Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Why not today?

Pourquoi pas aujourd’hui? Before you even get out of bed in the morning, give thanks and ask what can I, what must I do today? No, I’m not talking of your work to-do list. I’m talking about what you should, indeed must, do for your loved ones today.

This message recently struck me hard and it hurt, second time over. It seems that Durban does me no favours, or perhaps it’s out to teach me some lessons. The first episode came about in March 2011 when I finally relented to taking aunt Sienie to say goodbye to Durban, her beloved holiday destination over many years. The whole trip was a challenge to me from the moment I collected her very early in the morning. Here is an excerpt from a film script I wrote about it.
Aunt Sienie's skirts
“05h50” André puts luggage into overhead compartment. Plane is empty. Santie is on slip-chair with several BA CABIN STAFF. She panics, hold hands up and across cabin entrance, blocking the way.

                        BA CABIN STAFF 01
          André! Kom nader sodat sy    André! Come closer so 
          jou kan sien.                that she can see you.

André spins around, steps closer, smiling.

          Hier’s ek Santie. Kom sit.   Here I am Santie. Come sit.

Her face softens when she sees him. He stretches out his hands.
Hilton Durban hotel lobby
It continued even before we got into the hire car, right through to the Hilton hotel as I constantly had to intercede since she couldn’t operate anything in her room. The return journey was equally dramatic.

André stands on tarmac next to disabled persons articulated vehicle. 4 BA women CABIN STAFF from flight march in file towards him, staring intently at him, their faces shining oddly bright. He watches them.

ANNE is the BA Cabin Chief, very professional and compassionate.

                        ANNE, BA CABIN CHIEF
              You will be blessed!
              Your children will be blessed!

They file past him to left. … Santie inside vehicle is upset.

                        ACSA DISABLED ASSISTANCE WOMAN 01
      André, klim liewers weer op!   André, rather climb up again!

André runs to vehicle’s side, climbs up steps.

Two months later aunt Sienie was smiling sweetly at me from above as her hairdresser commiserated with me.

More recently I was obliged to attend a meeting in Durban for Africa Promise, our client in New York. This was arranged three days in advance. Getting up at 04h00 to catch the 05h55 flight I’m confident that I am in good time. Much to my shock the queue through security looks like peak traffic and with passengers already boarding I run towards gate A11 when finally cleared.

Arriving one hour before my meeting I set up and prepare but am not sure what for as I’ve had no briefing. It turns out that plan A is not on the cards and I quickly have to regroup and make a counter offer after consultation with the US. The day’s work done, Vincent takes me back driving leisurely, giving me French lessons en route.  Now I’m taking strain to stay awake. Thankfully I sit down, ready for the take-off at 19h10 with a French couple next to me oblivious of everyone else. Falling asleep almost instantly despite the seats not tilting back I wake an hour later and my eyes immediately pick up a programme on Kalk Bay on the video above me. This brings back good memories of some months previously. Next the in-flight magazine falls open on an article describing the joys of Buffels Beach at Cape Point Nature Reserve, Kalk Bay and Simonstown – all on the itinerary of that blissful day. Two weeks later hopes of a reunion are shattered.

This brings me back to my question. You’d better be sure that what you do today adds real value. Remember, it’s not so much about you, but what you do with and what you say to your loved ones. Don’t count on a second chance, so use today well.
Now many photos and an unsent box filled with presents remind me daily ‘what really matters’. Clearly I have more to learn. And I am not done yet with Durban as I am about to pack my bags to do it one more time. The difference is that lately I have this incredible lightness of being and warmth inside me, as if I’m floating on a cloud next to the sun. But actually it’s never been about me... Psalms 128: 2-3
mango airlines slogan “Why not today?”
The Holy Bible: Psalms 128: 2-3 
Photo credits: Anton Blignault

© Anton Blignault, Cape Town

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Cape Somm 2016

When you have served guests over several years you really appreciate it all the more when seeing a master at work. This was the case for me at the Wines Of South Africa (WOSA) Sommelier Cup 2016 finals in Cape Town. 

