PERFECTION IS IN THE DETAIL. Exceptional â€“ the only word to describe the BMW 7 Series. The exquisite craftsmanship ensures that every detail, from the flawless, luxurious interior to the breathtaking exterior, has been carefully planned to provide supreme luxury. Under the bonnet is a source of exhilarating power. Inside, the most advanced technology awaits to respond to your every command with BMW ConnectedDrive. And with the option of choosing Individual or Sports Packages, you can tailor the body of your BMW 7 Series to match your personal unique style. For more information go to www.bmw.co.za/7
THE BMW 7 SERIES. The BMW 7 Series is available in 730d, 740i, 750i, 750Li and 760Li.
BMW 7 Series
Sheer Driving Pleasure
SMOOTH MOVES jaguar’s c-x75 thoroughly impressed judges at the 2010 paris motor show
ED’S LETTER Private Edition’s theme for this issue is ‘extremes’ – from motoring, the arts to climate and sport, it’s all about pushing the limits.
Have a look at what’s under the hood of concept cars, as well as a photo-artist’s frozen portraits.
A NOSE FOR BUSINESS
ANTIQUE INVESTMENTS A contested will, a fortune in antiques and Chinese bids – this auction created more than a stir.
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O YOU WANT TO BUY S A CHÂTEAU? On the back of the financial crisis in Europe, property prices are temptingly within reach for South Africa’s well-heeled.
Meet the man who reckons never mind platinum, it’s vintage wine that’s a cool investment.
URNING OVER A T NEW LEAF A former magazine editor’s bookshop has become a cult and a historic building was transformed into a magical place where you can find the best of what’s bound.
TRENDS: GIN IS IN Vodka is a little last season as gin becomes the tipple of the moment.
A CUT ABOVE Nicole Morris launches a showroom that looks Marie Antoinette but sells in a Gap price range.
RICHE PICKINGS A few of the best watches in the world are showcased at the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie.
Cover shot by Jacques Weyers, represented by Infidels. Charlbi Dean Kriek, represented by Ice Model Management, wears a lace top from Klûk CGDT. Styling: Suzannah Garland. Hair and make-up: Merle Titus, represented by Infidels. Shot on location at On Boadway Theatre, Cape Town.
www.panerai.com Toll Free: 0800 600 035
OCKEYS OF J THE BUSHVELD If you have an Arab pony with a good heart and stamina and you fancy a 200 km race, then saddle up.
ON’T MENTION D THE WAR(MING) It may heat up dinner conversation, but better Global Warming gets aired rather than buried.
THE POWER OF ONE Achmat Hassiem survived a close encounter with a Great White. Now he’s set his sights on the 2012 Olympics.
STATE OF GRACE Behind ballet’s dainty footlights lies a tough endurance sport.
QUICK OFF THE MARK Here’s how MTN’s General Manager: Customer Management plays her career forward.
WALKING IN THE WILD Being chased by rhino and elephant isn’t everyone’s idea of a getaway, but ditching the 4X4 is essential for the new ‘reality safari’.
HIGH SOCIETY Jameson celebrates in style; Louis Vuitton gets smart for Spring/ Summer and the L’Ormarins Queens Plate features fine fillies.
THE HERMÈS CODE Paris closely guards her exclusive sales and the ‘when’ and ‘where’ of the day is kept under wraps... unless you crack the invitation code.
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PHOTOGRAPHY: JACQUES WEYERS/INFIDELS. DANCER: MEGAN SWART/ CAPE TOWN CITY BALLET. TOP: GAVIN RAJAH. FEATHER SHOULDER PIECE: STYLIST’S OWN
*The body consists of 600 muscles, 206 bones (26 in the foot) and countless nerves, ligaments and tendons. So it’s not surprising that a dancer cannot escape injury while training harder than most athletes for at least eight hours a day – with only a month off per year. The most common acute injury for a ballet dancer is a sprained ankle, followed by a broken foot.
advance warning systems save lives while live media coverage galvanises the global community into action
Editor Les Aupiais firstname.lastname@example.org publisher mark beare creative AND FASHION director SUZANNAH GARLAND EDITORIAL AND PRODUCTION ASSISTANT jacqui turner copy editor riekie human Advertising Sales manager NIC MORKEL 021 488 5926 082 468 6490 email@example.com Advertising Sales Executives SAMEEGHA SAMAAI 021 488 5938 078 356 9521 firstname.lastname@example.org Simon Tully 021 488 5944 083 500 4888 email@example.com ad sales co-ordinator SIMONE JACOBs 021 488 5928 firstname.lastname@example.org executive Directors Mark Beare, John Morkel hr manager jolinda kemp Accounts Naeema Abrahams kauthar cerff elmon searle office manager marché jason receptionist tessa mbanga
PRIVATE EDITION IS PUBLISHED BY
Private Edition is published by The Publishing Partnership (Pty) Ltd, 9th Floor, Tarquin House, 81 Loop Street, Cape Town 8001. Copyright: The Publishing Partnership (Pty) Ltd 2010. No portion of this publication may be reproduced without prior written consent from The Publishing Partnership or the authors. The publishers are not responsible for any unsolicited material. The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of The Publishing Partnership or the editor. Editorial and advertising enquiries: PO Box 15054, Vlaeberg 8018; tel: 021 424 3517; fax: 021 424 3612; email: privateedition@ tppsa.co.za. Reproduction: Hirt & Carter. Printing: ABC Press. ISSN: 2218-063X Private Edition is produced using certified paper from GOLDEAST PAPER CO LTD, an accredited company committed to environmental protection. The paper is made from legally harvested trees using environmentally friendly materials. The paper supplier is submitted to regular environmental audits.
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photography: jAC DE VILLIERS. trenchcoat: GAVIN RAJAH
t was January 2011. I had been searching for a theme for Private Edition for our March issue, and as usual, trawling a network that covered business, property, science, the arts and geography. Coming up with content is partly intuition and partly the result of ferreting out ideas and trends from a wide network of sources. Sometimes gut feel ends up being uncanny albeit chilling timing. I’d settled on the concept of extremes (subtitled ‘To the Limit’ in this issue) before Egypt and Libya erupted and a full two months before the devastating earthquake and tsunami of March 11 off the coast of Japan. Before the disaster, the earth was showing signs of weather pattern change and the word out was that we should expect shifts. December’s severe – and early – arctic winter had hit Europe and Australia was still mopping up their flood damage. As a result, Ian Glenn was dispatched to speak to Bruce Hewitson, a National Research Foundation Research Professor at the University of Cape Town about what was up with climate change (see page 48). One of the first human interest stories to land came from Kathy Malherbe, who had interviewed shark-attack survivor Achmat Hassiem. Apart from a riveting account of his near-fatal brush with a 2.4-metre Great White, Private Edition went one step further and asked two experts to comment on why his body shut off during the trauma, and what effect the attack would have had on him psychologically (page 52). In the world of arts and antiques, an auction in Cape Town that netted over R6 million sparked international interest from as far as China and Russia, as rare antiques came under the hammer (page 28); and Steven Lack, who imports some of the finest wines on earth for clients he has sworn to keep secret, fed into our extreme theme by confessing that a particularly fine French vintage may set the diners back R45 000 (page 26). Our photo-essay took its cue from Darren Aronofsky’s psycho-thriller Black Swan (page 58) for which lead actress Natalie Portman received an Oscar. Bang went the delicate-dancer-in-a pink-tutu image. Interspersed with the extraordinary photography by Jacques Weyers and fashion direction by Suzannah Garland are body-stress facts and anecdotes that downgrade most extreme sports to warm-up sessions. When the going gets tough, the tough go long-distance riding. Marianne Heron doesn’t quite saddle up, but gets sweaty and dusty chasing down SA’s endurance riders who push themselves and their mounts to extremes on 80- to 200-kilometre rides (page 42). The extremes aren’t over yet. The earth is being bombarded by high levels of ultraviolet radiation as the solar flares signal the beginning of heightened activity from our nearest star. The jury’s out on what effect the surge in activity might have on climate – other than spectacular northern lights – but even the phrase ‘geophysical turmoil’ can’t be good. Solar Max will be in 2012 and anyone even thinking of spending time in the sun should take serious precautions. A look at the effect of the crustal instability in the world’s hot spots is enough to have anyone heading for higher ground. Major earthquakes in the Pacific, and the inevitable tsunamis, occurred in ’83, ’92, ’93, ’94, ’98, ’99 and 2001. And then there was lull before the big one in Japan. Does it signal another cluster? (Nearer to home, the Indian Ocean pattern was ’83, ’94, ’96, 2000, 2004, 2005 and 2006). Advance warning systems save lives while minute-by-minute live media coverage galvanises the global community into action. War over religion, politics and land takes a back seat and then, and only then, do we show our best side and pull together. What a shame.
Wine. Polo. Heritage. Fly-fishing. Country Living. Heaven?
Welcome to life at Val De Vie estate, where every day is filled with endless possibilities. Situated in the picturesque Paarl-Franschhoek valley, Val de Vie offers you a unique family orientated lifestyle that combines over 200 years of heritage, French sophistication, nature and country living. With award winning wines, international polo fixtures, a modern gym complex, tranquil fly-fishing on the river, scenic bike trails and idyllic picnics, the estate simply captivates your soul. Whatever you dream life to be, at Val De Vie youâ€™ll find a life worth loving.
Life worth Loving!
Utterly random and occasionally tactical trivia
CAROL ALBERTYN CHRISTIE’S UNDERLYING MESSAGE HIGHLIGHTS THE THREAT OF GLOBAL WARMING AND YET THE RESULT IS ASTONISHINGLY BEAUTIFUL ART
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A picture paints a thousand words With climate change a close and present danger, Carol Albertyn Christie has chosen to trap the delicate texture, colour and design of flowers and succulents within ice and then capture on film what nature makes of the unnatural collision. Her backlit images take on a third dimension, and at first glance, the photographs appear to be abstract landscapes, both organic and ephemeral. On closer inspection, the terrain emerges as an icy framework punctuated with delicate colour
and organic form. The ice forms its own pattern and flaws and no process is the same; an iris is captured in ice, its lilac-blue pigment intense and dramatic. The minute hairs of a fern frond take on primordial dimensions, magnified and given eternal life. As an avid gardener, Albertyn Christie usually looks for escape and calm in the open spaces of wide horizons and so the photography and the subject matter is a new journey within a smaller, more contained universe. When she’s not gardening, she’s also an award-winning journalist/ actuality producer for MNET’s Carte Blanche. For more info, visit www.carolalbertynchristie.com
A season of the TV series Mad Men says it all about the executive fast lane in the 60s: 15-hour working days, absentee parenting, no exercise, high-fat foods and incessant smoking. Fast-forward to the executive of 2011 and you’re looking at a revolution in the way many executives choose to do business. They want to be no further away from work than a jog, cycle and, in the case of Val de Vie Polo and Wine Estate in Paarl, a canter. CEO and developer Martin Venter says that the estate concept is not about reinventing the wheel, as similar concepts exist from Soto Grande in the South of Spain, to Pilar outside Buenos Aires and Arabian Ranches outside Dubai. These top estates share common ground – they’re within a 40-minute hop to an airport; and those who live on them put quality family life above everything. On Val de Vie, facilities allow for a few practice swings on the polo field before breakfast, working from a home office, lunch meetings in the estate’s top restaurant, watching school sport and topping it all with a few laps in the gym pool. There are also plans for a business village where executives can go to work without leaving the estate. Judging by the number of 40-something families with children under six, living like this has a captive market. (Don't miss Private Edition’s July 2011 issue for a bird’s eye view on the new breed of executives who masterfully balance work and life.) For more information, visit www.valdevie.co.za or contact email@example.com or call 021 863 6100.
Space to think, and to live la dolce vita
A SINGULAR PLEASURE
12-year old single malt
landmark theatre's new home The secret to showtime success
The initial concept of On Broadway was basic – a simple cabaret restaurant offering an optional meal and an entertaining show. Big names and superb performances by most of South Africa’s top cabaret and performing artists such as Pieter-Dirk Uys, Elzabé Zietsman, Marc Lottering, Nik Rabinowitz, Amanda Strydom and Stella Magaba grew the theatre’s reputation. Today, On Broadway’s shows are rapidly becoming recognised worldwide. Not only do artistes of an extremely high calibre give the venue credibility, but they also increase the value of entertainment in Cape Town. Most of these artists have returned for second visits, while some have asked for regular annual slots in the programme. In May 2010, On Broadway moved to its latest home, NewSpace Theatre on Long Street. It seats 200 people in the theatre and signalled a new era for this shobiz icon. The idea of On Broadway has always been to be a one-stop entertainment zone, and while this idea remains firmly in place, there are added advantages to the theatre's new home. The restaurants and theatre run as two separate entities, giving patrons the choice between dinner and theatre, just dinner or just theatre. There's also a choice between three restaurants within the theatre complex. On Broadway is one of Cape Town’s greatest success stories and over the years, it's risen from an after-hours 'it' venue to where it is today – a relaxed and attitudefree zone that more than lives up to its adopted slogan as 'Cape Town’s official entertainment headquarters and show zone'. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 021 424 1194.
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Whisky should carry a warning – once you acquire the taste, it could become a craving. A single-malt Scotch whisky is a good place to start. Made from malted barley and produced at a single distillery, it’s smooth on the palate and has a distinctive, bold flavour. The Singleton of Dufftown 12-year-old single- malt Scotch whisky is distilled in Speyside in American (bourbon) and European (sherry) oak casks to achieve a well-balanced, mature flavour. The sweet, fruity notes invite lingering, pleasurable warmth with hints of blackcurrant, brown sugar and espresso coffee. The Dufftown Distillery creates The Singleton using water from the source it has used since 1896 – Highwayman John’s well. It’s a key contributor to the whisky’s exceptional taste and many rivals have tried to steal it. For more information, call 011 731 6000 or 021 424 2265.
JAG JAZZES UP MOTOR SHOW Dreamy design
The Jaguar C-X75 – the standout car at the 2010 Paris Motor Show – impressed judges of the Louis Vuitton Classic Concept Award 2010 not only with its dreamy design, but also with its ability to present future technology 'without an ounce of nostalgia'. Head judge Christian Philippsen, a renowned automotive consultant, praised design director Ian Callum for 'clothing a world premiere in true Jaguar style'. The judges’ panel included author Serge Bellu, Louis Vuitton’s director of innovation Xavier Dixsaut, McLaren F1 designer Gordon Murray, former Porsche design head Harm Lagaaij and journalist Masafumi Suzuki. Like Louis Vuitton, Jaguar is synonymous with luxury, attention to detail and understated elegance, and this award-winning electric supercar is no exception. The entire Jaguar range has attracted kudos worldwide, and the Jaguar’s XJ has won 25 international awards. For more information, visit www.jaguar.co.za.
The love story continues While stylish sophistication is a given in Alfa Romeo's swanky realm, the new Giulietta adds comfort and enough space for five adults and their luggage – as well as better-than-expected fuel performance. The brand’s history of opulent elegance is perpetuated through this new model, with modern features like climate control, Blue&Me connectivity, six airbags, stability control, hill holder and Start&Stop fitted standard in the entry-level Progression. The fancier your model choice, the more toys you get to play with. Automotive enthusiasts will particularly enjoy the 1750 TBi Quadrifoglio Verde. Its sporty stance is a great match for the 173kW that the engine delivers to reach 0-100 km/h in just 6.8 seconds. It will keep on firing to a top speed of 242 km/h. Performance-wise, the Giulietta sets a completely new benchmark. There’s an engine to suit just about every need and the range boasts a combined fuel consumption figure below 8 litres/100km. For more information, visit www.alfaromeo.com.
