Earlier this year, I had the privilege of joining a very special welcoming party on the docks of Table Bay Harbour, just around the corner from the V&A Waterfront.

The SA Agulhas II supply and research ship was returning from an expedition to Antarctica and on board was my cousin, Danielle, along with her boyfriend, Andre. The two had spent more than a year at the SANAE IV research base, working as engineers.

It was truly special being able to join the Taljaard and Odendaal families for this momentous occasion.

I’m still trying to pin Danielle down for a proper interview about her experience, but in the meantime, here are a few moments from the arrival day captured on 35mm film.

Continue Reading "Snaps: Return of the SA Agulhas II on 35mm film"

For a long time, the fashion industry slipped under the radar for its impact on the environment. I guess everyone was so busy focusing on the way it tends to warp women’s relationship with their bodies and a myriad of other social issues.

But then, in 2013, the Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh collapsed killing 1138 people. Not just any people. People who worked long hours and got paid less than minimum wage to create garments for fast fashion chains, such as H&M. For the first time since Nike’s sweatshops caused an outcry in the 1990s, the world received a sobering reminder that the clothes we buy with the change in our pockets and toss away without a second thought are actually made by real people – mostly women with households and children and husbands and errands to run – in far-off places, working in shocking conditions.

Then, of course, there is the unpleasant little fact that the fashion industry is the second biggest pollutant on the planet. In the US alone, 13 million tons of textiles make it into landfills every year, accounting for 9 percent of total non-recycled waste. Apart from this, the water needed to keep cotton crops healthy and thriving is exorbitant, while the toxic chemicals in dyes seep into our rivers and oceans.

While this all paints a pretty dismal picture for anyone with a passion for dressing sharply, the good news is there are actually a lot of ways to keep your fashion-related carbon footprint in check.

Here are some ideas:

Continue Reading "How to build a more sustainable wardrobe"

I’ve been quite keen to cut down on single-use plastic for a while now.

You know, things like those flimsy little produce bags they put vegetables in at the supermarket and cooldrink straws, for instance. During my time at Cape Town Partnership, I even interviewed a couple of Zero Waste legends (unfortunately, the article is no longer online) who have actually managed to whittle down their annual non-recyclable trash to fit into tiny Consol jars and the like.

When I recently joined Yacht Boaz on one of their Sunday Sails, I was inspired anew. During these excursions into Table Bay, they aim to raise awareness about the devastating effect plastic pollution has on our oceans and also do important research about the status of Cape Town’s waters. With so many stories about turtles ending up with plastic forks or straws in their nostrils and whales with dozens of kilograms’ trash in their bellies washing up on shore, it’s clear that no matter how adept we are at recycling, the plastic problem is way out of control.

Plus, have you heard that quite a number of the Western Cape’s landfill sites could reach capacity by the end of the year?

It kind of leaves one feeling all sorts of hopeless. Like nothing you do will ever make a difference. After all, everything is wrapped in so many layers of plastic these days, it’s really hard to escape.

Well, you can take that defeatist attitude OR you can take tiny, tiny steps to help make a tiny, tiny difference. And if thousands of other people do the same, that tiny, tiny difference can actually be quite substantial.

So, if – like me – you’ve been wanting to crack down on single-use plastic in your home more seriously, here are a few simple everyday items you can start with:

Continue Reading "5 simple items to help you cut down on plastic"

I recently hit the 35mm jackpot when I stumbled upon an incredible deal on Bidorbuy: 12 expired Kodak Gold 100 ISO films for something ridiculous like R200.

Obviously, I put my bid and – to my absolute surprise – won the auction without even the slightest hint of an opponent.

Since setting out on my experimentations with film photography mid-last year, I’ve been dreaming about shooting on expired film, simply because it increases the chances of thrilling and unexpected effects in the final product.

Well, I finished my first roll of the Bidorbuy batch (which expired in 2007) last week and picked up my developed images at Orms today.

While it wasn’t nearly as way out as I expected it would be, the photos have a nice grainy quality with a noticeable fade.

Here are a few of my favourite shots, snapped in Sea Point, Betty’s Bay, Clarence Drive and Elgin:

Continue Reading "Snaps: Experimenting with expired film"

This year, I decided to buy locally-made products as far as possible. (Or second-hand, but more about that in another post – coming soon!)

It’s been quite a fun exercise so far, as I’ve discovered all sorts of designers, brands and shops I hadn’t known about before.

At the moment, I’m searching for a weekend bag. My old faithful has pretty much fallen apart, leaving me a choice between my proper travel backpack and one of my myriad little rucksacks or tote bags. The former is just a little too big, while the others are slightly too small for weekends away.

So, really, I’m looking for the baby bear’s porridge here.

I did some research into locally-made bags and found there’s actually quite a pleasing variety. I haven’t decided on what to buy yet, but will probably go for something mid-price-range, duffel rather than backpack and non-leather.

Here are seven brands worth checking out:

Continue Reading "Buy local: 7 Proudly South African luggage brands"

If you don’t know me personally, you probably wouldn’t know that I have a little obsession with fairy tales. Also, folklore, fantasy, myths and legends.

I did my English Literature Honours thesis about the Cinderella story and have a vast array of fairy tales/folk tales/fireside stories/myths/legends etc (including at least 3 volumes of 1001 Arabian Nights) on my bookshelves.

For the past few years, however, this hobby hasn’t received all that much fire from me. Which is fine – I mean we can’t pursue everything all the time can we?

But as I was looking for new podcasts to listen to recently, it suddenly dawned on me: hey! I wonder if there are any good ones about fairy tales out there?

Well, I did a little Google search and, let me tell you, there are loads! Some are obviously better than others, but wading through the masses, I discovered a few that definitely deserved a click on the Subscribe button.

Here are a few of my favourites right now:

Continue Reading "Fairy tales, folklore and fantastic creatures – my favourite podcasts right now"

Over the past few months, I’ve really fallen in love with film photography.

It all, of course, started with my little Camino experiment (which you can read all about over on Slow Drive) and now I’m seriously hooked.

After the two films I’d taken along for the trip filled up just before our return to South Africa, I bought another roll of 35mm at a little shop in Porto to capture a last few shots of the beautiful old city before we left. I ended up only taking about four or five, however, which left me with 19 or 20 snaps for home.

Even though I’ve been really bad at remembering to take my camera everywhere with me (which I’m totally going to do from now on) I finally finished the film and had it developed last week.

Continue Reading "Snaps: Fun with 35mm film"

This past weekend, Guillaume, Jasper and I headed off for a little pre-festive season camping trip to the Breede River.

We pitched our tent (in 40+ degree Celsius heat) at the pet-friendly Rivierplaas just outside Worcester and revelled in the tall trees, green grass and cool river close by.

It was Jasper’s first camping trip with us (who knows what he did in his previous life?!) and while he seemed almost 100% sure that we had lost our marbles for the first 12 hours or so, he eventually settled into the #campvibes and had a great time lolling around on the ground cover, ogling our doggie neighbour, Snowy, and longingly watching us eat (because that’s what camping’s really all about, didn’t you know?).

I had a bit of fun capturing a part of our camp set-up and take-down in time-lapse mode. It’s always amusing seeing people buzzing around at 30fps, but it’s even funnier when you add a perplexed dog into the mix.

Continue Reading "Just a bit of fun: camp set-up & take-down in time-lapse"