Go Closer – Slow Down – Be Here Now

Go Closer – Slow Down – Be Here Now

For some, travelling through the endless miles of the hot, dusty Karoo is a journey to be gobbled up at speed, leaving a mere trail of dust between departure and arrival as fierce and wind-whipped as the dust devils that dance among the brush.

Photographer and author Louis Botha used to be one such traveler until the Karoo’s great silence and complex simplicity crept into his soul.

“It’s difficult to explain why, although I am convinced it is because photography taught me to ‘look differently’ at things but I started to plan my journeys to include the network of dirt roads that track through the various regions of the Karoo’s vastness,” he says.

Stopping as often as possible on his journeys, Louis Botha began to observe and appreciate from a new perspective: “I discovered a wealth of beauty and diversity I had never connected to before. This process gained momentum, pulling me in, until I realised I had lost my soul to the Karoo and I bought an old Victorian house in the 250 year old Prince Albert.

After a qualification in the field of commerce and several years in the corporate world as an executive, Louis Botha came to realise that Life is short, and Art is long!

“I decided to rearrange my lifestyle completely in order to make more time to express my vision and feelings through using light reflecting off my subjects.  It’s only when one becomes part of the Karoo community that one fully appreciates the meaning of the words ‘less is more’!”

Captured by the quality of natural light available, the atmosphere of stillness, exposed human emotions and the character of its ancient landscape, Botha says, “In slowing down my life, my senses were sharpened. I was able to see again, to smell, to hear, to taste and to feel, almost as if for the first time.”

Photography of Voice

“For me photography challenges me to communicate without words, to evoke emotion without saying anything, to tell a story or to present the ordinary in an unordinary way, to make the viewer look again, think again, feel again, appreciate again. I am attracted by discovering the other side of people and things, the treasures waiting to be discovered in seemingly empty relationships and vast open spaces. The challenge is to remove the clutter and the pretention, to reveal what is real.”

Simple Images Big Photo Art

Using an old Hasselblad from the 1950’s Louis Botha’s new knowledge gave rise to his first book ‘SLOW DOWN look again’offering 148 pages of black and white storytelling portraits on film of the people of the Karoo, their ordinary lives and the mystery that will always remain firmly part of Karoo for those who are destined to be just visitors.

His second book ‘Karoo’ is an even deeper look into the wide open spaces, silence and timelessness of this unique and ethereally beautiful landscape.

“Why go to Tuscany or Provence for peace or photographic opportunities when we hold such treasures on our own doorstep. Here, in the Karoo you are offered a chance to discover yourself, to figure out where you stand in relation to your creator, your loved ones and your next of kin. Thinking about who you are, what you stand for, your purpose in life and what it means for others, it also then becomes easier to engage with the environment, to connect with people, with places, with weather conditions and objects in your everyday life.

Adds Louis Botha, “After a while, one’s images start to reflect back at you, the true spirit of the subjects, and of oneself. This experience corresponds with the saying ‘every photograph says something about the subject, and something about the photographer’!”

When shooting, Louis Botha uses digital photography in general. Occasionally, and depending on availability, he may opt for medium format film when doing portraiture or panorama landscapes. His preferred end product is an image that is printed on high quality fine art paper or canvas, to be displayed on a very special wall.

Gallery Showing at De Bergkant Lodge

To meet the many perspectives of the man behind the camera, step into 4-star De Bergkant Lodge at the top of Main Street, Prince Albert where Louis Botha’s framed images adorn the walls.

Says De Bergkant Lodge proprietor Michael Sönnichsen, “We are fascinated how Louis Botha has captured the essence of the region and its people and we are honored to be able to bring this beauty to others in the form of a gallery showing his photographic works.

“Visitors to Prince Albert are welcome to come in from the heat outside and view his selection of works or purchase one of his photographic works, or books. His first book Slow Down Look Again retails for ZAR 490.00, his latest book Karoo retails for ZAR 690.00 or you may purchase both for ZAR 1 000.00.”

Photographic Workshops in Prince Albert

Hoping to share a little of his gift of sight and the beauty of the Karoo with others, Louis Botha offers a four-day photography course in Prince Albert which includes a landscape and a portrait practical workshop and addresses both the visual and technical skills required to capture images with greater impact. It is a very special workshop designed to introduce visitors to the abundance of silence, space, timelessness and beauty of the Karoo and its people.

