Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Pinotage at Paternoster

It is widely believed that adventure starts outside of your comfort zone.  When a friend offered me a "beauty treatment" at one of South Africa's top spas at Paternoster I knew there were some sort of adventure on the menu. First of all let's not get excited about  the "beauty" part in my case, that ship has sailed and let us not get too technical on the definition of "adventure" because any kind of treatment aimed at improving my looks or well-being is outside of my comfort zone. The spa's brochure however states that these are "soothing therapies to guide your soul on a journey of profound peace within a renewed sense of gratitude".  Now that I can relate to, a "journey of profound peace". I was still two minded about the facial however. The body massage was enough motivation to get me on my motorbike and head towards Paternoster on a chilly 4degC morning. After all, it was at the spa that had recently received the huge accolade of the 2016 World Luxury Spa Award! They are also part of the Healing Earth brand which is a market leader in holistic African beauty and wellness care. I was already convinced that I was in for a treat.

Most of my friend's immediate reaction to this would be "Hypocrite!". They all know I still raise my eyebrows instead of pluck them when I hear the word "metro-sexual'. Secondly they also know that I believe the only natural substance on this planet that can cure anything from cracked heals to broken hearts and ultimately depression is the blue saltwater that surrounds our beautiful continent. But let's face it, the worse thing for your skin is probably prolonged exposure to a sun and sea water mixture. To prove that theory I can present my own evidence. When it comes to facials and exfoliation my routine stops at washing my face with some price-reduced soap that I conveniently buy in six packs from a well-know retail outlet. But don't ditch my natural salt therapy theory just yet because I see that there is also a Salt Therapy Room where you can "alleviate all stress by adding salt...". I was there for more than just a dip in the salt.

I have to be honest I am not familiar with the 'ins and outs' of spas. When I read through the menu I realized that making a choice could be a more difficult task than choosing a name for your first born. Fortunately that decision was already made for me and I was booked for a "Healing Full Body Massage". I was kindly asked by my lovely therapist if I wanted to "uplift, de-stress or detox?" After she noticed the vague look in my eyes she thankfully narrowed it down to "detox or just relax?"  To me detox is associated with the start of a new lifestyle and subsequently sticking to a healthier diet. After 120 kilometers on a motorbike in temperatures that dropped to near freezing point the 'just relax' option sounded brilliant and I was pleasantly surprised to find the massage bed already heated up.  I wasn't exactly sure what the difference was between the options, but I was yet again gently guided to the answer. Different types of oil is used for different types of massages, and for the relaxing massage the oil that she will be using contains Pinotage. It is also referred to as the "Anti-Ageing Vino Therapy". I already know what you are thinking when you hear "vino therapy" right, but I still had to drive home so I stayed with the "Pinotage-in-the-oil" version which had a similar effect on muscle relaxation but without the other unpleasant side-effects of alcohol. 

I never checked my watch because I din't want to massage to end, but after a relaxing 90 minutes or so it was time for the "High Performance Facial Therapy". Here I was completely out of my depth and slightly uncomfortable but I eventually surrendered to the soothing hands of my therapist.  I felt and smelled different kinds of lotion being applied to my face and gently being removed.  The closest I ever come to rubbing these amounts of lotion on my face is when I apply sunblock before a surf session... and only if I remember to do so. I was told that this was a "unique anti-ageing tri-enzyme/peptide technology that enriches the skin, healing damaged tissue and effectively decreasing ageing".  I was convinced that I arrived ten years too late, but according to my therapist this treatment can actually heal damaged skin and reverse the ageing process. I am not sure if there is any remedy on the market yet for my severe case of sun burnt skin, but I have to admit that I had a different tingling feeling after the treatment and felt quite rejuvenated.  I am sure that more skin therapies on a regular basis might just reverse the clock on a ticking time bomb.

Today I've had an introduction to metro-sexuality, but I am not converted just yet. I will however not be telling the truth if I do not admit that I had a wonderful 'day-at-the-spa' experience.  Not only is this spa part of the the 5-star boutique Abalone House Hotel with its wonderful restaurant and view, but the staff is equally friendly and helpful. When I look at the variety of natural products and how professionally they were displayed and utilized, I am sure anyone can get used to this kind of lifestyle. But more importantly I can see how one can benefit from these treatments and allow your soul to be guided on a journey of profound peace.  Maybe an adventure does not have to be outside of your comfort zone because here at the Abalone House and Spa one can really try out new experiences in a very comfortable environment. Life is short and you don't have to ride a motorbike to have an adventure, you can just head down to the Healing Earth Spa at Paternoster in your own preferred mode of transport and just ask for Pinotage...

