31 July 2017

Travel Post: One Night in Cullinan

A few months ago I bought a voucher on Daddy's Deals for the husband and I to go to Cullinan for the night. We been to Cullinan many times, but only for lunch, we've never stayed over (it's only about half an hour's drive from Pretoria East). The deal included spa treatments, your choice of breakfast or lunch, and accommodation at the Cullinan Premier Hotel. Initially the voucher said the accommodation was to be at the Diamond Inn down the road, but when we got there they told us we would be having both our spa treatments and our accommodation at the hotel, yes!

The Cullinan Premier Hotel dates back to 1905 and has recently undergone a revamping. The parking area is still under construction and, upon arriving there, you wonder if you've made a mistake booking accommodation there. However, once you set foot in the hotel all doubts disappear when you are greeted by the hotel staff and receive a glass of bubbly to drink while they set up your spa treatment room.

The hotel's decor is quite eclectic and it's a mix between old-school charm and modern accents. The reception area is quite busy but I like it, plus it gives you plenty to take in while you wait!

Initially they wanted to do our spa treatments in our room, but they were still busy getting our room ready (check-in time is only at 14:00) so they set us up in one of their suites. The suites are gigantic rooms in their own wing of the hotel complete with a king size bed, arm chairs, and a corner bath in the ensuite bathroom. Our treatments were done by two lovely ladies and I can highly recommend it. The husband and I each had a full-body massage followed by a scalp massage, a foot soak, a hand soak, and a foot-and-hand massage. Afterwards I was ready to fall facedown on the bed and sleep, but by then it was time to check into our room.

Our room also had a big bed and a cute little coffee and tea station with the hotel's branded mugs. The bathroom featured two glass basins (so cool!), a toilet (obviously), a large bath, and a shower over the bath (not my favourite). I had hoped that the room would have a bath, so I packed in a Lush bubble bar and some face masks, just in case!

After we put our stuff in the room we went out to lunch at one of our favourite restaurants in Cullinan, The Cockpit Brewhouse. There's a lot to do in Cullinan so I thought I'd keep that part for an upcoming blog post. Please check back regularly so that you don't miss it!

That night we slept like logs and the next morning we were treated to a delicious breakfast in The Crown Jewel Dining Room. There's nothing like a hotel breakfast and this one also didn't disappoint.

After breakfast we headed home again and it was nice only having to drive half an hour to get there!

I thoroughly enjoyed our stay in Cullinan and if you live in Pretoria or Johannesburg I'd highly recommend a stay at the Premier Hotel. The spa treatments were a bonus! I hope you enjoyed this post, please leave any questions and comments down below, I'd love to hear from you.

Until next time!


27 July 2017

Stuttafords - The End of an Era and a Few Last Things From The Balm

On 1 August 2017 the iconic Stuttafords chain store will officially close its doors. I am deeply saddened by this, as Stuttafords has always been synonymous with a glamorous and chic lifestyle. In its 150+ years it was definitely something that South Africans could be proud of. I also feel incredibly sorry for all the employees and I hope they find work quickly. I will always think back to all the fun perfume events I was invited to at the Sandton Stuttafords and I will cherish the bottle of Versace Eros that I won at one of the events.

During the last few months Stuttafords have had numerous sales and at one of these sales I picked up a few The Balm items. I like The Balm's products so I am a bit nervous as to who will stock it now that Stuttafords no longer will.

Mary-Lou Manizer and Cindy-Lou Manizer

I already have the Mary-Lou Manizer highlighter, but mine's a few years old and it's starting to show. I bought another one as backup as well as the Cindy-Lou Manizer. Now, for those of you who don't know, these Lou Manizer sisters are all face products: Mary-Lou Manizer is a beautiful rich golden highlighter, while Cindy-Lou Manizer is more of a pinky peach blush (but can also be used as a highlighter and eyeshadow), and Betty-Lou Manizer is a bronzer (or eyeshadow or highlighter for darker skin tones). The texture of both these products is super fine and there aren't any specks of glitter, the only glitter you see is shimmer. The packaging is super cute and fun and the compacts itself are pretty thin and solid with a mirror.

