A Look Inside That Ski Holiday: If I can do it, anyone can!

Richard and I have dreamt of a proper week-long ski holiday for a few years now. I was always doubtful that I’d be able to enjoy it, since I’m the single most uncoordinated person I know and I’m perfectly capable of falling over my own two feet, without the help of long skis and scary ski-boots.

I also haven’t been remotely fit, in at least a decade. I don’t gym. I don’t run. I don’t even take the stairs. Not unless the lift is broken!

To say that I was really excited, yet worried at the prospect at relying on my own physical abilities for a week is an understatement!

I can happily report back that despite spending day 1 in the beginner’s class & day 2 on green (beginner) slopes I was cruising down blue slopes (intermediate) before I knew it! And, what was the resort like? Well, don’t only take my word for the awesomeness (or our cool video :) – I see even the Daily Mail wrote a really great review on “the resort designed by Facebook“.

Based the conversations I’ve had with a variety of people about this trip in the last week, the most important things most people want to know, are:

1. If I can comfortably ski blue slopes within a week, anyone can. Even you. Really.

2. When Club Med says “ALL INCLUSIVE” they mean it. I didn’t need to take my wallet out, for a week!

3. The massive food buffet at ‘Yurts Restaurant’ transforms with every meal. We were entertained and surprised every single time… And then I haven’t even started on the AMAZING “Epicurious Lounge” which also offers gourmet meals, a great variety of drinks and entertainment!

4. Yes. The Apres Ski drinks, after dinner drinks and all the other drinks (cocktails, shots, beers etc) we had were included. And the bartenders are fun, friendly and generous ;-)

5. Yes, it’s freezing cold! But once you’re inside, it’s lovely and cosy. And when you’re outside, skiing, you dress the part and you exercise, so voila.

6. It’s a ski-in, ski-out resort which is very convenient and you get your equipment hire, ski classes & ski pass included.

7. The entire Val thrones, but especially Val Thorens Sensations has a VERY social and young vibe about it. You will make friends, both with the fascinating GO’s (people who work for ClubMed) and the other skiers. It’s a great holiday to take with friends, as a couple or even solo…

8. Take sunscreen.

**Disclaimer: I have tried skiing before, with little success, for 2 days in New Zealand (4 years ago) and half a day on a synthetic, indoor slope in Dubai (3 years ago).

We’re going skiing! Despite Home Affairs. And you can too…

Miracles happen! Especially when you’re dealing with the French Consulate in Johannesburg. Remember yesterday?

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Backstory: Richard applied mid-December for a new passport since his was on the verge of expiring.  Why wait so late? Well, with Sunshine Tour golf tournaments all over the show in our summer months and his last trip abroad being in October, there just hadn’t been much opportunity to deal with admin… And besides, my last passport renewal took less than a week.

So we arranged this ski holiday with Club Med and figured 4 weeks / 15 business days would be sufficient to get a passport renewed. And then another 3-4 days for a French visa and… voilà?

Not so much.

I won’t bore you with the tedious details, but his passport seemed to have been delivered to Randburg Home Affairs on Wednesday at 11:30 already – which would’ve left us plenty of time for 48hr visa period before departure. Only no one could tell us who signed for it and where the passport went (at one point it was even suggested it was in Pretoria somewhere!) until the head of the Randburg office, Mr Lekalakala managed to find the passport somewhere in their office, on Thursday at 10. This after we spent 4 hours of Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning at Home Affairs looking for answers.

We rushed off to Capago in Sandton immediately and with the helpful facilitation of Club Med was received personally by one of the senior staff members there and had our applications marked urgent with bright red letters.

Credit to Minister Gigaba for responding to me, however.

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Bottom line: Capago and the French Consulate has been incredibly lenient and has done in one day what usually takes 2 – without charging us extra or expecting us to even wait in a queue. Their service, in contrast with Home Affairs, has been swift, they’ve been immensely understanding and their dedication to their job (to get you on a plane and to France in time) serves as testimony of their country’s dedication to it’s tourism sector.

A special thank you also to Stuart & Lesego from Club Med, who have been amazingly understanding, helpful & supportive through all of this.