Having paid for my education by working holidays twice a year in train dining cars and at the Blue Room I have a pretty good idea how to serve guests at a table. CWA wine courses much later ups my game, but when Sophie introduced me to “Somm” and “Red Obsession” a year ago I was in awe of such dedication and desire to succeed. So when the invitation for Cape Somm 2016 arrives unexpectedly I rsvp immediately, looking forward to experiencing real brilliance.  Entering “The Reserve” on a red carpet I am swept away into a world of smartly dressed people, great wines and hors d’oeuvres  - all creating a vibrant and classy ambiance. The tension is almost edible when three semi-finalists are announced from the eight who spent the past week visiting many of South Africa's best wineries: Joe Yang from Macau, Marc Almert from Germany and Nathan Morrell from Canada. Look on www.wosa.co.za/sommelier/#winners 

Neil Grant, the MC and Chairman of the South African Sommeliers Association (SASA), describes the procedure to the audience once they are led to a waiting room - each candidate must perform three practical tests in a restaurant environment before two judges at a time. The six judges are well renowned in the industry, with three being on the board of SASA while the other three are respectively from Canada, the UK and the USA. Have a look on www.wosa.co.za/sommelier/#judges
Marc Almert describing 'orange wine'
Back to the onstage tests. First up is a 6-minute test to serve a 1983 Vintage Port. This involves lighting a candle which I find quite intriguing. Directly after that follows a 9-minute blind-tasting session with one red wine for which a full descriptive is required and two spirits for which basic comments are needed. Plus a bonus – an orange wine which assured some laughs. Lastly follows a 10-minute set in which wines must be paired to each dish of an extravagant 5-course meal with a South African slant. All this happens while film and stills camera crews capture their every move. With each candidate only brought onto the stage for his own test sequence I find the difference in approaches quite fascinating. Throughout the tests the judges grill the candidates on details of wines mentioned, including asking for alternative options. But they’re not done yet. A 5-minute group test with each one pouring a magnum of MCC (Méthode Cap Classique) follows which produces lots of sparkles while the serving brought about some shards.
Nathan Morrell & Joe Yang serving MCC
While the judges debate the score and it is verified by the auditors I get the opportunity to ask the six semi-finalists which wines and wineries they would choose as the best on their recent visit. Mullineux gets two mentions while Groot Constantia and Chamonix also stands out. Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc are favoured.  Cheron Cowan mentions that the best wines are not to be found in the US, while Erik Grödahl from Sweden says that our wines are far too cheap.
WOSA Sommelier Cup finalists with 3 winners
Neil announces the winners in reverse order and with two tying for second place Marc Almert is the obvious and clear winner - well-deserved and definitely on a par above in all four tests. Petra Mayer, WOSA Germany Country Manager seems every bit as happy as Marc and there are smiles all round by everyone on stage.  More photos are on https://za.pinterest.com/fmswinemarketin/capesomm-2016
Siobhan Thompson, WOSA CEO with Marc Almert, WOSA  Sommelier Cup winner and Petra Mayer, WOSA Germany Country Manager
With the crowd once again enjoying some superb hors d’oeuvres and wines, I interrupt Marc to ask him a few questions. Here are his answers in brief.
Marc: “This is my first visit to South Africa. WOSA has done an excellent job and during the past week we’ve tasted a lot of mature wines. There is a very positive vibe about South African wines with our guests [Fairmont Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten in Hamburg].”

For all aspiring sommeliers here is valuable advice from Marc.

A: What does your training regime consist of in terms of theory, tasting and focus on countries?
M: My training regime is mainly structured by the syllabus of the Court of Master Sommeliers. This includes all beverages, mainly of course wine, and requires details of the original product, the regions, legislation, climate and top producers. Of course classic wine regions like France, Italy etc. feature more than upcoming regions like Romania or India, but all are featured. And there is never theory without tasting the according wines.

A: What do you do to get all those information on the wines, vintages, regions, wineries, winemakers into your memory?
M: In order to make the information stick the most valuable source is travelling to the respective countries and / or interacting with the winemakers. Sadly this is not always possible. The main references are websites (i.e. Guildsomm) as well as textbooks (i.e. Oxford Wine). From these I take out the most important information and transfer it to a flashcard App, which I then use both on Tablet and Smartphone whenever time permits. In addition I attempt to attend as many specialised tastings and trainings on fairs or trade events as possible, especially to keep the tasting constant. Usually I spend about 1 to 2 hours each day outside of work for tasting and / or theory rehearsal.

