More on Camden031

I’ve written about Camden031 before but today was a pretty extra special day so I’m writing about them again (more on why I popped in at a later stage…). I’m writing about them this evening because, after a morning of fongoolery (it’s a word!) on all fronts, I popped in to get a little inside look at what makes this little black and yellow place tick, and they turned my Tuesday-that-was-all-too-much-like-a-Monday into a sweet day. Just for the record, because I get asked this, this is not a sponsored post nor was I asked to write it.

By now, thanks to a riproaring trade during their first few weeks of being open, you’ve probably heard the words “comedy”; “cuisine” and “good times” bandied about. But, as I learnt today, Camden031 isn’t just your typical night out (it’s open during the day too!)

I’ve known one of the brains behind it, Glen, for years. The other brain behind Camden031? Dave Boyter, who I met today. What’s become very apparent to me after chatting with both of them is that they have not ventured into the insane world of running an establishment with an “eyes closed and hope for the best” approach. Glen and Dave share a deep love for making fine food, and I fear that when I take my kid down there for lunch, she’s probably going to give me a speech about how my culinary skills could do with some work (Thanks guys :P). More than that, they plan for and actively participate in every facet of the establishment’s operations.

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The Stanhope. This might just be one the best pictures I’ve ever taken.

Whilst their lineup of events has been, up until this point, primarily focused on stand up comedy and related entertainment, they’re not stopping there. Glen told me today:

“We’ve got a venue that can offer Durban a diverse set of entertainment. We’re looking forward to hosting musicians, comedians and a bunch of events that’ll give our city’s people a unique place to have a little fun”. 

In chatting to Dave, his extreme (he’s not just an excellent chef, he’s also into extreme sports!) devotion to getting things right and creating good in the world is evident. When I asked him about his approach to food, he said:

“Food is life…and life is life. We have to take the tumbles, try everything and confront risks. A lot of the time, very exciting things lie beyond taking that first step!”

As for the food (because, let’s be honest now, I like being fed…), that’s where the Camden031 team like to take risks. I enjoyed an incredible fig-grape-roasted-almond-camembert dessert that I’m currently daydreaming about it again, and sampled some of Dave’s incredible ginger vanilla vodka. He makes it himself, using vanilla pods brought in from Madagascar.

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Dave and Glen

As for the rest of the menu, Dave and Glen create new menus each week, making use of fresh seasonal produce and experimenting with what’s available locally.

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I want to eat this every day, for the rest of my life.

Maybe the best part for me about Camden031 is that it’s not just a night-time outing. It’s also open during the day for coffee, lunch, cocktails and – yes – there’s free WiFi. Many people have said that Camden031 will be the home of Durban’s comedy scene and I believe that too. But I think it’s becoming a little bigger than just a comedy venue - for me, who is not the late night joller she once was, I see this place as being the “nightclub that’s grown up”.

Camden031 has quite an event lineup over the next few weeks, including Thursday’s Diners/Drive-ins & Dinner, comedy events over the weekend and a scrub-up Sunday lunch too.

I’m looking forward to spending more time down at Camden031 and, if you’re in Durban, I think you should too. 

 

 

 

 

Smart or suddenly essential? The Mecer Smart Life M785

Our family has become one of those multi-connected, communicate via text and email types. Because our individual schedules have been a teensy bit mental the last couple of months, it’s pretty common nowadays for us to plan our lives via our mobile devices. Juggling all of our busy lives has meant we’ve been missing out on quiet dinners round the table quite regularly and, well, living like this is how it needs to be for a while. We are, however, starting to slow down a bit as we head towards the middle of the year, which is the exact time it seems everyone has a birthday and our schedules go mad again. Haha!

But, I digress. Why am I mentioning all this stuff? Because a little something sent to me to review recently made a big difference to this mad mishmash of schedules and quickly went from being a “device I’m reviewing” to “thing I need before I leave the house, like my keys”.

