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Friday, September 12, 2014

#DaydrinkingFriday: WIN with Black Elephant Vintners

Good news: It's Daydrinking Friday once again! Bad news: Surprise! There is no bad news!

I went to visit Black Elephant Vintners a couple of weeks ago in Franschhoek and completely fell in love with their wine and their brand ethos. Their tasting room is completely relaxed and I really liked their wines.

Today I'm giving away a selection of three of the wines in their range. Have a look at their website to find out more about their wines and their brand. If you're into wine and want to know more about it, check out their blog, where they post regularly about wine and winemaking.

They'll also be at the Franschhoek Uncorked festival, where they've got a wine and cake pairing! And even if you're on the Noaks bandwagon, they've got a banting option.

WIN! Three bottles of wine from Black Elephant Vintners




Win a bottle each of their Timothy White (Viognier), Nicholas Red and Two Dogs, A Peacock & A Horse (Sauvignon Blanc) wines. 

To enter, all you have to do is:

1. Leave a comment below with your name and Twitter handle
2. Tweet @BEVintners and me @NatalieRoos to let us know you've entered

That's it, good luck!

*Competition will close on Friday, the 19th of September at 12pm. Only open to South Africa. 



Thursday, September 11, 2014

M-Net Movies Comedy embraces YouTube for its stand up comedy month

Instead of boring us all to death by begging for votes on Facebook and Twitter, the comedians involved in the M-Net Movies Comedy channel comedy festival during September are using YouTube to drive the campaign.

Four up-and-coming comedians created individual pre-rolls for YouTube, promoting the stand-up comedy festival on channel 104. The one with the longest view time will win R10 000.00 in cash. I think it's a really cute way of doing things.

Using YouTube analytics to determine who is the funniest based on time, means the playing field is fair for once (multiple views from the same device won’t count). This is a first for brands using online advertising and is a great sign of brands adapting content to the particular platform.

Check out the four clips below:









The M-Net Movies Comedy on channel 104 screens stand-up on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights from 9pm in September.

Stand Up Comedy Special Schedule on M-Net Movies Comedy (104).

04-Sep-2014 21:30 DENNIS MILLER: THE RAW FEED
04-Sep-2014 22:35 CHOCOLATE SUNDAES: COMEDY SHOW
05-Sep-2014 21:00 ONE-NIGHT STAND 15: ELLEN DEGENERES
05-Sep-2014 21:30 ROBIN WILLIAMS: WEAPONS OF SELF DESTRUCTION
06-Sep-2014 20:45 20:45 ONE-NIGHT STAND 31: MARTIN LAWRENCE
06-Sep-2014 21:15 DANE COOK VICIOUS CIRCLE

11-Sep-2014 21:00 MIKE TYSON: UNDISPUTED TRUTH
12-Sep-2014 21:00 ONE-NIGHT STAND 44: EDDIE GRIFFIN
12-Sep-2014 21:30 SARAH SILVERMAN: WE ARE MIRACLES
13-Sep-2014 21:15 ONE-NIGHT STAND 45: COMMAND PERFORMANCE: ELLEN DEGENERES
13-Sep-2014 21:45 BOB SAGET: THAT AIN'T RIGHT

18-Sep-2014 21:30 DANA CARVEY: SQUATTING MONKEYS TELL NO LIES
19-Sep-2014 21:10 HCHH 02: D.L. HUGHLEY
19-Sep-2014 21:40 LEWIS BLACK: RED, WHITE & SCREWED
20-Sep-2014 21:15 HCHH 29: DAVE CHAPPELLE
20-Sep-2014 21:45 TRACY MORGAN: BLACK AND BLUE

25-Sep-2014 21:00 GEORGE CARLIN: COMPLAINTS AND GRIEVANCES
26-Sep-2014 21:00 CHRIS ROCK: BIGGER & BLACKER
27-Sep-2014 20:50 LOL: THE ULTIMATE COMEDY TOUR: LOS ANGELES

Find out more by following M-Net Movies on Twitter and Facebook.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Getting Out Of Cape Town: Spring Weekends Away


Tiny blossoms are beginning to bring little flecks of colour back to the stark branches we’ve seen all winter. There’s a touch of spring in the air and with it, a flurry of excitement as Capetonians begin to wake from their winter hibernation.


The promise of warmer weather and clear skies is enough motivation to get out of the city we’ve been trudging through all winter long and enjoy a little breakaway. Whether it’s a hike to loosen up the wintry joints or that first icy spring dip in the Atlantic, we’re all ready to get out of Cape Town for a weekend and enjoy the first whispers of summer.

