Creighton Steam Train Ride through the Aloes

The little village of Creighton, the place I now call home, is home to so much more than dairy cows and wide open spaces. It's got two wonderful attractions that bring thousands of visitors every July.

June and July mark the start of Aloe season, and with that, our town hosts the Creighton Aloe Festival, a weekend of activities for the whole family; from hot air balloon rides to market stalls, pony rides and great food.

And, throughout the month of July, the Creighton Steam Train is up and running and visitors hop aboard for a journey through the valley of Aloes.

The train leaves the Creighton Railway Station and makes the 3 hour round trip from Creighton to Riverside, along the Ngogwaan River.

Farmboy and I, along with some friends (all armed with a delicious picnic lunch) boarded the train at 10am after stuffing our faces with bacon & egg rolls and cups of hot chocolate on the station platform. The train starts its journey by making its way through the neighboring farms (the best part was catching a glimpse of our own farm from the carriage window) before it winds its way down to the river.

Depending on the train schedule, there are either 1 or 2 stops along the way. Our train just stopped once, and we all piled off in search of the perfect picnic spot.

Farmboy also had his drone with him and will be putting together an awesome video of our trip. 

Here is the video he made last year documenting the route the train takes.

This year we were able to actually go on the train so keep a look out for that video soon.

We stopped for just over an hour, long enough to soak up the sunshine and enjoy our picnic amongst the aloes.

It was a really enjoyable morning, and I hope we are able to go again next year.

How to book:

Contact glynnis@toocee.co.za or rayna1@telkomsa.net to make your booking.

Price per person:

Children age 3 to 12 apply. Children under 3yrs are free.

Coaches:  Adults // Children

  • Sisonke Coach:  R280  // R230
  • Casual Lounge coach:  // R230 // R200
  • Sitter & Family Coach:   // R200  // R170
  • Vintage coach:  R180 // R150
  • Caboose Coach:  R180 // R150

Things to do in Cape Town - visit Babylonstoren for the day

Things to do in Cape Town - visit Babylonstoren for the day

Farmboy and I just got back from a whirlwind road trip around South Africa, starting in Johannesburg and making our way up close to the Botswana border, right down to Cape Town and finally ending up on the farm in Natal. We drove over 7 500 km (that's about 4500 miles for my American friends).  We visited 15 towns/cities and stayed in 10 of them during our 6 week trip.

One of the highlights of this trip was our visit the Babylonstoren, a place I had seen mentioned by my favourite bloggers since it opened its doors in 2012. 

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Bridal Inspired Fairytale Styled Photo Shoot in Buan, South Korea

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A few weeks ago a group of really awesome creatives arrived at my house in Buan, South Korea to work on a bridal inspired photo shoot to showcase a beautiful set of wedding stationery made by Bohemian Mint.  

This is the second styled photo shoot I have done with Marketa (the talented lady behind Bohemian Mint). Our first shoot was a wild flower, bohemian bridal inspired shoot (click here to see the photographs) with a very light and feminine feel. That shoot was so much fun and has even been featured on a number of wedding websites. After it's success we have felt inspired to continue creating more. These styled shoots are also a lot of fun and working with likeminded creatives to create something beautiful is what I love doing.

Marketa and I 'met' over Instagram, and with the help of a group of local creatives here in South Korea, we were able to bring to life our next idea of utilising the changing seasons into another bridal inspired theme. We created a Pinterest board and Marketa used all of our ideas to create the beautiful wedding stationery set pictured below. Before the stationery arrived I worked on finding a model, stylist and makeup artist who would all share our same vision.

Once the stationery had arrived from the USA, the idea behind the shoot changed slightly and Sam (our stylist) and I started leaning towards something a little more fairytale like. What we ended up with was a loose Red Riding Hood fairytale theme with a twist. After lots of brainstorming with Farmboy, he gave us the idea of incorporating a few apocalyptic shots to make use of the stunning Autumn harvest setting surrounding my town here in Korea . After a late night of creating flower crowns and persimmon baskets (persimmons are in season right now here in Korea) Sam and I created a story board for a shoot. I'd love to hear from you in the comments below if you are able to follow the story we created through my photographs!