“It’s not about the camera. If you can see it, feel it, you can capture it,” says Louis Botha. “I am intensely aware of the importance of light and time, for our lives, for the longevity of the earth and everything on it, and for the impact it has on every image captured.

“In friendly Prince Albert, people are warm, humble, rich in knowledge and stories, kind and sincere. Here, there is an abundance of form, texture, structure, colour, contrast, solitude, emotion, space and safety, and an absence of clutter, pretentions, materialism and noise.”

2019 Interior Design Art Trends to Radically Inspire You!

2019 Interior Design Art Trends to Radically Inspire You!

In 2019, art lovers and home interior decorators follow the latest visual trends from around the globe turning away from a one-size-fits-all art design and décor movement to deliver radical personalisation – putting you squarely in the spotlight.

This couldn’t be more relevant to core of art and design because – whether we are creating it or responding to it – visual design is a reflection of us; both our tastes and our deeper selves.

#1 Trend: Personalisation

When we choose and hang a piece of art on our wall, either at home, in our office or on a client’s new home interior, it’s meant to mean something, right? Art should be speaking a language; one that you can hear. Today, we are no longer being asked to accept the monologue of mass produced ‘decorative’ items.

Thanks to technology, art is no longer static concept on a wall either. Personalisation has taken a giant leap into our everyday lives thanks to art-on-demand merchandise and print giants such as Fine Art America, Saatchi Art, and Work Art. Today, we can replicate that same original art piece which hangs above our bed and which we love so much and have it reproduced again across at least 15 ordinary items we use each day.

The advantages of custom printed art branding mean we can serve cocktails on coasters that match our art on the wall. We could get so personalised in fact, that we can commission a self-portrait by our favourite artist and have it printed as our own brand across greeting cards, throw pillows as gifts to the family, tee-shirts, clocks, laptop sleeves, cellphone covers, scarves, leggings, shower curtains, aprons, tiles, sheets and duvet covers, fridge magnets, notebooks, bags and totes and yes, even your baby’s onesie… While most of us would never take personalisation this far, its interesting to note that it is possible to reach for celebrity brand inspirations in personalisation at the level of ‘Kardashian’, if we so choose.

#2 Trend: Space and Mass Participation

Today, the aesthetic of contemporary art and art prints are there to elevate the spaces we live and work in. It’s a reality that in an ever-burgeoning world where real estate prices are climbing, the spaces themselves and the art we place in them are diminishing.

Decorative interiors can still be manipulated with the selection of one focal art piece as the anchor visual or the use of a gallery wall of smaller collection art pieces or even the creation of a running theme reflected throughout the different rooms, hallway, bathroom and kitchen in the home or office space.

#3 Using Fine Art as Prints

Artist David Barkham, not only paints in triplicate (he enjoys painting three canvases at any one time in his Scarborough studio), he also produces series of artworks such as his Bicycle Series and Nude Series. “I have been called a memory artist. My series offer many smaller pieces reflecting different moments of emotion. Large, domineering art has taken a step back, instead we are asked to step closer, to look in, to find the echo across a series of pieces from different moments in time.”

Barkham’s themes take an old school approach to the modern trend of the memories of aesthetics from past decades. And right on trend, since most contemporary art buyers don’t have masses of empty wall space to fill, his pieces are smaller yet make up a wistful collection of motion and moment that rather than making a room looked crammed, provide a running theme over backdrops, landscapes and a variety of wall interior throughout the home or office space.

#4 Trend: Neutral Outdoors

Perhaps because spaces are smaller, 2019 brings a return to neutrals and the colours and textures of the outdoors.

Where before we might have leant towards minimalist and pale, the neutrals of 2019 are more dramatic, where patterns reflect that of the artist’s hand and brushstroke, using natural pigments like ochre and terracotta, sourced from clays and volcanic rocks, which have been used by artists all over the world for generations. Here we are asked to witness a certain natural imperfection, using the flow and inconsistency of Nature.

#5 Trend: On Being a Maximalist                                                                                             

According to www.wantedonline.com, a new term for 2019 is ‘maximalism’, a maxi trend of ‘more is more’ where we use our spaces to embrace personality and character through a generosity of layering rather than quantity, using patterning, texture and collections of treasured travel finds.

