Personal Scribbles by Wandi Jama

Unedited moments in my life, using a personal ink to portray what lies beneath the picture.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Why You Should Take a Staycation (Featuring Pepper Tree Venue in Bloemfontein)

I was born and bred in Bloemfontein, a small city in South Africa and I won’t lie every time I come home to visit my family I tend to get a bit frustrated about my small city. I always feel like I’ve exhausted all the places I can go to and things I can do. However,  I was quite surprised to find out that there are actually quite a few places I’ve never been to or even heard of and Pepper Tree Venue being one of them!

Pepper Tree Venue and Guesthouse is a function venue that hosts weddings, parties, corporate functions and also offers a chapel for weddings. The name comes from the large Pepper Tree that grows in front of the venue.

The modern guesthouse has seven en-suite double rooms with private patios. It’s located northwest of Bloemfontein and is a 10 minute drive out of Bloemfontein, making it the perfect home away from home staycation!

My friend, Zee and I checked in, in the afternoon and arrived to wine, a welcome note, chocolate and hot chocolate to mention a few. Charne, the events coordinator and guesthouse manager was kind enough to show us around the venue and it’s facilities. There was even a small wedding ceremony happening on the day.

After our mini tour, we obviously had to take pictures before the sun set and a few instagram story videos because what’s a staycation without a few snaps? The one thing I looked forward to was lazing around and catching up with my girl and we did just that! The lovely thing about a staycation is that it’s the perfect excuse to laze around without feeling guilty. We bonded over wine, music and just had a good ‘ol girls night!

We were later treated to a mouth watering 3-course dinner meal in the dining room. 
Starter: Tomato soup

Main:Chicken, lamb, pumpkin fritters, vegetables ,rice and a side salad.

Dessert: Chocolate mouse served with Amarula.

During dinner Gerda, the owner  and Charne came to check up on us and definitely accommodated our every request. The one thing that stood out to me was the staff and top management’s hospitality. Everyone was so welcoming and made us feel right at home. After filling our stomachs we rolled back to our room and as you do on a staycation, we lazed around again.    
In the morning, I was spoiled with breakfast in bed.

After checking out from my room, I enjoyed a cup of green tea in the lounge area made specially by Robert, the co-owner.

I left feeling relaxed, rejuvenated and impressed by Pepper Tree’s ability to pay attention to the finer details and their ability to create a relaxed and homely atmosphere without compromising on creativity and class.

What a great way to get away without actually getting away!

      Why You Should Take A Staycation:
Perfect way to take a break from home or the city if you’re on a budget.
Perfect for Alone Time and Self care.
Perfect excuse to laze around without feeling guilty.
Able achieve zen without hopping on a flight.
One way to enjoy your city.
Offers you a new perspective on your city.

Love & Scribbles 

Friday, July 13, 2018

Taking a Sho't Left to the Knysna Oyster Festival

Sho't left- a word derived from everyday South African taxi lingo when a commuter wanting a ride to a destination close by will ask the driver to ‘sho’t left’ meaning he wants to get out around the corner.

Sho't Left is a South African Tourism campaign that aims to promote a culture of local holiday travel, take short breaks around South Africa and challenges South Africans to see their country differently. 

The website offers advice and tips for first-timers on choosing destinations suited for their preferences and budget.

I had the pleasure of taking a sho’t left to Knysna in partnership Wesgro for the Pick n Pay Oyster Festival.  Knysna is a small town in the western Cape Province of South Africa with an oceanic climate and along the Garden Route  - a 200 km stretch of road that winds past white sand beaches, forested mountains and picturesque towns spaced no more than a 45 minute drive apart. The heart of the Garden route is in Knysna.

Fly from O.R Tambo International airport in Johannesburg to George Airport for just under 2 hours then drive to Knysna for under an hour along the garden route.  It however depends on your place of departure. 

We were fortunate enough to have Gavin Oosterwyk from Fairest Cape Meader Tours to show us around. Gavin picked us up from the airport and was our tour guide through out our stay. He was insightful, funny and lovely to have around. For an alternative option, I would suggest you hire a car, as public transport between Knysna and George and around Knysna is not efficient. 


We stayed at the lovely Madison Manor Boutique Hotel, a quaint and charming hotel that offers both luxury and comfort.  The boutique hotel offers all the imperative luxuries every guest wants- high-speed wifi en suite rooms, and full English/continental breakfast. Oh and not forgetting the remote controlled curtains that I might have gotten way too excited about.