BMW'S LATEST TECH FEAT
1. Lithium-Ion Battery 2. electronic engine 3. power electronics
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It looks a little like a 1-series crossed with a micro-chip and it curiously seems to be missing a few essentials... a fuel cap and the ubiquitous tail pipes for starters. Unveiled for the first time at the 81st Geneva Motor Show and on the verge of becoming available for day-to-day use, BMW’s ActiveE is an emission-free vehicle that delivers 170 horsepower and is more than capable of adroitly handling the road with four passengers. The electric motor draws its power from three lithium-ion batteries which replace the engine, transmission and fuel tank. A full test fleet of 1 000 units will be tried out in the US, Europe and China this year. This should pave the way for everyday use of the electric vehicle, and when new technologies and design concepts will truly meet the unmistakable BMW driving pleasure. For more information, visit www.bmw.com.
ActiveE an emission-free breakthrough
Perfect timing Pretty precision
Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Grande Reverso Lady Ultra Thin salutes the concept created for poloplaying British army officers 80 years ago. The 7.2mm-thin accessory marries elegance and grace with reliable precision and respected quality. The original swivel watch design featured a case that could pivot to shelter the dial from impacts – without sacrificing style. On the reverse, a personalised engraving set the standard for watchmaking aesthetics. The Grande Reverso Lady Ultra Thin combines the trademark Reverso attributes with a softer, more feminine look, gently curved to fit a dainty wrist. The steel or 18-carat pink gold case houses a Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 846 mechanical or quartz movement. The 18-carat pink gold version sparkles with diamonds while the adjustment crown features a precious stone. Customise it with a beautiful leather strap or metal bracelet to add the final flourish to an exceptional timepiece. For more information, visit www.jaeger-lecoultre.com or call Elegance Jewellers Prive on 011 615 6602 or Elegance Jewellers on 011 684 1380.
Carla Antoni’s latest collection
Fine and fancy
Delaire Graff’s latest lines The linen is so fine it almost passes the cashmere-through-the-wedding-ring test. Light, ethereal, fine, Capri is what you wear these days, not where you go in Italy. The brainchild of Antonino Aiello, 100% Capri is the fashion and household Italian linen brand that you could dress your toddler in, should you wish to spoil him or her rotten from an early age. Grown-ups need no encouragement. The ecologically friendly, breathable linen designs draw inspiration from the colours, shapes and lifestyles of Capri, and it’s now available at Delaire Graff Estate. If the unbeatable view, the splendid art and the linen are not enough to lure you there, then perhaps the most fabulous diamonds in the world will. The salon on the estate features jewellery from classic diamond line bracelets and solitaire rings to whimsical yellow diamond butterfly earrings by master craftsmen. The yellow fancy diamond range is Africa captured in glittering facets, while a range of men’s cufflinks in white or rose gold. An extensive selection of watches and accessories from the Graff Luxury Watch collection are also available. For more information, email email@example.com or call (021) 885 8160.
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Carla Antoni’s new collection of African keepsakes delves into the continent’s artistic well to extract unusual luxury gifts by artists, sculptors, designers and jewellers for discerning travellers. Beautifully boxed bespoke souvenirs range from a commissioned handmade fragrance by Frazer Parfum to eye-catching jewellery by Phillipa Green and Ida Elsje (below). Antoni’s philanthropic purpose is fulfilled by donating a percentage of the sale of the Bronze Rhino by Bronze Age to The Rhino Security Project, an initiative by The Endangered Wildlife Trust, while sales of other items benefit The Lunchbox Fund, which helps nourish needy school children in South Africa. The Carla Antoni Collection is available at duty-free malls at Cape Town International and OR Tambo International, select Cape Town and Johannesburg hotels, as well as top game reserves. For more information and for online sales, visit www.carlaantoni.com.
Wild at art
Ardmore’s appeal When Christie’s of London labels your work a 'modern collectable', it’s pretty much a done deal that Europe will react. But the venerable house simply follows a long line of Ardmore lovers across the world who have fallen deeply and madly for their ceramics. More importantly, Ardmore grew from Fee Halsted’s first initiative in 1985 to a worldwide success story for the men and women in the Drakensberg who continue to bring the exuberance and originality of a Fauvist-like art movement and give it 3D appeal. New to the range is the black and white collection, and while Ardmore has always been about an explosion of colour, form and a witty take on African wildlife, the new range is uber-sophisticated without losing a jot of the original energy of the design. For more information, visit www.ardmoreceramics.co.za or call 033 234 4869.
i have always felt a gift diamond shines so much better than one you buy for yourself – mae west
African Romance Diamonds to go
As one of only three airports (five by year end) in the world to offer non-stop flights to all six populated continents, OR Tambo International gives retailers access to millions of international travellers – and discerning shoppers – each year. Exclusive diamond and jewellery manufacturing retailer African Romance joins the mix this autumn with a concept store that promotes the jewellers
and their communities where the diamonds originate, against a decorative backdrop of African culture and tradition. African Romance sources only local, conflict-free rough diamonds and a laser-inscribed serial number on the girdle of the stone tracks its origin, from rough form to the final polished gem. For more information, visit www.africanromance.com or call 011 384 5600.
Shoot for the moon Cartier de Lune
Cartier perfumer Mathilde Laurent sought celestial inspiration for her new floral fragrance, Cartier de Lune. Drawing from Mother Nature’s bounty, Laurent has captured a soft, fresh scent as fleeting as the crepuscule that follows the final rays of sunlight – a mellow, luxurious memory of a floral caress illuminated by lunar reflections and magic spells. A New York Times article quotes Laurent’s take on perfume, which guides personal selection as 'a message, an expression of oneself'. The secret formulas for her creations transpose the Cartier style, 'a perfectly studied simplicity, into the scent. Just a few carefully selected high-grade ingredients are blended, so that each essence remains distinctive, not lost in a hazy combination.' Cartier de Lune’s elegant flacon reflects the blue-white iridescence of the moonstone, capped with a silver crown. The fragrance retails at about R900 at the Cartier Boutique. For more information, call 011 666 2800.
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A swish safari
Lodge-hopping with Singita Fly for free between lodges and enjoy one night’s stay on the house, thanks to Singita Ebony and Sweni Lodges’ Combination promotion. Singita Ebony boasts private swimming pools, and combines luxury with some of the best game viewing in the country. A short 35-minute flight away, Singita Sweni is set within a riverine forest of Singita’s private concession in the gamerich Kruger Park. Now you can book for four nights (two per lodge) and only pay for three – at R35 625 per person sharing (including the flight between the lodges). Alternatively, the 'One Night on Us' promotion at either the stylish Singita Lebombo or Sweni Lodge offers a four-night stay for the price of three nights (at R35 625 per person, all-inclusive). Singita is a member of the prestigious Relais & Chateaux group of hotels. Visit www.singita.com.
East Africa’s most sensational angle If you think flying over the Serengeti in a small plane is sensational, or drinking in the charms of this wildlife mecca in a Land Rover is a must, you're right. But the gold standard has got to be floating over the plains in a hot-air balloon, and topping the experience off with some serious bubbly. Even getting in and out is an adventure, and there’s a special thrill in hearing passengers giggle in about seven other languages as you wiggle into the basket, hanging on tight while the billowing balloon is filled with err…well, hot air. Sure, you have to get up in the wee hours of the morning, and even brace a bit of chill, but once you’re in the air and ooh-ing and ah-ing over the views from your private little bolthole in the basket, you too would be tempted to go around the world in 80 days! Visit www.balloonsafaris.com.
STICKS AND STONES…
Pepper Club’s best-kept secret Arguably the hottest address in Cape Town’s city centre right now, the Pepper Club Hotel and Spa is a dream come true for busy jetsetters, and provides every possible feature needed to turn a business trip into pleasure. Jazz evenings at Sinatra’s are unrivalled, especially if you sample some of the legendary oysters, while swimming in the eight-floor pool at night is a not-to-be-missed treat. But the piéce de résistance is the Intonga Stick Massage Treatment at the Cayenne Spa. Sore muscles or not, this top-to-toe treat is just the ticket to mellow you out to a Cape Town state of mind. Visit www.pepperclub.co.za
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Stylish laid-back luxury in the heart of the Namib They say you need at least two weeks in Namibia to experience its vast variety of landscapes, but if you only have a few days, be sure to head to Sossusvlei and the NamibRand Nature Reserve. At &beyond’s newly revamped Desert Lodge, breathtaking views (especially from your private outdoor shower) and adrenalin highs (try zooting in via Cessnas and landing on a strip the size of a inner-city parking bay) abound. Add to that two daily game drives, the most knowledgeable guides around and food brimful of the freshest ingredients imaginable and you’re in for a treat. We love the quaint, state-ofthe-art observatory with its resident astrologer on tap; the early morning guided hikes into the rocky nearby mountains; the skylight above your bed; the artist’s kit in your suite and the swimming pool with a view of a nearby waterhole, where wildlife is in no short supply. Visit www.andBeyond.com.
an elizabeth arden release
Joseph A Lewis II President and CEO, Pharma Cosmetix Research, L.L.C. PREVAGE® presents a new vision of anti-ageing eyecare with two new high-performance innovations designed to deliver intensive correction and protection to the look of skin around the eyes.
Eyes are said to be a window to the soul, but at the same time, they’re also a magnifying glass revealing all the visible signs of the skin’s ageing process. We caught up with Joseph A Lewis II for the lowdown on protecting the eye area.
Why are antioxidants, especially Idebenone, essential for the eye area? JL: Idebenone and other antioxidants scavenge toxic free radicals from environmental exposure to help prevent the formation of fine lines and wrinkles. Idebenone works better than other commonly used antioxidants in skincare products, and received the highest EPF® rating – 95 out of 100. In addition, Idebenone is the only antioxidant that effectively neutralises all three types of free radical assaults. This is especially important for the eye area, which is constantly moving from blinking, expression and even in our sleep – during REM.
What makes Idebenone better than other antioxidants? JL: Idebenone is the only antioxidant in skincare that effectively combats oxidative stress from both extrinsic (external environmental sources of free radicals such as UV light, ozone, air pollution and cigarette smoke) and intrinsic (free radicals produced in the skin itself ) sources. Idebenone can act on all levels of free radical damage, working deep within the surface layers of the skin to restore skin’s appearance. There are three types of free-radical reactions caused by oxidative stress. Primary free radicals are unstable molecules created as a result of exposure to environmental assaults. Secondary free radicals are formed as a result of exposure to primary free radicals and tend to damage the protective lipids of the skin. Then there’s also free radical activity that happens within the surface skin cells themselves. Not all antioxidants have the same protective capabilities. Most antioxidants shield from one type of free radical, and a few of the more potent antioxidant ingredients can attack both primary and secondary free radical damage. Idebenone provides the most effective
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Smooth moves According to Tony Vargas, Vice President of Research and Development at Elizabeth Arden, the skin around the eye area is very thin, making it more susceptible to free radical damage from UV rays, pollution and the environment. He adds that UV rays account for over 90 percent of free radical damage generated in the skin and the eye area. PREVAGE® Eye SPF 15 provides broad spectrum UVA/UVB sun protection in addition to the benefits of Idebenone. ‘We created a new technology, which fuses Idebenone with a fatty acid to deliver it to the skin more efficiently. It helps to create a reservoir so the skin can use the Idebenone when and where it is needed most,’ he says. ‘This is particularly important in the eye area as it’s more sensitive and prone to irritation.
and highest level of antioxidant protection. In addition to its protective capabilities, it helps to restore and correct skin’s appearance. Furthermore, it supports the skin’s natural repair mechanisms to address the visible effects of past damage.
Any insights on healthy skin in the eye area from your research on Idebenone? JL: Idebenone is good for all areas of the skin, especially for the delicate skin around the eye area which is much thinner and generally the first area of the face to show the signs of aging as a result of damage accumulation from exposure to UV light and other sources of free radical damage, such as cigarette smoke, pollution, etc.
How do the additional ingredients work together with Idebenone? JL: In addition to Idebenone, we’ve included a number of complementary ingredients that work with it to decrease the appearance of lines and wrinkles, puffiness, dark circles, crepiness, discolorations and sun-damaged skin. We’ve reinforced the formula of PREVAGE® Eye Ultra Protection Anti-aging Moisturizer SPF 15 with a blend of targeted ingredients to support Idebenone and help protect eyes from environmental free radical assaults, dehydration and damage caused by UV rays.
How do you use the Eye Serum and Eye SPF 15 products together?
idebenone provides the most effective and highest level of antioxidant protection
JL: For the best results, use PREVAGE® Eye Serum morning and night on a cleansed skin – it provides antioxidant protection and corrects the skin’s appearance. In the morning, follow it with PREVAGE® Eye SPF 15 to moisturise and protect the skin from the sun as well as from harsh environmental aggressors.
Has PREVAGE® Eye been ophthalmologist tested?
JL: Yes, both PREVAGE® Eye Advanced Anti-aging Serum and PREVAGE® Eye Ultra Protection Anti-aging Moisturizer SPF 15 have been ophthalmologist and dermatologist tested.
Gin is in
The spirit of the golden cocktail era is back in vogue, with a twist. By Marianne Heron
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Bond’s tipple is the vodka martini, with the recipe appearing in Fleming’s Casino Royale from 1953.) English food writer, journalist and broadcaster Nigel Slater conjures up the Gin-and-Jag flavour of the era in his autobiographical novel Toast. ‘The average meal went something like this: a round of gin and tonics in the lounge bar, followed by a bottle of Asti Spumante with the first course… usually prawn cocktail, a bottle of Mouton Cadet with Steak Diane, then Crêpes Suzette… hotly followed by brandies warmed over the spirit stoves. God alone knows how anyone got home.’ Quite. Gin has had a bathtub-to-boardroom history. It took serious hold in England when William of Orange was invited to the throne of England to replace Catholic James II in 1688. William introduced Dutch gin or Jenever (named for medicinal flavouring of juniper,) and it rapidly became the drink of choice of the poor. By 1740, during the Gin Craze, there were 7 500 gin shops in London alone. Today’s gins are in the London Dry Gin style, made from distilled grain spirit, and the premium brands are extra strong and flavoured with a fascinating variety of botanicals. Gordon’s Distiller’s Cut, an extra strong gin, has hints of lemon grass and ginger, while Blackwood’s Nordic Dry from Shetland adds wild water mint, sea pink, angelica and juniper berries. There’s even an organic gin, Juniper Green Organic Gin. These gins lend themselves to stylish cocktails and are a favourite base with mixologists for concoctions like Tom Collins, Negroni, Gin Fizz, Gimlet and Fallen Angel. The verdict? Gin’s now both the bees knees and the business.