Read about a few out-of-city escapes that will get you into the summer spirit in the post I wrote for News24 Travel here.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

How The Internet Changed My Hit-and-Run Experience

I have a story to share about something that I think is pretty remarkable. I deal with people and the internet and people on the internet all day long. Some people I deal with have adopted the internet as such an integrated part of their lives that it's as if it was always just there, while others are still skeptical about this world wide web.

Millenials Tweeting about wanting to spend money at your business 
while you debate whether digital is relevant

I'm often in meetings where we talk about online campaigns, the value of bloggers and the reach of Social Media with heartfelt passion and conviction, knowing that we will be able to include eye-popping stats by the end of the campaign. Just as often, I find myself in a position where I am answering questions like "do people really use Twitter?" and "do Millennialls even spend money on things they read about on blogs?"

This story about a dream, a smashed-up car and a Tweet illustrates just how powerful Social Media can be, and how far into the real world it can reach.

On Saturday the 6th of September I woke up in Seapoint at a house I had been looking after for a friend. I was looking forward to a wide open weekend full of possibilities. My boyfriend rolled over and sleepily told me about a dream he'd had. Suddenly I was reminded of something I'd dreamed about. "I had a dream that someone broke into my car!" I said, walking over to the window.

"NO! WAY!" I shouted. "Someone has smashed into my car!" On the street below, my little Hyundai Getz stood with it's right backside mangled, it's rear lights hanging by their wires, like an eye gauged from it's eye-socket. I rushed down in my pink flannel pajamas and slippers to assess the damage. "NO! WAY!" I shouted, running around to the other side of the car. "Someone has broken into my car too!"

You may be wondering what this has to do with the internet, but bear with me.

Over the next few minutes, a few neighbours came out of their houses and from their accounts (obviously they don't sleep as deeply as we do) it became clear that in a cruel and unusual combination of events, someone had knocked my car at around 1am, and in an unrelated event, it had been broken into by opportunistic assholes.



The driver was nowhere to be found, but the red car which had hit mine was parked not too far off. Keenan snapped a picture of the licence plates and registration disk and we headed to the police station to open a case so that I could claim from insurance. 

By Monday morning, there was still no sign of the driver and by this time I was angry. The excess I am liable to pay for any accident is almost R4000,00 and on top of that, a bag had been stolen from my car, containing my passport, ID, camera and R2000 in cash. (The only reason I had the cash was because I had just sold a tablet to someone off Gumtree a few days prior and the only reason the bag was in my car was because I had forgotten it in the boot when I arrived home)

By Monday afternoon, I was bristling. After applying for a new ID and passport and paying the excess on my car and on the stolen goods, I was looking at a hefty financial loss, at a time when I am desperately trying to squirrel away money for a trip to Greece in October. Not to mention the drama of applying for a new passport in time to secure my Schengen visa! (Not that the theft has anything to do with the driver, but the combined incidents definitely fuelled my anger)

So as I said, I was angry. My insurance wanted the contact details of the driver responsible for the damage, and when I could hand over only the license and registration details, they sounded skeptical about whether they would be able to assist me in claiming the excess from them, saying only that they'd "try". The police were of little help, giving me only the most common of last names and an address in Cradock that, when I looked it up on Google Street View, seemed like a dead end.

So I did what Millenials do, and took to Twitter, posting a picture of the license plate with the caption "This person got hammered, drove into the back of my car and then drove away". A few Tweets of sympathy and condolences came in response, but they did little to dampen the rage that had been simmering while I tried to arrange tow truck drivers, insurance claims and home affairs documentation.

That was 22 hours ago. Six hours later I had this message in my Facebook inbox.

Hi Natalie, 

My name is XXXX

I want to start off by apologising and accepting responsibility for knocking your car on Friday night. I have been wracked with guilt ever since and if it weren't for you posting that pic on Twitter and a friend recognising my plates I would never have been known who it was. 

Just to clear the air, I was not drunk, as unbelievable as this may sound: I suffer from black outs and they have become more frequent over the recent weeks. I am undergoing medical treatment in order to find out what causes this but that is besides the point. I just want you to know it was not negligence on my part. 

I am however really sorry and want to make amends, if we could maybe get in touch and sort this out that would be great. I know this must have been a huge inconvenience to you and once again I apologise profusely. I hope we can sort this out and that you can accept my apology.

