A thrilling experience to behold, from the top of Tower Bridge on Thursday evening when Oyster launched their new “pocket superyacht”, the evolutionary Oyster 565. Through the dramatic glass floor across the high-level walkways, 42 metres above the River Thames, the bridge below the glass opened and the new Oyster 565 smoothly sailed beneath our feet, after tacking up the river into the wind. Everyone oohing and ahhing with delight; champagne glasses clinking. Chief Executive and Owner Richard Hadida passionately added: “Words cannot describe the excitement I feel to see Oyster enter such an exhilarating phase in its evolution. The 565, fondly known as our “pocket superyacht” is everything an adventurous couple or young family could want.” The Boat International Article here.
My eyes and ears were attracted by the glee two hundred church worshippers clearly experienced on the beach, involved in prayer and baptising ritual. Adorned in white uniforms, blue and green sashes, people were dunked into the waves, held under for a few seconds and came up gasping and chanting in an unrecognisable African language. Some women were veiled, in the background, singing and dancing. Holy staffs with flags dug into the sand around groups of people. In the middle of the action, yellow and white plastic containers were being topped up with sea water and sand, waiting to be taken home after the baptismal and healing ritual. I kept my distance, mesmerised by the simpleness of it all. The joy and rapture each person in the group experienced, from young children enjoying the shoreline and the elderly, the ‘ikhehlas‘ and ‘ugogos‘ relishing the purification ritual.
Overhearing a couple animatedly talking about the best graffiti they’d ever seen near Waterloo, I had to find Leake Street Graffiti Tunnel for myself. Rough and ready, the tunnel sparkled with colour. Artists bending over their cans and preparing themselves for their next masterpiece. A queue of boldly dressed people patiently waited to enter The Vaults, a place that offers everything to those that dare. Once I’d immersed myself in the vibrancy of the art, people and atmosphere I headed the way I came in and noticed two teenage girls playing with hula hoops. Approaching them, I asked if they were practising for a show. “We’re going to be putting on a show, firing up our hoops. Have a butchers,” the one encouraged. With my camera perfectly poised, I eagerly awaited their fire dance… I had no idea Banksy launched Leake Street Graffiti Tunnel to fame in May 2008 with an exhibition called The Cans Festival. With a comical play on The Cannes Film Festival, Banksy invited international street artists to adorn the blanks along Leake Street tunnel with their signature art, as explained further by Leake Street Arches here.
A Med-Time Story Majorca To Malta: Island Hopping On A Grand Scale By Nicola Beykirch Published By Sailing Today Almost a year had passed before stepping back on the deck of Bella Rose, our year old Oyster 545. Berthed at Palma, Majorca for the winter, we couldn’t wait to throw off the bowlines, once again crisscrossing the Mediterranean…
This time, our adventure through Swaziland, as much off-road as on-road, prevented us from making the evening game drive at Amakhosi Safari Lodge, northern KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. With hunger at bay, three trips to the waffle station at The Royal Swazi Spa Hotel near Mbabane, Swaziland later, we thought we’d given ourselves enough time to explore off-road and make the game drive. Speaking of Swaziland, or now known as The Royal Kingdom of Eswatini, I ponder whether they’ll change their flag, as South Africa did… After checking Google Maps (yes, as mentioned before, not always a good idea), we decided to head for the 4×4 only dirt tracks from Nhlangano through to Mhlosheni in Swaziland, straight through the Swaziland / South African border post as shown on Google and then onto the N2 freeway towards Pongola. Around thirty kilometres later we’d then arrive at the private game reserve, Amakhosi Safari Lodge, just in time for the sundowners in the heart of the African bushveld. U-Turn Well, Google maps indicated a border post that did not exist, which was supposed to lead straight onto the N2 freeway about twenty kilometres outside of Pongola. A camouflage army tent […]
From Kirkman’s Kamp in the Sabi Sands Reserve we entered The Kruger National Park through the Kruger Gate and drove at 50km/hr for two hours through the park, spotting a massive herd of elephant spread out as far as the eye could see. Through the gate at Malelane, we exited The Kruger National Park and drove to Barberton for padkos and refuelling. South-east of Barberton, we chugged along the ever steep and winding tarred Saddleback Pass with sweeping views of the surrounding mountains and Sappi’s forestry. Over 10.5 kilometres, we climbed 609 meters in altitude. Beyond the summit and Lomati Dam, the Saddleback Pass becomes the Bulembu Pass, which connects South Africa to Swaziland. Warning Bulembo Border post closes at 4:00pm. We arrived with two minutes to spare and fortunately, made it to the Swaziland side. It would have been a very time-consuming mistake otherwise… From here onwards, through the derelict mining town previously known as Havelock Mine, now owned by Bulembu Ministries, a Canadian evangelical Christian charity, a 4×4 is a must. The road was incredibly exciting and in the heavy downpour that cloaked over us proved a challenge I never wanted to end. […]
