Sunday, November 14, 2010

AND SO ON ....

You know when it’s just not your day !!

After skulking off to our room at the Hotel Safari (or rather sulking off to our room) after our Namibian plans got stalwarted .. We decided to relax and give it another go later in the afternoon. I started working on my blog and my husband watched the rugby. The first indication that something was wrong was when he got up to get dressed and skied across the room like a champion only to fall flat on his butt ... in 8 inches of water !! There had been an accident with a water tank two rooms down from ours and the rooms and corridors were ankle deep !

Immediate evacuation with a huge amount of action and noise from the Hotel staff and Management – and we are now in another room which I have to say is much nicer than the one we were in originally ..


Always on the lookout for a good adventure (well, I am anyway), my husband and I decided to make a weekend out of a business trip I had to make to Windhoek. Armed with nothing more than a general idea that we could have some lovely German Food and perhaps see a little more of another country we set out on Friday evening and landed in Windhoek. Let me stop anyone thinking of engaging in something like this right now – certainly if you are thinking of heading for Namibia.For a country that is a Tourist Mecca, where every second advert from the minute you arrive in the customs hall advertises tempting tourists experiences, to the never ending flow of safari vehicles and tourists – the locals are appallingly informed about their own country and in fact their own city. They are delightfully free with as much information you could wish for – all of it WRONG !!

Never arrive here unless you have everything completely tied up and pre- booked.

• Do not try and fly to Swakopmund over a weekend – there are no flights!!

• Do not try and drive to Swakopmund ( a three hour journey) over a weekend as no one will hire you a car in case you steal it – something the Avis Lady was very happy to tell us when we enquired. Why you only want to steal one of their cars on a Saturday or a Sunday is a mystery to me.

• Do not try and catch a shuttle to Swakopmund over a weekend – the tourist information bureau where you book the tickets is closed and no one can give you any information other than it goes and comes back – Oh yes and it left three minutes ago and we think they are still in the area but they are not answering their cell phone and the number on their flyer is obsolete

• Do not ask any hotel receptionist to help you do anything than actually check you into the Hotel – they are willing and polite but have no idea where anything is, what time anything opens or how to get there

• Do not ask a Hotel receptionist to book you on a local guided tour of anything – mountains, cheetah feeding etc – even though the brochure is on their desk in the Hotel. In fact don’t even open a brochure, the information is completely obscure and times are all incorrect – Yes we can take you on a game drive but you have to sit at the Farm restaurant for three hours before the game drive actually leaves – Why exactly ???

• Do not book a tour to a game farm - you have to pay a fortune for the transfer to get you there and then have to pay a double fortune for the tour itself – something they all forget to mention (along with the three hour wait ...)

• Do not try and find a German Restaurant unless you know its name – no amount of frustrated web research can discover where these hidden jewels are, despite the fact they are mentioned in every guide book, brochure and local literature. Apparently on the Dining Out Website there are only four restaurants in the whole of Windhoek (not so)

In a fit of frustration we fell into the lovely Zoo Restaurant situated in the immaculately maintained gardens in the City Centre to revive ourselves with a cup of tea (The English recommend this when things get tough) and the Russian owner summed it up in one “Welcome to Disney Land “

Oh well – tomorrows’ another day!


Sometimes my job has some great perks (the emphasis here is on “sometimes”) and this past week has been one of them. Dear friends of ours have just refurbished their houseboat and we were invited on The Phillipa’s maiden voyage (sans refurb) to check out all the facilities and see what still needed to be tweaked. Now, I sell houseboats all the time, big, small, expensive, and not so expensive but I had never been on one or even been near one, so this was an ideal opportunity to work out what all the hype was about– and I have to tell you – I am a total convert – I just LOVED it !!

All in the name of work, meant we had to spend a week on Lake Kariba, sailing around the Matusadonna shoreline, game viewing, eating, fishing, eating, sleeping, reading, drinking and eating – so you can see why it was so tough.

The Phillipa is a lovely spacious boat with four gorgeous cabins with all the trimmings on the bottom deck and ample space on the deck above for a bar, lounge and dining area, plus a lot of space for sleeping if the cabins became too hot. The top deck is not glassed in or air-con’d but looking at the other boats we passed, this was an advantage in the end as we appeared to have a lot more space to just chill out. Fully crewed, cold beers and three tender-boats to take out the insatiable fisher-people (I never got off the houseboat) was just the most ideal way to have a wonderfully relaxing holiday and I really hope I get a chance to do this again – often ...