The message ended with a telephone number, which I immediately called. I thanked them for their message and we arranged for the excess on my car to be paid by the driver. This morning, I woke up to a message that the funds had been transferred.

So there you have it. A happy ending. Well, as happy as one could hope for. I mean, my car is still with the panel beaters and I still have a lot of admin to catch up on, but it feels good to know that someone in our society took responsibility and owned up. All thanks to Social Media. 

Could I have sorted out this situation if it weren't for Social Media? I mean, probably. Don't ask me how though. I'm just not sure what people did before they could Google names, find people on Facebook and follow people on Twitter? I mean, I'm a Millennial! The point is, it is sorted out, thanks to Twitter, Facebook and something we like to call Social Reach. 

If the person who broke into my car is reading this, I wouldn't mind my Chapel bag back. You can keep the ID and passport, as long as you don't use them to take credit out in my name, or worse, marry me.





Friday, September 5, 2014

Daydrinking Friday: WIN With The Wine Press

Wine, wine, wine! I really only started getting into wine about 4 years ago, but the past four years have been an exciting journey of learning and discovery that has opened up my world to a whole new level of joy. From discovering new wines and wine farms, to meeting amazing and passionate people and learning about the way food and wine can complement each other's flavours and elevate an experience. 

Look at how comfortable I am drinking this wine. That's four years of intensive practice.

I've found that the best way to learn about wine is to drink wine. The more you drink, the more you will start to understand flavour profiles and get to grips with what exactly the difference is between a Chardonnay and a Sauvignon Blanc. Don't be scared to try a wine you've never heard of, and especially don't be scared to visit wine farms. The people who are making wines want you to drink them. Visit farms, ask questions and again, drink wine



Today I've got a great giveaway from The Wine Press. Here's a little bit of info about them.


Here at Wine Press, we strive to bring you the highest quality wine available - personalized. We start with a list of award-winning, sommelier and wine expert-tasted wines, and pair it with a custom wine label designed by you to create your own brand - your very own personalized wine. We are a wine farm without the waiting period, we are winemakers that make what you want instead of what we think you want. We bottle at a price, be it high- or low-end and develop a brand that suits your needs. We then design and print your label and maintain continuity through a well-established network of wine producers and farms.

We take our wine seriously at Wine Press. While the competition is bottling mass produced wine they make themselves, we take the time to travel to the vineyards you already know and love to source our wines from the most popular regions in South Africa. We not only source the wines, but we also bottle and label it in order to develop a house brand in accordance with our client’s price and style. Before our wines make it onto our list they are blind tasted by a panel of sommeliers to ensure they are nothing short of great. By putting our wine through such rigorous tests, we ensure that even the most meticulous wine connoisseur can find a wine they love.

Go check out the website at www.thewinepress.co.za

Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/thewinepress.co.za

WIN 3 Bottles of Sommelier Awarded Wines with Wine Press


How to enter:


1. Comment below and tell me what your favourite wine is. Also include your Twitter handle and 
    name in your comment.
2. Tweet me @NatalieRoos and tell me that you've entered. Tag a friend to enter too, so you guys can 
    have double the chances of winning.

* Competition open to South Africa only. Winner will be drawn randomly. Competition closes next Friday (12 September at 12pm)

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Things I'm Super Into Right Now - August 2014



Podcasts

I'm thinking about starting a podcast. Because I am super into podcasts right now. Ever since my car radio got stolen by the guys who towed my car, I've been listening to various podcasts on my iPad when I'm driving and I am really into it. It kind of feels like I am just a very quiet girl (silent) in a room full of really cool and funny interesting people and I'm listening to their conversation and we are all friends. Except no one ever says anything to me directly and I just chuckle at their jokes from the corner like a creep.

I've worked my way through almost every single episode of This American Life ever produced, so I've branched out and have become obsessed with Kurt Braunohler's show The K Ohle on Nerdist.com. I mean, literally obsessed. I listen to it when I'm working or driving and/or other times. So get on that because it's good. It's essentially just two people having a conversation in his house in LA, but refer to the paragraph above for my reasons for listening.

Travel

That's news to you, right? No, it isn't. Because I am even more obsessed with travel than I am with podcasts. (Sidenote: Thinking of combining travelling and podcasting) I've had an amazing travel year so far and the next couple of months are going to be a huge vibe. In October, Keenan and I are going to Greece for two weeks! I decided to go for the Tbex Conference in Athens and so we're making a holiday out of it.