So, since the French Consulate just told us that our visa’s have been processed and will be ready for collection at 14:00, I can finally say that tomorrow, we’ll get on a plane to go do some of this:

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At Club Med Val Thorens Sensations, which looks like this:

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Does it really look as amazing as it does in the pictures? I’ll go find out!

We’ll be do our best to take you along for the ride and give you an inside look into a holiday we’ve wanted to go on for years!

Why Club Med?

Their resorts are all-inclusive.

Drinks, food, skiing (in this case, but of course they don’t only offer ski resorts!) and even the apres-ski, evening entertainment, flights, transfers – down to boot & ski rental – is included.

Why Val Thorens Sensations?

It’s the highest resort in Europe, at 2300m, situated in the French Alps but offering a completely breathtaking 360 degrees view over the French, Swiss and Italian Alps. The resort is also brand new, state of the art and opened just a few weeks ago.

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Oh, and did I mention that Val Thorens was awarded the “World’s Best Ski Resort” award in 2014, for the 2nd consecutive year!

Why should I care, I’m not going to France?

Oh, but you could! Club Med South Africa has chosen me to be their ambassador for 2015.  *happy dance!* And as Bonang did last year (she was the 2014 ambassador) I’ll be giving away a trip for 2 to a Club Med resort. More details on exactly how this will work and which destination we’ll be exploring next, will follow very soon!

For now: AU REVOIR!

Pay It Forward: Want to feel giddy with excitement? Give your next party away…

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 See those happy little faces?

The great people at Action Motor Group Krugersdorp decided to, in stead of dropping their Christmas party budget on hosting a big staff party (for people who see each other all day every day, anyway), rather host a party for some kids who could really use it.

These kids.

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What an exemplary approach – one I wish more companies would consider. We have so much need in this country and there are so many bright young faces to cheer up.

AND this kind of giving has the added benefit of filling the hearts of the givers even more than it does the kids!

Ask me, I wiped away a few tears…

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When Peet Venter at Action Motor Group Krugersdorp mentioned in December that the dealership was busy organising jumping castles (the big fun ones with water slides, and plastic balls and various different “rooms”!) and lunch for the kids of Bethany House, I immediately thought this idea deserved some support. I organised the sweeties (did you see the cute goodie bags? I had fun choosing them :) ) offered the use of my Kuga to go deliver the goods and, well, we played!

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And here you have my trusty steed / delivery vehicle, my Action Motor Group Krugersdorp Kuga and Francois Buys from Bethany House who welcomed us & facilitated the party.

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 Remember – if you’d like to drive my Kuga for a month (think of it as a seriously extended test drive!) tag a pic of it on Facebook or Twitter with #ElmaInAction

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What a fun day!

<3

Want to go to the 2014 FoodWineDesign Fair? I’m your girl :)

This pic was one of my highlights on my own Instagram feed last year:

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Not because of it’s photographic prowess. Haha! Not because of the atrocious lighting or the fact that it’s blurry. Not even because of the EPIC photo bomber ;)

Because of the faces of my dear friends. Just being their beaming, silly selves.

Inspired by all they saw, touched, felt and perhaps also by a glass of wine, enjoyed under the stars, on a balmy summer’s evening.

Who wouldn’t be happy after ooh-ing, mmm-ing and eating the crumbs off each other’s plates in order to taste the entire smorgasbord of dinner delights at the FoodWineDesign Fair? Yep, this was taken at one of the coolest outings we went on in 2013, on the roof of Hyde Park Shopping Centre, nogal.

So, that’s why I’m SUPER excited about the fact that the fair is back and the 2014 edition brings with it an emphasis on HANDMADE CONTEMPORARY.

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And if you’ve never been, imagine leather workers, jewellers, ice cream makers and hand pulled noodle experts… Basically all kinds of brilliant, creative South African artisans – showcasing their craft in a beautiful Victorian-themed urban garden. You can see the artisans at work and chat to them, to better understand studio life and the level of skill required to create something truly special. And most of all, you’ll be able to buy proudly South African artisinal products, from the people who made them, who imagined them, who brought them to magical life.