Says decorator Liam Mooney quoted in the article: “Having a lot of stuff that you don’t love makes you a hoarder, not a maximalist. Constantly edit and refine your eye, forget about interior design and rather focus on populating your life with objects that turn you on!”

Here’s to being turned on in 2019 by nothing more than your own personal taste in art curation. To view fine artist David Barkham’s series of oil painting and prints visit www.davidbarkhamartist.com

Show your Shapewear! Proudly beautiful underwear support for women everywhere

Show your Shapewear! Proudly beautiful underwear support for women everywhere

Its official! Beige underwear is as dead as a Dodo. Our mothers may have been obliged to put up with underwear in three standard shades: beige, black and white but modern trends have propelled underwear onto the colour wheel when it comes to ‘keeping things in place’, thanks to the custom shapewear designs of www.Amazonezz.com

Owners Adriana and Maxi are the newest fashion icons creating Amazonezz underwear that is fun, funky and so cheeky you will want him to take a peek!

Amazonezz Shapewear is defined by high quality elastane fabrics and custom colour designs that can be appreciated as outerwear. Its modern corset-style dress features a ‘bodice’ which sit just beneath the breasts (you wear your own bra support) with longer length shoulder straps and adequate length in the leg to reach just below mid-thigh.

The Spring Collection 2019 is defined by turquoise and blue leopard print and other surreal palates and colours in seven size variations of XXS to XXL sizes, all retailing at R1 600 each.

Re-igniting your Passion

Says Creative Director Adriana Holzmann: “I have been wearing shapewear for 15 years and for 10 of those years I searched from Monaco to Majorca, Ibiza to New York to find something more stimulating than beige, standard white or lacy black. When my husband came straight out with it one day that he found my underwear a passion-killer, I decided to do something about it!”

Starting with what she knew about herself as a fulfilled and confident woman and how she liked to look and feel in underwear, Adriana started off with a few tentative drawings. “I had no idea where it was going to lead. I just kept connecting to my passion. It wasn’t until I asked my best friend Maxi, another strong woman, to partner with me that we really ignited our ideas and took our business forward. We work well together as we both bring our own unique set of skills to designing, sourcing, fabric printing, manufacturing and marketing the business.”

Calling on 500 years of proud independence

Explaining the name Amazonezz, Adriana says she has always been intrigued by the 500-year old story of a tribe of women who lived in the Amazon. “They were independent and lived according to their own law; they didn’t need anyone to look after them. Once a month, they would meet and couple with the men but otherwise they would live and hunt only with other women, raising their male children until 4 years of age when they would go and join the men’s quarters. They were so fierce in their independence that they even cut off their right breast so they could take better aim while hunting from horseback.

“I believe that the modern woman needs to take some of that independence and claim her beauty and stature in life. We need to be proud of our bodies and love them exactly how they are. Wearing Amazonezz Shapewear is a bold statement. It says I am not afraid of my curves, I wear them with delight. Our underwear must bring us joy, it must make us feel unafraid and beautiful!”

Designer-quality Underwear

Adriana sources the highest quality fabrics and the manufacturing team at Oggi Cape Town use only the highest quality yarns to give it a quadrupled stitch. “I started the business from scratch according to my own standards of what is ‘best’. This is our first collection with fabric sourced in Spain. We are now busy with our second and third collection and looking at designing shorts as well.

“We are intent on doing something that has never been done before. Each collection will be a stand-alone design with a ‘placement print’ and its own recognizable pattern and colours. Just like Versace, Missoni and Ed Hardy prints, you will be able to recognise Amazonezz lingerie by our custom fabrics, for example, an item might feature a tiger on the stomach or a goat’s head and roses on the small of the back.

We want to bring the entire textile and printing operation to South Africa and keep it local so we can also make Amazonezz Shapeware available to the larger community. Rather than just being a high-end, luxury underwear, we want to create a price point of R800 to R1000 a piece, so everyone can afford a beautiful item of Amazonezz Shapewear.

“I believe being voluptuous is beautiful. For women who feel they are already perfect, Amazonezz Shapewear proves you are worth it, it shapes and tones you even more.”

To help you celebrate your shape, Amazonezz is giving away a 40 ml bottle of Wilderer’s Gin and a voucher with every first purchase of Amazonezz Shapewear.