From the meandering mountain passes of Swaziland, we drove almost six hours through Nelspruit to Kirkman’s Kamp in the heart of the emblematic Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve. This time we stuck more on-road than off-road so as not to miss the afternoon game drive at the lodge. Due to my car’s dead battery and having to replace it soon after reaching White River, we came extremely close to missing out. Of course, they would have waited for us, or taken us in another vehicle to join the safari. No doubt about it! Fortunately, with thirty minutes to spare we had time for high tea spread out on the patio before the show began… The Cats Known for its prolific leopard sightings, Sabi Sands had always been on the top of my list for wanderlust. Finally, I made it! After the fearless honey badgers, which are more elusive than leopards, the leopard is my next favourite animal to observe in the wild. The three leopard sightings with the game ranger, Jonty, unsurpassed any other sighting I’ve before experienced. We got to behold a female tearing a fresh impala kill to shreds; another smaller female strolling along the main track […]
Resistance was futile when it came to surfing at sunrise on our last day in Ponta. Soon, we were to swap surf for turf, heading from Mozambique to Swaziland (Eswatini) and for the rest of the trip the surfboards had to sadly stay tied to the roof racks. Hundreds of people started waking up on the beach and many others arrived to set up camp, all eager to celebrate New Year’s Eve in Ponta D’ Ouro. So sorry we missed it, but there’s always a new year to enjoy with the locals and ‘Mapushkins’, who would all definitely teach us a thing or two when it came to partying… With topped up provisions from the hubbub market, we reluctantly bade farewell to an incredibly laid back charm that oozed vigour and spirit. It took us thirty minutes to exit the market parking area because of a man in a bakkie unloading his stock of water bottles. Keep calm and…relax even more… was definitely the motto of Ponta life. In the direction of Maputo, the capital of Mozambique, we drove over a hundred kilometres. Moments after passing through the outskirts of Maputo Special Reserve, a haven for elephants […]
A total of two thousand and five hundred kilometres turned into an off-road adventure of a lifetime around South Africa, Mozambique and Swaziland. Completed in a speedy nineteen days. From 20th December 2018 to 7th January 2019 we spent three-quarters of the time off road than on road in my 4×4, deliberately seeking off the beaten tracks, tracks invisible on Garmin GPS. Forget Google Maps and Waze! Unless you have endless time to get back on track. If only… Naturally, I expected to be excited by the trip. New places to explore, different cultures to experience; so much of the unknown to delve into. My expectations were dull in comparison to the constant stream of stimulation engulfed at every turn, wishing every moment would last so much longer. Three countries: two out of the three I hadn’t set foot in | Two provinces, almost opposite ends of South Africa | Exploration of surf and turf | Beaches | Surfing | Luxury | Rustic | Gourmet | Basic | Braaied fish | R&Rs | Peri-peri | Unforgiving heat | Dripping humidity | Rural | City | Welcoming natives | Friendly foreigners | Electric thunderstorms | Blinding rain | […]
Recently, I submitted an article, together with photographs, on the striking Oyster 545 yacht from Palma to Djerba, Tunisia via Sicily and Malta to a sailing magazine. It will be published as a feature in their spring edition. The photographs instantly transported me onto the deck of the Oyster 545 and now being back ‘home’ in South Africa – sun, sea and surf – I can appreciate every sensation all over again. I felt myself slipping into a mesmeric trance while watching nature at its best. Clouds dropped like a curtain over the tangerine sun. The luminous light and wind created patterns on the water, a constant movement of change. Soon the blood-orange ball reappeared. A tall, thick band of haze then gulped the sun. The clouds and haze turned a pomegranate pink. The blushing sky broke through sections of the barriers. The water below took on every shade from the sky above, reflecting, sparkling, dancing, rippling over the sea. A smorgasbord of colour and evolution all for the soul to spectacularly drown in. With nothing but sea and sky around in every direction, it’s effortless discovering a peaceful bliss.