One of my favorites from last year, Heather Moore of Skinny laMinx, will be  back in 2014 and if you haven’t picked up on this design maestro’s buzz yet, go feast your eyes on the rad videos on the Sanlam Handmade Contemporary FoodWineDesign Fair‘s YouTube channel, which gives you a lekker peek behind the creative curtain:

TIME TO WIN

*drumrollllll*

To get your hands on one of TWO great hampers – which includes a set of double tickets as well product valued at R500…

Tweet @Elmakapelma using the hashtag #HandmadeContemporary and tell me why you deserve to win. 

And then I’ll see you there. Obviously!30906_HMC LOGO

 

Tag a pic & you can drive my car for a month! #ElmaInAction

Usually car sponsorship deals basically consist of bragging about lekker new wheels. Which is great for the person who gets sponsored.But then you see the pic and feel totally left out.

And envious.

 

Car Envy

I get you. But Action Motors Krugersdorp and I want you to get in on the action (I know, cheesy!).

If you move around the North-western ‘burbs of Joburg, keep an eye out for my new steed. When you see it, snap a pic, load it on your Facebook or Twitter profile and include the hashtag #ElmaInAction.

We’ll keep an eye on you & the coolest pic gets you the use of my car (or one JUST like it) for a month!

Which car am I driving this month…?

*drumroll*

ecoSportThe Ford EcoSport, which is a really cool urban (read: slightly smaller) SUV with a solid 20cm ground clearance AND it gives you nearly 20km/liter in terms of fuel economy. Basically it offers great value, it’s very versatile and it’s SUPER fuel-economical. Eco AND Sport. You see?

Oh – and I had to park it at a mall today in one of those ridiculously tight spots (I’m used to something considerably smaller!) and it’s actually surprisingly compact. It’s  easy to manuever into tight spots – perfect for town – but also great for ramping stuff & looking buff!

These are just the obvious bits, but I’ll share more of my favorite features as I discover them. The great thing about this campaign is that you don’t have to take my word for it – you can drive this car for a month and make up your own mind!

I’ll also be trying out a different car from the Action Motors Krugersdorp range every month and together we’ll be better informed about what each of them has to offer!

 

That, right there, holding the flowers and the keys - could be you!

That, right there, holding the flowers and the keys – could be you!

 

 

 

Join me, Polly, Sias, Bok, Flip, Bismarck, Francois & Kingsley Heath to save the Rhino!

I really need your help here! Kingsley Heath has thrown their weight behind Rhino conservation and along with Shaun Pollock, Bismarck du Plessis, Flip van der Merwe, Francois Steyn, Sias du Plessis & Bok van Blerk I’ve taken this opportunity to try and raise awareness and funds for the Wildlands Conservation Trust.

Why?

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Well, we’ve all heard about the threat to the survival of our rhino, but did you know the world’s rhino population has fallen by more than 90% in the past 30 years? That’s massive!

30 species of rhino once roamed the planet, yet at this stage only 5 species remain and all of them are threatened.

This year alone, so far, 631 rhinos have been poached*.

Thats nearly 3 every single day.

Help us and Kingsley Heath to raise funds towards the purchase of tracking units for the Wildlands Conservation Trust initiative.

For more information on the initiative and to get involved visit  Kingsley Heath.

If you’re too lazy for that – please just text ELMA to 49794 at a cost of R30 to vote for my really cool custom-designed Rhino. Look – it’s even painted in my high school’s colours :)

Paarl Gym, in case you’re wondering!

Yes, that's Handre Pollard. Paarl Gym's latest Springbok back in 2012 when he was still playing for the first team!

Yes, that’s Handre Pollard. Paarl Gym’s latest Springbok, back in 2012 when he was still playing for the first team!

 

BOTTOM LINE: Vote for your favourite Rhino & Donate R30.

Want the Rhino? Be the highest donator for one of the Rhinos, and it is yours. Ta-da! 

 

Weet jy vir wie en waarvoor jy vandag gaan stem?

Hier’s ‘n verskeidenheid onderhoude wat ek in die aanloop na die verkiesing met partyleiers gevoer het, regstreeks op Dagbreek.
Kyk, luister & hopelik help dit jou om ‘n ingeligte besluit te neem.