About Adriana Holzmann
Growing up in East Germany, the Wall came down just right in time for Adriana to conquer the world. Her parent’s plans for her to study medicine in Berlin were quickly exchanged for a career as an estate agent which helped her to fund her travel adventures around the globe. Adriana found her business niche and her husband when she landed and fell in love with South Africa. Passionate about bringing beautiful Shapewear to women everywhere, Adriana is firmly fixed on bucking the beige and setting the trend for outrageously beautiful intimate wear.
She can be contacted on C: 0824933990

About Maxi Huber
Maxi grew up in rural Bavaria overlooking world-famous Lake Chiemsee, in a hotel owned by the family for over 100 years. Hospitality was a natural career progression for her, qualifying as a Chef before the age of 23 years, despite a creative calling for the world of fashion. Her travels brought her to South Africa where she opened Maximilians Restaurant frequented by global food celebrities, and a successful boutique hotel and where her 20-year friendship with Adriana began. As Financial Director, Maxi’s extraordinary past inspires her ambitions to dominate the world so women may wear extraordinary luxury Shapewear every day.
She can be contacted on C: 0836266965

 Follow Amazonezz at @amazonezz_shapewear on Instagram and @amazonezz on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.




Designer lifestyle with ‘priceless’ 180-degree views of Hout Bay and Chapman’s Peak in Cape Town, South Africa.

Erf size:                      897.28m2
Ground floor:             122.80m2
First floor:                  125.20m2
Mezzanine Level:     49.40m2
Balconies:                 24.00m2

With priceless 180-degree views across Hout Bay of one of the most spectacular marine drives in the world, Chapman’s Peak Drive, this designer home is now available for sale on the private property market.

Commanding attention from its front row position in Hout Bay Heights overlooking the Bay’s private Yacht Club, popular Bay Harbour Market and vibrant fishermen’s wharf, its three-story elevation is a marvel of expansive space which stretches across three levels of floor to ceiling glass.

Designed and built just four years ago, it stands as homage to owner Dieter Losskarn’s passion for German precision, sleek lines and superlative lifestyle living.

Architecturally exact, Bay Harbour House maintains a light-steel ‘bone’ structure complete with exposed ceilings which anchor a ‘rib cage’ of steel lines as an interior design feature. The intention is a replica of a classic luxury car showroom, mirrored by smooth polyurethane floors and vast silent sliding steel-framed doors and windows.

Bay Harbour House is open plan living at its finest, whether you are looking for a home filled with space and light or a space to fill with a commercial business or retail brand.

Grand ground floor welcome

Its impressive entrance gate set on the lip of the property features a sweeping exposed aggregate driveway which mirrors the surrounding granite as it descends the incline into the ground floor triple-size garage.

The ‘garage’ space with its high gloss polyurethane floor and uniformly spaced windows at both seated and standing eye-level towards the panorama of mountains and secluded bay is an exact replica of all the lines and finishes rendered throughout this three-story home.

Its three en-suite bedrooms each command one entire level of their own and feature signature wrap around windows. A high-tech lit stairwell leads up to the second floor, where a 7-metre high ceiling comes into play across on expanse of dining room, fireplace, kitchen, pantry, guest bathroom, the second bedroom en-suite and a stainless steel encased veranda.

Double story Majesty

Step out onto the balcony and a fresh breeze rushes to meet you as you take in a visual cocktail from the Noordhoek side of Chapman Peak Drive and visitor’s lookout point across the sweep of the Hout Bay harbor, beach, Hout Bay village and into the lush hips of the Constantia valley and Kirstenbosch Gardens just beyond the lip.

In the bathrooms, expect heat treated metal doors, metallic silver mosaic bathroom tiles and European interior fittings as well as steampunk style exposed copper fittings and a modern double-volume copper bath in the main bedroom overlooking its own Romeo and Juliet verandah.

The Third floors Eagle’s eye

The third floor is dedicated to the main bedroom, with a separate alcove shower, enclosed toilet and a study area overlooking the second floor below with its own row of elevated windows with views onto the mountain range above Hout Bay.

With imminent fully development of the harbor and developments already underway, Bay Harbour Houses’ sweeping views are assured since there is no available land to build in front and the neighbouring mountainside is already claimed by a Russian business man continuing development of the renowned Lichtenstein Castle and surrounds.