Glorious food, outstanding company, good fishing even if Karen Hodgson dropped the biggest fish of the week overboard when she tried to show me (I somehow got the blame for that one?)

Just another day in Africa!

Contact Co-ordinating Zimbabwe for reservations


Tiffany, Dayne’s gorgeous girlfriend has finally turned 21 and
they came down from Victoria Falls to celebrate the occassion with family and friends. Dayne wanted to surprise her with a lovely special evening and tasked me with the job of finding the right venue for classy drinks and snacks. Now for a town with a restaurant, coffee shop or cafe on every corner (I am not exaggerating here) this turned out to be surprisingly difficult. For a small evening celebration there are not a lot of places that are either small enough to feel comfortable or open in the evening.

However the lovely Pembroke Place stepped up to the plate and really did us proud.

I have to point out that Pembroke Place is not the actual name of the restaurant, but since its opening, over a year ago, if you talk about “going to Pembroke Place” everyone knows you mean the restaurant and the actual name has blended into the background and even I don’t know what it’s called.. Anyway Sam Webster and her husband Dean (owner, manager, chef and waiter), have managed to pull a rabbit out of the hat when it comes to catering. The setting is stunning. A huge – and I mean huge – granite kopje dominates the restaurant with beautiful gardens, shady trees and emerald green lawns – a definite plus in water-rationed Bulawayo.

Set up on the veranda, Sam sent out platters of snacks – miniature cheesies, baby burgers (Dean’s secret recipe) and crispy potato wedges – piquant dips, olives and feta cheese and traditional biltong – and lots of it !! Drinks served from the bar kept the party going and even though we departed at a decent hour, I am told the youngsters kept it going until the wee hours. Even after all that, Sam arrived at work the next morning looking as fresh as a daisy and ready for another busy day in the kitchen.

This is one couple who deserve to make a success of their business and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this venue for anyone looking for a special event big or small.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Where Did All That Salt Come From?

My latest policy has been that it doesn’t matter what or where the Conference Hotel is located, I will book in there whenever I go away on business. This is a result of many hours of frustration trying to find my way to various locations.

Take this morning for instance – armed with a map, excellent directions and a “Garmin” I still managed to get lost for over an hour in a 1km radius from the Hyatt Hotel in Joburg. I have to thank the Parking Attendant for not going into panic mode as I sat there sobbing in his car park..

As a result, tonight it’s the Radisson Blu Hotel in Sandton. First glance is this is a block of concrete, set in the middle of a constant building site and further confused by the fact the reception is on the 13th Floor. It’s a bit too angular for my liking and being a closet si-fi addict, the warped mirrors, metal spheres and strange egg like objects outside the lifts, resemble props from a scene from the “V” series and I half expected them to crack open and goodness knows what to come out. I do realise the architectural fashonista’s will be shouting me down as an ignorant know-nothing from up North as I am sure this style is the height of “now”, but it’s not really my thing. Redeeming qualities were however their outstanding pillows which are a completely different size and the fact my television greeted me by name (I am not telling stories)

With the afternoon to spare and still in search of the ultimate experience, I headed for the Amani Spa in the hotel, for an Indian Head Massage. What a treat. Rozelle my beauty therapist was built like a sylph with the strength of a body builder – a total chill (so I thought). After my treatment she took me for a tour of the Spa and there is where I found The Salt Room. Now this is the ultimate restoration – mind and body. It is the first Salt Room in Africa (being a European concept) and the idea behind it is that as the room gently heats, it purifies the air and is wonderful for respiratory ailments, colds and flu, ear ache just to name a few – but more importantly has extreme relaxation properties. Well I wasn’t leaving without trying it and I have say, with thick white salt on the floor like sea sand and ionized salt walls with rows of purple lighting, you have to be forgiven for feeling like you had arrived in a mystical cavern far from home – well that was the whimsical thought I had before I fell asleep...

So it just goes to show, first impressions aren’t always right and the best surprises are often the ones that aren’t immediately obvious!