What is it? It’s the Mecer Smart Life M785. A 7-inch tablet that runs on our favourite OS, Android 4.2.2, it’s impressive Quad-core processor proved itself more than capable of keeping up with the pace of our life right now.

Mecer Smart Life M785

I’m pretty used to my 10-inch tablet, which gives me a lot of functionality I’m well accustomed to and would deem pretty necessary for getting things done on the go. So, I was a little hesitant about the “downgrade” to a 7-inch screen. Within the first day of use though, I realised that I had nothing to worry about. Also, this lovely little gadget fits way more neatly into my handbag than my usual 10-inch and it packs just as much, if not more, punch.

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My kid, who is pretty much the biggest user of tablet devices in our house, quickly got her hands on the Mecer device and thoroughly enjoyed downloading a bunch of her favourite apps for it. Soon after I had handed it to her for a look-see, she’d curled up on the couch with it and was saying things like “Mom, I think we need to replace my tablet and buy this one”.

Well, a little look at the retail price means we may just do that. Whilst this tablet sits on a par with other 7-inch and even some 10-inch tablets in terms of specifications, it retails for far less than others. I found it on Takealot for less than R2000! That makes it a damn fine device for someone wanting to shell out for a tablet for kids to play on.

20140411_201100Don’t let its little size fool you, by the way. This tablet is quite hardy, with Gorilla Glass display and folio protective cover. Just so you know, the tablet comes packaged with this cute cover, so that’s not an accessory – it’s in the box!

More than that, I have found this Mecer tablet an excellent asset for my work! I took it with me to a few meetings and a seminar. Super fast on startup and so easy to use, I really enjoyed taking notes with it and then being able to share them with others on the spot.

We’ve really enjoyed being a Mecer family for a fortnight. So much so, that, maybe we will just go with my daughter’s plan! Her birthday is coming up soon. Mind you, so is mine!

For more information on this fab little gadget, check out the technical stuff here  and you can order one via TAKEALOT here.

 

This is a review post. I regularly review products that my family and I would purchase and make use of in our daily lives. 

Winging it.

Sometimes, when I look at people around me, or that I pass by on that usual walkrunslog I do, I’m amazed at how “put together” they are. I’m never going to be one of those people, who constantly appears and seems to have it all planned out.

I’m okay with that, because, for me, every time I do try and smash it altogether and focus on pulling myself towards myself, I end up feeling a little less like me and little more like I have no idea what I’m doing. And, when I’m winging it, that’s when I feel most comfortable.

That’s not to say I don’t wake up every morning with a to do list and a plan of action. Hell knows, I’d be adrift and lost in the kaleidoscope of YouTube for 9 days solid if I didn’t have those. It’s funny how that happens, hey? You start off doing a simple Google search for “best prices on pencils” and, somehow, a million hours later, you’re sitting there dropping crumbs into your cleavage and watching a YouTube video on the African Giraffe’s journey towards crochet or something. So, yes, my to do list is a centrifugal force that keeps me from ending up “over there” in the great, wide Internet.

What I realised, when I looked back at my Month of Saying Yes this week, is that I actually like saying yes. Sure, I’ve felt a little bit more overwhelmed than I wanted to. Yes, I have done a couple of true blue freak out sessions and, well, I’ve got very little sleep. Very little. In fact, our entire family is starting to look a tiny bit like there’s a toddler in the house and they’ve just discovered that staying up all night is actually quite fun.

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this is how I see Can-Do-Cath in my head.

For someone whose default reaction is “no”, my Month of Saying Yes has been an extreme eyeopener. I’m suddenly doing things I didn’t think I would and that I really love; I’m not feeling as burdened by things and I think I finally found that little part of me I used to like so much but lost somewhere. I call her “Can-Do-Cath”. In my twenties, I remember someone I worked with being a little alarmed that, no matter what they threw at me, I’d get it done. I liked that bit of myself, and I feel like I lost her somewhere. But, Can-Do-Cath seems to have made a Can-Do-Comeback. I like her. I like her very much.