The hotel is also the perfect option for affordable luxury, spectacular views and is centrally located to the center of town. 

We had lunch and a spa treatment at Pezula Hotel and boy oh boy was it a treat!  The staff paid attention to detail, did their research about guests before arrival and definitely catered to all our dietary requirements.

The luxurious hotel is set in a lush paradise of ancient indigenous forests, mountains, lakes and pristine beaches on the prestigious Pezula Private Estate. The hotel boasts a golf course, 2 restaurants, a bar, fitness center, games room, a spa and many more facilities. 

We had lunch at Zachary’s restaurant and thereafter we were treated to a Swedish spa treatment that also included a waterbed spa treatment.  The hotel is certainly luxurious and has something for every type of traveller.  


Ocean Odyssey’s Marine Eco Tour ensures an enlightening experience that serves to highlight the estuarine and marine environment of Knysna. 
We enjoyed the spectacular sightseeing cruise that took us across the Knysna Lagoon to explore the beautiful coastline. We even spotted a whale! 
The tour also includes various historical and cultural information of the area and our guide was knowledgeable and friendly. If you plan on going during winter, wear something warm and comfortable.

As a wine lover, this was definitely one of the highlights of my trip! 
The wine festival is the premiere showcase for local wines, from over 200 wines from more than 50 different estates.  We had the pleasure of tasting the many wines from across the Cape Winelands and Garden Route and oh I might have just become a wine connoisseur in a little over an hour lol!

We visited Headquarters of Hope (HQ) Community – a non-profit company that provides support and sustains 2 skills development centres. The skills development centres are: Hands & Heart and iThemba. They are located on the same premises as Hope HQ and their aim is to provide support to skills centres and be able to turn unskilled citizens into skilled citizens of Knysna and South Africa. 

Hope HQ also runs a wooden bird crafting operation. The handcrafted birds are sold at the HopeHQ Gallery and the students make some of the products from the skill centers. They were kind enough to gift us with their beautiful birds. 

The students from the centers are able to partake in an apprenticeship program and become master bird craftsmen. 

Pledge Nature Reserve is in the heart of Knysna filled with indigenous plants. The afternoon stroll hosted by Hashtag tours and perfect for those who want some peace and nature while not having to do a strenuous hike.

We were treated to a Swedish spa treatment that also included a waterbed spa treatment. I was so relaxed; I even took a nap whilst I was on the waterbed. We thereafter relaxed by the pool area with some champagne and of course we had follow the mantra of instagram by having a mini photo shoot, because what’s a thousand memories without a picture?

We explored Knysna in a unique and fun way on a Segway personal transporter.  At first, I was quite anxious but with the help of our tour guide, I quickly got the hang of things and had so much fun riding within the Knysna area, overlooking the coastal views. 

 Knysna Segway Tours provided the highest quality orientation, training and tours and included a 15-20 minute training followed by a 45-minute tour around Knysna. 


Upon arrival we were welcomed at Black Waters River Lodge for lunch and drinks. The hospitality was impeccable and could not stop taking pictures on their refurbished bathtub seat.  

We enjoyed dinner at the Island Café at Turbine Hotel. The setting is very pleasant and the interior deco is immaculate! The restaurant also serves breakfast and lunch.

Shisa Nyama at Nekkie’s Township
Shisa Nyama- term used in many South African townships to describe a barbecue where people come together to grill meat in an open fire near a butchery.                            
We had lunch at a Shisa Nyama at Nekkies, a township in Knysna. Gerald from Thole Township Tours offered us an intimate look into the local township experience. He also showed us around the township of Khayalethu, home to the largest Rastafarian community in South Africa.  

The Paddle-Cruiser is South Africa’s only paddle driven vessel that offers a unique and luxurious fine dining experience.  The menu caters for all dietary requirements and the dinner cruise includes a buffet dinner. We got to experience the magnificent 360 degrees lagoon views. 
Departure times for the dinner cruise are 17h45 in winter and 18h15 in summer, I would suggest you arrive a bit earlier to take pictures before boarding. 

We had our last supper at the vibrant 34 Tapas and Oyster Bar. They have a wide selection of Spanish, Mediterranean and South African tapas. They also offer fresh oysters from their oyster tanks. 

I usually travel abroad but I’ve come to realise my country has a plethora of beautiful places to explore. I had the most amazing experience and still in awe of the beauty of South Africa.  I certainly experienced a taste of paradise in the heart of my country!

My country is my oyster! 

Love & Scribbles 
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