Weekend breaks near Cape Town

Want a short weekend break away from Cape Town? We are spoilt for choice with so much to do on our doorstep. Here are some ideas to start off your search when planning your weekend trip. In the table below I aim to give you an indication of what the major reason is to choose each town.

Most of these places are within 200km from Cape Town.

Place Sea Wine Country Hot

Springs

Game

Reserve

Nature

Reserve

Botanical

Gardens

Fish Hoek X
Kalk Bay X
Muizenberg X
Simon’s Town X
Hout Bay X
Kommetjie X
Noordhoek X
Somerset West X
Strand X X
Gordons Bay X
Stellenbosh X X X
Franschhoek X X
Jonkershoek X X
Paarl X X
Riebeeck Valley X X
Wellington X X
Tulbagh X X
Ceres X
Elgin X X
Grabouw X X
Pringle Bay X X
Rooiels X X
Betty’s Bay X X  X
Kleinmond X X
Sandbaai X X
Hermanus X X
Hemel en Aarde Valley X X
Gansbaai X X
Caledon X X
Greyton X X
Stanford X X
Pearly Beach X X
Napier X
Arniston/Waenhuiskrans X X X
Struisbaai X X
Agulhas X X
Worcester X X
De Doorns X X X
Montagu X X X X
Barrydale X X X
Goudini X X X
Rawsonville (Slanghoek) X X
Bonnievale X X
Robertson X X
McGregor X X
Swellendam X X
Melkbosstrand X
Yzerfontein X X
Langebaan X X  X  X
Jacobsbaai X X
Velddrif X X
Paternoster X X
Aurora X
Citrusdal X X X

Here are some sites that can provide accommodation options:
http://www.thecapecountrymeander.co.za
http://www.uncoverthecape.co.za
http://www.capestay.co.za
http://www.wheretostay.co.za/wc
http://www.places.co.za/

 

Car pull to one side due to tyres

Does your car pull to the left or right side when driving on a level road? First thing to check is the alignment. If the alignment is correct, it may be caused by tyre thread separation.

I recently experienced this with Kumho tyres that had enough thread to do another estimated 10000 km. I had my car checked out at a service centre and then took it to a tyre shop to check the alignment. They swapped the tyres round and the car then veered to the other side.

After a long trip from hell returning home (1000 km), I took it to another tyre place who correctly identified the problem. Unfortunately I was so relieved to have the car fixed that I did not ask the tyre place to keep the tyres. When I contacted the agent for Kumho (Lombard Tyres) they did not really go out of their way to try to compensate me for their inferior quality tyres, so my loss.

As more and more new cars are fitted with these tyres, I expect more people may be experiencing similar problems.

 

Stop cold calling from direct marketers

Tired of direct marketers interrupting your life to sell you a new mobile phone contract, insurance or whatever?

Some people have real difficulty to cut these calls short, but do not fear, help is at hand. Register all your contact details on the DMA National OPT OUT database (South Africa) and at least that will stop the reputable companies from contacting you.

Stop direct marketers from wasting your time now. Living outside South Africa? You probably have a direct marketing association in your country who provides the same service as the DMA National OPT OUT database.

 

Best Bond or Mortgage Protection Cover

Congratulations on your bond (home loan) approval! Chances are whoever granted you a bond is going to try to make even more money off you.

A common ploy by financial advisers is to pretend they are calling from the bank in connection with your bond and they need to set up a meeting. The meeting is actually only to sell life insurance to you. I am sure many a first time home buyer gets scammed into taking out unneeded cover.

Most banks suggests you have enough life insurance to cover your bond, but does not require it. Whether you need life insurance depends on your circumstances, but that is not the point of this post. If the bond is granted on condition that bond protection cover or life cover is ceded to the institution granting the bond, then you require cover if you want the bond. Sure enough the institution granting the bond will also offer you their in-house bond protection.

In South Africa most banks do not force you to cede a life policy to them, SA Home Loans on the other hand does. The major difference between normal life insurance and a bond protection policy is that a bond protection policy does not require all the medical checks that a life policy will require. I suspect therefore life insurance may be better value for money if you are young and in good health.