During that month of saying yes, I proved to myself, and myself alone, that I can run for fun and exercise. I proved that I can enjoy work I did not plan for, and even love it. I learnt that, by immersing myself in things I am not familiar with, I can get over a jarring sense of self-doubt that’s plagued me for way too long in my life. I taught myself that, sometimes, that ability to wing it is beautiful. Most of all, I proved to myself that I am not as afraid as I thought I was.

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But, bearing in mind that I am exhausted and I really need a little timeout, I’m going to say No to everything this weekend. It’s all about balance, right? And that’s one thing I have to teach myself and have never really learnt – balance. I’m saying No to work this weekend (properly…none of this “oh I’ll just do an hour of this”) and I am saying No to anything but pyjamas and ice cream. Just for 48 hours. Can-Do-Cath will return on Monday morning, bright-eyed at 07h30.

Until then, Can-D0-Cath is taking a weekend. A real, live weekend that I can smush my face into, laugh through and love. Can-Do-Cath is going to try and prove to herself that she Can-Have-A-Weekend. See you on Monday, world.

 

Durban. You’re doing it right.

Today’s been a busy, busy day. I’m settling down now to fire off some work but first, this day deserves a blogpost. I feel spoilt, proud and excited, all at the same time.

 

The #DbnBloggerMeet – 25 of us Durban Blogger Gals were treated to the most insane day. Honestly, I feel like I’ve been on Oprah, had Christmas and turned 10 ALL AT THE SAME TIME. Aside from the incredible goodie bags, I loved seeing old friends, making new ones and noshing down on some fantastic food. Most of all, I was so beautifully reminded that the blogging *scene* I’ve been a proud part of since *cough* 2005, has grown. More than that, it’s become a way for so many different types of people to express their lives, capture their important moments and reach out into the world in a way that was previously unknown. It’s funny, you know, looking back, when blogging wasn’t as popular as it is now…back then, not many people understood why it rocked, but the few of us who slogged behind our keyboards late at night hoped, very often, that it’d become something much bigger than just us. And it has. A very, very big thank you to the fantastic organisers, inspirational speakers and amazing sponsors who made this day magnificent. Durban bloggers, you’re a community I always hoped would come alive. And you have.

A sidenote – thank you to these incredible sponsors (and an extra special shoutout to our venue, Hashtag):

 

And, sponsors:
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Carly & Monique from Lenovo. I now miss the Yoga 8 terribly

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My prize! I love this phrase.

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Not even Oprah could’ve topped this goodie bag

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The Fry’s Guy – he’s excellent (and so is their vegelony)

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Me & The B. I love this chick. Mostly when she has nice smelling things around *private joke*

 

And that was how I spent my day. This evening, I popped out for a quick drink to check out Camden031. It opened last night with a full house and tonight, again, they’re fully booked. Best part, for me? Camden031 is a fully home-grown, Durban venue. I’ve spied their menu and cannot wait to eat there, but…here’s a little rant I’ve had for a while. Durban often gets it in the neck for having a less-than-average nightlife. Worse still, if you’re not keen on bopping to the latest Bieber song, you’re pretty much out of luck trying to find something to do at night. Yes, there are a few excellent places to go, restaurants to try out but, guys, I’m no joller anymore. Camden031 is a comedy venue with a heck of a difference. Their focus lies on three things: 1) Patrons having a relaxed, good time; 2) Excellent food and 3) Promoting Durban talent (whether that be comedic, musical or, heck knows what else they have up their sleeve!) I can’t wait to spend a proper evening there! Durban, get keen, because your nights now have a place.

 

 

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Get keen, Durban!

 

And, lastly. My home town’s been battling a bit recently, thanks to a bunch of, well, less-than-ideal events. I say, sod that, Durban. You’re one damn fine city, and heck, you rise. I am so very proud to be Durban-proud.

 

(and nobody paid me 500K to say that)

 

 

bunnies and bopping.

It’s been a crazy-ass week here at our house. This whole manic schedule thing is really starting to stress us all out, but we’re ploughing on through.

