Thursday, January 22, 2015

Hot New Podcasts, for your listening pleasure

For the past few months I've started most sentences with, "I was listening to this podcast the other day..." and it's become a running joke amongst my friends and family. "When do you get the time to listen to all these podcasts?" they ask. Um, I work from home, alone, all day. I need something to listen to!

Image source.

I listen to a huge variety of podcasts that span comedy, everyday stories and feminist issues. If you've never listened to a podcast - it's easy. All you have to do is go to the iTunes podcast app on your phone, iPod or iPad and subscribe. You can also listen to them all online on their respective websites.

Here are a few of my all-time favourites: 

This is basically the podcast of all podcasts. The one that started it all. Each week has a theme, and reporters interview normal people about everyday things that cover that theme. Shows date back all the way to the 90's, so you've got lots to choose from. (This is my favourite episode: Valentine's Day)

From PRX’s Radiotopia, Nick van der Kolk’s Love + Radio features in-depth, otherworldly-produced interviews with an eclectic range of subjects, from the seedy to the sublime. You’ve never heard anything like it before. New installments are added monthly. (This is my favourite episode:
Choir Boy)

Each episode is an empathy shot in your arm, featuring true stories about about the people we meet, the connections we make, the heartbreaks we suffer, the kindnesses we encounter, and those frightful moments when we discover that WE aren’t even who we thought we were. (This is my favourite episode:Born Rich)

The K Ohle is a multi-format podcast hosted by comedian Kurt Braunohler. FORMATS INCLUDE (but are not limited to): The Boat Show – "The Best Non-Boating Boat Show on the Internet" -- Kurt and his guests talk at length about boating, a topic of which they have no knowledge. PETophilia – “The Animal Show for People Who Think Animals are Dumb” – guests get into it about their pets; plus, Animal Stories of the Week, Fact Animal Facts, and Who’s Dumber, the fun game the humiliates animals! Get Lost! – “This Feels a Bit Rape-y” - Every episode, Kurt takes a guest into his car, blindfolds them, drives them somewhere they’ve never been, and they have to figure out where they are and how they’d get back. And they have some chats along the way. FactTime - Kurt and co-host Matt Oberg unpack and investigate improvised stories from comedians while applying faulty scientific theories in a very produced and tightly edited format. If you love Radiolab, you'll love FactTime. (This is my favourite episode: THE K OHLE #57: PET-O-PHILIA WITH KRISTEN SCHAAL)

Based on TED Talks from around the world. (My favourite episode: Memory Games)

And my new favourites:

If This American Life started it all, Serial took podcasting to the everyman. People who had never heard of podcasts were talking about Serial. A story told week by week, season one investigated the murder of a teenager in Baltimore in the 90's and interviews her ex-boyfriend, who is serving life in prison. Unmissable!

There are so many remarkable things bubbling up in communities across the site every day that reddit created a podcast, Upvoted, to learn about the people and their stories beyond all the upvotes.

Stories of people who’ve done wrong, been wronged, or gotten caught somewhere in the middle. The show’s producers are full-time radio people, but Criminal is what they do when they go home at night.

Launched in January 2015, Invisibilia (Latin for "all the invisible things") explores the intangible forces that shape human behavior – things like ideas, beliefs, assumptions and emotions.Co-hosted by NPR's Lulu Miller and Alix Spiegel, who helped createRadiolab and This American Life, Invisibilia delves into a wide array of human behavior, interweaving narrative storytelling with fascinating new psychological and brain science.

This conversational live Internet radio show features a panel of PJA Advertising’s finest, along with frequent special guests. Each week we’ll discuss the juiciest social media-related dreams, nightmares, and hot topics.

The show brings you astonishing, true and personal stories from all over the globe. TSWI will bring you guests who will amaze you, break your heart or leave you laughing – sometimes all of those things at the same time.

A podcast about the big questions and hard choices that are often left out of polite conversation. Host Anna Sale talks to celebrities and regular people about relationships, money, family, work and making it all count while we're here.

Covering everything from the gender pay gap to the power and joy of female friendships - this is a great podcast for men and women alike.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Roadtripping Namibia: Two girls and the open road

In November last year, my friend Lauren Fowler-Kierman and I were invited to experience a unique trip with Open Africa, a non-profit organisation that curates routes through Southern Africa. Their trips incorporate local businesses and small business owners, supporting the local tourism industry and promoting authentic and local experiences - two of the most important things I look for when I travel.