  • Ground floor private entrance
  • 1st Floor Entrance via a suspended walkway to front door.
  • 3 bedrooms 4 bathrooms
  • Dining room with double volume
  • Kitchen with separate pantry
  • Living room with double volume, wood fireplace with double volume
  • Study area
  • Double showroom garage
  • Laundry and scullery
  • 24-hour manned security with alarm, electronic beams and intercom

Love this property? View by appointment: Call Mercédes Westbrook on C: +27 789707633 or E: mercedes@firehorsemedia.co.za

About Hout Bay:
Hout Bay, or the Republic of Hout Bay as it is affectionately known by locals, is a fantastic Atlantic seaboard beach lifestyle neighbourhood in Cape Town that offers something for everyone, any day of the week. Just +- 20kms (around 30 minutes) from Cape Town’s CBD it is just around the corner from Llundudno and Camp’s Bay offering less tourist traffic and more equitable property prices.

Hout Bay nestles between the mountain, valley and sea with a community focus on its bustling harbor, horse farms, international schools, hiking trails and sea sport activities and trendy restaurants and art galleries.

Hout Bay is well known for its vibrant Bay Harbour Market, Chapman’s Peak Hotel, the five-star Tintswalo Atlantic and the world-famous Chapman’s Peak Drive, its yachting marine, fishing and boat trips to Duiker (Seal) Island.

Hout Bay is so called by the Dutch meaning Bay of Wood, when passing ships would repair and build their wooden vessels from the thickly-forested mountain slopes which also offered a good water supply.

The area was originally made up of two farms, which were slowly subdivided to make way for urban expansion. While still maintaining its rural atmosphere, the area of Hout Bay is home to about 12,000 residences inhabited by a population of about 42,000 people.

Land-Sharking it with the Not-So-New Volvo V70

Land-Sharking it with the Not-So-New Volvo V70

A tongue-in-cheek car review by a single soccer-surf-and-school mom living in Cape Town, South Africa about her Not-Packing-It-In-Just-Yet Volvo V70 and some of the things you might remember yourself while growing up by the sea…

According to Wikipedia I’m driving an executive car’ manufactured and marketed by Volvo between 1996 and 2016 and spanning three re-modeled generations; mine being the first…

It’s good to be first in something and I’m happy my silver-slim 2012 Volvo chassis – referred to as ‘land-shark’ by a surfer-dude friend – is the first-shape model. I might have been able to say a semi-topless one too, if my sunroof motor wasn’t jammed shut by years of collected dust from off-roading in Paternoster up the West Coast.

Ground-up and still driving…

From my driver on-the-ground perspective it’s been a personal journey driving her, one emboldened by all the action three teenagers bring to the mix, together with three generations of smelly sports socks which love to gravitate to its darkest corners.

Add our two bull terrier dogs to the shambolic pile and the Volvo V70 is a groundbreaking legacy of endurance on the road and off… Off-road referring to that one time my eldest son was practicing his reverse take off on our dirt driveway when we rented a precarious three-story wooden house in Scarborough. Precarious for a number of unorthodox reasons, but that’s another story for another day.

Hold the Flashing Lights, Please

According to the multiple AirBnB guests of international flavor who have rented the ‘sea-view room with a King-sized bed’ on its second floor, my Volvo was the car of choice for the roving traffic police of Sweden confirmed by John Neff’s AutoBlog article of Aug 2007 and the updated Volvo version by cops in England announced by Simona’s Top Speed article from Sept 2007.

The first time this news was relayed to me, I noticed a distant expression on my AirBnB guest’s face as he was transported back to another time and place. His body language a mix of surprise at seeing it in-situ in South Africa and one of ‘I’m keeping-myself at a distance’ which spoke of some history back there.

Accelerating along the coastal byways of the sunny southern Cape peninsula on my daily school run between Scarborough and Kommetjie, my Swedish guest’s expression brought to my mind an image of stealth cops lurking in the damp shadows, waiting to run speedsters down in dramatic wheel-spinning car chases through chilly forests in small towns where everyone is stern; either from the cold or the gravity of the consequences of breaking the law.

A squealing wheel spin up a near vertical mountain driveway and my three-month lapsed car license is the furthest I’ve come to breaking the law in my Volvo, but then it was that period over December when time just seems to speed by while feeling festive, especially in a trusty, seal-of-police-approval Volvo V70.

