Wine O’Clock. How best to store your wine.

As much as we like drinking it, we love collecting it!  But how best to store those precious investment bottles that need years to reach their full potential?
Liebherr wine cabinets

A great wine collection deserves perfect storage, and there are options for every type of home – from cabinets to bespoke installations to full-scale cellars. Whether you are a serious wine connoisseur or a burgeoning enthusiast, you need to consider how temperature, humidity, UV light, and vibration will affect your wine, and monitor bottles closely to keep them in pristine condition.

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The good news is there’s a smart solution for every kind of wine lover and every type of space, from the palatial cellar to the compact corner in a city apartment. Read on to find out just how best to store your vino.

Correct storage conditions
According to experts, the correct temperature for storing wine is 50-57°F (10-14°C), with 70-75% humidity, beyond which paper labels and corks can spoil. For wine, fluctuation is the enemy.  Modern technology now gives us temperature-controlled cabinets, pods, and rooms – all much more efficient when it comes to protecting precious bottles than a cool pantry or cupboard under the stairs.

How much space you need
If a large, traditional cellar isn’t feasible in your home, there’s a range of products that will help to store wine safely (and beautifully), from fridge-style wine cabinets and rooms to compact cellars ingeniously set into the floor. Once the decision has been made to create dedicated wine storage, the solution you choose really comes down to space and taste.

Select expert products
Not all wine storage is created equal, so its important to consult with companies that manufacture expert wine storage products and understand the specific needs of wine. Since wine is a living thing, a wine’s temperature determines its flavour, and ultimately affects enjoyment.

Liebherr wine cabinet

Liebherr wine cabinet

Liebherr wine cabinets (GrandCru and Vinothek cabinets) offer perfect, protective storage conditions. Interior humidity levels are high and innovative technologies ensure protection against UV light and vibrations. In addition, the temperature can be adjusted according to whether the wine is to be enjoyed in the near future, or whether it is to be stored longer-term as an investment.

Storage cabinets have a constant interior temperature to facilitate optimal aging of high-quality wines and to provide the most suitable long-term storage conditions. The interior temperature can be set to between +5°C and +20°C, as required, and this therefore means that a large number of wine bottles can be kept at their perfect serving temperature. Liebherr offers wine storage cabinets in several sizes and with a variety of features.

Liebherr also offers a range of multi-temperature wine cabinets (Vinidor and Vinothek), which are the perfect choice for anyone who enjoys an impromptu bottle of wine (who doesn’t?). They can store a selection of different types of wine, each at their optimal serving temperature. Depending on the model, this is made possible either through the establishment of stratified temperature zones or by the presence of separate, individually controlled wine safes.

Liebherr wine cabinets

Liebherr wine cabinets

The bottom line when it comes to storage then, is that the safety of your wine should always be your number one priority. Cutting corners will only harm your most valuable wines, which is why you should make room for storage costs in your collecting budget. Finding the rarest wines is only half of a serious collector’s job – the true art of collecting lies in how well you treat the bottles under your care.

If you’re after a Liebherr wine cabinet, or if you’d like to know more, contact Liebherr or visit a Hirsch store.

Toast & Co

There’s so much we love about Toast & Co in Joburg’s Craighall Park. It’s not just the calming sage and green décor, the peaceful atmosphere, and the buttery biscuits that accompany every cup of tea and coffee. It’s also the perfect manicures (every time!), the way everyone knows your name, and the curated selection of retail therapy on offer (think classic cashmere, handcrafted bags, brogues and delicate jewels).

Julie and Karen, sisters and the owners of Toast & Co, have been crafting a salon that is more than just a salon for 10 years. It’s grown in physical size, number of therapists, and offering, but the absolute attention to every detail remains the same. Julie and Karen are utter perfectionists, and are fastidious about offering consistent quality and experiences to their clients (many of whom are regulars and long-term supporters). It’s this thoughtful attention and authenticity that sets Toast & Co apart.