We were asked to keep an open mind, and given no clues as to where we were going until less than 12 hours before our flight. At 8pm on the night before we were due to set off on our journey, we were handed an envelope containing flight tickets to Namibia, some cash and an itinerary. We were also equipped with a bunch of travel essentials from Due South, including hiking boots, a headlamp and one of those emergency foil blankets! We couldn't believe our luck.

A few short hours of frantic packing and what felt like hardly any sleep later, I woke up to Lauren banging and shouting at my front door. It was 5am and I had slept through my alarm and we were meant to have checked in already. Our Uber driver was given the instruction to drive recklessly and soon we were at Cape Town International Airport, passports stamped, boarding the flight to Namibia - a country neither of us had been to before.

We landed just after 8am and went over to the Hertz desk to pick up our car for the week. Naively, I was expecting a small little hatchback. I was handed a Toyota key and found my corresponding car in the parking lot: a huge, hulking Toyota Hilux. White, with automatic gears, a bluetooth radio and one of those cameras that helps you not to reverse into things. It was perfect. I signed some paperwork and launched myself into the car. I instantly totally got why people buy them.

I had a bad cold after flying back from Greece just the morning before, so we headed straight to Windhoek for some medication. Let me tell you, driving into Windhoek is like driving through a wormhole straight into the late 70's. The architecture, colour all looks like it came straight from my baby pictures! Attention Hollywood, I've found the perfect location for your films set in the 70's and 80's.

So as I said, we had no idea what was in store for us. We had a Garmin and an itinerary and Gone Girl on audiobook and a lot of excitement. Driving through the desert, a couple of hours in, we looked at each other and were like, uh wow, we are just two girls, driving through the desert in a foreign country, anything could happen and this is totally epic! If I'd known a couple of days before we left that we were going to be driving over a thousand kilometres through the desert by ourselves with no cellphone reception, I might have had some time to start panicking a little.

Because even though I've been to India all by myself and travelled alone in the UK and Germany and I'm not normally a panicky traveller, there's something about road tripping in Africa that's slightly daunting. Which is ridiculous because, I mean, I am African. But Africa's pretty wild, you know. Or it seems wild. So anyway, we were very stoked to have the opportunity to do this. With a pre-planned route and pre-booked accommodation. And of course we both felt really cool in our white Toyota Hilux, which I'm pretty sure is the national car of Namibia.

We drove for most of the day, focussing hard on not hitting pot holes or flipping the car on the dirt roads. The sky and the roads stretched as far as the eye could see. There was hardly anything to spot. Every now and then we would pass a flipped-over or burnt-out car and one of us would point. The road stretched on. We arrived at our first accommodation, the White Lady Lodge, just as the sun was setting. The sky was painted pink and orange as we drove towards the arid mountains. Literal wild horses rad ahead of us, kicking up dust that hung in the sunset like smoke after fireworks.

Exhausted, hot and hungry, we ate the first of what would be several portions of Oryx steak - a staple on the Namibian menu. Lauren and I were the only non-German's in the dining room and as our waiter took our drinks order he smiled and asked "where are you from, Germany?". It would not be last time we were asked that question. 

The lodge had no cellphone reception or electrical plug points in the bedroom, so we both had cold showers and collapsed underneath our mosquito nets. 

White Lady Lodge is known for its Elephants and named after the rock painting nearby, which was originally thought to be an actual white lady. Being 2000 years old, I thought it a bit of a stretch, but apparently the guy who discovered it was like "this is definitely a white woman from Crete in Greece!". Years later it was decided that it is most definitely a medicine man from Africa, obviously. Awkward. Anyway, the name stuck.

It's a five kilometre hike from the entry point of the protected area where the rock painting is located, and in the 40 degree celsius heat, it proved too much for my weak and ill body. Half way there I felt like James Franco in 127Hours and I turned back before the urge to cut my own arm off took hold. I went to lay in a shady spot and roll around feeling horrid while Lauren went to look at the ancient and culturally significant painting. 