So how do we compare the life cover and bond protection offerings?

When you get quotes from a couple of places you will notice that some start off with low premiums that grow exponentially and other start off with a higher premium, but the premium increases less over time (logarithmic growth).

So which is best Exponential growth or Logarithmic growth?

Exponential growth may be better if you pay the bond off quickly and then cancel the policy and the bond. The disadvantage is that the premiums will take bigger and bigger bites out of your income over time, so be prepared for this.

Logarithmic growth start off taking big bites out of your income but over time that will become relatively less and less. If you pay your bond off quickly and then cancel the bond and policy, you may end up paying more than you would have paid on a policy with exponential growth.

Below is a graph using the illustrative values of two quotations with the same cover. Looking at the first 15 years, one can see the the SAHL policy premium increases following a logarithmic growth curve and the Nedgroup policy premium increases following an exponential growth curve.

So which policy did I choose? Neither, I only needed cover for my spouse as it was a joint bond and I had existing life insurance, so it was cheapest to add spouse cover on my existing Discovery Life policy and then cede the required amount of the life cover.

 

Reduce costs on your Retirement Annuity

Did you take out a retirement annuity a couple of years ago?
Do you have no idea how much of your premium goes to costs?
If you answered yes to both questions you may be “locked into” and old style, high cost and inflexible product.

Send an email to your insurer and request a premium cost analysis. If your premium analysis looks like mine with costs exceeding 10% of the premium, it is definitely time to do something about it. Legislation in South Africa now forces insurers to allow clients the freedom to move their investments between funds.

Send another email to your insurer requesting documentation for transferring the retirement annuity. This should explain how much it will cost you to move the retirement annuity. In my case they also notified me that I can convert my old generation plan to a new plan “that offer all the flexibility and choice you may need”. No why could they not tell this to me before?! Must be because they do not have my best interest at heart.

If transferring is still a viable option for you – this is how you transfer your RA to Allan Gray (without a financial adviser). There are other options besides Allan Gray, however I did not investigate them.

Look at Allan Gray website and contact them stating you want to move your RA from XXXX insurer to them.
Allan Gray manages the moving process very well keeping you up to date on progress.
You will need a copy of your id, Retirement Annuity Fund application, Investment Overview and a copy of a bank statement.
Besides for obtaining and signing the necessary forms, the only thing you have to do is to choose the funds (complying with Regulation 28) that your investment must go into. Regulation 28 requirements is clearly explained to you, they also have a spreadsheet you can use to select funds and it will determine if you are complying.

The whole process takes a few months, so be patient.

 

24 Hour Emergency Veterinary Clinics in Cape Town

Need a vet after hours? Try one of these:

Cape Animal Medical Centre
Address: 78 Rosmead Avenue, Kenilworth
Tel: 021 674 0034

Panorama Veterinary Clinic and Specialist Centre – 24 Hour Clinic
1 Hendrik Verwoerd Drive, Panorama
021 930 6632
Tel: 021 930 6632

BVC Belmont Road Veterinary Clinic
16 Belmont Road, Rondebosch
Tel: 021 685 7750
Veterinary Clinic open 24 hours to cater for all your veterinary needs. Regular daytime vet visits by appointment. Emergency service available 24hours, 7days a week.

 

How I beat bladder cancer

This post is written as a record for myself, but maybe can be of help to someone else going through a difficult time fighting cancer.
I have to thank the many people on BCAN for all the information and support.

I was very unfortunate to get bladder cancer at a relatively young age – low forties. My medical treatment consisted of removal of the cancerous cells when the urologist first discovered it followed by a regime of chemotherapy. After the chemo I was supposed to have my bladder removed (radical cystectomy), but when I went for a checkup there was no sign of any cancer. The doctors unanimously recommended I still go for the operation as it is very likely to return but I could not go through with it – it was just too life-changing.