Radisson Blu Hotel, Sandton, Johannesburg -
Amani African Spas -

Monday, October 4, 2010

When Luxury is a Luxury

I can’t help getting a little irritated these days by all the endless claims that everyone seems to make to be the “Most Luxurious” of everything and anything. What pity that this wonderfully expressive word has been bandied about with such carelessness that it now simply means something that is better than “nice, lovely or amazing”. What happened to the thrill of walking in somewhere and just standing there in jaw dropping awe and feeling the Luxury sweep right over you?

Actually, I think the right word here is “feeling” and once we have moved away from silk finishes and gilt taps, the new Luxury has got to be whatever you feel it to be and in most cases, it’s totally personal.

Take me for instance – I am constantly surrounded by people (most of whom I adore, some I enjoy and others I could do with less of). My days are spent like so many other people, dealing with people at home, in my office and the 50 beautiful girls at the school where I also teach Travel and Tourism. The phones, the conversations, emails, broadband, skype – even our parrot can talk. When I get a change to be “away” on my own, it is a total experience and one I really want to savour. I have to admit though that I want to do the savouring in beautiful surroundings, with all the trimmings and just the right music in the background and my ultimate Luxury would have to be that someone else had gone to the trouble of providing all that for me..

Right now as I write this article, I have Joshua waiting on me hand and foot – here’s a Cosmopolitan, good choice of dessert and what sort of tea would you like, we have quite a selection. No I have not died and gone to heaven, rather I am in the lap of Luxury and feeling it all the way. I am staying at the totally stunning Marion on Nichol which is like a tiny oasis in the middle of a raging city – Johannesburg. Nestled near Sandton, this 24 roomed Boutique Hotel of Distinction can really carry the description. It’s not the beautiful decor or the polished staff (all Hotel brochures wax lyrically about those), it’s all about the total feeling of pleasure that washes over you as you walk through the door and carries on right the way through to your “never-get-off-this-bed-out-of-this-bath, down to feeling completely pampered and cherished without even trying – now that, as far as I am concerned is total Luxury!!

And so I sit, the cool night air taking the edge off the city, orchids gently scenting the air, tasting every mouthful of my Apple and Pomegranate Tart served with Honey-Bush Ice Cream and Pomegranate Fluid Gel accompanied by Cinnamon Anglaise and a pot of white tea on the table, I realise that moments like this are very special and need to be appreciated for what they are –a complete privilege. Sincere compliments to the management and staff at the Marion for getting it so right..

The Marion on Nichol,
Crn Stirling & Hamilton Road, Hurlington, Johannesburg.
+011 783 7816 or 011 783 7239.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


Sitting here at 4 in the morning - (grumpy as the dogs woke me up at 1.00am and I havent been able to get back to sleep) is probably not the best time to update my blog, but what the hell I am awake anyway..

Its not often I have a real beef about Restaurants - I prefer subtle hints on what I personally think they could "tweek" but this week I had a bad run and have decided to be a little more direct.  26 on Park is one of my favourite places to go and when you have somewhere you just want to be, you are going to be put out when you cant get in.  Its obviously a lot of other peoples favourite place as well.  On Saturday morning we decided to head off there for one of their delicious breakfasts and when we got there at 09.55 we were unceremoniously hustled off the veranda as the kitchen was closing at 10 for a private function.  As I stomped back to the car I couldnt help wondering why they hadnt bothered to put a notice up at the gate rather than have us all plundering through the gardens before we were informed.

On Tuesday, the thought of their delicious lunch was hovering in my mind so we decided to give it another try - but this time the restaurant was packed .. great news for them .. bad news for us.  A very kind lady indicated that she was just waiting for her bill and we could have her table which was great, except there was nowhere to wait, no one to bring her the bill and no one to see if we were alright.  In fact no actually acknowledged us until 10 minuts later when we decided to stop standing there like storks and make another plan. 

Flicking through a copy of the latest MailBox I saw some lovely adverts for this restaurant - one of which was a bold block with their name - and underneither the caption "no words needed" - Sorry guys but I beg to differ.

Sunday, August 15, 2010


      Well this is an age old problem and one that is better   simplified as “ you can’t please everyone all the time, so you might as well please yourself”. Take Middy’s Spot for instance. The whole emphasis on their lovely cafe is to be more affordable than anyone else and therefore in charging really low prices, they will eventually force their competition to follow their example !! Judging by the number of cars lined up outside their premises, this is proving to be a popular “Spot” indeed.