A: Do you follow a specific format when tasting wines when training? Thus, by varietals, regions, vintages, wineries?
M: Tasting I try to mix two things: knowing which wines I am tasting, then I usually taste a lot of similar wines directly after each other (i.e. only Stellenbosch Pinotage). The second form is blind tasting, prepared by coaches or colleagues. Here I deliberately ask for a variety of wines to see which ones stuck. Tasting preparing for competitions or exams tends to focus on classic styles from classic varieties of classic regions, whereas privately I enjoy tasting all styles of wines, i.e. also something like a Veltliner from outside of Austria.

Now off you go, open that bottle and tell me what’s inside. Prost!

Photo credits: Anton Blignault

© Anton Blignault, Cape Town

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Race against time

Any race normally spells pressure, compromises, tension, but above all complete focus on the task at hand. This all goes with the territory and when you’re on a tight wine tasting schedule with clients that flies in and out on the same day, you had better have your act together.

Actually it started four days earlier when the visit was confirmed. I felt up to the challenge as I’ve twice before arranged similar visits for a client from Shanghai with one even set up on a Sunday to visit five cellars the next day.

The day starts at two o’clock the morning when the rain wakes me. Dressed in my best and with my Navy rain coat I don’t feel the 14°Celsius outside. It’s perfect weather for tasting red wines, our mission for the day. Meeting Austin and Gwen 15 minutes after arriving, we move out in pelting rain, arriving at Cavalli 30 minutes behind schedule - miss-timing on my part. On top of that I lose the sole of my brand new leather shoe before we even step into this very classy complex.
arra barrel maturation cellar
Next stop is Arra and now we are 50 minutes late while I lose my second sole when stepping out into the mud. The smartly packaged cheese and mini-compotes help still the hunger of our guests. By the time we reach Slent the car looks like we’re doing the Dakar rally. Taking off our shoes the wooden floor is warm underneath, with a fire and several heaters creating comfort.  My first words to Michela are “We’ve only got 45 minutes.” Despite tasting through five wines and having lots of laughs about the antics of the baboons in the vineyards we move out on time, but not before Attilio gives me a bunch of his prized artichokes, freshly harvested.
artichokes & moon cookies
When we stop at Mont Rochelle for lunch with Dustin we’re only 15 minutes late. This is crucial as he has an executive meeting at three. So skipping everything we settle down at the table in front of a cosy fire, with rain coming down hard on the roof. At ten to three Dustin tells me "No, it's been cancelled." A really great atmosphere and finally we have time to relax. All of us are hungry and when Austin sees the braised brisket he mentions “We got up at four and this looks good.” It was!  
Mont Rochelle cellar
Our last stop is De Zoete Inval in Paarl which I only set up the night before. On the farm I stop next to a roofless house on a muddy dirt road and call Robert “Where’s your house?” “Turn back, it’s the big one that you passed first.” Immediately when he sees the state of my shoes he says, “Take them off, I’ll fix it just now.”  When a guy takes a big Leatherman out of his pocket you know he can fix anything. So while I present the Kudu biltong and dry wors that Robert puts in front of me, he gets to work on my shoes.
De Zoete Inval vines
Having clawed back to our original time schedule, the biggest challenge is yet to come – getting our guests onto the plane on time. Gwen is somewhat anxious, but we’ve been travelling against the traffic all day and I’m confident. There is still a small hurdle, the samples are packed, but the cartons need to be sealed and labelled. This happens at the airport after a super-fast journey on the N1. Seven minutes before the boarding gate opens they pass through security and my job is done.

Back home I don’t sit down else I’ll fall asleep. Almost in automatic mode I shower and jump into bed. This total focus on the job does come at a price though. Gwen tried her best to take photos while I was driving, but here I should have stopped.  En route from Franschhoek to Paarl we see the most amazing waterfall – it must’ve been 100m high with another one of 20m a little above that. Two long, thin white streams of water glistening white against the green mountain. A minute later we see the most incredible rainbow on the right, a widespread band of lights shimmering in the late afternoon sun against the mountain.