The shoot would not have been possible without the following incredibly talented ladies. Thank you to all of you for all your help, for all your talents and for being so easy to work with:

And now the end result of our Fairytale Bridal Inspired Styled Photoshoot.

Enjoy!

x

Thank you again to each and every one of these ladies:

Farm fresh, free range eggs {& how two CityGirls had such fun collecting them}

Last month Farmboy and I were home in South Africa for our Winter Holidays. We got to spend time with all our respective families, and had a most enjoyable time on his family dairy farm. As a CityGirl, and considering I had only ever seen eggs come out of grey boxes, collecting eggs is still very much a novelty. This time round I had the help of my gorgeous cousin Jess. Together we set about collecting all the eggs from various chickens dotted around the farm. 

Thanks for a wonderful eggy adventure Jess <3

Farm Holiday in South Africa

Farmboy and I have been at home on holiday here in South Africa for a week now, first spending some time in Joburg, the Drakensburg and have finally touched down on the family dairy farm in Creighton, KZN.

Here are a few snaps of the drive from Joburg, as well as my first morning waking up to the cows and chickens, and wide open spaces that make this place such a wonderful retreat from Korean life.

Introducing Joie D'vivre Artisan Camera & Binocular Sling Belts {GIVEAWAY}

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Today I want to introduce you to Joie D'Vivre, artisan camera and binocular slings manufactured in the province of Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa.

Established in 2012, Joie d’ Vivre prides itself on the quality of their products, with individual attention given to each sling. Each sling is made from leather of the highest quality and the slings are finished with a protective solution to prevent everyday marks.

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Being proudly South African, most of the fabrics have been carefully selected from local fabric houses and many have been sourced from offcuts, old clothing and interior items. Plain leather, Beaded and Nguni Hide options are also available

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The camera slings fit a wide variety of cameras ranging from DSLRs & vintage film cameras to large Polaroid cameras. Joie d’ Vivre (meaning a strong love or enthusiasm for life in French) was established in 2012 by Courtney Jade Thatcher. A love for photography, fashion and a strong enthusiast of diversity may have inspired the brand, however a clear gap in the market is what motivated Courtney to develop the idea further into a product that can cater to almost any market within the sphere of photography. By personalizing the very tool used to represent yourself in society, we provide the opportunity to express yourself further. Young or old, conservative or liberal, celebrating the individual is the goal of Joie d’ Vivre.

Joie d'Vivre is giving away three of these beautiful straps to three lucky CityGirlSearching Readers. All you have to do is enter using the giveaway widget below. It's a very simple giveaway with very few steps. If you have any problems using the entry system please pop me a message by email or comment here on the blog.

You can gain an extra entry by sharing this giveaway on Facebook and Instagram. Just make sure to tag both @CityGirlSearching & @Joiedvivresa for Facebook shares, and @RoxyHutton & @Joiedvivrecamera for Instagram so we can track your entries.

This giveaway is only open to South African readers. Entries close at midnight on the 26th October. 

Here is a small selection of the designs that you can win:

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Good luck! 


Beauty in Korea {and our renewal interviews for year 2}

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For those of you who are new here to my blog, my husband (Farmboy) and I have been teaching English in a small town in the South West corner of South Korea since June last year. We packed up our first little home after getting married in 2012 and decided to head out here to build a nest egg and do what we love doing most, traveling and adventuring together. We were here in Korea back in 2010, as a dating couple in the bustling metropolis of Daejeon. After finishing up one year we headed back home to South Africa to get married and get a feel for the job market (which obviously wasn't very exciting as here we are again!). This time around we are able to put a lot more money away as we now live together and share expenses (we chose not to live together before we were married) and because we are in a very small town out in the country. South Korea offers many benefits to their English Teachers (free housing, return flights, renewal bonuses, extra pay for being out in rural areas and for being at multiple schools and relatively inexpensive living costs).  Farmboy teaches at 4 schools, whereas I am lucky enough to be at just one, an all girls middle school. It has been an amazing experience so far, and we have, as planned, decided to stay in our same town and at our same schools for at least another year. 