Feeling inspired after relishing other people’s art at the Affordable Art Show in Battersea, I ventured along the Thames and happily explored the in-progress renovations of Battersea Power Station. I lived in Battersea many years ago and walked over Battersea Bridge to work, ran around the Battersea Park most days and dined weekly at a cheap and cheerful Thai place where I was known by name. What a delightful surprise to return and find an elegance of eclectic architecture, sonorous and arousing; the beauty of lines. Captured by the reflections, I wanted to include only them in the post; however, all the rest of my images are as charming. A completely different space to when I last visited fourteen years ago. I vow to return to sample Mother, oh please feed me mother, all artisan products sourced directly from Italy and apparently their pizzas are to die for!
NICOLA ANN ART. AMAZING. AFFORDABLE. ART Art lifts the soul. I believe that something so vital shouldn’t be reserved for the rich and famous. Nicola Ann Art uses modern thinking and technology to bring beautiful, original pieces to everyone who loves creative flair in their home and workspace. Let your wild imagination run and allow your artwork choice to reflect your unique personality and style. Do you need help finding Amazing Affordable Art you love? Do you seek an original, a print or even a commissioned piece? Do not hesitate to Contact Nicola Ann Art at any time. NICOLA ANN ART’ MASSIVE ACTION Nicola Ann Art is about creating purpose through art. I am in the process of applying for funding and sponsorship, to offer Art classes (free of charge) to challenged communities in London. These classes are open to all age and ethnic groups (maximum of ten per class), to encourage expression in positive ways. Art becomes an outlet, a way to connect with like-minded people and feel a part of something; mightily motivational. By approaching local businesses, libraries and medical centres, I hope they’ll feel inspired enough to display the artwork, helping the creators feel powerfully purposeful. Imagine […]
The sizzling, sensational Stromboli volcano, an all-encompassing experience with senses erupting, deserves a post all on its own and to be first… From Palma de Mallorca, western Mediterranean we set sail to Sicily, the largest Mediterranean island and then onto the islands surrounding Sicily. Fourteen days later we reached the sights of Stromboli Volcano. Twenty kilometres away, while anchored far north of Panarea Island, Stromboli Volcano delighted with an eruption, a red glowing pillar shot up and up into the black moonless sky. Welcome to Stromboli! My first live volcanic eruption. With the heat unbearable, as though I’d woken alongside the molten lava, we set sail to Stromboli the following morning, to hike the erupting volcano. Not much wind, the yacht drifted along, gently bobbed along the perfect, flat sea. At the closest, safest distance from the volcano, I jumped overboard and swam alongside the boat. The top of the volcano billowed smoke, as soft and white as cloud. The hairs on my arms stood as erect as spears, and it had nothing to do with the temperature of the water, a mere thirty degrees Celsius. With the yacht safely moored to a buoy, […]
Thick, ancient wooded valleys, deep rivers with dense mosses in luminous greens and yellows are scattered throughout the wild moorlands of Dartmoor National Park. The largest open moor in southern England protects Dartmoor’s ‘little five’: blue ground beetle, marsh fritillary butterfly, cuckoo and ash black slug. There are two reasons I’d merrily return to dramatic Devon. First, horse riding through the moorland. We chose Babeny Farm Stables’ pub ride that gave us three hours in the saddle. A pity the weather limited our cantering through the boggy open moors. At least it limited the amount of people out and about too and provided a rather imtimate experience Second, Bovey Castle surrounded by 275 acres of Dartmoor National Park with deer and ponies amidst the rolling hills.