Fit Dessert Recipe: Super Quick Date Nut Bites

So I’ve been sick a lot and I’m not doing a lot of super exciting stuff that I can post about BUT I can come up with new desserts. This recipe is super quick and easy. It also required quite a bit of experimenting from me that included both burnt and disappearing honey so I’m well prepared to tell you exactly what (not) to do.

YOU’LL NEED:

Dates – 200 g (you’ll only use that much but get a big bag to be able to choose the best ones for the job)
Honey – 20 g
Peanut butter, smooth – 10 g
Pecans – 60 g (you can replace them with walnuts but that will add bitterness)
Max 20 minutes of your time!

First of all, you need to find the right dates. Buy the pitted ones, if you value your time. Bigger dates are better because they open easily. You should also be able to put in more or less a half a teaspoon of a filling.

Get two small bowls. Put peanut butter in one and add a splash of water to it. Mix it in. Keep adding until the peanut butter is mixed in but don’t allow it to become too watery. If you’re dealing with hard peanut butter you may want to microwave it for 30 seconds to warm it up and make the mixing in easier. Alternatively, use hot water for mixing.

Add honey to the second bowl. Microwave it or treat it with water bath like I treated chocolate in the chocolate coconut bites recipe. You want the honey to change its consistency into liquid.
Add the preprepared watered down peanut butter to the melted honey.
Whatever you do, do NOT microwave honey and peanut butter together to skip the steps I’ve given you.

Chop pecans as finely as you have the patience to. Mix them into your peanut butter and honey mixture. If you’re extra slow with chopping, chop them beforehand. Your mixture won’t solidify immediately but it won’t wait for you forever either.

Stuff the dates with your mixture using a teaspoon. Place your super quick date bites in the fridge. Take them out of the fridge +/- 30 minutes before serving. The cold keeps makes them firm so they should be kept in the fridge but they taste best when they’re not too cold.

Let me know in the comments’ section how long did it take you to prepare the dessert. I’ve been managing to keep it around 20 minutes.

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How South Africa Has Changed Me in the 8 Years I’ve Been Here

The party girl of 2011

I moved to South Africa exactly 8 years ago on the 1 August 2011. It’s been a long and bumpy road and I feel like I’ve changed a lot during my life here. Some changes are positive and amusing, others more negative and at least a bit sad. Here’s my list in no particular order:

1. I’ve Learnt to Love Peanut Butter, Avos and Rooibos

By now I think that peanut butter is amazing. However, when I first came to South Africa and my teenage ex (long story but he lied to me about his age) tried to feed me some peanut butter I’ve turned my nose up to it.
I guess especially unsweetened peanut butter is a bit of an acquired taste. Years of people sneaking it into my food and healthy treats have taught me to not only tolerate but also love it. Today, it’s one of my favourite cooking ingredients for making healthy sweets (more recipes will be uploaded soon!).
Avos were a no brainer, really. I just didn’t have much access to them earlier on in life as they were super expensive.
Rooibos tea took me some time to get used to but the health benefits made me keep drinking and eventually fall in love. A fair warning, kids: this method won’t work with everything. Sometimes you really don’t like something and that’s okay too!

2. I’ve Been Traumatised by a Number of Disgusting Things to Eat and Drink

Cream soda is a green soft drink I’ve discovered in South Africa but I believe people drink it in other places too (tfu, tfu). I consider it the most disgusting thing ever. The first time a friend tried to serve it to me to cure a hangover (when I still drank alcohol) I thought she was trying to poison me.
Another crazy thing is Milo, which is a chocolate malt powder used to make drinks with (I’m gagging as I’m telling you that).
Last but not least, there’s Marmite, which is actually British. It’s a spread made from yeast extract (like, really?).

