Tag Archives: Travel Writer

The leap from giving to Namibia

An old saying claims that the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry. I wish I could expand more on the validity of this ancient phrase, or speculate more about its origin. What woes must have befallen the poor sap who had coined the phrase? Regardless from whence it came, it has certainly found roots in my life this year.

We began the year with a vision of giving. Not just in the charitable sense of the word, but in every possible way. The idea was to dig in and to try my best to give, share and help. Be it advice, money, activities or anything else. We wanted to give a little bit of ourselves to all those around us, but life has a way of throwing a spanner in the works now and then.The Fouche Family

Not long after my last post, our first child was born. I became daddy to the prettiest baby girl. I’m sure every father thinks his little girl is the prettiest. I do not wish to engage in a mine-is-the-cutest debate, but she is damn cute.James Fouche and Talya Lita

While fatherhood is an absolute adjustment, I believed it would still be possible to do my writing, both finishing of novels and penning new articles, while starting up a brand new business and focusing on our theme of giving. Then business took some interesting turns and I was forced to put writing a bit on hold while my wife tended to the little one. And, by the way, a baby should not be referred to as a bundle of joy. Where did that phrase originate from?!

Here is the thing about babies people tend to not warn fathers about. The first three months is not pretty, or cute, or beautiful, or any of those endearing words. That first part of a baby’s life is hard work. That’s right, I said it. The first three months for both parents is all business. You as a parent have been tasked with jump-starting a lump of flesh. It is basic biology. If you don’t feed the puppy, the puppy will die. Eat. Sleep. Crap. Repeat.

The importance of having a bunny friend
The importance of having a bunny friend

It was at this point, the pinnacle of adjustment, that life shifted a gear into chaos. We were just getting to that balance where we could cope with our annual theme, our new addition to the family and business. Alas, it was not meant to be. We might feel we are in control of how things go, but it is evident that we are not.

It was on a particularly blue Monday that I heard my mother had passed away, aged 62 and fairly healthy. This was a shock to the system, me and our house, and eventually, the business. I had to travel often to take care of the funeral and tend to estate matters, leaving the business in the capable hands of my staff.Eileen Fouche

Trials come and go, much like death and taxes. Then life goes on again. In light of this year, the one thing I am constantly reminded of, is the fact that life, in all its abundance and beauty, is also a finite thing, a flicker at best, and the only real sense of fulfilment is the manner in which we have occupied our time here. I am filled with a desire to do more, to reach further and to spend every minute wisely. By that I mean quality over quantity. Circumstance is a thief of time, constantly convincing us that the unforeseen and the inevitable has to take precedence. But there is nothing that should take precedence over family time. Nothing. If you MUST work, then find a way to do it with your loved ones or make sure that you set aside time for your family.

In the next post I will explain a bit more about my book tour to Namibia, and how I try to juggle between author, husband and daddie.

Fouche of Sedgefield and his trusty bedouine guide, Talya abu Lita.
Fouche of Sedgefield and his trusty Bedouin guide, Talya abu Lita, preparing to tour Namibia.

 

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WACKY WINE – THE TRAVEL

 

RWV e-Map 1

When we travel somewhere I prefer to set out before sunrise. Best to hit the tar before trucks crawl out of hiding and snail along your intended route. My wife first concluded her exhausting packing regime, then it was my turn. I’m a plotter so most of the packing takes place in my mind. Ten minutes later my suitcase was added to the mountain of luggage by the door.

The following morning the car was loaded, dogs and bunnies fed, and cat shooed from underfoot. Before long we were on our way to face the Wacky Wine madness. As we climbed onto the main road the headlights happened to pass over the flattened corpse of a bird. Then I heard the sniffing. My wife was whimpering, cheeks glistening with fresh tear tracks.

“What about her babies?” she sobbed. “They are waiting in a nest for food. What’s gonna happen to them now?”

“I think that was a male bird. It had bright feathers,” I said, hoping it would diffuse the situation. It made it worse.

We held a number of eulogies along the way, for fauna across all species.

Late morning we arrived in Swellendam. We stayed at Impangele guest house, a pleasant and affordable stop-over for people travelling through. We were offered a hearty welcome by the hosts and were shown to a leopard-themed room. There we were able to read up on how Impangele came about, with pictures detailing the progress of their guest house.

