Thursday, 28 April 2016

Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens

Keeping up with blogging recently has been something of a challenge. I've been far too busy with sun to soak up, books to be read, wine to be tasted... oh, and a bit of psychiatry experience too (yep, I'm actually here to do some work alongside travelling). 
(It's ok, I don't expect any sympathy!)

But now that the sky has turned a more familiar shade of grey, let me fill you in on another of my South African adventures...

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A couple of Sundays ago, we made our way to Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, a beautiful park at the foot of Table Mountain, and one of the great botanic gardens of the world.

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We wandered along the foothpaths, admiring the stunning plants set against a backdrop of mountain and blue skies.

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Although we visited in the early winter season (hard to believe, I know), there was still plenty to see and I could happily have strolled for hours amongst the plants. I guess I'll just have to come back in the summer season one day to see the gardens in all their floral glory!

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We took the Tree Canopy Walkway, snaking our way over the very tops of the trees, looking out at the views and up to Table Mountain. From here we could see the route we'd planned to hike later in the day up the side of the mountain, feeling rather fortunate to see how shady it would be in the warm weather!

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Like children we scrambled up the strong branches of the 'Octopus Tree', before marching through the shady sections along a stream, pausing here and there to enjoy the peacefulness of this paradise.

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I think we all were tempted to stay here all afternoon, but we'd made a promise that we'd walk up Table Mountain from the gardens and so after lunch it was time to leave Kirstenbosch behind below us...

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Wednesday, 20 April 2016

£10,000 Student Giveaway with Uni Baggage!

When I graduate in July, it will mark the end of five years of university life - time that has quite honestly flown by!

I've loved my time as a student and will be sad for it to come to an end.

Something I didn't love so much though about my five years of university was the constant packing, unpacking and transporting of all my things! I moved house every year for five years, plus lived out in hospital accommodation for parts of my clinical years. 

I was fortunate enough that my parents were able to be a great help to me whenever moving time came around or I wanted to take home all my things for holidays and revision periods. But it's not always the case for everyone and that's where Uni Baggage comes along!

Uni Baggage are a great company who specialise in transporting baggage for students at great prices and as conveniently as possible. Their company has been growing and growing and they now help over 30,000 students every term!

With the busy end-of-term approaching, plenty of students will be thinking about how to get everything moved home, both here in the UK and to homes overseas. 

Uni Baggage have decided to make things even better for one lucky student - with a £10,000 prize up for grabs! Rather than spend money on traditional marketing, they are aiming to spread the message about their service through this competition, and give someone a fabulous end-of-term treat!

To be in with a chance of winning, students must simply become a Uni Baggage customer and/or share the competition on social media. You can find the details and enter right here.

Good luck!


I am proud to be a student ambassador for Uni Baggage and have agreed to promote this competition on my blog and social media. This post has not been sponsored and I have no part in running the competition. 

Monday, 18 April 2016

Franschhoek Vineyards Tour

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Staying just west of Cape Town, it was pretty obvious that at some point on this elective I'd end up venturing out to the winelands.

We agreed on the Franschhoek Wine Tram tour as a way to get a great experience of the Franschhoek vineyards and spent Thursday afternoon soaking up the sunshine with a selection of tasty wines.

As we're technically here in South Africa on a medical placement, we ended up doing things in a slightly more complicated way, joining the tour in the afternoon to allow for morning ward rounds at the hospital, but a full day tour begins mid-morning!

We took an Uber out to Franschhoek, then purchased our tickets at the Wine Tram ticket office. For 200 rand each (about £10) we got transfers between the vineyards by bus or tram, plus some complimentary and discounted tastings. 

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Our first stop was at Leopard's Leap where we sat down for a rotisserie lunch while we waited for our hardcore friends who had been on the tour all morning. We chose from a delicious selection of salads, from ingredients grown in the kitchen gardens outside, and one of the meats on offer. Also irresistible were the mini desserts - and with equivalent prices ranging from about 20-80p each, it seemed rude not to go for a couple!
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After lunch, our friends joined us at Leopard's Leap for our first wine tasting session. We opted for their pre-chosen tasting collection of their five best wines including sparkling, white, red, rosé and a dessert wine. I'm afraid wine tasting is rather lost on me but it was fun nonetheless to at least try and be educated on it!

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Since coming to Cape Town we've rather easily adopted the notion of 'African Time' so decided to sample our wines more leisurely, miss the transfer to the next vineyard and instead just walk over the road to it instead. Our next stop was Maison where we sat outside for a complimentary tasting of two wines, accompanied by chocolate truffles. Again, wine tasting slightly lost on me, but I can tell you that the white truffles are better than the dark chocolate...

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Where Leopard's Den was modern and bright, Maison had a much more rustic feel indoors, with a selection of their kitchen products out on the shelves and lots of dark wood features.

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We then boarded the 'wine bus' to make our way to the tram stop, before taking a pleasant, if slow, ride through the vineyards to our final destination, Grand Provence. The scenery here is wonderful - rows of vines in the golden sunshine, with huge blue skies above and the mountains behind.

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We opted for another pre-chosen collection of wines and settled ourselves in the garden to test them all. My one criticism of the tour is that the later tastings felt slightly hurried as the staff ushered everyone along in order not to miss the transfers.

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In no hurry to leave the beautiful Franschhoek, we took the tram back to the town and went for dinner at one of the many restaurants before taking a taxi back to Cape Town, all feeling rather sleepy!

Another beautiful winter's day (!!) in South Africa!



Monday, 11 April 2016

South Africa: Cape Point Road Trip

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Making the most of a full day off and the beautiful sunshine last Sunday, we planned a road trip down to Cape Point, the most south-westerly point of Africa. It was the perfect way to finish off my first week here, taking in the rich scenery and exploring as much of the peninsula as we could cram into a day.

Our first stop was Hout Bay, a pretty beach on the Atlantic side of the Cape Peninsula.

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From Hout Bay, we took the Chapman's Peak Drive along the coast, pausing along the way to take in the incredible coastal scenery. The views from the road were beautiful - huge expanses of sky and ocean, bordered by the cliffs and mountains.

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We stopped at Noordhoek Village Farm for lunch at their deli, fuelling up on a delicious open chicken toastie - chicken served with avocado and sour cream on toasted sourdough bread. I also eyed up some of their brownies and biscuits, but decided they probably wouldn't travel particularly well in the 33°c heat!

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Having eaten, we made our way to the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve for yet more beautiful scenery. The reserve is home to a huge array of plants and wildlife and we travelled slowly, keeping our eyes peeled for baboons sat in the road!

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We arrived at Cape Point around mid-afternoon and bought ice creams before walking up through the clouds to the lighthouse at Cape Point. The sight of clouds blowing off the ocean below us gave the feeling of almost being on top of the world.

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On a clear day, you can look out from the lighthouse over much of the coast, spotting Table Mountain and Hout Bay.

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We then travelled back through the nature reserve and up the peninsula to Boulders Beach in search of penguins. Although the actual penguin viewing walkway was closed when we arrived, we were able to get down to the beach and watch the penguins from the sand.

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When we'd had our fill of penguin watching, we drove back towards town with a cheesy playlist and views of the sun setting behind the moutains.

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I get the feeling my time here in Cape Town is going to fly by - one week done already! I'll continue to share pictures and stories here, so do keep coming back to stay up to date. And if you've got any suggestions for where to visit, let me know!!

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