3. I’m Used to Being Concerned About Safety

This one is pretty bleak but South Africa has major safety issues. Cape Town can be relatively safe for walking but it’s good to know where you can go and what time it is no longer or not yet a good idea. In other words, you need to be aware of your surrounding. The same goes for caring for safety of your house and car.
Touch wood I’ve been mostly lucky for all these years and apart from our car and camera being stolen, I haven’t experienced direct crime.
Even though I have my concerns, I’m still quite reasonable when it comes to safety issues in comparison to many South Africans. This is why I always recommend taking advice from expats, not locals.
The saddest thing about the concern for safety is that it doesn’t disappear when you travel. In fact, I often struggle to believe that a place is as safe as people say and I’m overly cautious. Visiting both Zanzibar and Baku and being able to walk around past 10 PM was weird and so were my trips to Poland.

4. I’ve Changed My Mind About Having an Accent

Did you know that I’m a Polish gherkin at least in 80%?

When I was still a student all I wanted to be was British-sounding. I even remember practicing articles we had to present at my Pronunciation 1 and 2 exams with a friend over and over again to the point that most people thought we were insane. I ended up getting two A’s and being proud that I can pronounce “Strawberry Daiquiri” in a way that Polish bartenders struggled to understand.
Then I moved to South Africa and I sort of stopped paying attention to how I sound. Every time someone would mention my accent (and it’s ALWAYS mentioned as a negative thing, like a defect I’m not addressing but should or to sexualise me for being Eastern European) I felt more and more defensive and protective of whatever comes out of my mouth naturally. My “f*ck you” grew even more when I noticed that no one ever asked questions about not sounding South African enough after X number of years to first language English expats (mostly Americans and Brits).
I sound like I’m not from here because I’m not and I’m unwilling to put effort into pleasing people and pretending that I’m someone I’m not.

6. I’ve Become a Nature Lover and a Fitness Enthusiast

I can attribute becoming a fitness enthusiast to living in South Africa. Cape Town is a pretty fit place, where sport events happen all year round. Friends and acquaintances regularly tell you about triathlons, marathons and cycling races.
It took me a while to find things I like to do and decide on what I’m not willing to try (a marathon, duh). However, I feel like I became much stronger both physically and mentally because I’ve been challenging myself so much.
One of the most popular sport activities around Cape Town is hiking. The obvious perks are stunning views, no cover charge and trails for all fitness levels. It’s thanks to hiking that I started to appreciate nature. I’m still not exactly a tree hugger but I understand the appeal of wilderness now.

Somewhere on the Otter Trail

6. I’ve Got Used to Not Having Stability

I married a South African citizen 3 years ago and I came to the country 8 years ago. I’m still on a temporary visa and if the new regulations stipulated in the latest white paper on the issue regarding permanent residence come to force I may never become a permanent resident and stay on renewable visas until I die. Unless, of course, my husband dies first. Then I’ll just have to f*ck off from the country I will have spent who knows how many years in, regardless of whether we have South African children or not as having children who are South African citizens isn’t a reason good enough to legally stay in the country (no, I’m not joking).

I sort of got used to the lack of stability. It means, among others, living in limbo and not being able to make many decisions I’d like to make such as buying a house, adopting children or others due to restrictive regulations for foreigners without the permanent resident status.
When I was moving here I was hoping to find home. I have a more love than hate relationship with South Africa but South Africa refuses to love me back (daddy issues much?). At the moment, I do feel defeated, bleak and pessimistic about our future here but still a bit hopeful.

7. I Know How to Live in the Moment

Oh baby, I’m so zen

This uncertainty that has been my reality for so long has had some positive effect on me. Instead of always living in the past or the future, I have learnt to appreciate the moment. There have been many things that contributed to this change: becoming a regular meditator, quitting smoking and drinking, becoming a fitness enthusiast, healing my eating problems, addressing my many issues and finding support in a healthy relationship. All of these changes happened in Cape Town, though.