The Balm Voyage

This palette is just too cute for words. When I saw it for the first time I knew I had to have it. It comes in thin cardboard packaging and the front lifts open in two sections. It contains nine eyeshadows, a highlighter, a bronzer, two blushes, and two lip-and-cheek products. The eyeshadows range from nude to very dark, the highlighter should suit most skin tones, as will the dusky and pink blushes, and the bronzer looks quite dark (might be a good contour shade?). The lip-and-cheek products are orangey red and red. Each item has a quirky travel-related name and I think the entire thing is just beautifully put-together. I haven't used this so I can't comment on the quality other than swatching (which was nice).

I wanted to go back and get more The Balm products, but by then all the Stuttafords stores close to me were closed already. I think the last remaining one was in Sandton, but I'm assuming they will also be closed now. If you know who else stocks The Balm, please let me know.

Until next time!


17 July 2017

Winter Must-Haves: How I Save My Skin

I've never been a fan of winter until I learned to love the sound of falling rain years ago in Cape Town. Since living in Pretoria I have a love-hate relationship with winter: there's no rain and it's boring. Some winters it isn't even cold enough to really wear a coat, can you imagine that? Anyway, the only constant in this is: my skin hates winter. My legs get dry and scaly, the back of my hands start to itch and hurt, and certain parts of my face decide to keep things interesting by being a combination of oily, red, dry, and itchy. That being said, I feel like I was prepared for winter this time round. I did have to experiment with some things, but I feel like I've found my winter groove and who knows, maybe these products will work for you too.

For the Face

As far as skincare goes, now is not the time to change your routine drastically. I did that one winter by changing my entire skincare routine in one go and boy, was I sorry! My skin responded by being red, itchy, angry, and dry and it took weeks to get it back to normal again. I use the Skin Creamery Facial Hydrating Oil (I wrote about it here) in the evenings before putting on my moisturiser, or sometimes I just use it on its own. I've found that my skin loves facial oils, but that following it up with a nighttime moisturiser is sometimes too heavy for my skin. I put two-three drops of the facial oil in the palm of my hand, mix it with a few drops of water, and pat it into my skin. It smells really delicious, which is always a bonus. I use the Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel (I wrote about it here) every morning after applying a serum and I will use it most nights instead of a nighttime moisturiser. The consistency is really thin and it sinks into the skin effortlessly. As for pampering, I love sheet masks and these from Sorbet are affordable and work a treat. The hydrating one is especially nice in winter. If I'm not using a sheet mask I'll use one of my other hydrating masks and this one from Avène (the Soothing Moisture Mask) is great. The consistency is light and it feels more like a moisturing lotion than a mask. I apply it and then basically just leave it on, maybe tissuing the excess off before ruining my pillow cases.

For the Body

I recently read a couple of blog posts about the new offerings from Eucerin and when I heard about the Replenishing Body Wash which contains 5% Urea, I knew I had to try it. My husband hates applying anything remotely to do with body lotion, so I thought that this might solve the lizard-leg problem. After using it twice or so I could feel a difference in my skin and even the husband noted that his arms feel less dry than it used to. It doesn't contain perfume, soap, or colourants and is marketed for the "very dry rough skin" people amongst us. This stuff isn't cheap, but I'm only planning on buying it in winter from now on, so it's only one bottle per year. It comes in a pump bottle and the 600 ml should last you all through winter.

I'm extremely bad with applying body lotion, especially in winter. I dread getting out of a nice hot shower only to get cold again before putting on my clothes. When I do get the urge to moisturise, this Oh So Heavenly Beauty Secrets Moroccan Argan Oil body cream is fantastic. It's a thick cream and it smells delicious. I can't really describe the smell, but next time you're in Clicks, do yourself a favour and give it a sniff. It does require a bit of elbow grease to rub in, but you're left with soft and satin-ny skin that smells amazing.