f it hadn’t been for the English guests, we might never have known. They arrived with suspiciously heavy suitcases. What could be in them? Body parts, perhaps? All was revealed on day two of their visit, when we invited them for drinks to celebrate the first pink layer of their tans. Our offers of wine were declined. ‘You must have a Hendrick’s,’ they cried, flourishing an impressive blue bottle. We were mystified. ‘What? You didn’t know? Gin is in!’ In the seclusion of the Cape Winelands, the great Gin Revival had passed us by. And the guests, afraid their favourite tipple might not be available here, had packed precautionary supplies in their luggage. They needn’t have worried. Gin is in South Africa too. The spirit’s rising star is due to the growth of the premium market and inspired by a return to the cocktail culture. It’s been stirred by the arrival number of new high-end products that flirt with exotic botanical essences – Hendrick’s has hints of cucumber and rose petals and is distilled in Scotland by Grants, best known for single-malt whiskies. Beefeater 24 Super Premium from Pernod Ricard is steeped for 24 hours with fragrant teas and Beefeater Summer Edition is fragrant with elderflower, hibiscus and blackcurrant. The fashionable end of the market has also been boosted by the promotion of established premium brands like Tanqueray (1830) and Bombay Sapphire, as well as the emergence of super-cool venues like Twankey at the Taj and the Opal Lounge at 15 on Orange (both Cape Town); as well as Jozi’s Metro (Sandton), Buzz and Bar Six (Melville), and The Blue Naartjie (Orange Grove). The trend began in the UK and to hear about it from the source’s mouth, as it were, I ring the bar at the Ritz in London. ‘Yes, I certainly notice a move to gin, which used to be a closed market and has now opened up,’ confirms Harry Glockler, head bartender at the Rivoli Bar. Harry reels off the names of specialty gins like Sipsmith made in Hammersmith in a proper pot still, a first since 1830, or Tyrrells made by potato farmer William Chase in Hertfordshire. There is a return to the golden cocktail era of the 1920s and 30s, says Glockner. ‘We’re moving away from a culture where men were afraid to hold a V-shaped cocktail glass, once seen as effeminate,’ he says. ‘Quality rather than quantity counts with the new generation of drinkers.’ New-style gins signal the glamour of the 1960s when Sean Connery memorably ordered his dry martini ‘shaken not stirred,’ as Ian Fleming’s debonair 007 in the film Goldfinger. (Actually,
vintage investments: STEVEN LACK has cornered the blue chip of all blue chip market segments
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at your service
A nose for business If you’re in the market for a case of Lafite Rothschild 2009 and fancy playing the ‘future’s market’, Steven Lack is one middleman you should consult. By Stephanie Nieuwoudt
t was 2008 and the worldwide recession was in full swing. Investors with stocks in basically all markets were anxiously watching as their stocks plummeted. The perfect time to start a new company dealing in a super-luxury line? Steven Lack thought so. Brought up to appreciate fine wine and food, his first foray into business was the tough way; a series of successful restaurants followed by a stint as a sommelier on cruise lines where he strengthened ties with his existing connections in the wine trade and built up new contacts. Wider exposure to European wines and wines from the new world sector broadened his experience. After 12 years abroad, and ‘having dealt with some of the finest estates and leading vintners from around the world’, Lack returned to SA. Two years later the International Wine Company was born. If niche is king in a volatile economy, Lack has cornered the blue chip of all blue chip segments. IWC imports fine wines and regularly hosts events where investors and other wine connoisseurs gather to taste some of the best wines in the world. Shrewd investors know that the right product can yield major returns – fine wine investments outperform most other major share indices. Ten years ago, a 12-bottle case of 1982 Lafite Rothschild would have run to R33 800. Today you would need R325 000 to buy the same case of wine – a price appreciation of 857 percent. The Lafite Rothschild 2009 rose by over 80 percent in price within 24 hours of release, while Carruades de Lafite rose 272 percent in value 24 hours after its release. Because wine is regarded as a ‘wasting chattel’ (it’s believed that it has a maximum life of 50 to 100 years with subsequent decline in quality), the profit from investment is not subject to capital gains tax – a little tasting note that investors might find rather palatable. After years of establishing solid credentials and a surprisingly robust client base in a market as small as this one, Lack felt the time was right for what amounts to an industry coup. In April, France comes to South Africa for one of the most eagerly awaited events on the calendar. South African investors in Bordeaux blue chip wines will be invited to the Saxon Hotel for the Bordeaux En Primeur – an event that will for the first time be held outside of the French region of Bordeaux. For decades, the annual Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux week in Bordeaux has been one of the highlights of the wine world where distributors and buyers are invited to taste – and buy – premier-quality wines from the vats of top estates. The wine is aged for a further two years before it is sent to the buyers.
P O R T R A I T : B R E T T R UB I N
‘I think it has never been done before, simply because nobody has ever thought of taking the event out of Bordeaux,’ says Lack. ‘When I suggested it to my supplier in Bordeaux, he immediately said he thought it was a great idea, but it took some serious persuasion to get some classified growers to give us wine to feature in an en primeur tasting in South Africa.’ Although Lack also sources wine from other European countries such as Spain and Italy, as well as from the Americas and New Zealand, the red Bordeaux wines have the best blue chip value. Ninety percent of the wines on the Liv-Ex 100 index are Bordeaux wines dominated by only 15 labels. Especially sought after is the Lafite Rothschild, which has for some time been driving the market. Those in the know are hanging on to their 1982 and 1989 vintages for its investment value. IWC sources its Bordeaux wine only from Mähler-Besse. The family’s been in the winemaking business since 1892 and are the owners of a number of châteaux, including the highly acclaimed Château Palmer and Château Cheval Noir – they have a long tradition of being among the top wine merchants of the world. While Europe relies heavily on history and heritage, South Africa is relatively green territory – youthful but growing more vigorous as a market by the year. The South African buyers of rare wines are a surprisingly egalitarian mix of women and men. In 2009, twenty couples paid R30 000 to attend one of Lack’s events (the Ultimate Bordeaux Experience) over two days where great food was paired with Bordeaux wines. One of the wines served was a Château Palmer 1961. At R45 000 a bottle, it was a wine to be enjoyed at leisure and with some reverence. Like any high-end product, authentic origin is everything. ‘We are dependent on the impeccability of the cellars the wines come from. Mähler-Besse, as Sotheby’s, would insist on full traceability of the wines when reselling your investment on any secondary market such as the auction market,’ says Lack. In an age when the internet is seen as convenient and efficient, Lack swims upstream. He prefers getting into his car or flying to a client. He holds all cellphone calls in a meeting and simply sits, listens and offers advice. His personal relationships are such that clients started calling him to book special venues – naturally with a suggestion of top wines. It’s a market you sense instinctively and intuitively. If the discussion is about a R350 000 case of fine wine, good manners and etiquette alone call for a personal touch. International Wine Company: www.internationalwines.co.za
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Finn de siècle A contested will, legal action, a rare collection of art and antiques, and prices fuelled by Russian and Chinese bidders were the elements of one of the most successful auctions of the decade
hey’re masterful miniatures. The two matching jade brush pots are only 7.5 cm high, and delicately carved with insects, foliage and birds which become translucent in light. And irresistible. Estimated to sell for between R5 000 and R6 000, the pots turned out to be the sleepers of the much-anticipated auction. When the hammer fell, the lot had gone to a Chinese collector for R230 000. The pots had passed from the hands of two passionate collectors to a new owner to continue life as much-coveted gems. The story behind the auction that made news in SA and internationally began over 50 years ago. Cecil and Milly Finneran had arrived in South Africa in 1939 aboard a Union Castle liner with their 10 monthold son. As a Jewish family, escaping from the purges in Europe, they were sponsored by a Cape Town family. Cecil joined the Royal Navy and soon rose to the positions of chief petty officer and engineer while serving at the naval dockyards in Simonstown, protecting the South Atlantic routes. Decommissioned in 1945, he bought an old army Ford, applied for a taxi licence and based himself at the Adderley Street rank. The Finnerans soon found another outlet for their entrepreneurial ideas and energy. By 1950 the couple had set up an open stall on the Parade, selling anything from zinc baths and billy cans to books and bric a brac. In the same year, they opened Finn’s Antique Corner in Church Street, where they
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SMALL IS BEAUTIFUL: THESE oriental 19th/20th-century jade brush pots reached the highest price of R230 000
shining on: A George III Irish box from the Finneran’s silver collection fetched R95 000 [Below left] CECIL and MILLY Finneran [right] Local and international chinese collectors vied for the exquisite chinese ceramics
conducted a thriving business for the next 45 years. In the early days, they travelled to England where they bought copper and brass fenders, five-iron sets, kettles and trivets and all types of antiques that were at that stage in short supply in South Africa. They made a good team: Milly by all accounts took a no-nonsense, hard-case sales woman approach to the business while Cecil was the mild, pipe-smoking, congenial backstop, hard at work behind the scenes and always on the lookout for stock. As the business grew, the quality improved, and with it their high-profile clients. These included the Governor General’s wife Martha Jansen and private art collector William Fehr (1892-1968), which accounted for many pieces becoming part of the William Fehr Collection at the Castle, in particular a number of works by English artists and explorer Thomas Baines (1820-1875). Milly and Cecil enjoyed their private collection of fine English silver, Chinese and Japanese porcelain, ceramics and jade, fine English and Continental furniture, silver, clocks of all descriptions, portrait miniatures and bronzes. Due to his love of the sea, Cecil was particularly fond of the work of English marine artist William Lionel Wyllie (1851-1931), and Milly was famous for her jewellery, particularly jade. Her motto of ‘if you’ve got it, flaunt it’ made her stand out in the crowd as someone who enjoyed the couple’s success. The Finnerans’ interest in the world of antiques continued until Cecil’s death in May 2008. Milly had died in 2005 and the elderly widow had married the family housekeeper from Delft. He died several months later leaving the
entire house contents to her, a decision that was to cause some controversy in the family – as well as a protracted legal battle. Cecil’s family finally regained the contents of the house, which was then auctioned in February this year for the grandchildren. The much-anticipated auction became the largest single-owner sale of 600 lots of important antiques and works of art in SA. The auction fetched R6.5 million with prices fuelled by strong international interest, particularly from newly cash-flush Chinese collectors. ‘It was extremely unusual to find such variety and quality of items in Southern Africa,’ says Charles Rudd one of South Africa’s leading auctioneers of antiques, fine and decorative arts and who auctioned the Finneran collection. ‘Eclectic collections of this type are normally found only in Europe and Northern America.’ The company has widened its global audience via the-saleroom. com and invaluable.com, and has clients from the USA, Russia, Japan, China, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Holland, France and the UK. Rudd’s has sold a number of significant collections, ranging from Africana and rare books to militaria, 20-century design pieces, classic cars and a film props collection. The firm also holds fortnightly
with china’s booming economy there is this incredible interest in oriental items sales of high-quality antiques and 20th-century furniture, interiors pieces and collectables. The global reach of the auction house paid off. The initial estimates of the Finneran collection were made about two and a half years ago when Cecil died and the goods were put into storage, but the past few years dramatically altered the landscape in China and an emerging middle and upper class with new-found wealth had a direct impact on the successful February auction. ‘Had the auction been held a few years earlier, we’d never have obtained such high prices,’ said Rudd, ‘but now with China’s booming economy there is this incredible interest in oriental items.’ The overall sale was beyond expectations, and Rudd attributes the strong bidding in all categories to ‘fresh goods to the market, in very good condition, with high decorative appeal, particularly diverse in all areas, and well looked after by someone who was passionate about his collection’. He adds that investment in online marketing also contributed to the success of the auction. While it’s unlikely that a collection of this calibre and range will hit the market again anytime soon, doing a little research on what tickles the fancy of the emerging Chinese and Russian markets, might pay handsome dividends.
PRICELESS COLLECTION A 19th/20th-century white jade leaf brush washer was snapped up for R120 000 (estimate R3 000 – R4 000) and a 19th/20th-century white, green and brown jade group of a lady and bird fetched R80 000 (estimated at R1 000 – R2 000). Local and international Chinese collectors also vied for Chinese ceramics, such as a large decorated bottle vase with yellow background, trees, birds and insects that fetched R90 000 (estimated at R6 000 – R8 000) and a blue and white ovoid vase that sold for R110 000 (estimated at R6 000 – R9 000). There was heavy bidding for all antiques in the ivory section. Late 19th-century Chinese card cases fetched R30 000, R38 000 and R65 000 (estimated at R4 000 – R7 000) and a Chinese Qing dynasty rock-crystal duck with a lotus flower in its mouth went for R110 000 (estimated at R3 000 – R5 000). Two Russian icons and a Russian micromosaic sold for R135 000, R190 000 and R170 000 (estimated at R4 000 – R6 000). Rudd attributed these prices to the fact that icons may not be exported from Russia, so are eagerly sought out by expatriates. Another Russian collector, based in New York, bid R70 000 for an indistinctly signed oil entitled ‘What the Butler Saw’, which was expected to fetch R6 000. South Africans seeking out mementoes of the popular couple were not to be outdone. A local collector invested R114 000 in a 19th- century Meissen group of 19 monkey band players (estimated at R60 000 – R80 000). In the small clocks section, a South African outbid New Zealand, French and British collectors to claim a 19thcentury French silver, cloisonné and rockcrystal elephant timepiece for R48 000 (estimated at R10 000 – R15000).
russian micro mosaic: A Russian 19th-century icon overlaid with seed pearls sold for R190 000. boosted by the fact that icons may not be exported from Russia, expatriates are eagerly seeking them out
The Finnerans enjoyed a fine collection of silver, including a George III Irish silver freedom box, which found an Irish buyer at R120 000 (estimated at R30 000 – R40 000). A Charles II silver oval box made in London in 1684 (estimated at R20 000 – R3000) fetched R48 000. A 17th-century Bleau family map fetched R13 000 (estimated at R4 000 –R5 000). In the portrait miniatures category, lot 171 of two 19th-century portraits was bought by a London collector for R11 000 (estimated at R1 000 – R1 500). English collectors and art dealers also vied for works by the leading British marine artist William Lionel Wyllie. Small watercolour and mixed media works (estimated at R1 000 – R1 500) reached R13 000 and R15 000, while two oils (estimated at R10 000 – R15 000) fetched R50 000 and R30 000. While furniture sales are generally flat worldwide, the highly decorative nature and continental flavour of the Finneran’s pieces made them extremely attractive to buyers. For example, a 19th-century French ebonised and marquetry bureau Mazarin fetched R65 000 – double its estimate.
I S S U E 1 1 PRI V A TE EDITION 2 9
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A cut above
FASHION FORWARD: offering bespoke experiences, nicole morris has discerning shoppers at her feet
hen Nicole Morris fell into the deep end of the clothing and textile industry with a lacklustre CV in a do-or-die stab at a post-divorce income stream, she surfaced crusading – for single mothers without university education, for discerning consumers, and for South African factory workers. ‘You’ve just got to believe in something strong enough and you can make it happen,’ says Morris. ‘I was forced to learn to do everything myself, from making fit samples to finding freelance patternmakers.’ Blessed with the ability to ‘sell ice to an Eskimo’, Morris worked at a top design house and, for seven years, channelled boundless energy and enthusiasm into sourcing the best fabrics in China and India for the local manufacture of feminine, elegant and classic garments. Her vision? A charming contradiction in terms: accessible exclusivity. ‘Nobody likes to be ripped off… that includes consumers and suppliers. Skilled seamstresses with families to feed are paid a pittance while design houses and retailers mark up their products for outrageous profit.’ In 2008 Morris opened All Source to service retailers by sourcing clothing, fabric, part-garments and accessories at affordable prices through her foreign contacts. But she’s found her niche in part-garment construction, and thrown a lifeline to a struggling industry. Part-garment construction is the manufacture of easily made, yet more complex feature elements – such as a pleated dress panel, intricate collars or rhinestone-encrusted leather jacket fronts. It’s more profitable for the supply chain, and carries cost savings for the consumer. ‘Wholegarment imports attract a 45 percent
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duty, while part-garment imports only extract 22 percent. When a part-garment is imported to re-export, the duty falls away entirely. And that is the real end-game,’ she says. Her vision led to the 2010 launch of House of Fashion, a live design studio for retail chain buyers and Only One club members, in Loop Street, Cape Town. It’s an opulent destination that’s all about the bespoke experience. Only One is an invitation-only club that gives women access to about 1 200 one-off designer garments, which Morris handpicks on bi-monthly trips to the East. ‘I buy based on emotion. My decisions are not influenced by colour, shape or length. I must want to kill to have it in my cupboard,’ she says. Her selection reveals to-die-for pieces that you can throw on and feel instantly fabulous. Incredibly, prices range from R1 400 to R2 500 per item. The only problem is deciding what to keep and how to choose, but a stylist is on hand to help. Morris’ new Johannesburg showroom, also called House of Fashion, is located in a Herbert Baker-style mansion where every room is a showpiece, courtesy of resident architects and interior decorators. There you’ll find about 3 000 garments, eight fitting rooms, a bridal gown range designed by Morris and a wedding gift display room with take-home trinkets that guests will treasure. Only One also affords members access to Morris’ little black book of suppliers, who offer sterling service at appropriate pricing, whether for a Brazilian hair treatment or an engagement ring. Prospective applicants can secure an introductory Only One interview on a member’s recommendation, but be warned – if you favour your tracksuit over this high-end style, you won’t make the cut. For more info, visit www.only1.co.za or www.houseoffashion.co.za.
