Announcement: This is A Quarter Life Crisis. Mind the Gap.

Growing up happens all of a sudden. I mean, gradually we’re all getting older and taking on new challenges like paying taxes and voluntarily taking ourselves to the dentist. Those things are easy. But one day something happens, and suddenly you realise this isn’t a game anymore. Shit gets real.

For me, that something was retrenchment.

I have been retrenched.

v. re·trenched, re·trench·ing, re·trench·es. 

1. To cut down; reduce. 2. To remove, delete, or omit. 

Surprisingly, I am not particularly upset about it. This final decision has come after a long (nearly) six months of uncertainty and instability and I made a personal decision several weeks ago that this is all one big, fat sign from the universe that I am too young to grow up.

I am twenty five. Unmarried. Unattached. Childless. Bondless. Educated. Free. I never took a gap year after school, I have never done anything crazy. I have a deep fear of sitting around a dinner table in my fifties and having no stories to tell, no mad tales of adventure and pure reckless irresponsibility. Cape Town is my soul city, my heart beats wilder when I climb Lions Head or take a stroll along the prom. This will be my home always and I don’t want to resent that one day. I never want to feel trapped by this city and this country, which I love so passionately.

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Cape Town, by Anna Simmons.

So, I’m off! I’m off to explore the world, to learn about other cultures and other people. I want to open my eyes and my mind and I want to grow myself as a human being. I am hoping for a lot from this trip. I am hoping to get a whole new perspective on my life and on the world, and I’m hoping to come home a different (and better) person. Hopefully with some major life decisions made, such as what the hell I’m going to do with the rest of my earning years.

My tickets are booked, I’ve had the vaccinations and researched my visa requirements. I have a pair of good hiking boots and my dad’s old backpack. I’ve downloaded ten books to my Kindle app and forced myself not to start reading any of them. I’ve given notice to my medical aid and to my gym. I’ve wrapped up my life.

My Great Big Adventure begins on 12 July 2014 in Singapore.  From there I travel by train and bus through Malaysia, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Nepal and India.

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Oh, India. Where this all started and therefore how fitting that it should end there too. My flight home from Mumbai is booked for December, but it’s not set in stone. I may sidetrack to New Zealand. I may push my flight out and try to squeeze a bit more out of my budget. I don’t know yet. I have no idea what’s going to happen along the way or when I get back and that is both terrifying and utterly exhilarating.

Watch this space.

 

Six Things I Did in London

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Having been to London few times, I didn’t feel the need to hit the touristy things again. I like Buckingham Palace as much as the next person but trying to get a reaction out of a guard gets old after a while. I only had four days and I wanted to make the most of it, to see friends and to get to know the London of Londoners.

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Austrian Cuisine: Guten Appetit!

“Oh my God, how was it?” is the phrase put to me most often today. I have just arrived home from a quick ten-day trip to Europa, to celebrate the momentous occasion of my Opa’s 85th birthday in Austria. My father hails from a small (ish), rural (ish) town called Dornbirn in the East of Austria. From the balcony of my grandparents’ home we look over the Swiss mountains and the Bodensee, which separates Germany from Austria.

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Stomp and Sip: Backstage at Beau Joubert Vineyards and Winery

“Caramel popcorn!” Claire shouts gleefully. “I taste caramel popcorn.” Toomuchloveliness, sitting on her right, nods enthusiastically. Baas, the Beau Joubert viticulturist, sits on my left. He cocks an eyebrow and takes a sip of the Sav Blanc in question. He doesn’t seem entirely convinced by the caramel popcorn hypothesis.

Saturday dawned warm and sunny in Cape Town, after a week of premature winter rains. Beau Joubert had invited me to join them for a stomp and sip day on the gorgeous farm near Stellenbosch, which lies at the end of a long oak lane. Hence their ‘Oak Lane’ wine range. Clever, no?

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We were told we would need to work for our lunch and they weren’t lying. Baas handed us each a crate and a pair of shears and gave us twenty minutes to fill it with bunches of the plump, purple grapes which hid amongst the rows if vine leaves in front of us. He may have said something about watching our fingers because the scissors were sharp. Listen, he wasn’t kidding. I took a nice chunk out of my finger and fairly shortly afterwards gave up on my crate. If it’s full enough for Simba, it’s full enough for me.

 

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A tractor came to carry our (heavy) crates down the hill and we all traipsed into the cellar to watch this super interesting contraption at work. The grape bunches are fed in one end of the machine, the fruit stripped off the stalks and the branches spat out one end while the grapes sent off to the big tanks. The light in there wasn’t great, but I attempted a video and you’ll get a pretty good idea of the process.

The big tanks holding the grapes are about chest height and big enough to swim in, which is exactly what happened next. Foolishly, I had (legitimately) left swimming things at home so I stood on the sides snapping pictures in the gloomy light and trying not to get caught in the inevitable grape fight which broke out. Any photos from inside were utterly useless but Nikki is both braver and far more talented than I am, and she got close enough to get some pretty great shots.

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Finally, we got to the important part. The part with the drinking and the eating. My favourite part of any day. I’m not a big wine drinker, despite having parents who wine lovers and who spent much of my childhood in the tasting rooms of various wine farms, while I played on the grass outside with the farm dogs. Happy years. Natalie is much better at wine than me, so if you’re looking to get into this fine art check out her myth-busting tips here. Despite my inexperience, I was really chuffed to be part of the first group of people to ever taste their newly bottled sparkling wine. It needs another year or two in the bottle before it will be ready for sale, at which point you should jump for a bottle because it is amazing.

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Me, I was just happy with a plate of good food, endless cheese and great company. Super thanks to Beau Joubert for hosting us, it was a really beautiful day. Next year, I’ll be the first one on that tank! Thank you to Andrew, Lydia, Baas Ian, Christian and Elzanne for a being such good sports and gracious hosts.

Be sure to check out their website, they also have a stunning cottage and are close enough to Cape Town for a quick weekend getaway which won’t break the petrol-bank. You can find them on the Old Polkadraai Road in Stellenbosch, near La Provence.

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