I was having a fight with my bank this morning (more on that another day…it’s resolved now!) when the doorbell rang and hey, there’s a sweet little big #wwEaster hamper from the lovely peeps over at Woolworths!

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Our little person is going to pop when she sees all of this – thank you Woolies! They’re running a kiff little competition over here for Easter, and you can win a fab gift card. I think I’m going to let everyone else enter though – I feel like a winner already.

Now, please excuse me, I have some Milk Tart cookies to, um, inspect!

Lenovo Does Yoga – The Yoga 8 Tablet

I’m a sucker for technology – but then I think you knew that about me already! But, more than that, I’m a sucker for technology that works and works beautifully.

So, it’s no surprise that I’m smitten with the Lenovo Yoga 8 Tablet. Lenovo’s lovely PR peeps sent me this sweet little tablet to review and, well, it’s not just me that’s fallen in love with it – the whole family has!

Why have we fallen in love with it? That’s easy!

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It’s as thin as a good cracker!

The Lenovo Yoga 8 Tablet is small, but powerful. It’s easy to lie in bed and read on it, or slip it into my handbag for on-the-go staying in touch. It’s thinner than you’d believe, so it slips right in to my bag and leaves me space for everything else that goes in there – and, let’s be honest – my life is in that handbag!

I exhaust batteries on my mobile devices like infants go through diapers. But the Lenovo Yoga 8 Tablet packs a full 18 hours battery life. I only had to charge it once during its time with us!

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I’m very smitten

It’s zippy-quick. Startup takes about 10 seconds, and a super-smooth transition between applications means my usual manic attack of emails-social-networks-typing-something-up can continue unabated. The tablet runs on a very competent quad-core 1.2GHz Cortex A7 processor, and it’s graphics are handled by a PowerVR SGX544 GPU. To test real-world performance, I spent some time playing Temple Run 2, and was very impressed by the fluid lag-free performance.

The 8″ 1280 x 800 IPS LCD display looks great at pretty much any viewing angle (and if the kickstand is used, there will be many angles to view from, but more on that later…). Colours are vibrant, and the display’s brightness is more than sufficient.

A feature worth mentioning is the front-facing stereo speakers, which makes watching videos a delight. Sound quality through headphones is fantastic, most likely due to the Dolby Digital Plus sound enhancement on board.

We’re an Android family. You know this. The Yoga Tablet 8 comes with Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean), and is lightly skinned with Lenovo’s basic and very clean user interface. It is worth mentioning that the launcher does not follow in most traditional Android launchers’ footsteps in that there is no ‘app drawer’. Similar to iOS, all applications are placed on one of the main homescreens instantly upon install, but can be arranged into folders. Performance is great, and there is little-to-no lag when swiping from screen to screen.

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Book mode makes me happy.

But why did they choose the name “Yoga”? Well, simply put, the tablet’s main feature is the 3 modes that you can use it in, thanks to its cleverly hidden kickstand. When flipped out, this kickstand allows the tablet to stand up on its own. This ‘stand mode’ is ideal for watching YouTube videos while you work, making Skype calls, or even cooking while reading recipes. You can also have the tablet in ’tilt mode’. You turn the tablet upside down so that the kickstand is at the top, and the screen rotates accordingly, allowing it to lie almost flat, slightly propped up. This mode is great for web browsing, gaming or typing. Using the tablet normally (without the stand) is considered ‘book’ or ‘hold’ mode, and feels great when you hold it by the more weighted/cylindrical side, as suggested. My favourite is Book mode, because it magnificently emulates your normal book reading position but, with a far more beautiful perspective to gaze on.

The one thing I had to get used to (but which I now ADORE) was the two notification dropdown areas.  Now that I’ve seen it though, I’d like that on my own tablet too! Separating out app and system notifications and settings like that is pretty darn useful!

The Lenovo Yoga Tablet 8 is a great little device, and  the whole family agrees! With its solid build quality, unique aesthetics and low price, it’s a sensible choice for anyone looking to invest in a great mid-range tablet.