P O R T R A I T : M A RGU E RIT E O E LOFS E
PHOTOGRAPHY: MARGUERITE OELOFSE IS REPRESENTED BY INFIDELS. INSET IMAGE COURTESY OF HOUSE OF FASHION
Exorbitant retail prices, monochromatic shopping malls and poor service levels are forcing fashionistas to find other ways of retail therapy. Fiery young entrepreneur Nicole Morris has the answer, sans the swing tag. By Debbie Hathway
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Turning over a new leaf Giving up the relatively sane and safe haven of a fulltime job for a niche industry takes courage. Reward comes in the form of delight from a growing fan club. By Barbara Erasmus
KALK BAY BOOKS
quaint location: ann donald’s kalk bay books has become a landmark for locals and visitors alike
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Journalists, sharpening their pencils, dream of landing a job as editor of a leading brand like Fairlady – glamour and prestige are guaranteed, not to mention corporate perks such as a regular paycheck and a car allowance. It was a gamble when Ann Donald abandoned this enviable package to realise a precarious dream – a seafront bookshop down the road from her Kalk Bay home. ‘I don’t think reason comes into it,’ she says of her decision. It’s easy to lose your heart to Kalk Bay where the sea is a kaleidoscope of shifting blues and fishermen beach their boats to sell the glistening catch of the day. Names like Fernandez and de la Cruz still crop up on the register of the neighbourhood Catholic school started by the descendants of the Filipinos shipwrecked when the same sea turned treacherous two centuries ago. The quaint railway station, the key to expansion of the fishing village, still stands on the main road which now offers different lures: cobbled streets; shops selling antiques and bric-a-brac; delis, restaurants and a theatre. In 2006, Donald launched a new pull factor – Kalk Bay Books. She queried the wisdom of her move from tailored corporate security as she stood with paint on her hands and her overalls, climbing the scaffolding on the bare floors of a section of the old Masonic Hotel, and she sold shares to raise the capital required to build a bookshop with a view – but views don’t pay the monthly expenses in the same way as the passing trade offered in a conventional mall location. However, Donald doesn’t owe her successful CV to timid thinking. ‘I wouldn’t stint on the look and feel I was aiming for,’ she explains. ‘My goal was to make it look as if it had always been a bookshop.’ She’s succeeded. From richly textured wooden floors, ceiling-high book shelves, ethnic sculptures, a winding wooden staircase and deep comfortable
chairs for browsers to the latest edition of The New York Review of Books and Wordsetc. And of course, the books – each one hand-picked by Donald and her well-read assistants from the great many options arriving daily from publishers. Donald sighs as she talks about the difficulty of deciding which to buy, but after four years in the business, she’s developed a good idea of what sells to the local, national and international markets which form her customer base in a location where the volume of trade reflects the vagaries of weather. The big names in South African fiction are there, from classics by Gordimer and Brink to bestselling krimis by Deon Meyer and Margie Orford. Nonfiction titles range from Birth to Bonk – and there’s still the rest of the alphabet to browse through. Lives like Loaded Guns, the new biography on Emily Dickenson, looks promising, as does Marlene van der Westhuizen’s latest duo of cookbooks which form the basis of a demonstration offered by The Annex, the adjoining bistro which forms part of Donald’s vision to make Kalk Bay Books a shopping destination. An important component of the experience is the userfriendly children’s section; no-one checks for sticky fingers as young customers sit cross-legged on the floor, turning the brightly coloured pages of titles which vary from a collectors’ edition of Tintin to The Baboon who went to the Moon. Donald makes good use of electronic marketing and has over two thousand readers on her mailing list who are kept informed about a variety of events hosted at Kalk Bay Books, and the shop is usually crammed to capacity at early evening launches by local and international writers. Twice a month, poetry aficionados gather for an Off the Wall presentation; recently, talented Cape Town poet Finuala Dowling read to the mellow backing of a saxophone. Demand for a bistro meal coupled with readings by well-known names has led to repeat
P O R T R A I T : M A R G U E R I T E O E L O FS E
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OPEN BOOK CAPE TOWN What? This exciting festival will boast 50 book-related events featuring 20 top international writers. They will be interacting with the cream of SA’s writing talent across five venues in Cape Town’s East City Precinct. The festival will also include an exciting youth program that aims to develop a love of reading among the youth of Cape Town. When? 21 to 25 September Why be there? Opportunities for organisations range from headline sponsorships to branding of particular events – and the benefits include international exposure, opportunities to have private sessions with international writers for your clients or staff and much more. Tailormade corporate packages according to specific requirements and interests are also available. CONTACT Frankie Murrey on firstname.lastname@example.org
Indies worth a footnote THE BOOK COTTAGE Harbour Road Hermanus, 028 313 0834, email@example.com THE VILLAGE BOOK SHOP Main Street, Plettenberg Bay, 044 533 1450 LOVE BOOKS 53 Rustenburg Rd Corner 9th Street Melville, 011 726 7408 www.lovebooks.co.za THE BOOK BOUTIQUE 26 Rockview Road, Amanzimtoti, 031 903 6692 firstname.lastname@example.org
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the difference between an independent bookstore and a chain store in a mall is linked to location, book selection and atmosphere
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performances and Donald has recently added Deep Reading to the monthly schedule when a slack time at The Annex between lunch and dinner has been filled with in-depth comparisons of books as challenging as J M Coetzee’s Summertime and Damon Galgut’s In a Strange Room. Donald’s passion for books is evident, even to clients who settle down on freshly painted wicker chairs with elegantly upholstered cushions to enjoy a bistro meal in The Annex or to bask in the deck’s panoramic view of the harbour; paying becomes an event to look forward to because each bill is delivered within the covers of a well-thumbed classic or an anthology of poems. Donald speaks with relish of the pleasure she derived from scouring the secondhand bookshop of the Salvation Army to build up a collection of suitable titles. The bills inside the books aren’t small. Decadent cherry cheesecake, freshly baked each morning at Sweet Cillies in neighbouring Fish Hoek, doesn’t come cheap; there’s more profit in food than books where the markup is low. Shoppers could demolish five slices of cheesecake for the price of a new paperback, which frequently tops R200 in the current market. Will bookshops like Kalk Bay Books survive the competition from their new electronic competitors? In the hands of passionate advocates like Donald, there’s no doubt that the future of traditional books is assured.
THE BOOK LOUNGE
You don’t get named the best in the country without a secret formula. So what does The Book Lounge have that makes it so magical? It’s a wireless world in 2011 after all. You can buy a book without getting out of bed. Key in the site followed by the title and advance to Go. Pay R200 and the book’s in the mail. You can order dishwashing liquid or rat poison just as easily. Fortunately for local booklovers, Mervyn Sloman believes that purchasing a book should be more of an occasion. No-one who has dropped into The Book Lounge on the corner of Roeland and Buitenkant streets in downtown Cape Town was surprised to hear that the prestigious Publishers Association had awarded it the sought-after accolade of Best Bookshop in the country. Sloman doesn’t knock the chain stores where he worked at the start of his career as a bookseller. ‘An Indie is a different beast entirely,’ he points out. There’s no price war in a country where publishers set the prices and which lacks the bargain books that tempt passengers as they disembark at Heathrow. The difference between an independent bookshop and a chain store in a mall is linked to location, book selection and atmosphere. Sloman’s dream was to provide readers not only with hot-off-the-press new releases, but also a selection of interesting books not readily available elsewhere. ‘I wanted to create a comfortable space where a community of writers and readers could engage with
PHOTOGRAPHY: MARGUERITE OELOFSE IS REPRESENTED BY INFIDELS. INSET IMAGES BY CHRISTOPHER AUPIAIS
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each other,’ says Sloman, who signed a lease on the 25th September 2007 after his wife dragged him off to peer through the window of the beautiful old Victorian building. He could see the advertised space was too small for his plans – until he spotted the basement barely visible through a hole in the floor. The project was on. Sloman embarked on the renovation with his characteristic zeal and after two frenzied months, he was able to open his doors to the public on December 1st in the same year. ‘My concept of a special kind of bookshop became viable only because of the invaluable support I received from all the major publishers who backed my vision from the start,’ he explains. With its architectural charm, wide-ranging book selection and coffee and cake on tap, any local booklover will affirm that the Book Lounge has met all its aspirations. What makes it so special? No other bookshop in the country hosts an event five times a week. A high-pressure sales pitch is alien to an ethos where launches or discussions provide insights into the cultural and political life of the community. An essential ingredient to the success is the well-read staff that never shrug their shoulders and move onto the next customer. If the book is not in stock, they’ll find it. Their remarkable follow-up to requests accounts for the development of a strong loyalty factor, valued highly by the Book Lounge team. Sloman didn’t anticipate that the event culture, which has become the trademark of The Book Lounge, would become so firmly entrenched. His current problem is to make a selection from the inundation of requests from publishers, organisations and individuals. Sometimes as many as three hundred people jostle good-naturedly for floor space as they sip a complementary glass of Leopard’s Leap wine. Authors range from zany Lauren Beukes – who handed out syringes at the door at the theatrical introduction to Moxyland, her futuristic look at Cape Town, to Mamphela Ramphele with the political insights she offered at the launch of Laying Ghosts to Rest. Sloman is not one to rest on his laurels. Despite his already hectic lifestyle, he found time to hook up with Ben Williams of online books portal www.book.co.za to hatch an enterprising plan that has the local book world buzzing. They’ve established a partnership with Britain’s premier literary event, the Hay Festival of Literature, which will see the convergence of top literary talent from the around the world at Open Book Cape Town in September 2011. Also included in the partnership is the writer’s organisation PEN and
Equal Education, the organisation behind the current campaign to make books more widely available in South Africa – a goal intrinsic to the future prospects of all South Africans.
one for the books: mervyn sloman in the book lounge, a unique shop in downtown cape TOWN where regular events are major drawcards
Private Edition will keep readers updated about the festival, which will evolve around the Book Lounge with its close proximity to National Heritage sites such as the Fugard Theatre. It promises to be the best bookfest the country has ever seen.
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RUSTIC CHARM: THIS 17TH-CENTURY STONE-BUILT HUNTING LODGE HAS RETAINED MANY OF ITS ORIGINAL FEATURES
So you want to buy a château? Picking up the gauntlet to play the comte in Gascony may just be a matter of signing on the dotted line. By Marianne Heron
here could hardly be a better way to add swash to your buckle than to buy a French château. Especially if the château happens to have been home to the man who inspired Alexandre Dumas’ character d’Artagnan. Turreted Château d’Arricau-Bordes – home of the fourth musketeer’s alter ego Charles de Batz-Castlemore – is currently for sale. Dating to the time of the Knights Templar, the immaculately restored property towers over its own vineyard in the Béarn region in Gascony – one of France’s best-kept secrets. Like Béarn, the neighbouring Gers region is more friendly and less crowded than Provence and the Dordogne. It’s a countryside of undulating hills and it’s the foie gras centre of France where there are more geese than people and herds of Blond d’Aquitaine cattle. There’s enough rain to make the countryside green during short winters and warm summers, and slow food isn’t a new fad here, it’s simply a way of life. The property picture – from châteaux to flint-built cottages
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or manors with characteristic steep-pitched roofs – is equally enticing. ‘A lot of people come here for the lifestyle more than any other reason, whether it’s for a second home, or as a residence,’ says Edward Landau of Le Bonheur, Béarn-based estate agents. France, despite its stable property market and well-regulated borrowing policy, hasn’t been immune to the 2007 crisis, which hit property prices in the area and caused a lack of movement in the market. The result, as recovery gets underway gradually, is that there’s still value and choice in property – not something that happens often, says Landau. And if the choice happens to be a château, there are quite a few of these aristocratic residences on the market. Some of the properties on Le Bonheur’s books include a 17th-century château near Lembeye, boasting seven bedrooms and two dining rooms. – currently on the market at €750 000 (just over R7 million), or an impressive 17th-century château complete with a gatehouse near Toulouse for €1.2 million (almost R11.5 million). If a grand estate is required, how about a Napoleonic château set in over
[ABOVE] HISTORIC CHARM: chÂteAu d’arricau-bordes (RIGHT) FIT FOR A KING: this 17th-century chÂteAu includes stables and a gate house [BELOW] ENVIABLE VIEWS: THE TOWERING PYRENEES ABOVE PONT D’ESPAGNE
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100 hectares of parkland with sweeping views of the Pyrenees, at €2.88 million (R27.6 million)? Château d’Arricau-Bordes, on the market at €3.65 million (almost R35 million) was once owned by Jean-Paul Montesquiou and was home to his nephew Charles Batz-Castlemore when he was on leave from his duties as commander of the Musketeers in Paris. Landau and his wife Penny moved to France from South Africa and launched an agency catering mainly for international buyers, including South Africans, with branches at Maubourguet, Lembeye and Vic-en-Bigorre. His advice to prospective buyers is to look at properties that have been renovated in the last decade. ‘With property prices having dropped substantially, there’s good value to be found on the market. A property that has been renovated will be in relatively good order. The cost of property has decreased, but not the cost of the work, so if you buy a property in need of renovation you end up paying a bit more,’ he says. South African buyers favour traditional properties with views and character, according to Louise Cheeseborough, who works at FPI French Property Investments which is based in the lively city of Pau – a favourite resort with the British in Victorian times, where their legacy includes France’s first golf and rugby club. ‘Currently it’s a buyer’s market,’ says Cheeseborough. ‘People say that things are starting to recover, but it’s more the case that there’s a greater volume coming on the market and that people are buying after such a big reduction.’ A number of factors have caused sales to pick up, says Cheeseborough, who caters mainly for overseas buyers, specialising in properties in the Gave de Pau and Gave d’Oloron areas. British buyers are back in the market and French owners are now keen to sell, and there are forced sales involving buyers who took on prêt relais (bridging finance) at the peak of the boom. The sample of properties at FPI are definitely priced to sell, and include a farmhouse to be renovated with mountain views, a new kitchen, four bedrooms and a barn at €415 000 (about R4 million); and a renovated farmhouse with two large reception rooms, five bedrooms, an indoor swimming pool and a gorgeous and large garden at €590 000 (just over R5.5 million). House-hunting in the Gers is a thoroughly seductive experience. We spent a morning getting a feel for what’s available with Eunice
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NEED TO KNOW Property buyers are well protected in France. If an offer is made and accepted by the vendor, it can’t be sold to anyone else for seven days; and when the buyers go to the notaire (lawyer) and signs the compromis de vente, they have seven days to change their mind. A 10 percent deposit is usual with the balance payable on completion of registration and other administrative requirements. The lawyer’s fees are on a sliding scale of 6-7 percent of the purchase price. Mortgages of up to 80 percent are available, and banks are now more open to giving loans but require ongoing evidence of income. Refurbishment costs around R10 000 per square metre and a new build between R120 000 and R150 000 per square metre.