For the Hands

I've gone through countless hand creams and I've actually thought about doing a post on my go-to ones. Sometimes I find a hand cream that is amazing and halfway through the tube, it's suddenly not amazing anymore. I loved the Palmer's Raw Shea hand cream but I'm struggling to find it at our local Dischem. I'm also not too fond of the new Dove hand cream as it contains dimethicone which makes my hands weirdly slippery and siliconey. Currently I'm loving the new Nivea Anti-Age Care Q10 cream which contains Q10 and UV filters to protect and restore your hands. I love the pocket-friendly size and the pocket-friendly price, but what I love most is the way it sinks into my hands without being sticky or slippery.

For the Lips

Elizabeth Arden's Eight Hour Cream is a staple in my beauty stash and it always will be (you can read about its many uses here). I use this on anything from lips to cracked cuticles to eyebrows and it's pretty amazing. In my opinion there is nothing that a tube of this stuff can't fix! I am also loving Blistex Lip Relief Cream that was featured in my monthly favourites post (you can read it here), but I forgot to include it in the photo.

These products help me to survive winter. I didn't include haircare as I just use my normal shampoo and conditioner (I always have two shampoos and two conditioners on rotation so that my hair doesn't get too used to it) and then I'll use a mask about twice a week.

What are your winter savers? Let me know in the comments section.

Until next time!


13 July 2017

Travel Post: A Week in the Kruger National Park (Part II)

Two weeks ago I posted the first instalment of my Kruger National Park trip featuring the first three days of our trip - you can read it here. We started at Tamboti and worked our way down to Skukuza and Pretoriuskop. Today I'm going to tell you about the second half of the trip.

Day 4: Thursday

On Thursday we checked out of Satara, but not before doing the self-driving rounds at dawn.

Early afternoon we arrived at Skukuza and checked into our safari tent. The previous times I've stayed at Skukuza was for work and then I stayed in bungalows or the researcher camp. This was the first safari tent experience for me at Skukuza. Past the bungalows are a tent and caravan park: on one side are the caravans and tents, and on the other side the safari tents. Our tent had a little concrete foundation with a nice veranda and a wooden door.

The tent was a bit smaller than the one we stayed in at Tamboti, but there was still more than enough space. The two twin beds had proper bases and mattresses and we both slept like logs. The ablution blocks weren't too far away, which was nice. About an hour or two after we got there I fell ill and spent most of the evening curled up in a pain killer-induced ball. Luckily I felt completely better the next day.

Day 5: Friday

We only stayed in Skukuza the one night (it's almost impossible to get accommodation in Skukuza). We checked out and went on our usual game drives. We received a tip-off from a friendly passer by that there were two lions in and close to the road we were on. Unfortunately it was quite a drive and by the time we got there we didn't see them. But, then something amazing happened: as we took a turn towards a very long and straight road, we saw a leopard lying in the road. It's like she was waiting for us! It was only us and one other car and that made it even more special. Leopards are known for being very very shy and one guy at my office said, "You don't see a leopard, a leopard chooses you to see him.". The leopard rolled around on the tar like a kitten, licked her paw, and then slowly strode off into the bushes. It was hands-down the best moment of the entire trip. Few people get to see leopards but we got to see three in one week. Mission accomplished!

Late afternoon we arrived at our last stop: Pretoriuskop. I think it might be a very old camp, because the accommodation is very rustic and "worn out", if I can call it that.

All the huts are built in a circle with grass and recycling bins in the middle. Our hut was extremely basic and extremely small: there was barely enough space to fit two twin beds in that hut with about 30 cm walking space between the beds. There was no fridge and no wardrobe, but there were shelves on the wall and a small sink which came in handy for drinking water and brushing teeth. The beds weren't the most comfortable, but when you're tired, anything will do.

Day 6: Saturday

We drove to another picnic spot and made another delicious "skottelbraai" (gas cooker) breakfast. Pretoriuskop itself doesn't have many animals (it's actually a bit of a letdown) but the areas around it have lots. We saw about 12 rhinos which is quite astonishing. When we told one guy in a bus about our rhino sighting he was very nonchalant about it and said "here you fall over the rhinos, I don't care anymore". I felt like I could reach out and slap the guy! Anyway, I felt very privileged to be able to see so many rhinos, especially given my work.

We spent another night in Pretoriuskop and I was frankly quite glad it was the last night. I thoroughly enjoyed my trip but that hut was just a little bit too small!