Since June last year we have been to Malaysia, Vietnam, had to cancel a trip to Mongolia  and traveled extensively around Korea. There have been highs, and a lot of lows (being in a country where EVERYTHING is done so differently from your home country is difficult. The food is strange, the people can be strange, the way that a school is run is strange, the kids can be terrors and you will miss your family and friends more than you can ever prepare yourself for. But, at the same time, if you don't throw yourself head first into situations like these you will never find out how strong you are as a person and how much you are really able to handle. And then there are the positives too (our jobs aren't exactly rocket science and in most cases we are treated really well by our schools). There are days when all I want to do is go home, have babies and spend all day photographing them while baking up delicious chocolate treats. But then I am reminded that this opportunity here in Korea allows us to save for a house back home, meet interesting new people and travel the world. 

BUT the title of this post is about beauty and Korea ( and our interviews), and I seem to have gotten side tracked...I had planned to do an outfit post here, hence the pictures below, but it has turned into more of a reflective post on our time here. This often happens when I blog...and to be honest happens all day in my classroom (my kids love this as it inevitable means less learning and teaching and more stories about South Africa).

Where am I going with this...oh yes...Image and looks are extremely important here in Korea. That sounds awfully shallow but when you live here long enough you being to understand the reasons why. I do not agree with the Korean mentality that beauty is everything, but when someone spends time on their appearance and care has been taken to look neat and tidy this translates to an overall better image of that person than someone who looks sloppy and smells funny. Koreans always look amazing, their makeup and hair is always immaculate and they always look incredibly smart. It gives off a sense of pride, pride in their appearance and pride in who they are. On the other end of the scale, this obsession with outward beauty has led to a unbelievable amount of money being spent plastic surgery, makeup products and diet pills. I understand that for Koreans appearance is everything, this is ingrained into them from birth, and culturally this something us Westerners will never really be able to fully understand. For us, beauty is linked to vanity and is seen as something more on the negative side of things than what it is for the people here. 'Beautiful' people get boyfriends, get married and have a family. If this doesn't happen, the older generation will have no one too look after them when they get to old to work. That is pretty much how it works here. The older generations worked incredibly hard to put their kids through school and university so they can get good jobs. It is then expected that they will provide and care for their elders. It seems a bit odd considering our Western mindsets, but here in Korea there are very few old age homes. Family members are cared for until death, living with their children and their families. Hence why there is such a strong emphasis placed on family.

So it seems that beauty leads to a family which leads to safety and security for the old. Beauty is that important to Koreans. Having said that, I think that one should always try to look neat and tidy, and have a certain level of pride in our appearance. But as the younger generation starts to blend into the same person (having had the same procedures to achieve the perfect lips/chin/cheeks/eyes/mouth) as shown by the latest K-pop (Korean Pop) singer, it starts to be ridiculous. The young women in this society seem ashamed of their Korean looks and heritage , opting for eye lid surgery, cheek implants, lip injections, eye brow lifts and contacts to achieve an impossible level of beauty that borders on lunacy. Here is an article and the picture that went with it which circulated a few years ago about the Miss Korea pageant, I'll leave it up to you to decide for yourself whether or not the contestants all look the same (they are beautiful, for sure, but they look eerily similar, wouldn't you agree?) 

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I have nothing against plastic surgery, I know lots of people who have had some form of surgery or another, and it's a very personal decision. What I don't like is that it's being done to such a point that people are barely recognizable as their 'pre-surgery' selves. I must still say that I do have Korean girl friends who don't agree with the plastic surgery craze, so it's important for me to note that not every Korean woman has undergone surgery. But, it is alarming when I ask my middle school girls (13 - 15 year olds) whether they think plastic surgery is a good thing and 65% of them put up their hands and tell me what they are going to have done when they are old enough. It's as common as makeup shopping, and apparently Korea is the cheapest place in the world to go under the knife. You can get your eye lids done during your lunch break and be back at work the next day with little to no recovery time needed.

It's rather strange that the first thing a Korean person will say when they meet you will have something to do with your looks "Oh...beautiful", "Pretty", "Handsome", "Small face", "Big eyes". It's all very flattering at first, but, when you actually think about it, it's really strange. Would the first thing you tell someone when meeting them for the first time be "Oh, you have such a small face. And really big eyes. And you're so pretty"? For Koreans, a small face is seen as 'cute' and whereas a big face is seen as masculine (my students have told me that this is why they make the 'peace' signs with their hands and fingers in pictures, to make their faces appear smaller and therefore more cute and feminine...bizarre).  