Photo credits:
Arra barrel maturation cellar, Gwen Huang
Artichokes & moon cookies, Anton Blignault
Mont Rochelle cellar, Gwen Huang
De Zoete Inval vines, Gwen Huang

© Anton Blignault, Cape Town

Saturday, August 13, 2016

The first time

Aha! I have an idea what you’re thinking now, but hold on we’ll get there. Let’s start by considering  more frustrating first times.

Before doing so, let’s remind ourselves that “...the biggest risk is not taking a risk” as Eddie Jones, successful 2016 coach for the England rugby team remarked in May after winning the Six Nations Cup on a Grand Slam triumph. This was even before a white-wash three-test series win against Australia in Australia during June. Two more things Eddie said which is worth reflecting on: “The hardest thing to change is mindset. Changing that to a growth mindset, where players are happy to be challenged and try new things.”

Let’s start at the beginning. My first memories are of riding my half-size bicycle in our garden and the dirt road. In primary school I progressed to a proper bicycle, but not always to good effect as I can recall riding into a parked car in the main road! The point is, once you can ride a bicycle you will always be able to ride a bicycle. As important, if you’re not paying attention you are going to get hurt.
There is always a learning curve in whatever new things you tackle. Have the courage to start and ask someone you trust to help you along the way. This was the case recently with me starting on a makeover for FMS and for myself. For FMS Juliette was my go-to-girl who set up both the FMS Wine Marketing Facebook www.facebook.com/fmswinemarketing and the Pinterest pages www.za.pinterest.com/fmswinemarketing Absolutely painless! And at such speed I am forever impressed and grateful. 

The next step was Instagram, but that required me upgrading to a G4 mobile. Being choosy, I wanted a black handset and not the common white so it meant that Juliette was already back in France by the time I got my new mobile. As things go there is sometimes a second chance. Flying up to Johannesburg to visit family and clients I am proud to say that I installed Instagram www.instagram.com/fmswinemarketing on my own during my first Uber trip. But that is another story. Being new to this it took me three tries, 60 plus anxious minutes, with a surcharge increasing from 1 to 1.4 and then to 1.9 before I could manage to make contact with an Uber driver 4 minutes away.

For me the biggest issue on a webpage is which button to press. No actually it is, “Where is this damn button?!” It seems to come in every shape, colour and with the most indistinct text imaginable. Don’t these guys know that if they make that button BIG and BOLD then it will make life so much easier for people like me?  I still had to ask Rensia, my niece, to upload the first two Instagram pictures. Now it’s a piece of cake.

Back to second chances. On a personal level it usually takes me several tries to get to that first time. Mostly when I am with a beautiful girl it feels like my mouth and body are frozen exactly when I need to act. Instinctively I know what to do, what to say, but I just freeze and stare, watching this incredible girl stepping away from me, losing an opportunity to get closer to her disappear in the swirls of my imagination. To give you an idea, recently it took as much as three huge attempts to hug this girl whom I absolutely adore. Magic! 
Relax and don’t fret what happens next. Pay attention when she says “Be careful.” in an intimate moment between you two. This can just be the direction you needed. Use your imagination and go with the flow...

With a girl there are important levels of first times. The first time you kiss her, when you hold hands, cuddle her, and get to make out with her.  All of these pleasures are exciting, most memorable and most wonderful – to be repeated in a hundred different ways once you get past that first hurdle successfully. But that is perhaps the wrong word. It only works if both of you enjoy it and want to do it again. Then you are building a proper relationship, the stuff dreams are made of and destinies are built on.

First times are worth celebrating for a good reason. Don’t you as a guy ever forget that first time where you two met, when you two got up close and personal ending very sweaty, satisfied and fulfilled; because your girl will always relish this. Those great memories are the glue that holds you two together, the fire that forges your souls to aspire to something more, building your love that inspires both of you to more tenderness, empathy and unconditional love for each other.

Reference: SA Rugby, May 2016 Issue 222
Photo credits: Anton Blignault
© Anton Blignault, Cape Town

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Private label project # 3

Sometimes it is good to stop and ask "Are we there yet?" With the FMS private label division gaining traction with a current project creating a premium tier champagne brand Mestari Vesi for import into South Africa, we can rightfully say that we are well on our way to making an impact not only in this category but also in changing the lives and destinies of our clients for the better.

As our clients grow so do we. Below outlines our current approach to deliver your brand on a turn-key basis.