VF+

ANC

AGANG SA

IVP

DA

EFF

ACDP

UDM

Hear Me Now: To be heard, listen.

I read Julius Malema’s letter in Beeld (here’s an English version) today and spotted him doing the same thing I’ve been battling to balance recently…

Staying within earshot, but speaking up loud enough to be heard.

For what it’s worth, I’ll put money on Malema not having actually written this letter at all (perhaps he edited it?) – just YouTube any of his speeches before you disagree with me – but I digress.

The thing most people battle with, when we’re really trying to get a message across – wether it’s about convincing your best friend to wear those green jeans because she really has the ass for it, or disagreeing with your folks about gay marriage, or telling people on twitter that black-on-white-racism does exist – is really being heard, but that’s not the key.

I’ve spotted a golden thread, a central principle, let’s call it a “lesson” which has stood out in my own life and in the news stories I’ve read over the last few weeks: To be heard, you need to listen….

1. Reassure first. Especially if they already think they don’t agree with you. Understand them. And don’t think you can fake it – they’ll see right through you and then any chance for building that bridge of understanding will really be game over.

Most people are willing to simply agree to disagree, but only once they feel that you’ve shown a respectful amount of effort to try and understand. Stay within earshot, hear them, twist your ear if need be – but make the effort.

2. Acknowledge. Even simply repeating a message in your own words really gets that across. Stick around for it. Digest it. Invest your time, your consideration. Demonstrate it.

3. Then highlight the crucial difference between their opinion / position / behavior and yours. State it. Don’t apologize for it. Trust that you’ve positioned yourself within earshot – you’re receptive, but not submissive.

Going in like a bull in a china shop, stomping your feet and shooting invisible plumes of steam from your ears might secure the kind of instant release YOU seek, but it’s a sure way of destroying any of the common ground there might be up for grabs.

We need a lot of constructive communication: in this country, in our personal lives and especially on social media.

Too often we enter a conversation guns ablaze, only to miss out on a chance to really connect.

Ironically, this is usually done out of fear of NOT being heard.

Remain within earshot.

Life is about going somewhere, not about arriving.

Blogging is a lot like going to gym (something I took up in January for the first time).

It’s really fun and quite an adventure at first… and then life gets in the way.

So, I’m that person today who finally makes their return to the treadmill after they’ve spent most of April and May doing the “life” equivalent of pigging out on the couch!

I travelled.

The centre of the consumerism universe - Times Square!

The centre of the consumerism universe – Times Square!

I worked.

Green screens bring out my eyes ;)

Green screens bring out my eyes ;)

And I even did a bit of work while traveling, as well.

Like Miami, but with Rugby. Debben!

Like Miami, but with Rugby. Debben!

But as much as I love learning about other places and cultures, the most valuable lessons I’ve learnt from traveling has always been about myself. I recommend you leave your home as soon as possible, even if only for a night and even if you simply go to the closest place to where you stay! Because half the satisfaction I get from traveling, lies in what I realise about myself when I return home.

Traveling really isn’t about where you go,

or how long you stay there.

Traveling is about perspective.

Whether your destination is Bloemfontein or Barcelona, Durban or Dubai, you’re guaranteed to return home with a few new things from every trip . Trust me, I’ve been to all of these in the past year and my bags came back much heavier!

But the most valuable things you get to take home with you, won’t cost a cent:

  • A fresh new take on where you’re from – comparatively speaking, distance wise and the perspective people at your destination hold of your point of origin. These are invaluable because you figure out just how much your heritage matters, not because it affords you anything – perhaps it affords you nothing at all (as is the case with the Rand exchange rate!). It’s significant simply because you realize that you belong. You came from somewhere. It’s not a disadvantage nor is it an advantage, unless you decide to label it one way or the other. It is, quite simply, context.
  • Where you fit in – there’s always someone better and worse off than you, no matter where you go on earth. The scope of that simple truth has never ceased to astound me. It’s the outlines of your existence.How you colour the picture in, whether you even stay within the lines or go outside them – all of that is within your power. Wether being better or worse off than someone depends on a bank balance, your number of twitter followers or how many hours you have to spend on the beach – it’s all relative. How you see this depends as much on where you’re from (what you’re used to, if you may) as it depends on your perspective. It’s quite a relief to remove yourself from your self-imposed standards, your context and your outlines. The anonymity travel affords you creates a kind of vacuum, within which you can float freely, observing, enjoying and learning.
  •  Where you’re going – your dreams, goals, priorities and plans nearly always end up shifting, changing, evolving and growing in their scope. It’s about fueling your imagination, feeding your flights of fancy and entertaining a greater variety of variables in your own calculation of what  you’re capable of.