In order to beat cancer the body’s immune system has to help. Medical intervention like chemo can remove the bulk of the problem, but we must then help our immune system to finish the job.

The problem with the internet is that there are so much conflicting information out there and it is really difficult to know who and what to believe. I settled on the Perfect Health and The China Study as my main book sources. The documentary Forks over Knives is based on the China Study, so if you prefer to watch a short documentary rather than read a book I guess that is an option.

    What I aimed to achieve can be summarized in a couple of main points:

  1. Reduce or eliminate exposure to chemicals
  2. Increase your intake of raw fruit and vegetables
  3. Find emotional and spiritual balance
  4. Remove refined and processed foods

Here is a couple of practical ways to implement the above advice.

Chemicals
Drink filtered water. Basic water filters are not that expensive and will at least remove the chlorine.
Reduce alcohol intake.
Avoid polluted air, especially cigarette smoke (or stop smoking).
Careful about the chemicals in household cleaning and personal grooming products

Food
Start juicing fruit and vegetables to increase your intake of fresh fruit and vegetables. Alternatively use the AIM garden trio.
Eat more cruciferous and dark green vegetables, e.g spinach, broccoli.
Drink enough water.
I took up to 1000mg of Vitamin C per day
Cut down on milk, sugar and animal protein
Try to avoid refined and processed food – prefer fresh, raw, whole foods.
I tried to keep my blood ph level alkaline. Not sure about this one but it appears to give an indication that you are eating the correct food and are not stressed.

Balance
Avoid stress as far as possible.
Spend more time outside, sunlight and fresh air (oxygen!) is good for you.
Meditate. Especially Journey into Healing Meditation with davidji and others at The Chopra Center
Be grateful and enjoy every day – we never know how much longer we have.
Laugh

References:
www.AlkalizeForHealth.net
HealingFoodReference.com

Get the doctors’ views at UpToDate

 

AIM Natural products in South Africa

I started on the AIM Garden Trio, then got on to juicing and even grew my own wheatgrass. Nowadays I juice carrots and beetroot, but prefer using AIM BarleyLife as it tastes better than wheatgrass and is much more convenient.

Here are a couple of links for your convenience.

More information on AIM products
AIM South Africa 2013 Price list
AIM South Africa Application and Order form

AIM online shopping directly from AIM is available at AIM Natural Products.

Start Living Well!
AIM high-quality dietary supplements and nutritional concentrates for you or your pets.


AIM Barleylife nutrition that works

 

Using pH strips to measure body alkalinity

According to AlkalizeForHealth you can measure your susceptibility to cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis, arthritis and many other degenerative diseases using a simple saliva pH test.

The problem was finding pH test strips. After asking many pharmacies I eventually found one who ordered 1-14 pH strips for me. This is better than nothing, but I still wanted strips that could give me a more accurate reading in a narrower range. I was about to import strips when I found a local (South Africa) supplier of pH strips (100 pHydrion Brilliant Dip Stik 5.0-9.0).

Unfortunately you cannot buy directly over the internet, but you can make an electronic payment and email through your order. Delivery to a post office usually takes 1-2 days.

You can join AIM as a member and pay wholesale prices or just order as a retail customer. If you are in South Africa see my post or contact AIM South Africa. Please provide the following AIM Sponsor details: Name: C Brink, AIM ID No: 9835941.

The pH test strips comes with detailed instructions on testing saliva and urine pH levels as well as the following handy information:

Saliva / urine pH reading
8.0 – 9.0 Too alkaline
7.0 – 7.5 Optimal range
6.0 – 6.5 Moderate, consider dietary changes
5.0 – 5.5 Too acidic. Consider serious dietary chnages. Seek the advice of a health practitioner.

AIM suggests suppplementing your diet with AIM Barley Life, AIM Barley Life Xtra (juice powder of young barley plants) and LeafGreens (barley, faba bean, field pea and spinach leaves plus broccoli sprouts) to help balance your body pH.

Eating less meat, more vegetables and juicing is probably a good start in improving your body’s alkalinity.

More information on AIM products available at AIM Natural Products