Design – brand name generation, logo, front label, back label
Timeline: 4-6 weeks
Labels – printing

Front, back 
Timeline: 2-3 weeks
Screening search,
trade mark registration
Brand name, logo
Timeline: 1-2 weeks
Product – wine sourcing
Timeline: 1-2 weeks
Ocean freight / Cartage -
CIF any port
Timeline: 3 days SA
2-4 weeks int’l
Several of these tasks can run concurrently, therefore the whole project can be completed within 8-12 weeks.

In creating private label brands for clients, we see it as a long term project and negociate with specific cellars to constantly supply us so that the quality is consistent. FMS is working well with several wineries on a number of private label projects who produce excellent wines with a good quality-price ratio. The most popular wines are listed below and range from entry level to premium tier. (*: Screw cap)

Pinotage 2015: WO Darling
89% Pinotage, 11% Shiraz. Medium intense ruby red colour with purple tinge. Intense nose of strawberries and cherries, which is enhanced by a touch of cinnamon and cloves. This medium bodied wine with soft tannins has a concentrated pallet of ripe red fruit, plums and is well supported by spices and pepper. Maturation potential 5 years. Delicious with a braai, venison, bobotie, curry and slow-roasted Karoo lamb. 12.5% A/V. Integrity & Sustainability Certified. Serve at 16°C.

Pinotage Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon Cinsault 2012: WO Darling
A wine of inky concentration with an unparalleled richness in the mouth. The prime expression of low-yielding, dry land bush vines. Maturation potential up to 5 years. Comprises 45% Pinotage, 21% Shiraz, 18% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Cinsault. Suitable for pairing with spicy modern cuisine, or even as an aperitif in summer. Enjoy it with rosemary marinated lamb shank in buttered polenta. It will also pair well with cold meat plates or a grilled goat’s cheese salad. Serve at 16°C. 14.0% A/V. Integrity & Sustainability Certified.

Pinotage Shiraz 2014 *: WO Western Cape
This full red wine’s bouquet suggests ripe berries overlaid with green pepper and spicy flavours. There is excellent follow through onto the palate where the peppery flavours dominate. The well-integrated ripe tannins make for easy accessibility.

Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2013*: WO Western Cape
This is a supple, elegant and very appealing wine with the tannins well integrated, but prominent enough to need a year or two longer to show off the ripe, fleshy black-cherry, chocolate shadings to their best advantage.

Chenin Blanc Sauvignon Blanc 2015/16*: WO Western Cape
A straw appearance with excellent varietal expressions. Very nice aromas, which range from country hay, floral, tropical fruit and apricots to spice. Plenty of ripe fruit flavours. The hints of residual sugar are well balanced by acidity. It has a crisp, dry finish and a lingering aftertaste.

Pinotage 2015: WO Paarl
Medium bodied food friendly clean and fresh modern style with finesse. Fine structured with raspberry fruit and nuances of clove and plum. Drinking beautifully now and well through 5 years. Enjoy with venison or beef or simply with good company.

Shiraz 2014: WO Paarl
Fruity, medium bodied: Shiraz leads the way with layers of fruit and spiciness, Mouvedre brings a pervasive savouriness and Grenache rounds off the union with red berry fruit and refreshing acidity.

Shiraz Mourvedre Grenache 2014: WO Paarl
Fruity, medium bodied: Shiraz leads the way with layers of fruit and spiciness, Mouvedre brings a pervasive savouriness and Grenache rounds off the union with red berry fruit and refreshing acidity.

Cabernet Sauvignon Petit Verdot Malbec 2014: WO Paarl
Fruity, earthy, medium bodied: Cabernet Sauvignon guides the blend with its dusty nuances and nutty flavours. Petit Verdot brings a firm palate bursting with juicy cherry/red berry fruits. Malbec concludes with its colour intensity and juiced up choc-mint succulence.

Cabernet Franc Merlot 2010: W.O. Darling

This wine has a deep dark ruby red colour with an intense rich nose of blackberries, blueberries and dark cherries, well supported by well integrated French oak. This is a full bodied wine with intense berry flavours well supported by soft tannins. This wine is excellent with beef, lamb, grilled veal, game such as pheasant and poultry, such as turkey. The wine pairs well with dishes made with red wine and rich sauces. It’s also a great match with couscous, tandoori spices, bean dishes and hearty stews. Serve at 16°C. 14.0% A/V. Integrity & Sustainability Certified.