“We test every product we sell, from skincare to cashmere scarves”, says Julie. “In this way we can sell a treatment or product to our clients knowing that it works, and that we really believe in its quality.”

Along with assured quality products, Toast & Co is known for its quality therapists. In an industry renowned for its staff turnover, many of the women working at Toast & Co have been employed there for years, and are true professionals. Specialising in particular areas of interest or flair, therapists at the salon hone their skills in certain areas, be it nails, eyelash extensions, facials or massages, and clients are assured of consistent, excellent treatments every time.

“We see our staff as true professionals and trust them to deliver,” says Karen. Toast & Co offers continuous training opportunities in new products and skills, allowing therapists to constantly enhance their abilities.

“Everybody specialises in what they are good at,” says Pearl who has been at Toast & Co since 2009 and enjoys learning about new facial techniques, new products and the latest ingredients. “It’s such a confidence boost when you get a new client and you learn that they were referred by another client! It makes me feel like I’m good at what I do and that I make an impact, and that’s really important to me.”

Along with training, the sisters are good at spotting talent when they see it, and giving people opportunities. Nqobile began working at the salon in 2013 as a cleaner, and is now responsible for bookings and merchandising of stock. “Julie and Karen saw my potential and trusted me,” says Nqobile.

This is perhaps why Toast & Co is a Joburg favourite. You can find a pedicure just about anywhere, but there are few salons that match consistently high quality with an atmosphere of utter relaxation and calm. We put it down to Julie and Karen’s touch – tireless attention to detail, the empowerment of their staff, and the authentic nurturing of relationships.


The soundtrack to your wedding

When it comes to organising a wedding, everything seems important!  And while the right dress, the right guest list and the right venue are key considerations, we think three things make a truly great wedding – enough delicious food, interesting and plentiful cocktails and drinks, and the right soundtrack.
Honestly, the right music can make or break a wedding. A skilled DJ will put together a playlist that matches the different moods of a wedding – from romantic and introspective, to festive and celebratory.
We’re mad about these two wedding moodboards below!  Don’t they just capture the right amount of fun, whimsy and romance?  And you can just imagine the music was an essential element in creating just the right atmosphere for a celebration into the small hours of the morning!


We’re also smitten with Marie and Johan’s Mooi River wedding, captured by Elephants Belly, with music by Sonic State Productions.
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Images via Pinterest.

Sleep under the stars in Africa

Valentine’s Day may be long gone, but there’s no reason we can’t embrace year-long romance.
For a start, how about these star-beds?  There’s little that rivals the African night sky (you’ll get that ‘reach for a star’ feeling), and when surrounded by gauzy fabrics, endless vistas and wild animals, you’d really have to be a cold-hearted grinch not to feel the love.
Read more over on Made In Africa Tours & Safaris.

Images via Made In Africa Tours & Safaris

Three days in Kruger

Every March for at least the last five years I have spent a long weekend in the Kruger National Park.  I’ve come to expect the same thing each year – high temperatures, high humidity, and thick, green bush.
Not so this year.  With much of Southern Africa caught in the grip of a severe drought, Kruger has been badly hit.  With scorched earth, intermittent clumps of brown grass, and record-breaking high temperatures, the Park is terribly changed.
The most obvious victims are the hippos.  Bone dry riverbeds and dams has meant hippos  gathering in tiny pools, and also grazing during the day in an effort to find food.  We saw a few carcasses in the Lower Sabie area, and if there isn’t a lot of rain in the next few months before winter, I cannot imagine many hippos will survive.
It was a tough few days.  We saw a lot of game, due to the scarcity of vegetation and the concentration of game around water sources, but it was heartbreaking to think how things may get worse over the next five months.
Highlights were seeing tons of ellies, two sable (which I’ve never seen before), at least eight white rhino, and a spotty heap of panting hyena.
Elephant in Kruger
Giant kingfisher, Crocodile Bridge, Kruger National Park
Young wildebeest,  Kruger National Park
Vervet monkey,  Kruger National Park
 Kruger National Park
Zebra,  Kruger National Park
Sable,  Kruger National Park
Young impala,  Kruger National Park
Hyena,  Kruger National Park
Elephants,  Kruger National Park
Tawny eagle,  Kruger National Park
Open billed stork,  Kruger National Park
Crocodile,  Kruger National Park
Black stork,  Kruger National Park
Elephants,  Kruger National Park
Giraffe,  Kruger National Park
You can read more about the impact of the drought in Kruger over here.