Tyler-White, an agent in Marciac at La Maison de l’immobilier – a firm with three offices in the area. From Marciac, home to a vibrant jazz festival, we wound along country lanes through tiny villages to see a restored manor house with a converted pigeon house at €730 000 (almost R7 million), as well as a restored 19th-century home with three bedooms, a barn as large as the house and views of the Pyrenees and surrounding valleys at €450,000 (about R4.3 million). ‘There are some good-quality properties available here,’ says Tyler-White, who has sold to a number of South Africans. ‘If you want to buy a restored château, you can expect to pay €2-3 million (R19 to R29 million). But anyone who buys one for as little as €700 000 (just under R7 million) has to have plenty of money, and would be happy to spend on renovation. But it’s not for the faint-hearted.’ Sounds just like the kind of challenge d’Artagnan would relish. The general price range for properties on the books at La Maison de l’immobilier is €350 000 to €500 000 (almost R5 million) and you can expect to pay almost R3 million for a restored character property with three or more bedrooms, a reasonable amount of ground and a view. An alternative to a château might be a Chartreuse – a charming style of building unique to the area, with the main rooms at what appears to be ground level and a semi basement. There’s a particularly fine restored Chartreuse with five bedrooms, a wine cellar and a gym on the books of both Le Bonheur and La Maison de’l’immobilier at €848 000 (about R8.2 million). Others who’ve bought into the French dream are equally enthusiastic about the lifestyle. Simon Browne, a farmer from Stellenbosch who moved to France 15 years ago, chose the southwesterm area, ‘because it’s essentially French, not full of everyone else and it’s in the south’. With his wife Isabelle, he owns and runs Maison Rancesamy, an Alistair Sawday-listed B&B. ‘People live here, it’s not just a holiday destination, so the villages are very much alive and that makes a big difference.’ A case of vive la difference you might say. Eunice Tyler-White: La Maison de l’immobilier, www.immobilier-gers.com +33 056 208 2907 Edward Landau: Le Bonheur, www.le-bonheur.com +33 056 296 9427 Louise Cheeseborough: FPI French Property Investments, www.fpi-residences.com +33 055 972 5650
PHOTOGRAPHY: DAVID MORGAN AND COURTESY OF LE BONHEUR
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Riche pickings At the Salon International de lA Haute Horlogerie, it appears that you can never be too rich or too thin. By Lesley Stones
n a world where everything has become computerised or mass produced, fine watchmaking is still an artistic labour of love that spells different things to watch aficionados. Whether your Swiss timepiece is a statement accessory (an expensive label of ticktockery that subtly announces your success to the world); acquired, because you’re in love with the high-precision microcosm designed to work together in perfect harmony beneath that expensive watch face; or whether it’s bought as an investment piece or as a once-off, customised piece of art, your watch determines who you are in the world. The premier timepiece looks set to replace the car as the new status symbol, and watch junkies are always on the lookout for whatever is technologically daring, innovative and new. The recent 2011 Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) in Geneva was the perfect place for the dedicated watch junkie to obtain his or her fix. It showcased 19 luxury watch brands, 13 of them from the Richemont stable, and the jewel in the crown was naturally Cartier, a masterful and cutting-edge creator of all types of clocks and watches for over 100 years. One of the brand’s headline innovations for 2011 is the Rotonde Astrorégulateur, created by an inhouse watch constructor, and took five years of development. The tourbillon, which was invented in 1802, reduces the effect of gravity and is considered one of the must-have complications in a watch, but the new Astrorégulateur movement takes this to a new level. It’s highly complex, but the idea is simple. An innovative anti-gravity system ensures that the rotor always returns to the same vertical position. Collectors and technophiles who are familiar with the minutiae of the inner workings of the watch, and the naming of its parts (in French), will be fascinated by the differences between a classic tourbillon and this movement. One is the special rotational axis of the carriage in the centre of the movement, with a redesign of the entire gear train and, secondly, the setting of the balance and escape wheel is on one side of the carriage,
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(clockwise from below) cartier’s genius: the rotondo astrorégulateur; multiple time zone watch; ballon bleu extra-flat; tortue xl
whether it’s bought as an investment piece or as a once-off, customised piece of art, your watch determines who you are in the world
instead of the same rotational axis. Another new introduction is the Calibre de Cartier Multiple Time Zone watch. Who says time travel is impossible? One of the major trends at this year’s show was the ultra-flat look and Cartier introduced its new Ballon Bleu Extra-Flat. As per the Cartier’s fine watchmaking movements, it’s to be noted that most of them carry the Geneva Seal. The new diamond-encrusted tourbillon and crocodile watch, which is very much in the Cartier tradition of a watch as a jewelled timepiece, also caused a huge buzz at the show. A very feminine watch, it boasts the ‘grande complication’ of a
flying tourbillon that was developed as a design feature. The watch parts, crocodile and flowers appear to float suspended within the case, but in fact the carriage is designed with extra shock-absorption features. While Cartier might introduce new mechanisms, it always keeps in touch with its heritage and the art of the secret watch, which dates back to the end of the 19th century. It was celebrated in the Mille et une heures de Cartier collection and aimed at the feminine side of the market, drawing on the maison’s use of animal motifs, Art Deco and Indian influences. A bird’s wing on an elaborate diamond bracelet lifts up to reveal a tiny delicate watch beneath, a masterpiece of both high jewellery and watchmaking. The Cartier d’Art collection also drew collective gasps of admiration from those who love a fashionable and highly collectable watch, and this year new materials were introduced. A Rotonde de Cartier watch in pink gold set with diamonds and a turtle motif required over 1 000 stones from onyx to tiger’s eye, yellow jasper, coral and mother of pearl. A master artist was commissioned to create work of such exquisite, infinitely tiny craftsmanship and subtle variants in colouring. All this on one small watch dial! The artistic technique of plique-à-jour pailloné enamelling, which is a trademark of Cartier workmanship, was used to create a white gold bear motif and the Tortue XL dial in yellow gold with a striking jaguar motif, an image of which dominated in the Cartier stand. The latter used relief engraving and champlevé grand feu enamel on both the dial and watchcase itself, giving the jaguar’s face a striking three-dimensional effect. Panerai is truly a collector’s brand because its production is so limited and there is a waiting list in New York and other cities. So those interested in these rare, exclusive, collectable or left-handed watches will be delighted by the new Panerai products and materials for the coming year. A completely new material used was bronze, as in the Luminor Submersible Automatic Bronzo, with a caseback in titanium to prevent oxidation. The brand used bronze because of the historical links with the sea and because the material is resistant to seawater and there is low friction. The dial face in a dark green complements the bronze. There’s also a 1950s influence in the Panerai watches this year, so this really is a ‘Bronze, James Bronze’ watch. According to Christopher Greig of Charles Greig Jewellers, who attended the show, his stores were the first to launch the brand into South Africa and visitors to his stores are thrilled by the availability of the Panerai new ranges. No-one knows how to jol like the Italians and the
(above) bold briliance: panerai’s luminor submersible automatic bronzo (below) time-honoured classics: vacheron constantin’s patrimony traditionelle world time and historique aronde 1945
new Portofino line in IWC watches was introduced to inject a sense of Italian savoir-vivre into a normally staid and reliable Swiss brand. What stood out this year was the use of the Santoni leather straps. Normally a top shoe designer, Santoni got involved because Guiseppe Santoni is a watch collector and a fan of IWC Schaffhausen (he has 25 of their watches). He connected with IWC CEO Georges Kerns and suggested the collaboration that would fit into the elegant Portofino world. Vacheron Constantin, the oldest and most expensive Swiss brand on the market, which is now available in South Africa, also introduced new calibres and shapes into its DNA for 2011, such as the Patrimony Traditionelle World Time which gives all 37 time zones a nod. The brand also revived emblematic models of the 1950s and introduced a new shape in their Historique Aronde 1945 watch in rose gold (a material that transmits sound astonishingly). The word aronde is an old French word meaning ‘swallow’, and from the side the watch looks like a swallow’s wings. Bling bunnies will also adore the new diamondencrusted Piaget watches with their sliver-thin movements – the theme this year was Limelight Garden Party, a collection to celebrate the Chinese New Year as Asia is Piaget’s biggest market.
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devouring the distances: riders at dawn in a blur of golden dust
Jockeys of the Bushveld forging bonds with their loyal steeds, scores of south africa endurance riders are Saddling up for an addictive challenge. By Marianne Heron
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horse whisperers: top endurance rider dominique van zyl leading narji; riders nearing the end of the first phase of the swartland ride; dr john charles carrying out preliminary examinations
n the rising dawn, you can hear your heart beat. Then hoofbeats drown heartbeats as a posse of riders crest the hill. The horses move by at a canter, tails carried like banners, coats like silk. The sight is spine-tingling, exhilarating and you want to be up there, be one of them. The group thunders on down the track, in a blur of golden dust kicked up in the corrugated wheat of the Swartland. They have covered 30 kilometres and there are 50 more to go as the sun tops the mountains and the January heat rises. Mix adrenalin, speed and stamina and you have the addictive ingredients of South Africa’s fastest growing sport. Endurance riding is exactly what it says – a gruelling Paul Revere challenge that forges a steely bond between rider and horse. The origins of the sport stretch back for centuries to the desert rides of Bedouin tribes. The Fauresmith Ride, one of the toughest in the world, is now in its 38th year with around 400 of the cream of endurance riders competing. In the hours leading up to the start, rows of horseboxes and
P ORTRA I T S : DAVID M ORGAN
4x4s glimmer in the dark like a medieval encampment. The novices move off last. These inexperienced riders are still climbing the ladder of qualification where they must complete a certain number of kilometres at each distance level before being allowed to compete at the next. The first of 96 events of the year in the ERSA (Endurance Riders Association of South Africa) calendar is at Riebeek Kasteel. It’s a tough ride given the hilly terrain and heat, scoring a high plus in South Africa’s unique handicapping system designed to level the playing field between varied topography. The church clock tower beside the school sports ground chimes five as the steward counts down the start for the first group of competitive riders. They’re off, not at a thundering gallop, but at the extended high-stepping trot characteristic of Arab horses. They have far to go. No other equine sport demands so much of horses and with that demand, there are the rigorous rules and vetinary checks to safeguard the fitness of the animals before and during races which stretch over 80, 120 – and in the case of the premier Fauresmith
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behind the scenes: dr john charles; riebeek kasteel’s school sports ground; springbok riders jacques grobbelaar on novice colt dabo and Willa Botland on Zamien
Ride in July – 201 kilometres. The afternoon before the Riebeek Ride three vets are carrying out the preliminary examinations – checking the identity and innoculation status of participating horses. Dr John Charles, attending as the treatment vet, runs through the list of ‘fitness to continue’ tests – from lesions to mucus membrane – as he checks heart rate, listens to gut sound and tests hydration status. The average pulse of a resting Arab is 44 per minute. During a hard ride itcan rise as high as 140; the fitter the horse, the quicker it recovers when resting. ‘The biggest problem we have with endurance horses is that they become dehydrated, which can lead to an electrolyte imbalance and to other problems,’ he explains. Horses are checked again at the end of each stage, followed by a 30-minute rest period during the ride – in this case a clover-leaf-shaped course with two loops of 35km and 32km and a final shorter one of 15km, an arrangement designed to avoid afternoon heat. Last year, around 80 percent of horses and riders completed this particular course. Midway through, seven horses dropped out, one with an injury from a kick, another a cast shoe, while
the average pulse of a resting arab is 44 per minute. during a hard ride it can rise as high as 140; the fitter the horse, the quicker it recovers
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Dr Charles was treating a couple of horses in a makeshift infirmary under the shade of a tree. ‘Speed kills,’ says Ride Master Corné de Villiers, who has overall responsibility for the event, making the point that endurance riding doesn’t equate to the hell-for-leather gallop of flat racing. ‘Endurance horses reach peak performance at 10 to 15 years,’ she says. It takes a long time to harden a horse and you need at least three years of LSD (Long Slow-distance riding). You’ve got to know your horse if you’re endurance riding or else you’re going to come unstuck.’ Arab horses dominate the sport thanks to their genetic inheritance stretching back to the Bedouin tribes of the Arabian Desert. Diminutive war horses, Arabs were bred to outrun the enemy and have an abundance of type-one muscle fibres designed to work for extended periods. Quick to learn, they’re-big hearted and loyal – ideal qualities for bonding between horses and riders. ‘Arabs are not that fast but they can go forever,’ says Altus Hanekom, Chairman of Western Province Endurance Union and co-owner of Wadrif Arabian Stud in Darling. ‘Some horses are very competitive. They’ll run to their last breath and you have to protect them against themselves.’ Ask any rider what it is about the sport that keeps them hooked and they’ll light up with enthusiasm. ‘I just love to ride the whole day long,’ says Dominique van Zyl, Top Year Rider of the Year in 2010 and 2009 and the trophy winner for the most competitive rides, clocking up a staggering 2 000km. ‘The sport teaches you so much about your horses.’ Van Zyl
ALL THE PRETTY HORSES: endurance riders at sunrise amid the swartland wheatfields; jacques grobbelaar and dabo; corné de villiers
captained the endurance team at the Kentucky 2010 WEG (World Equestrian Games) and runs the Domand Stud Farm in Gordons Bay with her husband Andrew. ‘What grabs me about it is the technicality,’ says De Villiers. ‘It’s that balance between feed, exercise and training. There are so many imponderables. It’s a great family get-together. There are no pretentious people – they’re besotted with their horses.’ Around the sports field, transformed into a temporary field of dreams, the camaraderie is palpable. ‘What I like about it is that it’s a social event,’ says Dr Charles. ‘And endurance riders are a lot more participatory and involved in decisions about their horses than they are in any other equine sport. They err on the side of caution.’ ‘It’s great to be out in the open air riding over farmland and to be with my own people,’ says Tinka Pretorius, riding on Fiela, a Boerperd mare that holds its own in the Arab field. ‘And there’s the respect between rider and horse.’ It’s that respectful relationship which allows Sakkie Joubert of La Rochelle De Doorns goat’s cheese farm to ride his horses Alphonse and Tang-Go in a halter only, and to train them ‘barefoot’ – horse not rider – ensuring a sure-footedness that persists when they’re ridden shod. Weather permitting, endurance riders sleep with their horses, camping or bedding down in horseboxes. Mostly they train their own mounts putting in thousands of kilometres in long-distance rides to keep their horses fit. There’s no loneliness for these long-distance riders. They laugh and talk with companions as they ride cowboy-style with
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long stirrups sitting down in their saddles, even at a distancedevouring extended trot. Husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, siblings and parents, teens and greybeards – all competing in appropriate age and weight categories. Only stallions have a gender disadvantage in this sport. They tend to get distracted. Riders take part for a variety of reasons – for the fun of it, to win or – if they are breeders – to sell horses. It doesn’t cost a kingdom for a horse; prices start from around R20 000 making the sport relatively accessible – unless the horse wins and the stakes rise appreciably to R60 000 and upwards. South Africanbred endurance horses fetch premium prices on the export market, especially the United Arab Emirates, which accounts for around 90 percent of overseas sales. Prospective Emirates buyers are a frequent sight at the three main events of the endurance calendar: the SA International Challenge, the Africa Cup (run under FEI Federation Equestrian International rules) and the Fauresmith Ride (run under ERASA rules). South African-bred horses regularly carry off prizes overseas, but SA riders are at a disadvantage abroad due to a combination of costs and quarantine regulations which make travelling with their own horses impractical – and prohibitively expensive. So to compete, they have to hire mounts. As the riders cross Riebeek Kasteel’s finishing line for the third time after five gruelling hours in the saddle, nothing can compare with the triumph on their faces or the welcome from their supporters. Every horse and rider is a winner. For more information, visit www.erasas.co.za
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teresópolis, brazil 16 january 2011 Members of Brazil’s National Civil Defense, firefighters and volunteers look for corpses in the Campo Grande district after the floods and mudslides which killed more than 600 in Rio de Janeiro State. 6 000 people lost their homes and 7 000 could not return to their houses.