I’ve got big love for Lenovo after reviewing the Yoga 8 Tablet. Check them out on Facebook and Twitter or visit their website for your own look at the Lenovo range of tablets!

*this is a review post*extra special thanks to my P&C for adding in their perspectives and experiences with this tablet. This review was a full family job!*

 

On running, shopping and school holidays.

I miss you, blog. Feel like we haven’t spoken in a while. Like, spoken properly. So, here’s what’s been in my head for a while.

The chaos of the juggle has descended and school holidays have begun, which means that I’m typing this whilst holding a conversation with my kid, attempting to get through emails and try figure out if I’ve had breakfast yet. Wait, no, I haven’t. I haven’t even had coffee yet and it’s 10h30.

Instead of dousing myself in caffeine this morning, I went for a 2.4 kilometre run-walk-run-slog-jog-run-walk. This whole running malarkey looks like it might stick. I’ve been doing it, 3 times a week, for a month now. This is the first time in my life I’ve been able to commit to something that’s even vaguely recognised as exercise. Some days, I hate it. Most days, I love it. I hated Friday’s run. I loved this morning’s (and this morning’s run was longer). I’m really grateful for the support I’ve received. You guys are such a network of awesome, that I swear – when I feel like I am sucking at this – your voices are keeping me going. Thank you.

And then there’s work. Well, work. I love my work. I am so grateful I can do stuff I love. My to do list is longer than I could imagine but, it tells me that I’m not doing so badly in my little world. To me, busy is good. And if I’m not busy, something is very wrong.

One thing I am doing right now is attempting to permanently move all of our shopping online. I’ve been doing it on and off for a while, but the more time I spend in malls, I realise I’m not cut out for having to deal with 20 000 other people who don’t know how to drive a trolley or like to haggle over the last cabbage in the vegetable aisle. Stuff it. I’m done.

And, luckily for us, the fact that almost all our favourite retailers now let us shop online is magnificent! Of course, Mr Price is a regular stop! With Autumn setting in for a bit, and Winter thinking about dropping in within the next couple of months, I took  a little whip through to see what Mr P has available online.

 

I’m usually on there, hunting for bargains for the other members of this little family I have but, their sweat shirts caught my eye (just for me, mos!) After a little late night scroll through their range, I’ve settled on adding these two to my cupboard:

 

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So I’m hitting “check out” and these babies will be coming home to me pretty soon. Actually, have you shopped with Mr P online? I ordered from them last week on Thursday evening and my purchases arrived on Saturday morning. Have you ever? To me, that’s faster than having to stress out over navigating through crowds of sweaty people and then find out a shop doesn’t have my size in something.

Online shopping is my way forward for everything now, especially considering that I barely have time for coffee, never mind malls!

magic happens outside of the comfort zones.

My friend, Mandy, said that to me this morning and it got me thinking about a deal I mentally made with myself in February.

I decided to say yes to everything that came my way for one month. To nod, accept and do. Now, of course, there’s some guidelines. They were: it must serve me in some way, it must be something I can care about (even if I do not right now) and it must be something that makes me feel like I am moving forward. Lastly, the thought of doing it must frighten me in some sense.

My default setting, for everything, is No. There’s a good reason for that and I have walked away from a lot of rubbish purely because I said No first. I’m grateful for that.

Choosing to say yes… well, 24 days later (that’s NOT a Sandra Bullock movie)…I can confirm that I’ve been frightened out of my wits, excited out of my skull and ended up very, very grateful.

The thing about frightening me is important. I’m one of those people who craves security, routine and an albeit illusionary sense of stability. I can confirm that nothing that I’ve said yes to, so far this month, has given me any of that.

But it has led me to write for places I never quite believed I ever would. But I have, and I will continue to.

It has led me to take up running-walking-jogging three times a week and enjoy it. This is alarming, because I have never really committed to anything like this…and it’s also a huge middle finger to the school teacher who once laid waste to my 15-year old self-esteem by ridiculing me because I “run funny”.

