Review: Cooking tour with Marlene Van Der Westhuizen (Charroux)

This entry doesn’t really belong here I know. I wanted to post this review of Marlene Van Der Westhuizen’s Cook’s Tour on Tripadvisor, but sadly they don’t allow reviews of multi-day experiences and so my review was not approved. I am posting it here in the hope that it prevents other people from wasting a whole lot of money on what should be a “once in a lifetime” experience. It isn’t. It falls short in many ways.

If you have Googled Ms V D Westhuizen’s offering you will most likely have ended one of a handful of posts about it as she doesn’t seem to have a website of her own. You will most probably have read this or that – 2 positive, glowing posts that really blow smoke up her arse. After spending 2,500 Euros each on this experience I wish we had dined on home-made cassoulet with the neighbour, drunk Stellenzicht wine, gone snail “hunting” or learnt something about cooking. It seems things have certainly changed since these posts were written.

So without further ado here is what I thought about this “cook’s tour”…

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Dubai exit – part two

It’s done. We have now left Dubai. Wow I feel exhausted I must say but happy to finally be on the other end, unpacked (well my suitcase anyway) and staying put for a while. I am the proud owner of a little town car here in Knysna (well fuel is pretty expensive here) and have just joined an Executive Hub so that I can work easily on a day to day basis (decent internet speed is not so common here). The weather is pretty chilly but its so pretty that I don’t mind.

sandCat in Knysna

The last few days in Dubai were quite hectic as you can imagine – trying (and failing in some cases) to see people to say goodbye to, wrapping up our accommodation and getting the deposit refunded (easy as it turns out for a change), spending time with special friends (thanks again Carol and John for letting me stay with you) and generally trying not to cry at the most inopportune moments. I feel truly blessed to have had the 6 year experience, and for the wonderful people I met along the way. Thanks to you all for being part of my journey.

I will be continuing my blog but with a different focus – so expect a few changes in the next few days as I move the Dubai section to its own subdirectory, and start with a clean slate and new look. Everything will still live here at so don’t worry I am not going far.

As promised I have finished my exit check-list (for those that requested it) and you can download this here in PDF. I may have missed some things so apologies for that, but I hope it helps you nonetheless.

Chat again soon :-)

Dubai exit – part one

Well dear readers I haven’t told you officially yet so here goes → we are leaving Dubai. Gulp. Yes. Stu and I have decided to return to our homeland, South Africa, and try our hand at our own venture. After 6 years in the sand we feel ready for a new challenge. We won’t be going back to Jozi (Johannesburg) but instead will make a new home somewhere along the Garden Route. A lovely part of the world indeed. We won’t get into the nitty gritty of why we had to make this call – suffice it to say that our circumstances changed on the employment front (as they can so quickly here) which forced us to evaluate if we wanted to spend a large chunk of our hard-earned savings renewing our lease at the end of June. What with the challenges of losing our sponsorship and potentially going it alone with our own business here we felt the prudent thing was to change direction.

Leaving Dubai

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still here

Wow I can’t believe the last thing I posted was Happy New Year for 2014. And here we are in March already…almost the end of March for pity’s sake. How did that happen? As we all know the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and I had some, I promise, about the things I would share.

Yes we did see the great big impressive fireworks display for New Year – it was amazing despite starting late and having a weird gap in the middle. In fact we watched from a friend’s roof in Jumeirah, and when it seemed to be over I climbed down only to realise the finale was yet to come. I have to admit that I watched the ending on the TV..haha. But it was amazing. Yes it could be considered a waste of money by some, but the child in me really enjoyed it.

New Year 2014 record breaking fireworks

record breaking fireworks

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welcome 2014!

We will hopefully have had a view of the NYE fireworks (the biggest ever in a record-breaking attempt) from our New Year’s Eve dinner spot in Jumeirah 3 (will let you know soonest) – Stu and I would normally have stayed home with a prawn braai and a cold bottle of bubbly, but our visiting family from SA were so excited at the prospect of a the large display that we found a way to make it happen (thanks S & E for the invite).

I hope you all have a happy, healthy, successful 2014. Chat soon x

Happy New Year from sandCat

thanks to for the graphic


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