Talk of politics and religion used to stall light dinner conversation. Now any hostess worth her salt might add global warming to the no-no list or face war before the entrée. By Ian Glenn
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the bigger picture
the war(ming) I S S U E 1 1 PRIVA T E E D I T ION 4 9
the bigger picture
(the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report that has attracted heated debate and will be playing a significant role in the 17th United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 17) meeting in Durban in November and December this year. So, what about the recent weather? Hewitson doesn’t offer much in the way of short-term advice on your next holiday destination. As far as South Africa is concerned, he points out that the La Niña effect for 2010 (La Niña is a coupled ocean-atmosphere phenomenon that is the counterpart of El Niño as part of the broader El Niño-Southern Oscillation climate pattern) had been predicted, but not well publicised in local media. He is properly cautious: La Niña may be responsible for some weather fluctuation, perhaps up to 30 percent of what happened, but it’s not a perfect predictor of where to go on holiday or who is going to run out of water. Other factors will affect the local weather, such as deforestation, or the amount of moisture in the soil. In talking about climate, Hewitson is all for nuance and complexity. He also counters those looking at cold weather in the UK or the USA by showing that the North Atlantic Oscillation, a wellknown phenomenon, has been in strong mode, giving record highs to Northern Canada and Greenland while simultaneously record lows were found further south. If the planet’s weather system was a car going Records now available suggest 2010 was in fact, along along sedately, we are pumping the accelerator with 2005, the hottest year and then ACT surprised that it lurches, gathers on record. In the broad, longspeed and seems to go out of control term view of the climatologist, it is impossible to pin the responsibility for bad weather in 2010 on ICY OUTLOOK: A CHILD anthropogenic factors alone, but Hewitson IS PULLED DOWN A is unequivocal on the odds. Without human SIDEWALK ON A SLED IN JANUARY THIS YEAR factors, the probability of some of the extreme IN NEW YORK CITY. THE changes would be very small; with our impact, CAPITAL REELED AFTER CHRISTMAS BLIZZARDS they increase dramatically. If the planet’s weather SHUT DOWN PUBLIC system was a car going along sedately, we are TRANSPORT pumping the accelerator and then act surprised that it lurches, gathers speed and seems to spin out of control. Hewitson’s path into the university after a technical diploma in engineering was through his experience as a competitive hangglider pilot. He became passionate about the environment and this led him back to studies in Environmental Science at UCT, and then to graduate study ‘as a way to see the world’ – in his case to Penn State University in the USA where he took his MSc and PhD. I meet him the morning after US President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address and he observes that Obama talked about clean
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eather used to be something the English used to talk about, before they had football and sex lives. In South Africa, we had sunny skies and farmers complained about drought. But in the 21st century, and in 2010 in particular, weather and climates and debates about them (especially man-made or anthopogenic climate change) have become more intense and urgent. There were record-low temperatures in North America and Europe in the winter of 2010-2011. Ski resorts that usually only open in February or March were opening before Christmas. Flights out of Europe were hampered by snow and ice and the United States had one of its coldest winters in decades. All this is manna from heaven, or at least the skies, for climate-change sceptics. But elsewhere, floods and cyclones devastated chunks of Queensland in Australia and Brazil, and even parts of South Africa ran out of water or were unusually wet. We seem to be in an age of weather extremes and if anybody can make sense of it, it should be Bruce Hewitson, a National Research Foundation Research Professor at the University of Cape Town and head of its newly founded Climate Systems Analysis Group. Hewitson is one of the authors of the IPCC
the bigger picture
energy and America’s new Sputnik moment, but said nothing about climate change. On this issue, Obama seems to have decided that a move to the political centre means avoiding, if not abandoning, issues that inflame conservative opinion. Hewitson, with strong links to the USA, regards their behaviour with a mix of dismay and exasperation. How can the world’s leading democracy and centre of scientific prowess seem to live in denial of the scientific evidence? Hewitson sees a central issue – it’s difficult for the USA to accept the evidence because it disturbs their comfort zone and sense of energy entitlement. He mentions friends in the USA who think it’s normal, in a two-person family, to own five cars. This resistance is largely a media phenomenon. In the USA, the blogosphere and sceptics’ views seem to get as much airtime as serious scientific consensus. The IPCC report, to which Hewitson contributed a chapter, was the most heavily internally and externally reviewed document on which he has worked, he says. It’s in his view a fairly conservative document that shies away from presenting plausible but much more frightening scenarios. And yet much of media focus has been on four errors in more than 4 000 pages of text. More than half of the USA’s weather reporters on television are climate change sceptics, something which is a source of dismay to the American Meteorological Society, and even the USA’s Weather Channel seems to give considerable space to climate sceptics. Ratings and a wish for controversy and a misplaced sense of ‘balance’ make reporting on weather, as on HIV/aids, a source of exasperation for scientists. Then there are industry interests at stake – Hewitson refers to the Koch brothers’ (unsuccessful) attempts to reverse California’s green legislation and their role, as oil industry figures, in funding climate change sceptics and giving them publicity. Hewitson gives an example of the dangers of journalistic verve uninformed by serious scientific knowledge with some relish. Sir Paul Nurse, Royal Society president and Nobel laureate, recently interviewed James Delingpole, a climate sceptic reporter with Britain’s Daily Telegraph. Nurse asked what the journalist would
do if he were told he had cancer – take conventional medical opinion or go to the quack zone. When Delingpole said he’d take medical advice, Nurse said the obvious. All a tongue-tied Delingpole could do was say that he resented the comparison. Hewitson is unambiguous on the likely cost of denial and delay to the USA. A country where policy is driven by the time-frame of a two-year electoral cycle, quarterly profits and the wish for business as usual is simply not able to take the necessary long-term decisions on climate change. He compares the USA unfavourably not only with China, where he sees a multi-decadal strategy that’s already made China the world’s leading exporter of wind turbine technology (and of most local solar-powered panels) but with Africa, where he sees pragmatic adaptation in many countries, including South Africa. His advice in Africa is that conventional energy consumption needs to increase for some time until it can drop – hopefully through leapfrog technologies. Hewitson is positive about South Africa’s response and the involvement of several departments such as Science and Technology and Environmental Affairs. Factoring climate change into policy enables us to be a leading voice for developing nations and help them formulate policy. He sees huge potential for Africa to solve its own energy crises through hydroelectric schemes (the Congo River could provide enough electricity for the needs of several neighbouring states) and there’s even a suggestion that solar-power fields in North Africa could supply up to 20 percent of Europe’s energy needs. When climate change is involved, Keynes’s fairly cynical dismissal of the long term (‘In the long term, we are all dead’) isn’t good enough, because emissions are cumulative and what we consume will burden future generations. This raises ethical and even spiritual issues about our debt to future generations and the planet. For Hewitson, finding technological solutions and bringing about changes are not the hardest parts. The hard part is changing mindsets and hearts.
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at your service dangerous beauty When Achmat Hassiem came face to face with a Great White, his survival instincts kicked in at record speed. It had to, given the fact that the pressure of a Great Whiteâ€™s bite (measured by a shark-bite meter called a gnathodynamometer) can be as much as three tons per inch.
The power of one Achmat Hassiem not only recovered from a near-fatal shark attack, but also qualified to swim in the paralympics two years later, and found himself championing the rights of his attacker. Heâ€™s now set his sights on the 2012 olympics. Kathy Malherbe finds out why and how he survived
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against all the odds
n the 13th of August 2006, Achmat Hassiem sat in a meeting of the executive of False Bay Lifesaving Club, watching his team – including his brother – Taariq, doing drills. He was itching to join them. Despite the overcast sky, the ocean was crystal clear. There was a slight swell but no chop. Perfect for practising mock rescues on the club’s rubber duck. As his meeting finished, Achmat joined the group for a multiple patient pickup – a familiar exercise for the team. ‘Taariq was to be the unconscious patient, Nic Pemberton the patient injured in the shoreline and I was the struggling swimmer. We were about 200 metres offshore and the whistle blew for the exercise to start,’ says Achmat. Nic was collected first, then it was Achmat’s turn. He was in about two metres of water – just over his head – with Taariq a little further out at three and a half metres. ‘We chatted as we trod water waiting. I even remember cracking a few jokes about shark attacks as we waited to be “rescued”. The rubber duck was fairly close when I saw something out of the corner of my eye – it was a black shadow moving towards my brother. My first thought – a seal or dolphin. ‘At that point a huge dorsal fin emerged from the water. It was darkish grey and cutting at an angle towards Taariq. For a few seconds I went still. Numb. Then I screamed at the lifeguards in the boat telling them to pass me and pick up Taariq. I shouted at Taariq, “Shark!” while banging on the water to distract it. At the same time, I saw Taariq scrambling into the boat, and the huge shadow and the fin turning and heading straight towards me. The fin submerged, I couldn’t see a thing. There was an incredible sense of quiet. An eeriness. As if the whole world was suspended in that moment. ‘I realised I could just touch the sand if I stretched out my feet, so I made myself as tall as possible. I remembered seeing pictures of the way in which sharks attack seals – approaching them from underneath.’ In the face of the circling 4.5-metre Great White, Achmat was thinking with bizarre clarity.
THE ATTACK ‘The shark surfaced right in front of me. I looked straight into its black eyes. It felt very personal. But it didn’t attack immediately. First I was knocked. I tried to roll myself along his body which felt like coarse sandpaper covering solid, unforgiving muscle. It felt like a tank. As I rolled myself along the body the shark’s fin hit me and I went into a spiral. I tried reverse
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THE MIND OF THE PREDATOR According to Alison Kock, principal scientist with the Save Our Seas Shark Centre and Shark Spotters, research has shown that sharks don’t treat humans the same way they do seals and each attack is different. ‘We’ve not evolved with the shark as a source of food like normal prey, which is why over 70 percent of attacks are “bite and release”. As apex predators, they have no reason to fear anything in the sea.’ Attacks on humans are rare and fatal attacks even more so. ‘When you consider that there were only six fatal shark attacks globally during 2010, the theory for curiosity and investigation is more likely.’
THE MIND OF THE PREY So how did Achmat have such clarity of thinking in the face of one of man’s most-feared scenarios? Mike Webber, a psychologist in Cape Town specialising in trauma counselling says Achmat’s reaction is not atypical. ‘The response for the survival of the species – the fight-or-flight syndrome – is hard-wired into our brains. It’s a genetic wisdom from the days of fighting off the proverbial sabre-toothed tiger. The mind and body react together for survival. Of course, we don’t all react as logically and with such clarity as Achmat did. It depends on your perception of the situation. Achmat obviously had an innate sense of competence. An I-can-possibly-win notion on a primitive level. There is of course huge fear. But fear is good. It increases your fight for survival. Courage is not the lack of fear but the ability to face it.’
sculling but the tail jerked itself across me. I think this precipitated the attack. I instinctively knew I had to get away from its mouth and decided that the best place to be was on the shark’s back away from its jaws.’ Achmat knew he was fighting for his life. The turmoil in the water made the lifeguards in the boat realise what was happening and they started screaming. Achmat says he can’t begin to describe the emotions he was feeling at that time. ‘You’re in the presence of the raw power of nature – it’s something you can’t really put into words. As it came at me I saw a window of opportunity. The shark closed its eyes as it moved in. ‘In that split second I thought that it was an opportunity to get on top of the shark,’ says Achmat. ‘I thought I would make it until I tried to lift my right leg. I realised that my leg at the shin was in the vice-like grip of the shark’s mouth.’ The pressure of a Great White’s bite measured by a shark-bite meter – called a gnathodynamometer – can be as much as three tons per inch. ‘There was no way I could get away,’ says Achmat. ‘It started shaking me violently. I tried to move with the rhythm of the shaking so that my leg wouldn’t break. I felt absolutely no pain, just discomfort at the awkward angle. ‘I tried to punch the shark around the head,’ he
with his right leg trapped in the shark’s jaws and his two-metre body twisted, he was dwarfed says. ‘It was like punching an armoured tank – it made no impression except on my hands which were being lacerated on the coarse skin.’ It was at this point that the shark started to dive and move in the direction of Seal Island. Achmat’s fight under the water was desperate – he was running out of air and realised that he would not be visible from the surface. The lifeguards on the rubber duck were in fact scanning the sea for any sign of movement. There was not even a ripple. Only deathly silence. Below the surface Achmat fought his solitary battle. With his right leg trapped in the shark’s jaws and his two-metre body twisted and parallel to the shark’s, he was dwarfed. The shark’s massive body zig-zagged through the water. ‘I was flung around in a regular rhythm. Connecting. Bumping. Scraping. I remember clearly how the colours changed as I was rolled around, first the sharks’ white underbelly, then a bluish colour and then dark
against all the odds
grey, then the white underbelly. I felt like a ragdoll. It was uncomfortable. I tried to twist around and poke its eyes but couldn’t get close enough. I did see a huge, recent scar which I managed to get my fingers into. I worried the wound – trying to inflict enough pain for it to let go. It didn’t. At first the surface was glassy and light from below, familiar, like being submerged in a bath with your eyes open. Then the shark dived deeper. We picked up speed and as we got deeper, it became darker and darker. I realised we must be moving out to sea – towards Seal Island. I thought the game was over. But as I went down, I told myself, “No, you’re not going to die now” and started kicking at the head with my free leg and kept kicking. There was still no pain. It was just this brute power, this massive brute force against me, against nothing. I didn’t give up because millimetre by millimetre I could feel the teeth sliding down the bone. My lungs were screaming.’
THE FINAL MINUTES ‘My chest heaved involuntarily a few times and then I felt this excruciating sensation as I inhaled saltwater into my lungs.’ Choking and with his lungs on fire, he realised his time was running out and instead of kicking, he pushed as hard as he could with a last adrenaline-fuelled rush of energy against what he describes as the ‘titanium tank of a head’. Suddenly he heard two loud pops like a rubber band snapping. He was free. ‘I started to swim towards the surface, desperate for air, but I just couldn’t find the energy. I was exhausted, as if I had run five marathons.’ Just below the surface of the water, Achmat felt how he was sinking slowly. ‘The “pop” I heard was the sound of the shark breaking off the bone in my leg – my expensive passage to freedom. But I had no reserves to get to the surface.’
RESCUE ‘I knew it was my last chance, but I just couldn’t get to the surface,’ says Achmat. ‘I was about two feet under the water. Then I heard the noise of the rubber duck’s engine. As I looked up I saw what looked like a hand trailing quite deeply in the water.’ It was Taariq, leaning over the side of the boat trawling for Achmat or his body. Taariq had seen a shadow and leaned right over the boat to grab it. He was unable at that stage to tell what it was – the shark or his brother. But he was prepared to risk losing his arm for his brother. ‘He pulled me up and the first thing I did was grasp onto the side of the boat and try to gasp for air.’ Taariq grabbed his body and hauled him into the rubber duck just as Achmat saw the dark shadow of the shark coming towards the boat at speed. The shark
FRIGHT OR FLIGHT Webber explains how the fight-or-flight reaction had been activated in Achmat’s brain, compelling him to fight back: ‘The centre which responds to stress in his brain was activated – called the hypothalamicpituitary-adrenal axis (HPA axis). The HPA axis fires off its ammunition – adrenaline, cortisol, and norepinephrine. The adrenaline increases heart rate by irritating the cardiac muscle so it beats stronger, stimulates blood flow by dilating the vascular system and striated the muscle – increasing muscle readiness. Achmat’s body would also have released energy from glucose and glycogen, his pupils would’ve dilated to increase visual acuity and made him more aware of his surroundings. It would also have boosted his cognitive ability. His body was primed, ready to fight, reacting faster and stronger.
banged the boat a few times. ‘Taariq dived on top of me to stop me from seeing my injury. I had no idea that the bottom part of my leg was missing,’ says Achmat. ‘We raced back to shore. I remember someone screaming at the instructor on the beach to get the shark-attack pack and to call the paramedics. As we hit the shoreline, Richard, my instructor, grabbed me and started bandaging my leg. “You know the drill,” he said. “We have to get you onto the stretcher, so work with me.” All this time my brother stayed on top of me, shielding me from my leg. ‘I remember very clearly that a fisherman walked up to the boat and looked in at me. He just put his hands over his face and said, “no ways, no ways” before turning and walking away. For the first time, I started to wonder what had happened although I still thought I just had severe lacerations. I remember the noise clearly, the Sunday craft market, the screeching, police cars, ambulances, paramedics, the helicopter, Taariq on the phone to my parents, my mom crying… It felt like a high state of confusion. People standing with their hands over their mouths, the club chairman trying to give me water.’ As the paramedics carried him to the helicopter, Achmat says he felt okay. ‘I was just worried for my family.’ One famously poignant picture shows him being carried on the stretcher giving the thumbs up.
