Another Big Adventure


It's amazing how fast the time is swishing by!

Port Ludlow Marina Fall
Port Ludlow Marina Fall

Last week I took the plunge and bought my ticket to South Africa. I have been watching airfares on google flights and they had dropped so I grabbed it. First I fly to Burbank for a few days with Ryan, then on November 20, fly out of LAX to Johannesburg via Heathrow, on Virgin Atlantic. It's a 30 hour trek and then a short hop to either Durban on Pietermaritzburg, depending on where Mick can pick me up.

And that is just the start of the next big adventure. The planning is coming together, bit by bit and with the distillery visits to include, it is going to be a busy time. Roughly, very roughly! these are the plans, subject to major change, of course.

On arrival, it will be recover from jet lag for a few days, rent a tiny car, then I want to go to a couple of distilleries in Zululand that make rum! Pure, Natal sugar cane into something delectable. Zoze arrives from New Zealand at the end of the month and we are hoping to go to Umzumbe, a beach with hundreds of memories for both of us. We will stay at Jenny B's (Zoze's school friend) beach house for a few days. I am hoping to plan some time with Rosemary, my dearest school friend and mother of my god daughter at the cottage at Clansthal beach.

Then comes the trip down to the Cape, where we will stay part of the time with Biff and Julie at their new home in Villiersdorp, and some of the time at a self-catering cottage right near them. From here, I want to visit as many distilleries as I can, and as we will be almost in the wine country, there are numerous ones, with brandy being at the forefront. Then, at some point after January 6, I want to take the Light Blue Train from Cape Town to Jo'burg, where I am going to do a basic distilling course and visit more distilleries!

Then it's back to Maritzburg, more distilleries, more visiting and then I am scheduled to leave at the end of February, when I fly back to Los Angeles before heading to Belize, which is a completely different adventure!

If you are wondering about all the distillery action, I am working with the American Distilling Institute, doing some writing for them. And while in South Africa, getting assistance and introductions to the South African craft distillery scene through Hendre Barnard of Distillique, who heads up the new South African Craft Distilling Institute. This is a steep learning curve for me, but a lot of fun! I've really not been much of a "hard liquor" drinker, except for gin! But I am discovering a whole new world out there. Once you get away from the mass produced products, the craft spirits open up brand new tastes, flavors and aromas and I'm finding that spirits I never liked or didn't even try, are amazing! And each distillery has it's own unique flavor. So you can just imagine how much fun it is!

And of course, the visual delights in the facilities - huge, shiny copper stills, enormous stainless vats, rows and rows of aging barrels, bottles filled with all colors of liquids! Every distillery seems to try to outdo the others with creative names for their spirits and labels, some of which are just gorgeous.

So there it is, my rough plan.

In the meantime, I have three articles to write; find a perfect home for Hinckley and Buddy; take care of this house in some way; sell my car; sell or donate everything in the house and reduce my belongings down to one suitcase.

Wish me luck!

Picking Up Speed

Falling into Place

ColumnIt's pretty exciting the way things are starting to really pick up speed leading to my "get the hell out of here" moment!

My plans are solidifying - a bit - as I set my sights on a mid-November departure. It looks like (at least at the moment) that I will initially go to Mick in KZN (KwaZulu Natal) where I will meet up with Zoze who flies in from New Zealand towards the end of the month. Then we will head down to the Cape mid-December and stay with Biff and at a self-catering cottage while Julie's Susan is with them over Christmas. We are hoping Mick will be able to come down then as well.

While in the Cape, I will be visiting a lot of distilleries with the blessing of the South African Craft Distilling Institute who is busy opening doors for me! The articles will be mainly for ADI but I have also pitched South African Country Life , which I used to write for, but haven't had a response yet.

SACDI has offered to put me up and introduce me at other distilleries up around Johannesburg and Pretoria, and I will also be doing one of the their distilling classes, which is very exciting. What I would like to be able to do is to take the Light Blue Train from Cape Town to Jo'burg and then back from there to Maritzburg. I have wanted to do a train trip like that for ages, and with the exchange rate in my favor at the moment, it seems like a great opportunity.

Whiskey barrels

Once back in KZN, we want to do a couple of game reserves in Zululand where there is a also a new rum distillery! And of course, I will be spending time with my oldest best friend Rosemary and my god daughter Catherine at "the cottage" at Clansthal.

Then at some stage, probably February or March, I will fly back to LAX, see the boys then head south to Belize for the duration, however long that is.

In the meantime, I have three articles to do for American Distilling Magazine. I need another interview with Keith at Bainbridge Organic Distillery which I hope to do tomorrow and then will go over to Ballard, across the Sound for two more, hopefully next week.

This distillery biz is all a huge learning curve for me but I am thoroughly enjoying it and loving the people who are involved in this industry. They all seem so passionate about what they do, which is so very refreshing!

I realized that I have not posted anything about my trip to Coeur d'Alene with Ryan to see Cody and the little boys, so that is the next one; a bit out of order but oh well...