Apart from these wines listed we can also offer you a whole range of sparkling wines, as we created for Jacques Du Mont, off-dry white wine like we created for Adua and other varietals, blends or styles of your choice. As with Mestari Vesi, we can even create a private label champagne brand for you.

FMS uses a designer, Kelly from design guru, with a successful track record of designing a wide range of wine labels. The process is outlined below.
1.  Brand name generation.  (This excludes trademark search in class 32 and 33, which will need to be done by your or our preferred trademark attorney.)  When she develops a brand name, she does her own research to ensure that the name can be used or is not common, but this does not involve a thorough trademark search as an attorney would do.  She is able to generate a brand name if you require this.
2. Brand logo.
3. Front label design incorporating brand logo, across two - four SKU's.
4. Back label design across two-four SKU's.
5. Labels will be printed in SA/France.
6. Colour hierarchy must be advised for the labels.
7. Artwork design will incorporate branding and complement the entire overall look and feel of the product.
8.Timeline from hiring to hand-over of final artwork in print ready format to the various printing suppliers is 4- 6 weeks.

With FMS using JF Hillebrand as forwarder, we are able to quote you CIF any port of your choice on a LCL basis, or delivery per full pallet to any city in South Africa using Tri-Trade, a national cartage company specialising in wines.

There are several large IP companies in SA and we chose to work with Smit & van Wyk in Pretoria who provides FMS with the estimated costs for preparing and filing a trade mark application for your brand in this specific class (33 alcoholic beverages).

We recommend that you file the brand name as a word mark. This will give you as the client exclusive rights to the name regardless of the logo or label format that it is used in. As such, it will not be necessary to wait until the label is completed.

Beforehand a screening search for your brand name will be conducted in your chosen target markets to make sure that the name is available to be registered for wine. This search is costed per jurisdiction.

If we file the trade mark in one jurisdiction (e.g. South Africa) and we file the same trade mark in a further jurisdiction(s) within 6 months thereafter, then you can claim the first date as a priority date for the further jurisdiction(s). This way it will be as if the trade mark was filed in all further jurisdiction(s) on the first date.

Now let’s talk about popular wine varietals. International tourists always ask for Pinotage while Cabernet Sauvignon remains a favourite. Chenin blanc from SA is well renowned and Sauvignon blanc is usually favoured as well. 

Creating a new brand is a major decision but is very lucrative and a long term commitment in establishing your own identity in the market place. On our part, FMS will promote your brand through various platforms once launched. So let's talk to us and we will make it happen.

© Anton Blignault & Juliette Salmon, Cape Town.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

What really matters

Can you recall the last moment when you’ve suddenly experienced total bliss? When it feels like time is standing still and you want to stay in this moment forever? It normally happens few and far in between – for me at least.

What really matters to you? Is it the next promotion and that corner office, getting that big order, signing the deed of purchase for your own house, driving a sports car? The Porsche will come, but what really matters to me are those intimate moments with someone very special that I share a lot of time with every day.

You need to pay the rent and having wine on the table every day is a given, but what makes life exciting is discovering, pursuing and creating new things – be it clients, deals, ideas, products, places, trips and relationships. And all of this happens through interaction with people that you really like to spend time with.
With a client from China who is notorious for only letting you know he is in Cape Town once he has arrived and expects you to arrange a winelands visit to several cellars over the weekend, it certainly creates an adrenaline rush.  Fortunately the wineries are very accommodating, especially when Dollars are involved.

Then comes help from France in the person of Juliette, beautiful, poised, quiet and soft-spoken – so much so that when she talks everyone listens. It took me a full month, and asking nicely, before getting her to talk more freely. But was that absolutely worth it, tantamount to conquering a mountain.
After a boring week of month-end, export and logistics documentation for me and clients prospection for her comes a hectic Friday to fix an incorrect export certificate for a shipment that has already sailed to Japan when another such moment arises unexpectedly with no words necessary. It happened when stepping out of a blistery cold wind into the warmth of Villiera’s tasting room. No one is there except for the tasting room manager and a warm inviting fireplace. We edge onto a bench facing the heat, and I suddenly experience an inner calmness. Nothing else matters except us and these moments we share together, talking about what’s in the glass and other trivial stuff. It feels like a reward in itself, altogether worth as much or more as the financial success of the major deal concluded the week before.