Beautiful Botswana! Part two.

After spending four spectacular days in the Delta, we made our way home via the Makgadikgadi Pans and the quirky and utterly charming Planet Baobab.
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The vast Makgadikgadi Pans National Park, with its shimmering salt pans and endless horizons, offers views and landscapes I’ve never encountered before.  It really is a magnificent place, and when there’s more rain about, there are flocks of flamingos and pelicans which make the pans their home for the summer months.
Planet Baobab offers excursions into the pans, with visits to habituated meerkats (more petite than I thought they would be) and winter nights sleeping out under an enormous canopy of stars (definitely something to return for!).
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I fell in love with the camp.  More of a budget option compared to its more famous sibling Jack’s Camp, Planet Baobab offers a fun, stylish and comfortable stay in this dry, beautiful part of the world.  The enormous, sparkling pool and eccentric open-air bar were highlights for me, as well as the many huge, ancient baobabs scattered around the camp.
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IMG_9463A magic moment was discovering a hammock strung up under an enormous baobab near our chalet.  This beautiful tree must’ve been 2000 (3000?) years old, and swinging beneath its majestic boughs (and imagining all it had witnessed!) made me feel very small, very calm, and very grateful.
All travel via Made in Africa Tours & Safaris.

Beautiful Botswana! Part one

My first time to Botswana, and I was lucky enough to spend four days in a luxury lodge in the Okavango Delta, and two blissful nights in the Makgadikgadi Pans!
We started our journey with one night en route to Maun at the Khama Rhino Sanctuary.  It was utterly wonderful to see so many rhino safe and sound, and flourishing, when our rhinos in SA are being poached at such a devastating rate.
We spent two scorching days in Maun (think mid-40s during the day!), with sadly not a raindrop in sight.  (The drought is as severe in Bots as it is in South Africa.)  And then it was onto a very small plane and off to Pom Pom Camp in the Delta!
Botswana has been on my must-do list for years and years, so I was incredibly excited to see the spectacle of the Delta, and to do it from some pretty fabulous accommodation. Luxury permanent tents, high thread count sheets, an outdoor shower, delicious food, exceptional guides, and views for miles over floodplains that every day delivered elephant, red lechwe, tsessebe, bushbuck, monkeys and heaps of birds.  The mornings were filled with excitement as we studied the tracks of animals that had made their way through the camp in the night,  a few metres from our tents – hippos, buffalo, ellies, lion and hyena!
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The Delta really is magnificent, and offers such a completely unique bush experience – pristine wilderness, enormous floodplains, towering ilala palms and snaking water channels.
We visited in the wet or green season, which usually means high temperatures and thunderstorms.  We certainly had blistering temperatures, but because of the drought, the area was the driest anyone has seen it in years.  Although there was thankfully still some water around, the area was more ‘savannah’ than ‘watery wonderland’, and we were limited to game drives and short mokoro excursions.  Luckily the game viewing was still exceptional!
A classic Delta experience is a mekoro ride through the reed-lined channels.  We managed to find some water, albeit pretty shallow.  The slow poling through the clear water, and viewing the Delta from just above water level, really is something special.
Just one reason to go back would be to experience the serenity of a mekoro trip when there’s plenty of water!
Part two, and the stunning Makgadikgadi Pans, over here.
All travel via Made in Africa Tours & Safaris.