We'll be there in like, early Autumn, so all your visions of beach days should be replaced by visions of "cultural excursions". I plan on dragging Keenan through Athens for at least one day of just straight-up eating our way through the city. Then we've got about 4 more days in Athens and then we're probably going to Santorini and Lesvos. Anyone got any good recommendations for Greece?

Wellness

With a lot of travel comes a lot of good, good food and that means that I've put on a small child's worth of weight this winter. The other day I saw my naked body in the mirror (despite trying to avoid it at all costs) and audibly went "euwgh". Not good. So I've been making an effort to get back onto the health wagon whenever I'm at home. Eat like a queen on trips and like a... I don't know, healthy person, at home. Noaksists can get out of town because I will never give up carbs, but I've been trying to eat less stuff that contains preservatives, gluten, wheat and sugar. So basically I'm trying to eat a lot of veggies and raw stuff.

I found this recipe for chia seed breakfast pudding and it's really good. Well, it's kind of good. It's also kind of gross, but I'd say over all I'm into it. Wellness Warehouse on Kloof is my kryptonite and I have been feasting on their new Sexy Food menu. Veggie patties with about a billion kinds of sprouts and micro herbs, guacamole, salsa and some delicious dahl. For R60, which is about 1/100th of what I spend every time I go into that place. They also do take-home veggie patties. Which brings me to my next point.

Flexitarianism

I have eaten and loved meat my whole life. Lamb, beef, pork, chicken, prawns...any animal! But recently I've been trying to live a more balanced lifestyle and to be honest, eating meat every single day is not that balanced. I know this sounds crazy but I had this dream where I was standing on the beach watching fishermen pull in these huge fishing nets and there were hundreds of seals caught up in them and the seals had all drowned and I woke up crying so hard.

So that made me think about humans and how much we demand vs how much we need. It's easy to throw stones at the companies who bring us fish and meat but then we're happy to pay R30 per kilogram for bulk pork as long as it's available. So I'm trying to reduce my demand. I don't think everyone should give up eating meat. I just think we could be eating less meat, of a higher quality. It's more expensive eating meat that was raised locally in a way that won't make your stomach flip, so just eat less meat.

So that's where I am right now. I still love meat and I'll eat it when I know it's not from a farm somewhere far away where this poor animal lived caged up for its entire life so that I could eat it. I'm experimenting with veggie meals and it's fun and stimulating. Check out my Veggie Food Porn Pinterest board for ideas.

Fitness

There's something about eating healthy that makes you want to get back out there and exercise. It's been a lazy winter for me, but I'm slowly getting back into running and yoga a couple of times a week. I'm not huge on group fitness or being super stiff all the time, so a mix of a 5km run and a couple of hot yoga sessions a week is ideal for me.

Keenan and I ran the Greenpoint Park Run on Women's Day and it was awesome! It's a free run every Saturday at 8am and anyone can join. Adidas invited me to try out a pair of their new Energy Boost shoes and they definitely made a huge difference. That's the trick to running that no one taught me - you need a good pair of shoes! Especially if you're not a natural runner, like me.

Me Time

I know it seems like I'm always chilling, but actually, I'm always working. Between my freelance work and my blog, I am basically always either at meetings, writing, or out experiencing things to write about. When people get home from their 8-5 job, they probably eat and watch some TV and chill. But when I'm finished my 7-5 job, I normally have something to do to write about, so it's not often that I get some actual me time.

My favourite way to relax is a massage. I found Ruan Thai Massage & Spa in Long Street about 3 years ago and I haven't gone anywhere else since. The venue is very Thai and the therapists are all from Thailand. I recently went for a treatment and the smells of the Thai massage oils mixed with the sounds of Thai music took me right back to my last holiday there in 2012.

For the next three months, you can book a couples treatment for R500 if you tell them you heard about them on Tails of A Mermaid.

Wine

No amount of healthy living could ever make me give up alcohol. I really only drink beer and wine, but man do I love it. I don't know if you know this about me, but I actually collect wine. I mean, I drink it pretty much as fast as I can buy it, but I have a wine rack at home that is pretty much my pride and joy. Recently I discovered Peter Falke, Post House and Buchard Finlayson.

Write those three names down, because the next time you're staring at a menu or a shelf full of wine, you can pick any one of those and rest assured that you made the right choice.