Day 7: Sunday

We checked out of Pretoriuskop and drove around for a few hours until it was time to head home. We saw a cheetah in the road, zebras, a herd of buffalos, and a mommy and a baby giraffe, so cute! It was quite overcast when we left and by the time we reached White River it drizzled a bit.

It was an amazing trip and it was great to be in the outdoors and experience the tranquility of the KNP. I can highly recommend it! Below are some tips if you are thinking of planning such a trip.

Planning tips

  • If you're planning a trip to any large game reserve (especially a SANParks reserve), get a Wild Card. There is a card for single users, couples, and families. You can also choose different clusters meaning that you will only have access to certain parks. We bought the "all clusters" card meaning that we can go into SANParks parks, Cape Nature parks, Swaziland parks, and more. It cost about R870 for my husband and I (we bought a couples card) and is only valid for one year from the date of activation, but you save so much in the long run. The Wild Card gives you free entry into the parks listed on your card, which means that you don't pay the daily conservation fee. The conservation fee for South Africans going to the KNP is now a whopping R76 per person per day, which means the Wild Card paid for itself in less than a week. So from now until the end of May 2018 we can go into any game reserve (listed on the card) for free.

  • Plan and book your accommodation online - you get a discount of up to 5% and if you go for a week, that's quite a saving.

  • Keep the KNP's speed limit in mind when you plan your trip: the camps are situated so that it is possible to drive between two adjacent camps in 2 hours. The tar roads have a speed limit of 50 km/h while the dirt roads are 40 km/h. A safe estimate is to use an average of 25 km/h when factoring in stopping for game viewing.

  • Have a basic travel kit and restock it each time you get home.

  • Try to buy the bulk of your food outside the park because the park shops are expensive AF.

  • There are only ATMs and car rental facilities at Skukuza, but all the large rest camps have shops, restaurants, and laundromats.

  • When we packed we faced a dilemma: do we pack for 7 days and just wash everything when we get home, or do we pack for 3-4 days and wash our clothes somewhere in the park? Because we travelled around quite a bit (we were never at one place for more than two days) we decided that it would be better to just pack clean clothes for every day and wash the whole batch when we got home. This actually worked out perfectly and I would definitely do it again. We went at the end of May which was nice and warm during the day but cool to cold at night. I packed two pairs of denim shorts (only wore one but I did wear it a lot!), two pairs of jeans, two long sleeved tops (those "vest" style ones from Woolies), a couple of short sleeved T-shirts, a thin jersey, a warm K-way top, a pair of Nikes, a pair of sandals, and a pair of winter pyjamas. I also packed three bras (I could wear each one twice) and enough underwear for a week plus an extra pair.  The only clean, unworn clothes I came back with was a pair of underwear and a pair of denim shorts.

  • Skincare-wise I just restocked my previous travel bag with new Dermalogica goodies (I bought another travel set when Sorbet had their 20% off promotion earlier in the year) and actually packed a full-size shampoo and conditioner. Most of the time I didn't even dry my hair with my travel hair dryer, so I didn't pack any heat protection or my curling wand. I did pack a few makeup bits but mostly I just applied The Body Shop's facial sunscreen and quickly did my eyebrows (quick comb with a spoolie, eyebrow pencil, essence Make Me Brow, quick comb with a spoolie) and I was good to go. My lips did however take a beating so I religiously applied Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream and, when I lost that travel tube (dammit!), I used Blistex Relief Cream. My hands also got extremely dry, and for that I applied The Body Shop's Almond Milk & Honey hand cream.

  • My husband and I have, through trial and error, found a great way of staying hydrated without ending up with lukewarm bottled water or continuously buying fresh bottles. We keep a medium-sized cooler box in the boot and then we either buy two bottles of water or we fill our own bottles with water. We then buy a big bag of ice (super cheap), fill up the cooler box, and pop the bottles of water in the ice. It stays ice cold for most of the day, depending on the quality of your cooler box.

I hope you enjoyed this post and this little travel series. Please leave any questions, comments, or suggestions down below, I'd love to hear from you.

Until next time!