And now after all of the above, it seems rather conceited to be posting pictures of myself all dressed up. But I wanted this post to be an outfit one, and then I got a little carried away with the topic of beauty and anyway, here we are now.

This is what I wore to our renewal interview last week. We were meeting with the VIP's in the Education Office and had been advised by friends to go all out to really make a good impression. There have also been lots of rumors of budget cuts and a number of our friends have been been moved/lost their jobs due to these cuts. So we really did want to make a good impression, and were rather nervous throughout the entire interview. But, after lots of smiling and bowing we were done in a very short amount of time and have just been told that we have been accepted to renew. Phew! Then those heels (as little as they are were killing me!) and thin stockings in the middle of winter were worth it!

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What do you think about plastic surgery? How do you feel about the fixation with beauty that seems to permeate not just Korea, but the entire world? Are we all just shallow beings, or are we trying to hide what we think is ugly, in the hopes that people will love us for who we really are? I've spent a lot of time thinking about these things since being in Korea, i hope this post today has given you something to think about.

My top South African online stores

Online shopping in South Africa is definitely on the up with more and more stores offering free delivery and other great specials when purchasing online. But, it is a relatively new concept and a fair amount of shoppers prefer to physically touch the products they plan on spending their hard earned money on. Also, there is the age old fear of credit card fraud and the South African postal service to contend with too. I have been fighting with the post man when it comes to delivering my packages from my online store, but I am very happy and I hate to say it, surprised, to have had a 99% success rate on all my deliveries so far (the 1% being a package I sent to my mom last year which I believe has made its way back to me here in Korea after a rather unfortunate loss of the post mans arrival notification). I have a long term business plan for a nation wide delivery service, just for South Africans, that is fast, reliable and affordable...who wants to invest??? :)

BUT...the postage services are increasing in efficiency, with many online stores choosing to send packages with private services with a more reliable track record and all the shop owners I have spoken to have had no issues whatsoever. Which is good to know as today I want to highlight some of my favourite South African online stores. I haven't shopped at all of these yet as I have been out of the country for a while now, but there are a fair amount of birthdays coming up for my family & friends, I think I will just have to make some purchases soon.

(I had planned to blog about my Top 5 favourite stores and then spent hours scouring the web to fill my last 2 spots, but thanks to all the input from my lovely readers on Facebook, I was able to narrow their loooong list of great recommendations down to 7!).

And here they are, in no particular order:

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How to Vote for South Africans living Abroad (especially those in South Korea)

As Farmboy and I will be here in South Korea during the next South African elections, we will have to do a little more homework when it comes to voting. It is now possible for South Africans living abroad to vote {yay!} so here is some more information on it for those of you who would like to vote but will be out of the country. Thanks to SAPeople for the information below:

  • How do I register abroad?

In order to vote in the elections you must be registered.

If you are already registered on South Africa’s National Voters’ Roll you DO NOT have to re-register. (Check your registration status online at www.elections.org.za)

If you are not already registered

  • You will need to register at your nearest South African Embassy, High Commission or Consulate-General (See http://www.dirco.gov.za/foreign/sa_abroad/index.htm for a list and see below for South Africans living in South Korea
  • Bring both a valid green bar-coded South African ID book, smart-card ID or temporary identity certificate AND your valid South African passport 

 

  • When should I register?

You can register until 7 February 2014 during office hours of your local South African Embassy, High Commission or Consulate-General.  For office hours please contact your relevant Embassy, High Commission or Consulate-General. You will not be able to register after 7 February 2014.

Provision has also been made for two special registration weekends, on 18 and 19 January and 25 and 26 January 2014, to accommodate those South Africans living abroad who are unable to register at their nearest South African foreign mission during normal working hours.

  • Registering to Vote abroad in SOUTH KOREA:

Registration services for South African citizens who are eligible to vote and are not currently registered, will be rendered at the South African Embassy Seoul, situated at 104 Dokseodang-ro, Yongsan-gu Seoul.

Working hours for the registration services are as follows:

Monday - Thursday 09h00-12h00 & 13:30-16h00

Friday 09h00-12h30 & 13h30-15h00

Weekends 18 & 19, 25 & 26 January 09h00-16h00

Please note: Only a green bar-coded ID, a valid Temporary Identification Certificate or a Smart Card are accepted for registration purposes.  No other document will be accepted.