Saloon with a View

It’s hard to tell how the Volvo handles in bumper-to-bumper traffic really because my route takes me along open mountain roads edged by towering rocks and sea. The views are spectacular even for those packed into the load section at the back.

Visuals of the day’s surf are as breathtaking as the only other traffic witnessed on the road… once a squashed porcupine with his needles patterning the road; and the various other school moms with teenagers as tardy as mine, all trying to beat the clock around the snaking bends for that ‘one teacher’ who stands at the school entrance checking uniforms and giving detentions to late-comers. One whose glower makes the mom’s feel just as bad at parenting as the kids at ‘keeping it together’.

One could say that we live in a modern ‘hippy’ community. I try to blend in a bit by covering the Volvo’s rear end with surf and AfrikaBurn stickers but it doesn’t fool the Waldorf mom’s whose cars carry tell-tale rust designs and more leisurely speeds with their later school start.

Wrestling in a Second Life

I admit to a deep affection for my Volvo’s sleek lines reminiscent of a silver bullet at times. I first spotted her from the road, quietly and elegantly parked in a slot of a second-hand car salesman’s yard.

A ‘car-fundi’ friend had agreed to come along and help me choose a ‘new’ car and we were traversing the Main Road of Wynberg’s used car sales gauntlet, with Google firmly in hand, to compare where we might be getting ripped off.

While my car-fundi friend was poking and prodding other middle-of-the-road options suitable for a trade-in in our third lot of the day, I quietly went over and said, “What about this one?”

Bearing right and then left, at speed, around my first traffic turning circle on the initial test drive – guru-friend’s increasingly positive comments confirmed my intuition. I had picked ‘the one’ or it had picked me.

The lovely gloss and re-coaxed carpet plush rendered by the efforts of the gang of car wash attendants at the back of the car lot didn’t last long… but it made me feel special for a while.

Absconding the Big City Lights

The Volvo’s lush interior, sound system, leather seats and air-conditioning were a huge step up from the two door Corsa gifted to me by my brother during my flight from a messy Joburg divorce which had left us stranded and Car-loss by a divorce debacle of epic proportions which included pregnant girlfriend’s and Sheriffs of the Court repossessing my top-of-the-line Landrover Discovery (with all the bells and whistles)… but that’s an another-another story to be told, or maybe a book one day.

The shiny-silver cash-payment Volvo V70 was our first ‘new-life-new-home’ car that was going to feature CT license plates… we were now officially Capetonians!

Bring on the Dead, For Now We Are Living

The most amazing thing about the Volvo is its anyone’s car or rather a car to suit anyone, quite literally through all stages of life.

We’ve fitted multiple surfboards, boogie boards and seal-slick wetsuit clad boys in the back. Leave the hatch open while they perch on the back ledge between sea and the short trip home and they get to enjoy a view of Kings as the road disappears underneath them while they pummel-stone their wrinkled, wet sea feet on the hard tarmac below.

I once taxied a bevy of celebrating 12-yr olds to an ice-skating party at GrandWest. While sourly tested, the suspension and the speakers stood up to the bouncing and singing in tune to the latest pop songs, creating parallel media attention from other cars at traffic lights along the way.

And yes, in Africa, I’ve seen it in commercial use as a hearse. You can fit a six-foot coffin in the back of the Volvo V70. Tint its windows, add some white satin plush and I could be in business.

Luckily, we’re still in the business of living and it’s long boot is perfect for all manner of outdoorsy persons. Lacking a bike rack, we once fitted three mountain bikes and four persons in on the way to the Silvermine Arboretum starting at the top of Ou Kaapse Weg. It’s also fit three supine sleeping adults in the back when rain unexpectedly came down overnight during a weekend festival camping trip.

Friendly-Styled Endurance for The People By the People

The Volvo’s paint job is silver two-toned courtesy of her curb-side parking spot. That of ‘still-intact’ and ‘scoured-silver’ from the beating it takes from the hot sun, the renowned Southeaster and the luxury of outdoor beach living.

The air-con, while gassed, just stopped working one day. Instead, we enjoy daily doses of fresh sea air off of Long Beach. Closer to Longbeach Mall our open windows encourage friendly banter with the familiar faces of the Homeless Talk vendors who work their magazine sales into my monthly budgetary swings as adeptly as I do.