THE SHUT DOWN According to Kock, sharks don’t close their eyes but roll them back into the sockets as a protective measure when they’re less confident. ‘The absence of pain is common with traumatic injuries like bullet wounds. stabbings and in this case, a shark’s teeth embedded in your shin bone,’ says Webber. ‘The body would’ve produced opiodes – natural painkillers similar to morphine. In a fight-or-flight-situation, you can’t be crippled by pain, you need to fight to survive so your perception of pain is suppressed.’ Also, as Achmat’s bloodstream became saturated with CO2 and his oxygen ran out, his respiratory centre, the most primitive part of his brain, reacted instinctively.
BAND OF BROTHERS: Achmat and taariq hassiem at their gym’s swimming pool
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against all the odds
After being airlifted to Constantiaberg Hospital, Achmat was operated on almost immediately. Dr Roy Endenburg, the surgeon responsible for Achmat’s amputation says the first operation was to stop bleeding, tie off vessels with stitches or cauterise them. ‘The nerves are cut off cleanly as they’ll be less painful than ragged nerve endings.’ Achmat woke up in ICU with his brother at his side. ‘He thanked me for saving his life and said he wished that it hadn’t happened to me. I said “what?” Taariq told me to look at my right leg. I could see a bump and feel my feet but couldn’t lift it. It was then that it hit me.’ The first three nights were a jumble of nightmares as Achmat relived the attack. ‘I’d wake up screaming and sweating. My brother didn’t leave my side once. Then slowly the realisation came that I’d lost a leg, and I relived the attack, the phantom pain. Then the devastating realisation came that I’d never be able to fulfil my lifelong dream of representing South Africa as a sportsman.’ Three days later, Achmat had the amputation which would ready his leg for a prosthesis. This involved amputating higher up and preparing a muscle flap to hold the prosthesis. It was after this that his brother tentatively suggested he could represent his country at the Paralympics. With the same determination Achmat showed in the water with the shark, he decided he’d swim for his country after all.
‘When the lower part of Achmat’s leg was bitten, the adrenaline would’ve caused the vessels to go into spasm and the capillaries and peripheral vessels draw into the tissue to slow down blood loss, but he was still in trouble,’ says Dr Endenburg. The loss of blood pressure would have resulted in shock. There is not enough profusion – not enough oxygen going to vital organs and minor vessels. This haemmorhagic or hypovolemic shock is extremely dangerous.
IN THE DEEP END Achmat’s recovery started with him facing his demons, first on Muizenberg beach – a huge hurdle and one he tackled the day after he was released from hospital. ‘I was surrounded by family, friends and the crew and it was a bittersweet moment. I broke down as I looked out to sea. I could hear the screams and see the crew as I relived the moment. Completely. The realisation that I could’ve died out there was overwhelming. ‘Two months later, I joined friends in the swimming pool at Muizenberg High School. At first I was terrified. I panicked and grabbed the closest person to me.’ The captain of the lifeguards lifted Achmat out of the pool. ‘I sat and watched them train until I had the courage to get in again. Slowly. Reassuring myself all the time that it’s just a pool. Eventually, I eased into the water and started doing gentle strokes and then I managed to put my head under the water.’
NOT ALONE It’s a classic treatment in the case of post traumatic stress – to re-introduce the stimulus slowly to become accustomed to and overcome the fear. Achmat’s biggest hurdle though was getting back into the sea. He did
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OLYMPIC FEATS Achmat had to cut 18 seconds off his 100m butterfly time to meet the Olympic qualifying time of 1 minute 3 seconds. It’s an incredible achievement considering that shaving even one second off your race time takes hours and hours of training. His not only qualifying for the Beijing Olympics in 2008 but also coming ninth was an extraordinary feat for any sportsman. Achmat followed this by cruising into the butterfly and freestyle finals at the 2010 World IPC swimming championships in Holland and setting all-Africa records. This year, at the Midmar Mile, he tested his mettle against 200 swimmers – among them Duzi canoeists and Iron Man competitors – and won the event. He has set his sights on winning a medal at the 2012 Olympics. Achmat is both driven and humble. It comes as no surprise that his sponsors, Foot Gear and Mitsubishi, have been right behind him. His website slogan reads ‘Swim. Win. Motivate.’ A survivor’s warcry indeed.
this surrounded by veteran long-distance swimmers like Theodore Yach and Andrew Chin, who encased him in a cocoon of protection in the water. ‘The feel of the water on my face, the salt in my mouth, the waves – it was like doing a time warp. I was neck deep and terrified,’ says Achmat. ‘At one point I saw a rock and grabbed onto the swimmers around me in panic.’ In May 2010, Achmat swam from Robben Island to Blouberg – an incredible achievement, emotionally and physically. Supported by the staff at the Sports’ Science Institute, his swimming coach Brian Button and by paralympic swimmer and friend, Natalie du Toit, his goal is to win medals in the 2012 Olympics.
THE CONVERSATIONIST Many survivors of shark attacks become advocates for their protection. One of the most difficult hurdles, says Achmat, was being taken out to Seal Island by Alison Kock to a shark tagging and research project. ‘I couldn’t sleep the night before,’ says Kock. ‘I was worried about him and his reaction.’ But despite an initial period where Achmat stayed in the middle of the boat – very, warily – the trip was a huge success. ‘The first time I saw a shark it was insane!’ says Achmat. ‘Exciting, like bungee jumping, but nerve-racking.’ However, Kock says Achmat shrieked with delight as a shark breached in front of them. ‘We moved closer and closer to the sharks and I could see Achmat’s perspective of the Great White changing before my eyes.’ Achmat was busy recording data for Kock and getting a turn at the wheel of the boat (which in retrospect was a ruse to keep him busy). ‘I even named a shark – a three-metre male I called Scarlet (in honour of a fresh scar).’ Kock says Scarlet arrived at 09h48 and interacted with them until 11h00. ‘The other four sharks we recorded that day stayed around for less than five minutes. Scarlet was clearly as enamoured with Achmat as he was with it.’ ‘It was a totally different perspective,’ says Achmat. ‘They are actually giant calm creatures. I wanted to see more and I developed a huge and new respect for these creatures in their natural environment.’ In October 2010, Achmat – together with eight other shark-attack survivors from five countries, – appealed to the United Nations to adopt measures to protect sharks. The survivors-turned-advocates of conservation at the UN headquarters collectively say: ‘The Great White is a fearsome predator, but sharks aren’t the fabled man killers that the movie Jaws depicts. They have a right to live just like any other creature, including ourselves.'
PHOTOGRAPHY: GETTYIMAGES.COM AND SUPPLIED
*You can equate a three-hour ballet performance to roughly two consecutive 90-minute soccer games or running 30km. 64
State of grace
photography: Jacques Weyers. Styling: Suzannah Garland
Psychodrama Black Swan brought out the dark side of ballet, but it’s the physical toll it takes – far more like an extreme sport than art – that demands respect. Dancers simply learn to ‘work through the pain’ for our pleasure. Here’s the beauty and the brawn behind the dance
*A Royal Ballet physio described the dancers â€˜as hard as nailsâ€™. Men can suffer bad ankles and backs through jumping and lifting while women may endure corns, bunions, deformed feet, broken bones, black toenails, stress fractures and bleeding from dancing with all their weight on the tips of their toes. Certain foot injuries like trigger toe, which result from pointe work, are career-ending.
*A professional dancer can wear out a pair of pointe shoes in a single performance. Moderate usage gives you 10 to 20 hoursâ€™ wear at the most.
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The hardcore truth behind dainty dancing
*The University of Hertfordshire compared the fitness of members of the Royal Ballet and English National Ballet School with a squad of top British swimmers, including members of the Olympic squad. They were tested on strength, endurance, balance, flexibility and psychological state, among others. The dancers scored higher in seven out of 10 categories, taking body size into consideration. – www.science20.com
Charlbi wears a tulle skirt R3 800, Stefania Moreland and a lace top R2 500, Klûk CGDT
So you’re a professional ballet dancer. Great. Now what’s your real job? That’s one of the indignities associated with this career, compounded by generally poor pay for what ranked as ‘the most physically and mentally demanding’ of 61 activities − above bullfighting and football − in a 1975 study published in The Journal of Sports Medicine. While ballet is an art before it is a sport, dancers who aspire to greatness require above average fitness and intelligence. ‘Ballet is more hardcore than you think,’ says Megan Swart, senior principal at Cape Town City Ballet. ‘We’re athletes and today it’s the stronger dancer, not the thinner one, who gets the lead roles. We can’t live on carrot sticks and lettuce leaves when we train eight hours a day.’ Ballerinas’ bodies are impacted heavily by balancing their full body weight on the toe box of their pointe shoes to achieve the aesthetically pleasing straight line from toe to hip. ‘The toe box is like a boxer’s gum guard. Ballet is like going into the ring and bashing your body every day. You learn to work through the pain.’ Swart compares performing a lead role in a ballet to running a halfmarathon. ‘The Black Swan in Swan Lake is the most demanding role. It’s like going from 0-100 in 60 seconds because your performance begins with a hectic pas de deux.’ Mental strength is also crucial so that ‘you don’t forget what you’re doing or get stage fright. If you’re airy-fairy upstairs, you won’t cut it.’ – Debbie Hathway
*A dancer needs physical and mental strength, joint flexibility, muscular and cardiovascular endurance as well as good coordination to succeed in a very competitive career.
Megan wears dress R2 399, Diesel OPPOSITE PAGE: Charlbi wears a cream frill dress R1 700, Only One
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Charlbi wears an I see you body suit R3 210, by Sass & Bide at Shop-Label.com and a handspun merino toque R620, WM. Celeste wears a tulle sequin top R1 999, Gavin Rajah. Megan wears a dress R2 399, from Diesel 68
*‘All dancers are always dancing with an extreme injury, not just a sore muscle: they’re dancing on a sprained ankle or a twisted neck or something. You’ll see them do incredible stuff and then limp off stage, straight to a bucket of ice. Part of the art is hiding all that pain.’ – Natalie Portman, after filming Black Swan
SHOT ON LOCATION AT ON BROADWAY, 44 LONG STREET, 021 424 1194 MODEL: CHARLBI DEAN KRIEK/ ICE MODELS DANCER: MEGAN SWART/ CAPE TOWN CITY BALLET DANCER: CELESTE GEORGE/ CAPE TOWN CITY BALLET HAIR AND MAKE-UP: MERLE TITUS/INFIDELS PHOTOGRAPHER’S ASSISTANT & POST PRODUCTION: AVRON WILLIAMS FASHION ASSISTANT: JACQUI TURNER
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an mtn initiative
Quick off the mark The position General Manager: Customer Management AT MTN was created three years ago for Megan Ashman – a dynamic leader, who has ‘five different working lifetimes at MTN’ UNDER HER BELT. By Stephanie Nieuwoudt
hen Megan Ashman enters a room, her energy is felt immediately. She fixes one with a steady gaze and smiles disarmingly as she shakes hands. And it’s perfectly clear from the moment you meet her that she’s passionate about her job, her future plans and the people closest to her. ‘I’m a bit of an Energizer bunny,’ Ashman says. ‘I love inspiring and being inspired, learning new things and being challenged.’ Throughout the years, MTN presented her with many opportunities to learn and be challenged. She seized them all. When she was young, Ashman wanted to work in the medical field. But in her Grade-11 year, she had an epiphany and realised this wasn’t really the direction she wanted to go in. She decided to become a chartered accountant, and says, ‘I’ve always had this picture of myself as a business person, but if anybody had told me then that I’d end up in marketing, I would have said they’re crazy.’ But life takes one on unexpected roads and after having done her articles as a chartered accountant, Ashman ended up at the then fledgling cellphone company. She was appointed Debtors Account Manager of an enterprise that was set to become one of the major telecommunications forces across Africa. ‘It’s not as if I woke up one day and decided to work for MTN,’ she explains. ‘I went for an interview at a recruitment agency and made it clear that I didn’t want a normal chartered accounting job. I said that I’d like to be in a creative field.’ When she went for her first interview at MTN, she immediately knew it was a place where she’d feel at home. ‘When I started at MTN in December 1994, the company had fewer than 100 employees. Today there are more than 4 500 employees in South Africa alone.’ In the sixteen years that followed, Ashman distinguished herself and steadily gained experience in diverse divisions of the
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company. She was amongst others Retail, Dealer and Corporate Account Manager; General Manager: Corporate Marketing and General Manager: Customer Management. By 2002, she was Senior Financial Manager: Billing, and regarded as one of the leading experts on revenue assurance. She was also a regular speaker at conferences around the world and it was around this time that she overcame one of her greatest fears – to speak in public. ‘I was invited to deliver a paper on revenue assurance and only after I had said yes, I realised what I’d let myself in for. But my philosophy is to tackle my fears, and I decided to go ahead.’ Although Ashman was critical of her delivery, this maiden speech of hers proved to be one of her most successful ones. ‘Years later, people still come up to me to tell me they remember that speech well. I still get a kick out of being invited to speak at conferences. I still get nervous, but I love feeling that I’m sharing my knowledge with others. I don’t believe that I would have had so many opportunities at any other company. I’ve had more than five lifetimes worth of work experiences at MTN,’ she says. In 2010, she made use of the opportunity to qualify as a Chartered Marketer. ‘This is a qualification offered by the Marketing Association of South African with the intention of giving the marketing profession more credibility.’ Before obtaining the status of Chartered Marketer, the candidate has to meet a rigorous set of criteria set by experts in the marketing field. As with most things Ashman set her mind to, she obtained this qualification with flying colours. As one of only eight female GMs at MTN, Ashman acknowledges that the company still has some way to go in fully addressing issues of gender equality, yet over the years, she’s identified and taken advantage of every opportunity coming her
MEGAN ASHMAN, GENERAL MANAGER: CUSTOMER MANAGEMENT AT MTN
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way. Her current position was created three years ago and gave her the opportunity to define and refine the customer management strategy. ‘Previously, customer management functions were always dealt with as an add-on to other functions. It became imperative that MTN defined a customer strategy. We’ve always looked at the customer from the inside out. My job is to look at the company from the customer’s point of view – from the outside in. This strategy aligns perfectly with the Consumer Protection Act’s regulations for treating customers more appropriately.’ Her responsibilities include leading the development and execution of MTN’s Customer Management strategy to drive customer retention, loyalty and advocacy. This means that she has to direct the retention programmes to increase customer Lifetime Value through targeted communication, overseeing email/online community and social media operations, developing, spearheading and executing an integrated customer communication strategy. ‘I’m loving the social media space,’ says Ashman. ‘The digital interface has become critical in the way
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‘I’M LOVING THE SOCIAL MEDIA SPACE,’ SAYS ASHMAN OF THIS PIVOTAL ASPECT OF HER PORTFOLIO
my job is to look at the company from the customer’s point of view – from the outside in
we interact with customers. The traditional way of marketing consists of more one-way communication. Digital communication brings about two-way communications with the client feeling he’s in control of the way he interacts with the company.’ In the competitive world of cellphone technology, it’s imperative to maintain customers. Loyalty programmes offer one way of doing this. ‘We’re in the business of making money,’ says Ashman. ‘We need customers to do that. If customers are happy, I believe they’ll stay with us. The longer a customer stays with us, the greater their value to us – it’s the simple marketing concept of customer lifetime value.’ The 1-4-1 loyalty programme, through which users earn points for every rand they spend on their cellphones, is her brainchild and extremely popular among clients. ‘It provides them with an instant gratification mechanism where they get something back for the money they spend and the days that they stay with us – a win-win for both.’ She acknowledges that while price is an issue for some customers, it’s not a strong deciding factor for the higher-level customers. ‘Where customers are concerned, there simply is no one-size-fits-all solution to keeping them happy. For example, for higher-value customers, their most valuable asset is time, so we need to ensure that we make their experience with MTN as simple and easy as possible.’ Even the loyalty programmes have to be segmented for different clients based on their needs. ‘If, for example, you’re a post-paid customer, you wouldn’t necessarily want to use the points on the loyalty programme yourself to redeem for airtime, SMS or data bundles – but you may want to send the points to your children to redeem.’ As GM, she has a team of 19 people working with her. ‘I like to give them a lot of freedom, but always with a safety net they can grab onto if they need support. I have an open-door policy – which can sometimes be to my detriment because I love being involved in everything. I firmly believe that if you want to grow people, you have to give them the opportunities to grow. However, you also need to be there in case they fall to help pick up the pieces.’ She clearly loves working in a team. ‘I’m not an island. I need people around me. Every person is important for a company or unit to function successfully. No position is more important than another – the level of responsibility just changes. I’m also very direct, so anyone working with me will always know where they stand. But it’s important to have fun – even when the chips are down. We spend far too many hours at work not to – at the very least – enjoy what we’re doing.’