Back at White Lady Lodge, more of the staff asked us if we were German, while we drank beer shandies and hung out between the pool and the shade. As the sun started to set, the sky was painted candyfloss pink and I tried to catch it on camera instead of lying on the desert floor soaking it all up. That night we dined on Oryx steak and got to bed early because the next day we were off on another drive through the Namib desert. 

The days of driving kind of blend into one, which I suppose is exactly what you can expect from the desert. I mean, just imagine those intrepid travellers who were hiking through the desert for days on end, getting all confused and dehydrated and walking in circles. I get it, intrepid travellers. I can relate. Except for being in a very powerful, air conditioned car with a GPS navigation system. 

The next highlight on our trip was the Damara Living Museum in Twyfelfontein. Between gigantic boulders lies a small traditional village set up by a few members of the Damara tribe in order to preserve their culture and educate their young people as well as visitors about their customs. Our amazing guide Colin was dressed in traditional skins and showed us around the village, stopping off at the traditional pharmacy, "gambling casino" and brewery.

At the pharmacy we learned that burning and inhaling the smoke from elephant dung was used for a variety of ailments and to improve fertility in women. At the "casino" we tried to learn the basics of a complicated game involving small holes in the ground which could result in a chief relinquishing his power if he didn't play his hand right. The traditional beer is brewed from grass seeds, stolen from the ants that harvest and store them.

When the tribe/museum staff got up and performed a traditional song, dance and drama routine I got a huge lump in my throat. To think that this tribe of people, this culture, is in danger of being lost made me feel both incredibly sad and incredibly grateful to be able to experience these people and their unique culture. I was humbled and a little bit shy but they were super friendly and wanted to be in about a hundred pictures with us. 

Namibia is a special place, with a huge amount of historic sites, cultural influences, friendly smiles from locals and wildlife (up in Etosha park). We could easily have spent a month exploring the coastal region, the nightlife of Windhoek and Swakopmund and Etosha. But part of the experience is the driving - the nothingness and everythingness of this dry, hot, golden yellow and sky blue place. I'm so grateful that I got thrust into this adventure - the long drives, crazy roads, Oryx steaks and wide open skies. I would sign up for any one of Open Africa's trips, and I really hope to do one of the Mozambique routes sometime this year. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Finding Pinspiration for our new home

Yesterday I shared the news that Keenan and I are buying our first home (and by home, I mean studio apartment) together and I cannot tell you how excited we are. We can't wait to finally have a space of our own, where we can unpack our bags (instead of living out of bags at each other's places) and leave our own fingerprints. The space is a blank canvas and we will be the first occupants, so we've got the opportunity to make something that really suits us and our lifestyle.

Because the space is quite industrial, with some exposed brick areas and a high warehouse-style ceiling, we want to keep things really simple. Also, there's not much space for hoarding, so we're getting rid of a whole lot of stuff we've been carting around from house to house since we left our respective homes. We're looking for clever ways to store or display household items that won't make it look too cluttered.


In the kitchen I want to have hooks where we can hang pots and pans. Ideally I'd like some copper pots, but they are pretty tough to find. We are also going to have a butcher's block on wheels, so that we can have more space to cook together. 

There are no built-in cupboards, so we've decided on clothing rails for the bedroom. This means that I've had to get rid of a ton of clothes - I've already thrown out seven (!!!) black bags full of stuff I never wear and there's still loads more that needs to go! 


The place is tiny, but it's big enough for us to create a bedroom, which we want to separate from the living area with a huge bookshelf. I'm still looking for one, so if anyone knows of a carpenter or similar in the Cape Town area who can build one, please send their details on to me.


(We want something a bit bigger than this - 2,5m wide by 2m high and 30cm deep, 
with spaces of varying sizes)

Where did people find inspiration before Pinterest? It's such an awesome platform to find and catalogue ideas. We've got a Studio Apartment board, where we've been pinning our ideas for small space decor and space saving solutions. We both really like minimalism and a neutral palette, with splashes of colour. We also want to incorporate a lot of plants and greenery into our home.

We have a small courtyard and an adjacent exclusive use passage, where we want to create a magical outdoor space. Lots of plants and great lighting will hopefully help us to create a small inner-city oasis.



Do you have any favourite Pinterest boards for decor inspiration?