So this brings us to the portion. Is it possible to serve exactly the same size portions as everyone else but charge half the price for them without compromising in any way? I really don’t think so but then I’m not the person doing the shopping or costing the menu. The most common way is to be mean with the amount of food on your plate - slices of salami on tasty chiabatta’s that are so thin you could read the newspaper through them?? (I wonder if anyone has actually tried to do that) and if that was the case, what would people really prefer! Something that doesn’t break the bank or something that doesn’t fill the stomach... You are never going to find a way to make everyone happy.

I have to say that in my personal experience my chiabatta was delicious and the portion size just right, my cuppachino, hot and aromatic and the setting delightful, so maybe Middy’s has managed to crack the code after all – I believe Clive Midlaine went to a really good school !!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


My cousin Michele sent this to me - I am worried she is becoming a webtechnoholic - someone who is constantly scouring the internet, but its more likely to be her forwarding stuff someone else sent to her - either way I am delighted to be on the receiving end as otherwise how else would I get to see a TOILET RESTAURANT !! 
                               Now I am sharing it with you..

Not in a million years !!


By now you are all probably sick of reading about me warbling on about how fabulous Vic Falls was, great food and amazing Chefs and I think in an effort to shut me up, I was invited (and went uninvited to others) to some of the new restaurants and Cafes that have opened up in Bulawayo over the past few week - Yes - Weeks!

Sam and David Jacobs, dear friends that they are, have opened the lovely Mojo - Lounge Bar.  Sam is very insistent I get it right so I haven't left off the Lounge Bar and just called it Mojo's.  The official opening was on Saturday and we weren't there because, you've guessed it, we were in Victoria Falls, so Sam asked me to call in and check it out when I got back.

How to describe something that is inside an average looking Sports Club with a disintegrating car park and some tired looking foliage - I would probably have to say its the most amazing surprise you're going to get in a long time.  Walking into Mojo's (sorry Sam) is like taking a quick trip to some trendy spot in the middle of a cosmopolitan city - out of this world!

Warm greys, maroons, silver, glass, mirror, huge paintings and private corners make this a complete contradiction, centering around a massive bar that doubles up as a coffee counter during the day.  I had a fab cuppachino and thought I was in Joburg.  Like any new establishment, the hard work is all to come, but judging by the complimentary chatter around town and the impact of opening night, I think they have a winner.  Make sure you book a corner on Saturday night - the excellent Jazz Band will be back..

Next on the list was the revamp of the old Roasted Berry.  Now this restaurant was a real enigma, as for some reason it won the Best Restaurant award for quite a few years and no one could work out why.  The food was fair, the setting lovely and the service very insipid - perhaps no one else bothered to enter?  It has now been taken over by Greg and the Lads from Bombela and renamed
26 on Park
First impression is that the setting is still lovely and more or less looks the same, but the perky menu board tells that dramatic changes have taken place and a real taste bud experience is about to happen - Light fresh meals.  Jane and I decided to share lunch - half her Salmon Bagel for half my Quiche.  All good food - for ladies not wanting to walk away feeling stuffed to the gills.  Greg let us in on his plans for dinners next month - something different for Bulawayo with tasting menus instead of solid meals.  Great idea Greg - but lets hope the hearty Beef Boys will have the nerve to to try it !!

My last stop of the day - by now I'd had so much coffee I was almost bouncing off the walls, was
Middy's Spot andwhateveryoulikeit (I kid you not).  This is a delightful little cafe, set on the very edge of the city centre, close enough to be considered a town venue but far enough away to be comfortable, after all, who wants to go into any city centre these days! 

Now this place is different - and I am not influenced by the fact Clive Midlaine and I went to school together (I didn't remember him but he seemed to know a lot about my school days, even the bits I was keeping quiet,  especially from my children)  Its different because their main aim is to keep their prices low enough to make their competitors sit up and take notice and because, if they can wake dozy little Bulawayo up early enough, they have plants to do happy hour between 7.30 and 8.30 every morning.. 

 Anyone who can come up with all these novel ideas (and they had lots of them), dress their waitresses in Cerise Pink Aprons and have the largest muffins I have ever seen, one week after getting their new Cafe ripped off and their TVs and furniture stolen - deserves to succeed !!!  I am going to reserve a permanent parking as its on my way to work and I can really see myself managing the early morning coffee grab and dash! (when its warmer that is..)