With the launch of my latest novel, KING OF SORROW, finally around the corner, we both agreed we needed a bit of pampering at the Rain Forest Day Spa. I had the elephant walk massage. Now I know what you’re thinking: crime authors sound like a bunch of sissies. I don’t care if you judge me. It was an hour of absolute bliss, and affordable enough for anyone to enjoy. I left feeling refreshed and ready for the weekend and the coming book launch.

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I was tempted to load pics of the massage room, but it included me in my undies. I’m afraid – and quietly hope that – most readers would find that distasteful. Once you see it, it can’t be unseen. Oh, remember to check out the Rain hamper competition at the end of this post.

The next morning we visited the Wildebraam Berry Estate (@WildebraamLiq) to do a liqueur tasting. It was a bit too early for alcohol but we did the full tasting anyway. Strange as it might sound, the guava liqueur was triumphant over all. So, half-drunk on berry nectar we made our way to Orange Grove Farm in Robertson, where we would stay for the next couple of days.

By far, this was the travelling highlight. We were met by our personal guide and taken to our cottage. The cottages are at an elevated level over-looking the vineyard, so the views were amazing. The accommodation itself was of the highest standard. As an author I’m quick to pick up silly things that others might consider inconsequential. I immediately noticed two small fire extinguishers, clear exit signs, a fire blanket in the kitchen, and a first-aid kit in the bathrooms. The conventional toiletries included the OGF1812 personal care shower gel and lotion, containing diamond dust and luxury coffee colouring. I had never experienced this attention to detail at a self-catering venue before.

orange-grove-farm-01-decor-photographer(pp_w625_h199)

Later I would discover that the owner, Carlos Araujo, has a mining background so he regarded the health-and-safety aspect as first priority. We briefly discussed his chequered past and his humble beginnings. He is a colourful character. The fact that he encourages staff to read a book a month, warmed this author’s heart.

The next morning I officially began the Wacky Wine Weekend. Every other concern faded away. I was there to celebrate the grape and to taste what the different wine makers were able to accomplish with it. My next post will detail the variance of wines, the tasting highlights and what happened at some of the estates.

50ae31f677b90Next week I will also be giving away a box of Arabella wines so follow the blog or check in to see how you can win.

That brings us to this week’s competition. Here is how you can win the Rain hamper. Answer the very difficult question below and send your answers to @james_fouche on twitter using this hash tag: #myrainmoment or e-mail answers to domaingrp@yahoo.com

RAIN HAMPER QUESTION

My rain moment is:774e0e8b1d684a2abba94a07cf1f7299

1. Coffee with in-laws

2. A rain massage

3. A triple brandy & coke

WACKY WINE WEEKEND – A CRIME AUTHOR AND HIS PASSIONS

There are 2 routes to travel between Cape Town and the Eastern Cape. One is with the N2 national road. The never-ending stretch of tar accommodates many trucks, taxis and other nervous motorists. It’s not the most scenic trip, either. At times, the ocean is visible in the distance. Other times, there are hours of bland countryside, not a soul in sight.

The other route is with Route 62, otherwise known as the wine route. The R62 takes the traveller through the Langeberg region, the heart of the Western Cape winelands. It snakes along scenic countryside with breath-taking mountain ranges, through beautiful towns like Bonnievale, Robertson, Ashton, Montagu and Swellendam. Within the Robertson Wine Valley there is a fine network of roads linking to all the wine estates. Why people opt to take the other route is beyond me.

Every year the Wacky Wine festival calls all the attention to the region. This year the event runs from 6 – 8 June 2014. Most of the wine enthusiasts find themselves drawn there, and rightfully so. There is so much to do for the whole family. Whether going from estate to estate for wine tastings, enjoying the local cuisine, braving the many outdoor activities on offer, or engaging with the locals, it is easy to lose oneself.

For the next month or so I will do a series of blog posts about what an author gets up to at the Wacky Wine Weekend festival. I will be in the area for the duration to review some of the restaurants and guest houses. I will also critique the finest SA wines, try out a much-anticipated spa treatment, attend a speciality coffee tasting, do a bit of hiking, and much more

There will be competitions for readers, with great prizes up for grabs, so watch this space. Next blog post will be very soon…