PHOTOGRAPHY: FIONA ROYDS IS REPRESENTED BY INFIDELS.
an mtn initiative
S e re n e • Tran q u il • E xc lu si ve
More than just somewhere to sleep, the Moloko Strathavon Hotel is a style statement. It’s the future of the boutique hospitality industry which embodies all that is great in the modern luxury hotel market, and then takes it one step beyond. The exclusive hotel encompasses an award-winning organic spa, fine dining at the Ambassador Restaurant and the sought-after post-dinner night spot Off the Record cigar lounge. Taking its cue from Mother Nature, the hotel has been designed to blend seamlessly into the indigenous gardens surrounding it. Moloko Strathavon Hotel is a mere stone’s throw from Sandton, Johannesburg’s trendsetting business and shopping hub. 160 Helen Road (off Grayston Drive), Strathavon, Sandton, Johannesburg • +27 11 384 4900 firstname.lastname@example.org • +27 861 MOLOKO (66 56 56) • www.strathavonhotel.co.za
traveller bucket list
Walking in the wild Ditching the relatively safe confines of a 4X4 and getting down and dirty on foot in the bush is all part of the neW AfricaN safari. By Ian Glenn
t one end of South Africa: Cape Town – the Mother City, source of Dutch and British order and colonial rule, a city of Parliament and law courts and government and museums and clubs. At the other, as far as you can get from Cape Town and still be in South Africa: Crook’s Corner – a half-mythical space where the Limpopo and Luvuvhu rivers join and South Africa, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe come together like a pie cut in three by the rivers; and where those fleeing the law from any one of these countries would seek refuge. Though the Limpopo is – most of the time – drained upstream by farmers for irrigation, meaning that the boundary between Zimbabwe and South Africa is reduced to soggy sandbanks, summer rain can fill the rivers and return the Limpopo to Kipling’s ‘grey-green, greasy’ status, full of hippos and crocodiles and adventure. Walking the territory becomes an exercise in looking sharp and scoping the lay of the land for a safe escape route. Crook’s Corner is part of the Makuleke Concession that forms the northern part of the Kruger National Park. After the dreary mopani trees of much of the central and northern Kruger, this is a dream landscape: baobabs, fever trees and ilala palms. Elsewhere, ancient stone ruins on mountains show the
remains of kingdoms and chieftainships. There are views at Lanner Gorge and the Luvuvhu Gorge that rival anything from Table Mountain. Those wanting to explore the far north of the Kruger have limited options and access. For most visitors, access is via the Pafuri picnic spot, the bridge over the Luvuvhu, an excursion to Crook’s Corner from the South, and the road to Pafuri Gate. Off those roads lies the least explored part of the park, the richest in birding terms, and what comes closest to being a true wilderness area in Kruger. Currently, only the private luxury Pafuri Camp and Outpost Safari Lodge in the concession offer accommodation, while the EcoTraining wood-and-tent camp provides a range of training and experiential courses. In the western area, roughly between Punda Maria and Pafuri Gate, the Kruger Park Nyalaland Walking Trail offers safaris on foot. The area’s made for walking. You start thinking and feeling out of the metal box of a vehicle. You’re just another mammal on foot, aware of sounds, smells, the heat, direction and where the sun is. You’re probably less likely to have perfect sightings of animals on foot than you are from a vehicle, but the sightings are charged with adrenalin, respect and wonder. Paradoxically, walking with well-trained guides is probably the safest way to explore the bush. There are rules – single file, guides in front armed with a heavy calibre rifle, a code of silence and a pre-walk briefing that drills home that you’re moving protein and even with a world-record running speed of 20 kilometres per hour, you’d be bush fodder. The walk may involve tracking or dodging rhino or buffalo, serious birding, skirting the banks of the Luvuvhu in full flow or historical exploration. The experience is devoid of the spinejarring rut-bounce of most game drives and because the company generally consists of second- and third-time safari-ites, the guide’s narrative is mercifully free of crass commentary, such as impala
WALKING SAFARIS ALLOW HIKERS TO DRINK IN THE SIGHTS, SOUNDS AND SMELLS OF THE BUSH
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PAFURI’S MAGICAL CAMP STRIKES A BALANCE BETWEEN A NATURAL EXPERIENCE AND ALL THE BELLS AND WHISTLES OF A LUXURY LODGE
being the McDonald’s of the bush. Pafuri Camp markets their walking safaris in the cooler months from March to October with a base camp and tents set up for guests, and then offers daily outings. As this camp must have one of the best locations of any luxury lodge in South Africa, the ideal would be to combine a walking trail with a day or two at the lodge afterwards. The camp strikes a smart balance between luxury and an authentic experience. The floors are tinted concrete-screed, the linen fine and the mosquito nets set high and square on a generously sized bed. The look is luxury tent rather than canvasroofed suite, and as each lodge is set at the end of a long wooden walkway, each creates a private cocoon. No-one turns a nose up at luxury and yet many camps have taken the concept a little too far with Persian rugs and crystal chandeliers – edging too close to colonial folly for a true safari experience. Set right on the river, the tents offer superb private viewing of hippos, crocodiles, antelope and birdlife. The more spartan Nyalaland Trail lasts three nights, but really only involve two full days of walking, as getting to the base
camp from Punda Maria is fairly time consuming. It’s run by Christopher Muthathi, who has lived through the privatisation of the trails and their reintegration into the KNP structure. When you ask him where most of the tourists come from, the answer is rather surprisingly Germany. This is because a German documentary on the walking trails focussed on Christopher and his preparation for the trail. The documentary was made years ago and was shown again during the 2010 World Cup, and it keeps drawing Germans intrigued by the man and the experience. With potential midday highs of up to 40º, you only walk at dawn and dusk, and Muthathi and his co-guide are hugely knowledgeable about the bush. For example, when elephants blocked our path, we were taken on a detour next to the fastflowing Luvuvhu. (We just hoped it’s flowing too fast for any crocs to be lurking – because there’s no place to run or hide if one surfaced.) At that stage, we emerged into a clearing, only to be confronted by a recalcitrant buffalo. Though Muthathi addressed him severely in Venda, the buffalo carried on chewing and glowered defiantly, so we once again navigated an alternative
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record pentad counts for the South African Bird Atlas Project; in a single day, he recorded 174 species and added two new out-of-range birds to the area – the Pinkthroated twinspot and, more ominously, the Indian Mynah. Makuleke also benefits from being the nearest part of South Africa for Palearctic migrants so summer is peak birding season. But the weather can be brutally hot – legend has it that on some courses, birders return from the early morning hike, shower in their clothes and come to the mid-morning lecture wet. It’s sweat equity though when the birding menu is so tempting and includes Pel’s Fishing Owl, the Bat Hawk, Three-banded Courser, Lemon-breasted Canary, Thick-billed Cuckoo, Racket-tailed Roller, Gorgeous Bush-Shrike, Bohm’s Spinetail, Mottled Spinetail, Eastern Nicator, Black-throated Wattle-eye, and Narina Trogon. Lawson is also easily the champion extreme walker in South Africa. In 1998 he and Karl Langdon walked from Cape to Cairo – an epic journey to raise money to eradicate polio from Africa – a walk that took the best part of two years. Trainee trails guides soon discover that their tracking walks can go well over 20 kilometres a day. Why walk when a four-hour game drive in a 4X4 is likely to net you four out of the Big Five? If you’ve never seen elephant, lion and buffalo, consider the vehicle your training wheels. From then on, don hiking boots and bite the dust. You’ll return richer for it. For more info, visit www.ecotraining.co.za, www.krugerpark.co.za and www.safariadventure.com
PHOTOGRAPHY: CAROLINE CULBERT/WILDERNESS SAFARIS AND DANA ALLEN/WILDERNESS SAFARIS
path, perilously close to the murky waters of a river. The choice seems to be a severe goring – or a gory end as croc food. The Nyalaland Trail accommodation is not for the overly fastidious. The thatch over the beds and mosquito nets harbour an interesting array of insects, small reptiles and deposits; cracks in the floorboards look as though a small snake could segue up during the night and bed down with you; and the bathrooms, a slightly unnerving night walk away from the thatched tents, need a make over. But the setting, next to the river and in the shade of baobabs and jackalberry trees, is magical; the food portions generous and well-cooked; and the beers cold. The Makuleke EcoTraining options range from specialist birding and tracking courses to their two-week Eco Quest course, a general introduction to the bush that’s popular with foreign tourists who want to experience the ‘real’ wilderness. Makuleke, the hub of the new Trans-Africa Park that incorporates land from Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Africa, was the subject of a successful land claim by the Makuleke people who were relocated by the apartheid government in the late 1960s. Some tough horse-trading has seen the area remain part of the park with the Makuleke people benefitting from the money the lodges attract. EcoTraining pay them for the use of the land, and from employment opportunities, which include a doughty anti-poaching unit. Bruce Lawson, who runs the operation with his wife Dee, is one of the country’s top birders and bird guides, a highly qualified Field Guide and leading light of FGASA – the Field Guides’ Association of South Africa. He’s produced a series of
an african pride hotels release
Sensational and sophisticated
frican Pride Crystal Towers Hotel & Spa has made its mark as an icon in Cape Town since opening in December 2009, not least because of its traffic-stopping front façade and suspended, glass-fronted pool. The 180-bedroom luxury hotel, designed with the exacting business traveler in mind, is without doubt a superb addition to Cape Town’s list of luxury destinations. ‘The hotel exudes a sense of total sophistication and refinement,’ says Nicholas Barenblatt, Group Marketing Manager of African Pride Hotels. ‘From the moment each guest arrives, they’re enveloped with a sense of timeless magnificence.’ Crystal Towers boasts energetic radiance through the clever use of modern design, décor, lighting and the sheer attention to detail on every level. According to architect Paolo Viotti of Vivid Architects, the hotel’s name aptly reflects the concept of a building that emanates a constant life, energy and glow. From embedded LED lights in the welcoming red carpet leading to the reception to cascading fibre-optic lights, this positive
af r i ca n p r i d e h o t e l s . c o m
energy and feeling of wellness extends to the mood-enhancing lighting in the beautifully decorated bedrooms. And taking centre stage in the bedrooms, the unique centrally positioned bed-and-shower experience – the Crystal Showers – is a highlight during a stay at the hotel. Two specially created private lounges, themed in consultation with SA legends David Kramer and Kingsley Holgate, allow guests to relax in an atmosphere that positively exudes their presence. Offering world-class, state-of-the-art conferencing and convention facilities, the hotel is also able to cater for select board meetings, executive get-togethers and extravagant product launches with its premium 300-seater facility. Developed by the Rabie Property Group, African Pride Crystal Towers Hotel & Spa is part of Protea Hotels’ luxurious African Pride Hotel collection. Its location in Century City integrates business, leisure and lifestyle, with African Pride’s signature service ensuring a productive yet relaxing stay resonating with the urban energy of the hotel. For more information on African Pride Crystal Towers Hotel & Spa, visit www.africanpridehotels.com/crystaltowers or call 021 525 3888.
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social events 1
LOUIS VUITTON’S SPRING/SUMMER 2011 COLLECTION LAUNCH AT ELLERMAN HOUSE 1) Stylish scarves stole the show. 2) Giselle Hön,
Michélle van Breda and Genevieve Fisher. 3) An antique Louis Vuitton trunk. 4) Sbu Mpungose and Aspasia Karras.
6 jameson over the top, JHB Jameson kicked off their annual campaign of Over The Top Parties at exclusive villas around the country. We were lucky enough to get a sneak peek of the Jozi celebration. On top of all the A-listers, Shaun Duvet, Euphonic and Milkshake were also present as they mixed their smooth beats. 1) It was a day filled with stylish fashionistas in a sassy location, sipping a sensational whiskey – Jameson. 2) Guests mingled while local beats played in the background. 3) Khaya Mapukata, Tsepo Duma and Mava Xolo. 4) The star of the event. 5) Miranda Mokhele. 6) Tumi Voster and Fundi Khumalo.
1) Private Edition (issue 7) covergirl Lyndall Jarvis and Roxy Louw. 2) Panama hats triumphed in the style stakes. 3) Elana Afrika and Natalie Becker. 4) Anita Olckers and Vanessa Haywood. 5) Kitty Spencer, Jen Su and Liezel van der Westhuizen.
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L’ORMARINS QUEENS PLATE
the last mouthful
THE HERMÈS CODE
o every fashionista who knows her Manolos from her Choos, the flagship Hermès store on the elegant Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré is a must-visit, even if it’s only to lèche-vitrine – or ‘lick the windows’ – as window-shopping is so quaintly described in France. The stock in the Hermès store never, ever goes on sale. Yet unbeknown to most, once a year Hermès actually does have a sale, not at the store, but at a Paris convention centre. The sale is never advertised, those in the know simply materialise at the doors as if obeying some style sixth sense, just as hibernating bears know the exact day spring has arrived. I’d heard whispers of this special sale before, but never knew where and when the stylish and canny gathered to plunder the coveted Hermès stock at bargain prices. This year, I was let in on the secret. It turned
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out the venue was not far from my apartment, and even better, no invitation was required. After standing in line for an hour, I was finally through the door. First I had to hand over my coat and be interrogated as to whether or not I was actually wearing any items from the hallowed brand. I suppose the idea is to foil potential thieves who try and swan out wearing their loot protesting they arrived looking like Grace Kelly, after whom one of the iconic handbags was named. As I was obviously easily identifiable as a Hermès virgin, I was allowed into the inner sanctum. Everyone was allotted a large transparent white plastic bag at the entrance, so the whole place looked as if it had been swamped by a sea of elegant jellyfish involved in something approaching a Tunisian riot. Some sections, like the hats, bath towels and men’s ties, were calmer backwaters. Then I spotted a perfectly coiffed Catherine Deneuve-lookalike sailing past holding a transparent bag bursting with knots of silk as if she had just mugged a Savile Row Joseph for his technicolour dreamcoat. A few paces further and I found the mother lode, shelves strewn with the famous Hermès square scarves glowing like pirate treasure. The luminous colours of the Great Barrier Reef, carnival in Rio, Mexican haciendas and Japanese kimonos were all spilling though the manicured hands of a crush of dazzled and very determined women… and a sprinkling of equally bewitched men. I had to queue again for almost an hour, watching the jewellike scarves flying through their fingers like exotic tropical birds, while being kept in line by two stern security guards hired to prevent salivating shoppers from getting unruly while waiting their turn. In the midst of the crush, some women had one hand glued to a mobile phone while the other stroked intricate designs, desperately trying to describe the finely wrought kaleidoscopes to the captive audiences on the other end of the line. Another had planted her husband in the scarf queue while she headed off in search of other bargains. ‘I’m waiting for a balloon one, dear,’ he called to her as she swept past, heading for the shoes nearby. When the rope was finally lifted to the Aladdin’s cave, I reached into the mêlée and snatched several rainbow-hued swathes to make my choice. I emerged with my prize, a large square of rich violet imbued with feathers so vivid they appear as if they were just shed onto the famous French silk from the headdress of a whirling Mayan priest. Sadly, the purple and chartreuse hot-air balloon design, the prancing horses in distinctive Hermès orange and the exquisite Japanese figures in vermillion were left behind, but now that I’ve cracked the code, there’s always next year.
After living in the city of light for eight years, Arlene Wainstein finally grasps the meaning of ‘insider trading’. By Arlene Wainstein
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