*If you do not have your ID book here in Korea you will need to work on getting it posted here before the registration date is over. This has been done with success by many South Africans here in Korea. Send it via fast mail but do not write ID Book on the envelope. Just write 'gift' to be safe (we all know how the South African postal service is, unfortunately).  If it doesn't end up arriving and gets 'lost' somehow, you can apply for a new one when you get back to South Africa with your passport. It is definitely worth taking the risk to get as many people to vote as we can...your vote can make a difference.

Source:  AllPosters

Source: AllPosters

  • How do I apply to vote abroad?

Once you have registered (either in South Africa or abroad) you must then complete an online VEC10 form available on www.elections.org.za. This form notifies the IEC of your intention to vote abroad and indicates at which Embassy, High Commission or Consulate-General you will vote.

The form will only be available once the election date has been proclaimed and must be completed within 15 days from the proclamation date. (The President will only announce the election date after 9 February.) Voters will receive confirmation of receipt of the VEC10 form and approval to vote abroad via SMS or email.

  • How do I vote abroad?

The receipt that informs you whether you qualify to vote (which you will receive only following the submission of your online VEC10 form) will indicate the South African Embassy, High Commission or Consulate-General where voting will take place and the date on which voting will take place (usually a week before the election day in South Africa).

You must take your valid green, bar-coded South African ID book, smart-card ID or temporary identity certificate AND your valid South African passport with you to the diplomatic mission to vote.

For voting times, please check the website of the relevant Embassy, High Commission or Consulate-General.

  • Can I vote before I leave South Africa?

If you are going to be abroad on Election Day and would like to vote in South Africa before Election Day, you may be able to apply for a special vote at your local IEC office. To read more about special votes visit www.elections.org.za and/or to find your nearest IEC office.

  • More Info

Click here for more detailed info on voting abroad.

You can find the Electoral Commission (IEC) at:

Crystal Waters, Drakensberg

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This past weekend was spent with my hubby's family in the Drakensberg at a little piece of heaven called Crystal Waters. Nestled away between lush green trees and open fields of golden grass lies 3 stone cottages and a trout dam. Electricity was limited to a few 110 V light bulbs, while gas provided us with hot water and a place to cook yummy meals.

This was one of our last weekends spent in South Africa, before we jet setted off to Asia on the 20th June 2013. 

I hope you all had a wonderfully relaxing weekend, and are ready for the week ahead! 

Happy Monday everyone!

xxx

Easter on the Farm

A long weekend spent collecting eggs (the chocolate and the savoury kind), eating said eggs, watching copious amounts of television, doing no physical activity and spending time with special people.

I hope your Easter weekend was just grand!

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Sun, Sea & Sand in {Sodwana Bay}

Hello again friends! I hope you all had a wonderful long weekend, and that you all are feeling refreshed and ready for yet another short week, in preparation for lots of stuffing of faces with Easter eggs and hot cross buns!

Farmboy and I, along with our friends Kelly & Nathan headed off to Sodwana Bay (near the Mozambique border, up the North Coast) for the long weekend, with tents and blow up mattresses in tow. Apart from a very nasty incident last wednesday evening when my precious camera and Farmboy's work laptop were 'liberated' from my LOCKED car (using who knows what kind of sci-fi tech) but apart from that, the weekend was swell. Here are some snaps taken with Nathan's iPhone (ah man I really am mad about Instagram) with being without a camera and all...

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{If you are ever looking for a holiday destination that feels very exotic and tropical, with incredible snorkeling and only about a 4.5 hour drive from PMB, then head out to Sodwana Bay}

A lunch date at Wolves Cafe, Illovo

This past weekend I had a very quick trip up to Joburg (Farmboy is away in Zambia so I thought a very quick visit home was in order). I met up with my dear friend and recent maid of honour at my wedding, Louise. Here are some snaps from our lunch date at one of our favourite hang out places, Wolves Cafe in Illovo. By the by, their red-velvet cake is to die for!

The lovely lady behind the cafe, Angie has an awesome blog called Luck Pony. Go and pay her a visit, you won't be disappointed as her blog is filled to the brim with goodies that will have you scrolling for hours.

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