It meant I would work with people I always wanted to, but hadn’t been able to yet.

It has meant that my to do list is longer than it’s ever been.

BUT. That to do list is FULL of things I would sometimes DREAM of doing, but couldn’t quite get there. Suddenly, they’re not dreams. They’re happening. And I feel capable of doing them all.

The month is not over yet.

Importantly, being able to apply the guidelines I set out for myself helped a lot. When I did say No, I said it with intent and a clear purpose, that I’d explain to myself. Saying no got a lot easier for me, because I didn’t have to explain myself. It just was a straightforward “No”.

And, as the end of the month of Yes comes nearer, I’ve realised that my Yes, is just as powerful as my No. Perhaps, indeed, they are both magical.

I put it to you…that I love my City.

So when I see this rubbish, I get angry.

I will, I realise, piss certain people off with this post. I am okay with that.

I spent a lot of time yesterday in talking about this, when this story appeared on the front page of the Sunday Tribune. If you want to know more about why I’m pissed off, read here. I thank my friend who wrote that piece for englightening me when he did…which was months ago. And that’s why I have NEVER supported the campaign. There are numerous respected voices in my life who have expressed their concerns to me about the “campaign”.

I’ve watched people ask questions about it, and been rebutted. I’ve asked questions about it and been rebutted.

As a Durban-proud person, I fully reject the manner in which this “campaign” has been implemented.  I reject and abhor the manner in which people have been led to believe that this is a “good campaign for Durban”. It has become a self-enrichment vehicle that’s run on dishonesty. 

Then I read this, and I am reminded again how it runs on dishonesty.

Finally, and properly…The Durban digital landscape is an exciting place to be a part of. I have been lucky to have worked with some good, honest people, because of where I live. I am a lucky witness to the way it is growing and the creation of magnificent deliverables and programmes that make me smile. I will not stand by and watch that wonderful community be painted with the same brush as this nonsense. We are a Durban community, and we do not tolerate dishonesty. 

the click of the knee

My mother used to say that the noise of our house was peace to her.

And, when we’d all moved out of home, and it was just her and my dad at home, they used to busy themselves with a noise. Or they’d wallow in this weird silence that felt just like the ten seconds after a houseparty, when the last person’s left, the music’s turned off and you need to wash the dishes.

I think I understand her now.

You see, I live in this crazy noisy house, where there’s always someone talking, someone in the kitchen clattering around (usually me), something playing on the telly and someone, someone is *always* creating something, somewhere.

Whether it’s a drawing or a sandwich. Or someone’s staring at a screen to accomplish a challenge or finish up a detail.

It’s funny. We used to know, despite the noise, when my mum was walking down the passageway, because her knee had a distinctive click that was borne from years of ballet dancing. I’ve had problems with my knees for years, but thanks to a course of collagen supplements, I’ve not had issues for a while. I try and remember to keep at it with the collagen supplements when I need to but, sometimes I forget. Whenever my knee aches though, I think of my mum and wonder if maybe we’re all just genetically destined to have bad knees, because I sure as hell didn’t dance for years. I’ve always been grateful though, that my knees don’t click, they just ache when I’ve strained them.

My siblings and I used to have this regular noise competition – where we’d all play “our” music in our rooms, so as my parents walked down the passage, past our rooms and towards the kitchen, they’d be greeted by this cacophony of noise. And my mother would laugh and then yell at us to turn our respective music choices down a little.

Just before my mum moved out of our family home, a few years after my dad died, she walked down the passageway and heard her knee click. She told me, the evening I went to see her just before she moved, that the noise being gone from the house is why she wants to go. She said all she can hear is her knee when she walks down the passageway.

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I’m alone in my house today. There’s nobody making a noise, there’s no little hum of voices, or the clattering of keys. There’s nobody asking a question, or flicking through channels.

No machines are running (except, obviously, this one that I’m typing on), so the sound of my typing fills my ears.

I got up to pop downstairs and get some apple juice just now.

And as I

Walked down the stairs.

My knee clicks.