Monday, June 20, 2016

I've lived in Mossel Bay for a couple of years but still frequently visit it mainly for three reasons, family, surfing and photography.  On all three reasons I can probably spend a day talking, but let me just quickly mention

Mossel Bay, sometimes called "the drinking town with a fishing problem" is known for much more than just that.  A popular tourist town that provides so much scope for the photograph enthusiast. There are the most awesome settings to take pictures and if the town does not deliver one can always drive up the Garden Route.  I am sure however that if you really go out and capture the beauty of this town, you will not get further than Dias beach....

Below some images from Mossel Bay. Do yourself a favour a book a trip with me to go and explore the beauty of this paradise.

Show me the light

I have had a fascination with lighthouses since I was a kid.  I think my fascination lies in the fact that it is usually situated at rocky outcrops and the idea of being out on the ocean at night and seeing light must be a comforting sight to any sailor.  Despite my fascination with them, I have never really photographed them.  If I did it was during the day and what is a lighthouse during the day apart from maybe just interesting architecture. 

On my recent trip to Mossel Bay I made the effort to get up early to take a shot at it.  I looked for the best angles because the light house is a bit obstructed by trees when faced from the front.  Secondly it is quite high, so getting a shot from a horizontal angle is a bit tricky.  Then there are some other challenges like a bright light that does not stand still and of course as in the case of the one in Mossel Bay, the lights lightening the lighthouse at night goes on and off the whole time.  Not sure if it is to save energy or if the bulb is getting overheated, but it takes a bit of planning to get the shot at the right time.  Add to this a 2 second remote trigger time to avoid camera shake then it is not just for walking up to the lighthouse and taking a shot. It takes some careful planning.

After been questioned by the police for walking around the streets in the early hours of the morning looking a bit suspicious I guess, I managed to get a few shots at last... 

For more pictures on Mossel Bay please visit my Facebook Page.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

How to change your life...and maybe the world!

I honestly believe that one always feel better after some time in the ocean. My philosophy has always been that no matter how bad the waves were, you WILL feel better after the surf than before you went in. 

Yesterday I went for an early morning surf. Because it was quite chilly outside I got into my wetsuit in the comfort of my living room, made myself a flask of coffee for that "after-surf-warmth-requirement" and headed down to the beach.  When I got to the beach I looked at the conditions. The temperature outside was not what I call pleasant and the waves were on the small side. Despite my already proven philosophy I convinced myself that the waves were too small and the water too cold. I turned around and went home. I drank a cup of coffee from the flask when I got home not to waste it while bitching about the fact that I went through the effort of putting on a wetsuit and having to take it off for no reason. I was not feeling better at all and slightly disappointed about my cowardly move to turnaround from a potential nice surf session.

This morning I went to the beach again.  This time I did not get dressed, nor did I make that coffee. I got to the beach under the same weather conditions as yesterday, cold water and small waves.  The difference today though was my determination to get into the water to "feel better". Yesterday that was lacking a bit. Sitting in a car next to me was another surfer also checking out the waves.  I could see from his facial expressions that he was not planning on going out today either. I got out, started chatting to him and suggested that he should do it just to feel better afterwards. "Three waves" I said, "that's all I want....and some time in the water and I will feel it was worth the pain."

I walked down to the water with my longboard. There was only one SUP out and I could feel that the water was indeed freezing.  I paddled out and quickly got my three waves. I looked around and saw my fellow surfer friend walking up to the water with his board, dressed from head to toe in neoprene and with an uncomfortable smile on his face.  We chatted more in the water convincing ourselves that "f*ck it's cold, but that we did the right thing". We both surfed for another 30 minutes or so. Eventually after 10 or more reasonable slow longboard waves we decided to get out. I was about to lose my fingers due to frost-bite and I also don't want gangrene at this stage of my life. He followed suit. 

Back in the parking lot another group of SUP-boarders were contemplating whether they should go out or not.  The news of the ice-cold water was out and they seemed very reluctant to face the discomfort of brain-freeze and possible hypothermia. Myself however and my new surf buddy felt stoked and pleased with ourselves and glad that we went in.  I had that "good-again" feeling I was looking for before I went in. What made me even feel better is that I made a new friend who left me saying, "I'm so glad you convinced me to go in". He clearly was also stoked after his session.

Sometimes we can change ourselves or even the world, all we need is that little encouragement, either from ourselves or from someone else. I am not going to beat myself up over yesterday's missed-out surf session, but I will remind myself about today's experience when I am sitting on a fence again in less than perfect conditions.