I love what I get to do for a living. I’m incredibly grateful, but it’s as a direct result of my recent travels that I’ve realised how big my comfort zone has become. I don’t think I’m alone in my experience of this as a kind of “quarter life crisis”. I think you reach a point when you start looking at your goals of a few years ago and you come to the shocking realization that you’ll have to start adding to the list.

Nothing you really want will happen unless you make it happen. You’ll only ever get what you’re willing to settle for.

It doesn’t matter how many times the world slams a door in your face,

how many times your extra effort has gone unappreciated,

how many extra miles you’ve gone to achieve your goals – even if it was to no avail.

What matters is that you set goals that utilizes where you’re from, that puts to good use the insight you have gained into who you are and where you fit in and most importantly: set goals that make the process of getting there worth your while.

Because even if you spend the next …forever getting there, once you start doing things for yourself, doing what you really want to do simply because you enjoy doing it, you free yourself up from dreading the journey, you stop living for the destination.

You learn that thanks to those ever-shifting goalposts, the endless list of destinations on our to-do lists, you might as well find the value in coming home from every adventure a little wiser, a little more aware of where you’re from and a little more enlightened about where you want to go.

But mostly, you learn that the real reward lies in gaining value from the process of getting there.

The 1 modern “convenience” I dread using.

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I’d rather drink lukewarm tea than wait for the water to boil properly (I know, it’s bad!).

While sitting in traffic is highly annoying and a 14hour flight feels like a life sentence, strangely enough, these are not the things that get to me most.

I blame my S-E-R-I-A-S impatient pet dislike hate on… call centres.

Dante 2.0 would’ve added this as the 10th circle of hell, had he lived among us modern humans. In fact, they should make a reality TV show where, in stead of having to eat disgusting things or stand on a 6 foot pole in the blazing sun, contestants have to survive call centers – both working in them and trying to get anything done through them.

It’s this dislike for an automated answering service, the punching in of numbers, holding on forever and eventually – ultimately – collapsing into a frustrating, but futile, fit that informs my distaste.

This thing I dislike so intensely is actually service you used to pay extra for. Something you actually used to buy a machine for!

Something which, on your birthday, is your saving grace – otherwise you’d spend 25 out of the 24hours of the day with a phone to your ear.

You guessed it: I absolutely, positively dread VOICEMAIL.

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Am I irrational?

Does it not irritate you when you spend 3 minutes trying to decode some terribly broken up, muffled, whispered or shouted voice message? Or, better yet – my pet favourite, when it’s interrupted by some other noise!

What exactly are you supposed to glean from 15 seconds of distorted audio that sounds like your first car’s Chinese-made radio trying to rap a Jack Parow song?

Surely, if it’s someone you know, you’ll see the missed call from them or better yet – they can what’s app you, bbm you, text you, mail you or tweet you if it’s urgent.

Or even – how’s this for novel – phone again later if you haven’t phoned them yet, since the lack of a message must mean it’s just for a good social chat? The Catholic Church still specialize in smoke signals and hey, be my guest if you’re all for retro, but would it be rude to just disable my voicemail altogether?

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I tend to put off listening to voicemails and eventually forget about them. Or I’d be on a flight or in a movie and when I switch my phone on again I’d be so bombarded by the collected texts, whats apps, tweets and mails that are delivered at once, that phoning a number to spend 3 minutes trying to make my way through my voicemail menu to sort, save, delete and reply to messages just honestly seems like a pain.

Am I turning into a recluse?

Anti-social and unable to communicate vocally? I doubt that, since I communicate for a living.

I think it’s just natural to want to have more control over the sheer volume of it in your daily life.

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