So a few weeks ago (time flies!) I visited Rosendal, a tiny little village in the Free State, for the first time.  It sits on the edge of the Witteberge, which forms part of the foothills of the Maluti mountains, and is home to many artists and writers.
The Free State has a bleak beauty to it, especially in the freezing winter when it is every shade of dusty brown.  The scenery around Rosendal is stunning, and ‘golden hour’ in the Free State is really something else!
We stayed on a farm about 5km from the village, and although it was lovely, I think next time I’d prefer to stay in Rosendal itself.  The village lends itself to wandering its wide, dusty streets, having long lunches at its one and only restaurant, and sitting lazily on a patio watching the village’s pack of friendly dogs go past.
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Mkuze Game Reserve

It’s been years since I last went to a KwaZulu-Natal game reserve, but the three days I spent in Mkuze (part of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park) were bliss.
The most unexpected part of the trip was the lack of fences around the camp (bearing in mind that the park has all of the Big Five).  This meant that on two out of the three nights we were there, we had enormous bull elephants munching leaves right next to our tents. So close in fact I could hear their teeth grinding and their bellies rumbling.  It was quite wonderful!
The park teems with delicate nyala and impala, and you’ll be visited at night by delightful bushy tailed bush babies. Another highlight was a teeny weeny rhino, still wobbly on its short, fat legs, and glued to the side of a very wide, very protective mum.
The KwaZulu-Natal parks seem pretty under-resourced and are, like all of SA’s parks, under attack by poachers.  Two rhinos were killed the week that we were there, and a large male lion was caught in a bush meat snare (and thankfully rescued and repaired).  That little rhino was such a lovely sight, but so bitter-sweet.  It’s hard not to feel a little hopeless when you look at the stats, not just of poached rhinos, but elephants, lions, and just about every walking, climbing, swimming creature.
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Fever trees everywhere

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Hello little one!

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Fancy hairdos from the resident crested guineafowl 

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Spot the kudu!

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Bloody Marys in the bush 

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Four days in the Kruger

Is there anything better than time spent in the bush?  I love big cities and I love travelling to foreign destinations, but the quiet serenity, expansive space and clear ebb and flow of life found in a reserve like the Kruger is impossible to beat. I love the excitement of driving around the park, never knowing what you might come across around the next bend (spindly legged impala? lumbering rhino? clucking franklin?).  I feel like an utterly privileged guest in a place teeming with life.
I’m a sucker for the SAN Parks camps inside the park.  The smell of the thatch bungalows, the green tiled bathrooms and the SAN Parks emblem on the sheets and tiny teacups all invoke such strong memories from my childhood, and I still prefer to stay in camps like Letaba, Shingwedzi and Shimuwini than in the camps on the edges of the park.  This time though I stayed at Ngwenya Lodge, which looks out over the Kruger (and the Crocodile River, which attracts a huge amount of game), and is a 10 minute drive to the Crocodile Bridge gate.
My goal for this trip was to take as many photographs as possible.  I have a bit of a thing for elephants – the more time I spend with them and observe them, the more I want to integrate and interact with them – and this trip was all about elephants! I saw more ellies than I think I’ve ever seen in my life!  Over the course of the four days we must’ve seen about 300 elephant in total, and some really huge herds with lots of babies (you’ll notice plenty of different sized ellie bums in my pictures!). It was quite amazing, and has further entrenched my wish to visit the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Kenya … as soon as possible!
Amongst all the large eared and liquid eyed antelope, some highlights were seeing rhino – less than normal though, which makes me so incredibly sad and indicates the extent of the rhino poaching crisis in the park – and three lionesses with very distended bellies on a wildebeest kill.  The Kruger remains one of my favourite, and one of the most soul soothing, places on earth and certainly one of the best wildlife destinations in Southern Africa.
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