhibiting at the inaugural Taste of Durban Festival at Suncoast. I’d heard great things – though it’s common knowledge that their food is top notch.

I’d only ever been to Cafe 1999 once before, a few years back, for a private function where the whole restaurant had been booked out. Nevertheless the assortment of canapes that went round throughout that evening were impeccable.

Arriving just after 6.30pm, the restaurant was quite quiet, though it was a Tuesday evening. We were seated outside on the terrace area. Our waiter was bubbly and informed, although I couldn’t shake the feeling he thought we were a bunch of cuisine-inept imbeciles, whom he was convinced wouldn’t tip him as much as his usual more ‘trendy’ customers.

Maybe it was just me…

The thing about Cafe 1999 is that it’s really not much to look at. It’s stark – all white and red and plain tablecloths. The focus is clearly all about the food. Continue reading

Pam will help your pooch

Having a healthy, happy relationship with your dogs is not always a given. Sometimes, no matter how much love and attention you give them, it can feel like your canine companions are beset on ruining your life and/or home.

In these situations Pam Naude of K9 Communications -Doggyminds can be a lifeline that ultimately repairs the relationship and brings harmony to your house!
“I have always instinctively understood the way dogs think and communicate. Even as a child, it was observed that when I was around dogs they were calmer. Dogs constantly fascinate me with their individually and the ability to surprise and I spend all my days around these beautiful creatures that give us such joy, entertainment and companionship,” the canine behaviourist says.

Pam spent three years studying ‘Applied Animal Ethology’, which is the scientific study of animal behaviour, with Professor Odendaal at Pretoria University.

Pam has now been practicing full-time for six years and part-time since 2001, teaching social skills, puppy and dog training and even has kennels in the Durban area.
“I have passion for animals, especially dogs and to see results and happy pets makes me very happy,” she says, “Some behaviour in dogs is normal but is not acceptable to humans, so correcting of modifying the behaviour helps the dogs to be calm and allows humans and dogs to live in harmony together.” Continue reading

Live brings new life to Durban

Durban is often criticised for its’ seeming lack of live music venues and support of local (and international) acts. But it’s not as simple as opening venues and marketing them to the right people. Even successful venues have folded due to issues like noise complaints, licencing concerns and people who refused to pay entrance fees. Recently a new venue has appeared on the local landscape and has been getting all the right kind of buzz from the difficult Durbanites.

Live The Venue has turned the traditional idea of a nightclub/ live music venue on its’ head by creating a blank canvas dedicated to live performance of any kind – a concept that may be just the remedy for the struggling artists of Durban.

We spoke to Bronwyn Kingsland about this family business with a difference!

Safindit: Who are the people behind Live the Venue?
Bronwyn: Live The Venue is a family business owned by the Kingsland Family. They also own their own professional sound company called Kingston Sound which specialises in live performances.

S: Tell us about the inspiration behind the venue and how it came to fruition?
B: We are in fact a platform for performing arts, and each and every event that is hosted at Live The Venue has to have a live entertainment element to it. We do not believe in simply putting a few Dj’s on stage and selling shots of liquor. Our family has a passion for the live entertainment industry and this project is one very close to home for us.
Live the venue is a converted warehouse, and the entire conversion was done by family members and members of the Kingston Sound Crew. Not one single outside contractor was bought in on this job. From building decks to the installation of new toilet facilities and the sewing of over 2000m of velvet curtaining, Live The Venue certainly holds a place in the teams heart.

The inspiration came from visiting a few venues in Durban and surrounding areas for live acts, and noticing they were other too cramped and not all the clients could see the performances, or on the other extreme, the venue would have a capacity of thousands and a few hundred would drown in its bareness. It was also noted that the quality of the sound in various venues was not up to scratch, and the atmosphere was often dark and depressing.
It was then that we saw a gap in the market. We would team up with our professional crew at Kingston Sound, and partner with Slingshot Productions to put on top-class acts in a new, vibrant, modern yet not pretentious environment . There are so many great bands and artists that have superb talent that deserve a platform to perform on, that will compliment their acts. This is what we aimed to provide.

S: What makes Live the Venue unique?
B: Live is unique as it cannot be classified into specific genre of entertainment. The venue is designed to accommodate for varying performances from comedy, cabaret, and fashion shows to rock bands and product launches. We have even hosted a 25-piece swing band on our stage. We believe this will prevent Live The Venue from getting stale and customers getting bored of the same thing week in and week out. Continue reading

The unassuming joy of Joita’s

Often it’s the places that look the least impressive that end up making the best impression. This was the case with Joita’s.

Housed in the courtyard of the Protea Mall on the Chartwell Drive strip, it’s not visible from the street, but if the wind is right, you may find your nose will guide you there.

Simple is the best way to describe this little gem. The ‘restaurant’ part is basically just a tiny shop front that looks like a takeaway place. It’s clean and sparse and has just two tables inside. Outside in the courtyard though, Joita’s has commandeered the space that used to belong to a couple of other shops and a small restaurant – all of which are now absent.

A table of 5 on a Friday evening, we were situated just outside the Telkom shop – an unusual place to dine and one that may cause some digestive trouble – but before long it seemed like we completely forgot where we were.

A couple of chilled Lauretina’s later, our gracious host Luis Fernandes, who runs the shop with his family, came to greet us personally in his chef’s apron and presented us with some complimentary livers and bread.

The menu is basic. You can order peri-peri chicken (the house speciality), prawns, calamari, livers or Prego rolls, and combinations of the latter.

Really speaking I’m not much of a peri-peri chicken eater, but after some persuasion on the part of a regular diner, I went for this instead of the garlic and herb option, combined with some calamari. When I received my food I couldn’t have been more grateful for the tip. If all peri-peri chickens tasted this good, I would be eating it all the time!!

The freshly prepared sauce is a flavour explosion. We were all in agreement. Everyone wanted more chicken and the one person who didn’t add the sauce was beside himself with remorse. The calamari was also superb; fresh, meaty and basted in the same delicious peri-peri sauce.

While we ordered more Laurentinas a steady stream of diners changed tables around us, all equally enamoured with their meal and the quaint ambience of the not-so-restaurant.

We left and promptly set about telling everyone we could to go and eat the Joita’s chicken. It was that kind of experience.

My prediction is that Joita’s is not going to last long in that little shop. I think Luis is going to need a bigger restaurant. Soon.

Daily Collection

Olympic Action – 32 places to watch the Games!

It’s not going to be easy to concentrate at work for the next 13 days. After a full weekend of non-stop Olympics action, it was with much hesitation that many South Africans returned to their offices this morning, disappointed that they wouldn’t be able to see our athletes making us proud.

Still, there’s always lunchtime, dinner and weekends! And we’re making it easier with our collection of 32 places to watch the games.

Find your nearest festive sports-friendly venue and set up camp whenever you have a spare minute to watch! There you can bask in the warmth of your fellow supporters and munch on Olympic-themed dishes at selected restaurants and bars.