Monday, June 21, 2010


We decided to head off to Victoria Falls for the weekend to see our son Dayne (the Chef) which I am delighted to say, ended up being a "gastronomic" food fest and one I just have to write about ... endlessly ... good and bad !!

Our first night was out at Gorges Lodge.  If you haven't been there, its set on the very edge of the Zambezi Gorge, balancing 250m in the air.  Pretty amazing views and definately not the place to go if you are looking for an argument or have an issue with your partner - far too close to the edge for comfort!  But honestly, the view can take your breath away.

Eating at Gorges is not going to set the "foodies" ablaze with excitement but if you are wanting a really good home cooked meal, satisfying  portions, whilst sipping a fairly decent wine  in an exceptional setting, then its worth sitting at their table.  A definate plus was their outstanding choice of coffee - proper filter coffee of a high quality and actually quite a surprise!

We had a really pleasant evening.  The beds are amazingly comfortable with decent pillows and lovely linen.  Just hope like hell you dont sleep-walk..

Friday, June 11, 2010


Every now and then something completely random comes along that absolutely catches your imagination and for me this has to be "the one".  I had the pleasure of arranging a transfer for the Zimbabwe Music Academy staff on a recent Jolly up to Hwange and Vic Falls after the Music Festival - which went spectacularly "wrong" !!

I had to leopard crawl into Michael Bullivants office this morning to eat crow and apologise profusely and I have to say he was an absolute gentleman about the whole thing which made me feel even worse..  In the course of the conversation there was mention of Bruce, the local train, buffalo and Petroc

After a period of total confusion (these people talk their own language) Michael explained - Petroc, who is famous, (none of us had heard of him) went with  Bruce (who is not) on the local train (no one could explain why) and whilst en-route to Hwange, the train ran into a herd of buffalo - how the hell do you do that?  One buffalo is huge so a herd is enormous !!  As a result the train was derailed and 7 buffalo were killed.  Naturally the train came to a grinding halt and always on the look out for a good deal, the lovely people on the train got out, cut up the buffalo and had an impromptu "braai". 

Petroc said that it was a little too rare for his taste and could have been hung for a bit longer.  I suppose they could have strung it up around the trees for a few days !!  Just in case you think I am talking a load of buffalo's, it was in the London Evening Standard on the 31st May ! 

I am now going to google "Petroc"

Saturday, March 20, 2010


I am never quite sure how I manage to get involved in so many of the things I end up doing, but my darling friend Karen once bought me a book entitled "For People Who Don’t Know How To Say No" so the answer is probably there somewhere. Anyway on this occassion, I am glad I got involved as it resulted in a sumptuous lunch at Wes and Jane - with the American Ambassador, Charles A Ray.

Now as much as I would like to tell you that I eat with the In-Crowd, this was a lot more In than normal and was the result of a Mentor Programme that required woman in certain fields of business to mentor a young girl from a disadvantaged background. My little Mentoree was a lovely girl called Sam who wants (heaven help her) to get involved with Travel and Tourism - which is where I came in.

The lunch was fabulous, but not the done thing to charge around flashing cameras in the Ambassadors face so we will have to wait for the official photos to come from the Embassy but at least I can give you a step by step account of the actual lunch,

33 people on the veranda, beautiful table with white drapes blowing gently in the wind, artful conversation and fabulous food. Platter after platter of breads, salads, chicken, pates, quiche, couscous, rare beef and all the trimmings kept coming out of the kitchen. Wes cooking and Jane serving! Someone asked me afterwards what made the salads so different and I was lost for an answer as they were full of the normal salad content but just had an amazing modern slant to them - that’s the work of a trend setting Chef! It was all topped off by a Melt in your Mouth Coffee Mousse and I got to stay and have coffee with the Chef!

So the next time someone asks me to get involved in something, I am definitely going to think about it before I say No !

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


This is my first blog of 2010 and its not that I have been suffering from writers block and cant write, its just that I have been on a diet. Has it worked - definately not!  After a miserable, anti-social month and 1gram off, I have decided that I would rather enjoy the moment and carry on breakfasting, lunching and dining.  Have I given up - definately not but this year I am going to focus on being healthy instead of being thin! (thats never going to happen - being thin that is)  So, heres to a good 2010 and some fab food.