Some things just fit perfectly together. Like a good quality cork into the neck of an elegant wine bottle, some people also match perfectly from the outset. So finally, what really matters for you? For me it is relationships with the special people in my life, as this is the stepping stone to build the future on…
 Photo credits: Cape Point, Franschhoek – Anton Blignault

© Anton Blignault, Cape Town

Saturday, April 23, 2016

How to find yourself a wife

Recently I came upon notes on how to find yourself a wife. Still being single I tend to look at most opportunities. Nowadays it is not frowned upon to search on internet sites for a wife, even if you have to import her. Most know about speed dating. This takes guts as it is an eye-to-eye encounter with someone totally unknown to you, like cold calling. A very thrilling experience I imagine - like an adrenaline rush.

The article I read refers to ancient times when life was quite different, very different in fact. Since then customs and laws have changed, and so have women. I’m not too sure how far men have evolved… Don’t try any of these; this is not advice for the wise, nor meant for today’s jungle.

* Walk around and you will find one; even if you’ve got a history. - Cain in Genesis 4:16-17
This is probably where most of us are today. Walking, running, pub-crawling, clubbing, hoping… Hi!

* Agree to work seven years in exchange for a wife. Then work another seven when you get done in... - Jacob in Genesis 29:15-30
Although Jacob was cheated, he actually married Rachel seven days after Leah. So perhaps it wasn’t such a bad deal…
* Find a man with seven daughters and impress the father by helping them doing their job. - Moses in Exodus 2:16-21
Be kind to women and you will be rewarded. It always works.

* Find a beautiful prisoner of war. Take her home. Get her to do a makeover, give her new clothes, then she is yours. – Deuteronomy 21:10 -13
Isn’t this what many wars are about – women?

* Wait for your brother to die. Take his widow as your wife. – 
Onan, Shelah and Judah in Genesis 38:6-30
It’s an amazing family saga of trickery and deceit.
Deuteronomy 25:5
This was the custom, no questions asked.
Orpah and Ruth in Ruth 1: 10-13
Here the law could not be fulfilled. Quite a lucky break for Ruth, or shall we rather say it was destiny?

* Get yourself given a wife out of pity. - Benjaminites in Judges 21:13-15.
You poor guy, all alone in the world. There are many that fall into this category.

* Go to a party and hide. When the girls start to dance, grab one and carry her off to become your wife. - Benjaminites in Judges 21:19-23.
Sounds like a weird party trick, but this game was for real.

* Buy property and get a wife as part of the deal. - Boaz in Ruth 4:1-11
This was more about Ruth than the farm. A lovely, industrious woman and a clever stepmother.

* Forget about being choosy. Replace quality with quantity. – King Solomon in I Kings 11:1-3
Sounds like every man’s dream, but then could you handle 700 wives and 300 sub-wives? I don’t think so.
* If you are the king or local dictator, proclaim a beauty competition with the winner becoming your wife. – King Ahasuerus / Xerxes in Esther 2:3 - 4 
But even then women employed stealth. Esther changed her name and refused to say where she came from.

Now when you’ve finally got the bride of your dreams, however you caught her, better be sure to treat her to a proper wedding feast. And don’t forget the wine, not just any wine, only the best will do. Take the wine enjoyed all those years ago in Cana as a guide. (St. John 2:1-10 ) Aah! What would winemakers today give for that recipe, or critics for a sip?
Oh, and after the honeymoon, no actually before, it would be a great idea to read The Song of Solomon. This is mostly written from the point of view of a woman, so it’s very good advice for a life filled with pleasure. Finally, be sure to remember the sage advice from Proverbs 31 throughout this whole search.

Gerhard Griesel: www.skoongrappies.com &

Saturday, February 27, 2016

You can’t really pursue happiness # 3

When you’re happy, you’re dreaming, laughing and living joyful moments one by one.