My current mileage is 254 321 km and climbing and I carry my own 5 litre oil can in the storage in the back. We’ve had some adventures for sure, but she’s pulled through ongoing petrol leaks, scraping brake pads, flat battery’s and rocket-red temperatures.

As a single mom having a flat tyre in the friendly Southern Suburbs you are almost guaranteed a good road Samaritan. I once had three kind gentlemen stop one school run morning, which included a passing cyclist, another motorist and a walking pedestrian. They were so helpful that I had to step in with a little delegating with regards who did what, when, while factoring in their different time schedules. The last guy, who clearly didn’t have a job to go to, got the most rewards for his road angel assistance, I guess that’s life – sometimes you give and sometimes you receive and hardly ever in reciprocal sequence.

With Respect, Volvo

Today, I ensure I back up our road travels with a trusty membership to the Automobile Association (AA) – something every single woman should have. And accolades must go to our local mechanic and Volvo specialist Nivan at @maistrymotorsport. He tells me my electronics are shot but always manages to look happy to see me.

I hope to pass my trusty Volvo steed onto my eldest son one day for surf trips with his buddies up the Garden Route, although I’m not quite ready to part with her because she’s fully paid off and I’m saving tons of money on driving a car that’s all mine. Given the choice I would buy another Volvo in a heartbeat, but the question is, should a Mercedes be driving a Volvo… anyone?

Firehorse Media is a South African communications and PR consultancy owned and managed by Mercedes Westbrook, whose career as a journalist, editor, managing editor and independant communications consultant spans 22 years experience in the print and digital media industry. Email her on mercedes@firehorsemedia.co.za or C:+27 789707633.

What is a press embargo and is it still significant?

What is a press embargo and is it still significant?

With information on social media able to travel around the globe at near speed of light, media ‘rules’ such as news embargoes are a little retro in what is now a disrupted information space.

Traditionally, a press release or information regarding a newsworthy event might be embargoed, meaning that while the information has been shared with a specific audience, it is prohibited from being released to the public or widely disseminated in any way until the specified date.

Hear something juicy by word of mouth these days and its almost guarantee that everyone and their Auntie Dorothy has already shared it across at least one media channel.  Rapid information sharing has never been so easy by so many people, which raises the stakes for embargoed news.

When old news is good news

An example of embargoed news might be as follows; imagine John Lennon was still alive and after much negotiation with the promoters, a large venue had secured a booking for the musician to perform a concert.

Once the deal had been confirmed, both the promoter and the venue would share the news to a group of contractors, suppliers and local media in order to co-ordinate plans in preparation for the public announcement of the imminent event.

Marketing materials would have to be written, approved, signed off and printed according to strict marketing protocols. Box offices would need to prepare their ticket booking calendars and have the listing uploaded. Hotel accommodation would need to be booked. Advertising space across a variety of daily, weekly and monthly publications would need to be secured and key media informed so they could schedule the news into their publishing calendars and have adequate time to gather additional background news about the artist to prepare accurate or in-depth news features and interviews.

This would be when a press release would be sent with an embargo informing the recipients of the event but stating upfront that they would only be able to share the news on a specified date.

An embargo is usually agreed between both parties – the side announcing the news and the side receiving it. Should the embargo be breached – perhaps by a gossip columnist looking for a scoop or an editorial intern unaware of the meaning of an embargo, it can have serious repercussions for all involved but especially regarding the legal agreements between the promoter and the venue, as well as the reputation of the publication or media title.

Additional industries such as government communications, the health industry and scientific news sources may also make use of embargoed news.

Quoting ‘Off the Record’ does not guarantee anonymity

Just as there is a source to every river that flows to the sea, shared information has a way of finding itself back to the creator and it pays to only ever share information that is accurate, factual and which represents integrity of knowledge.

It still amazes me how often I hear client revealing information about their company or personal life with a throw-away line about ‘this part being off the record’ when being interviewed by the press.

You are never off the record whether you are speaking to an editor or journalist – or your best friend – and should only share information with the knowledge that it immediately becomes public knowledge the minute it leaves your mouth.

In the same way, unless a publicist has a firm business agreement in place with the media outlet, sending out a media release with an embargoed date does not ensure your request will be followed.