So anyway, that's pretty much my life right now. I mean, it's kind of boring to read about unless you actually like this blog. Leave a comment and tell me what you're into or if you think there's something that I'd be into.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Welcome To Reunion Island: The Video

I've had the opportunity to visit Reunion Island twice this year and I have to admit that I have fallen head-over-heels in love with this small, diverse island. Located in the Indian Ocean, just about 2000km's from South Africa and right next to Mauritius, Reunion Island is basically the peak of a massive volcano that lies under the sea. The volcano isn't formed by a fault in the Earth's crust, but rather by molten lava pushing up through a hot spot.


The volcano is one of the most active in the world and erupts periodically, but because all the inhabitants live on the west of the island and inland, and the volcano erupts on the east of the island, it's perfectly safe. Visitors can drive up to the Piton or peak of the volcano and have a look at the moon-like landscape - It's something very special to see.

Reunion is a department of France, which means that even though it's located thousands of kilometres away, it's run as if it were in Europe. The language, food and currency is all French, with island influence and of course, a beach lifestyle. If you love France and you love the ocean, Reunion Island will be like dying and going to heaven for you.

Between my two visits to the island, I've experienced a lot of what the island has to offer, but there's still a lot I want to go back for. From what I hear, New Year's Eve on the island is a huge party, with most of the west (the beachy side) turned into one big party. Then there's the Sakifo music festival, which sees French and African acts head to the island for their annual music festival. On my first visit to Reunion, I managed to catch the After Sakifo party at a local beach bar and it got me so excited for the festival.


10 Things To Do In Reunion Island


1. Swim in the warm Indian ocean 
The lagoon is crystal clear and warm and if you have a snorkel and mask it's like an open water aquarium under there.

2. Take to the air
Microlights, helicopters and paragliding are the best ways to see the island. Because of the incredibly diverse geography of the island, it's also the best way to wrap your head around the three cirques that form the island population. Read about my paragliding experience here

3. Eat the street food
There's lots to learn about the culture of the island from the street food. Delicious dim sum (known as bouchons), samoosas and falafels, washed down with a cold Dodo beer is a great excuse for "cultural exploration". Ask around about the best places to eat, but I recommend Le Marmite and the Saint Paul's market (open on weekends) for the best local food. 

4. Check out the street art
Featured in the video above, street art duo Kid Kreol & Boogie are doing amazing things through their work. At the moment, they're busy a project to bring to life the island's many myths and legends visually. You'll see street art all over the island, but two hot spots are the Saint Gilles harbour and Saint Denis, the island's capital.

5. Hike 
We hiked up to the remote village of Cayenne, in Mafate. Home to only a few hundred people, the cirque of Mafate is reachable only by foot - there are no roads leading in or out. There are hundreds and hundreds of kilometres to hike on the island, and if you're seriously into hiking, you could spend a week hiking from one side to the other. Our five hour hike to Mafate was the highlight of the trip for me. You can read more about my experience here

6. Hang out at the beach bars
Sunday afternoons are when the locals hang out at the beach at l'Hermitage les Bains (Hermitage Beach), playing beach volleyball, boules and beach bats. Have a swim and settle in for a few sundowners at Coco Beach, where the Creole tapas are delicious!

7. Go canyoning
Canyoning is one of the most fun activities I've ever experienced. It's a mix between hiking, river rafting and cliff jumping. Except there are the rafts. You're wearing a wet suit, life jacket and helmet and you're floating down rapids, jumping off waterfalls and doing front flips off cliffs. Check out the video I made about it below. 


8. Check out the volcano
Obviously. It's hard to explain just how cool it actually is up there. The landscape looks like Mars and the energy is very particular. Definitely one of the things you cannot miss out on. 

9. Drink the rum
The local rum is made from sugar cane grown on the island and it has a very specific flavour. Nothing like the Bacardi rum we drink here. The locals drink it in two ways; in Tipunch or in Planter's Punch. Tipunch is served with sugar and a squeeze of lime, traditionally before dinner. Planter's Punch is served with fruit juice and is only slightly less potent than the Tipunch. After dinner, it's customary to have a shot of rhum arrangĂ©, which is Charette rum, infused with a blend of spices or fruit. Every bar or restaurant has their own blend, so you'll just have to try them all. 

10. Visit the Saint Paul's Market
Open on weekend, the market is where you'll get to eat the finest local produce, check out the locals and enjoy a bit of sunshine. I ate SO much while I walked through the stalls. Local Creole snacks, French cheeses, meats and olives. Fresh fruit... I was sensory heaven! The perfect place to spend a Saturday morning. 

I wrote about my first visit for the Reunion Island Tourism blog here, so check it out if you want to read more about this incredible place.

More About Reunion Island