"I belong a hundred miles from anyone, dreaming of my past along the shore. It took a while to realise the burning side of life alone and life to come from now.
All my instincts tell me that I need to know, what it's like tumbling down. Pretty minds and pretty thoughts control my life, and getting old is something we all know..."
 To be happy you must forget yourself. Learn benevolence; it is the only cure of a morbid temper.” Edward George Bulwer-Lytton
“Happiness is a by-product of an effort to make someone else happy.” Greta Palmer
“What people require for a good life – and many smart people have written books on this subject – are meaning and purpose. I personally have never met a self-centred person who was happy or content. The happy people I know are serving something greater than themselves – a cause, a religion or a family.” Charley Reese
"We are never really happy until we try to brighten the lives of others." Helen Keller
Bottom line – make someone else happy.

“Don't aim at success - the more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side-effect of one's dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one's surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it. I want you to listen to what your conscience commands you to do and go on to carry it out to the best of your knowledge. Then you will live to see that in the long run - in the long run, I say! - success will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think of it.” Viktor Frankl
Don’t worry about getting rich. You will by focusing only on what your instincts tell you to do. 
“To enjoy life, you don't need fancy nonsense, but you do need to control your time and realize that most things just aren't as serious as you make them out to be.” Timothy Ferriss
Laugh often - at yourself and with others.

“I have an ideal life. I get to do what I want to do every day. And money can't buy any more than that.” Warren Buffett
Isn’t absolute freedom of choice the ultimate?

“Happiness is not a station you arrive at, but a manner of travelling.” Margaret Lee Runbeck
“Happiness has more to do with where you're heading than where you are.” Scott Adams
One step at a time does it every time.

“Happy people learn that happiness, like sweat, is a by-product of activity. You can only achieve happiness if you are too busy living your life to notice whether you are happy or not.” Frank Pittman
“Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.” Thomas Merton
Being active and working towards a goal gets you there every time.
“The secret of happiness is in knowing this: that we live by the law of expenditure. We find greatest joy, not in getting, but in expressing what we are. There are tides in the ocean of life, and what comes in depends on what goes out. The currents flow inward only where there is an outlet. Nature does not give to those who will not spend; her gifts are loaned to those who will use them. Empty your lungs and breathe. Run, climb, work, and laugh; the more you give out, the more you shall receive. Be exhausted, and you shall be fed. Men do not really live for honours or for pay; their gladness is not in the taking and holding, but in the doing, the striving, the building, the living. It is a higher joy to teach than to be taught. It is good to get justice, but better to do it; fun to have things, but more to make them. The happy man is he who lives the life of love, not for the honours it may bring, but for the life itself.” Raymond Baughan
Action always counts louder than words. Use it or loose it.

Now go off and forget about yourself, about being happy, and just live within the moment.

“Close my Eyes” by Watershed

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Fear vs Love

Now what place has fear in the month of love, you ask? Exactly nothing - yet everything - since they are opposites.

“Love, love changes everything
Hands and faces, earth and sky
Love, love changes everything
How you live and how you die

Love can make the summer fly
Or a night seem like a lifetime”
“Hate is not the first enemy of love. Fear is. It destroys your ability to trust.” Anonymous
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.” 1 John 4: 18 NKJV
Breathe deeply, exhale. Now do that thing!

“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absence of fear.” Mark Twain
“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” Nelson Mandela
Tread softly, but walk.
“Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” Jack Canfield
“Fear less, hope more. Whine less, breathe more. Talk less, say more. Hate less, love more. And all good things are yours.” Swedish proverb
Want it enough.

“Thinking will not overcome fear, but action will.” W. Clement Stone
“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. Go out and get busy.” Dr. Dale Carnegie
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 NKJV
Get up and get going.

“F-E-A-R has two meanings:
1.       Forget Everything And Run OR
2.       Face Everything And Rise” Anonymous
“Fear is not real. It is a product of thoughts you create. Do not misunderstand me. Danger is very real. But fear is a choice.” Will Smith
Choices… Make them.
“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.' You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”  Eleanor Roosevelt
Go through it, not around it.

“Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”
Isaiah 41:10 NKJV
Help is at hand. Ask...

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7 KJV
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” Marianne Wilson & Nelson Mandela
Indeed you are. Believe.

Now go forth and love your beloved… 
Allez maintenant et aimez votre bien-aimé…

“Love Changes Everything” Michael Ball
The Bible, New King James Version® 1982
The Bible, King James Version® 1957