8. I Know That Being an Immigrant Is Bloody Hard

Ian Foot From Come Fly With Me

You know, when you leave your country with a Master’s Degree, some work experience and fluency in three other languages than English you think you’re the queen of the world and you’re going to slay.
In a way, I was lucky because my degree was fully recognised by the local qualifications authority and still, my CV has to be 10 times stronger than anyone’s else’s to get invited to an interview.
There are still many prejudices against me: not being a first language English speaker, having a degree from a funny country more or less 80% of South Africans never heard of, people assuming that I would need a visa even if it’s not true… Of course, I’m not the only one with this experience and almost all expats I know struggle in similar ways, whether they have degrees from their home countries or South African ones, whether they’re in humanities or not.
The rule seems to be that people from English-speaking countries struggle less but it may have to do with the fact that their native speakers OR simply with the fact they come from “better” countries. Part of the reason is also the South African (Cape Town?) labor market. And let’s not forget, the unwelcoming immigration policy.

“If in doubt, keep them out!”

Unless you have very specific skills in high demand, you’ll learn quickly that there are companies that hire foreigners and most foreigners work for such companies. Such companies know that foreigners struggle to find other work and often take advantage of it. This is why many foreigners, married to locals or not, leave the country.
And that my Dear Reader is another source of my heartache here: losing friends. I can’t even count how many people I have been close friends with, who’ve given up and left over the years. Since I started to date my husband four and a half years ago, I needed to look for close female friends THREE times already and with another two going soon, I’ll have only one close female friend left (this one is tough, though. She’s been here 9 years already!). Not all of them have been expats, either. It’s pretty bleak!

9. I’ve Become a Nicer and More Social Person

I guess being an expat forces you to be open to new connections and get out of your comfort zone. I’ve become better at small talk, learnt how to listen more than talk and take cool opportunities when they come.
Somehow with all the socialising I became a nicer person too and I find pleasure in being nice and helpful (as opposed to finding pleasure in being a sarcastic d*ck I was before I moved to South Africa).

10. I’m a Married Woman With a Tattoo Now

Last but not least, I should mention two other important permanent changes to my life: getting a husband and a tattoo. I thought about getting this particular husband only for a year and a half after meeting him (here you can read about lessons learnt in three years of marriage) and about this particular tattoo since 2010 (I thought it was shorter but I found a picture of a similar tattoo design from 2010). It makes sense. Husbands look much better on you when you start to wrinkle!

Just after I took the dressing of, on the day of the deed

So here you go! I’m sure I’ve changed in other ways too but it’s already an essay so let me stop here.

Any expats with some thoughts to share? Or anyone else?

Fit Dessert Recipe: 3-Ingredient Sesame Seed and Sunflower Candy

I don’t like complicated recipes but I love healthy sweets. This Sesame Seed and Sunflower Candy recipe will help you quickly and easily prepare a perfect healthy snack to enjoy in moderation.

YOU’LL NEED:

100 g of sesame seeds
100 g of sunflower seed
61-65 g of honey (the more, the sweeter)

Measure honey into a bowl. Microwave honey until it melts (+/- 30 seconds) or, if you don’t have a microwave, place the bowl with honey on a small pot with water on a hot stove and wait until the honey melts.

Pic 1

In a separate bowl mix sunflower seeds with sesame seeds. When the honey is ready, it’s time for more mixing. Use the bowl with honey for mixing the seeds in as seeds are easier to move without wastage (pic 1).

When everything is well mixed, spread the mixture on baking paper with a fork. Try to make the shape more or less rectangular. Don’t worry, if some bits are out. Do avoid holes and uneven thickness, though.

Pic 2

Pre-heat the oven to 150 degrees (Celsius!). Place the mixture spread on the baking paper carefully in the oven, on the top rack. Set the timer for 12 minutes. Check how the candy is doing.
The time to take it out is right when the sides are brownish and the mass is firm(ish). Take it out and let it settle for 15 minutes. If you have any uneven endings cut them off and eat them or give to someone you’re not trying to impress.

Cut the ready product into pieces. I usually make lines of around 5 cm and half the shorter edge to form two bars but it’s really up to you.

Keep cutting until you’re done. Store in plastic containers. You’ll have to test for yourself how long they can survive there. In my house they’re gone in 2-3 days 馃檪 Enjoy!

Things to Do and See in Zanzibar

I’m not entirely done with telling you about our last trip and things like how to survive a trip to Azerbaijan as a vegetarian. However, an Instagram user I follow (Poleabroad) reminded me about our trip to Zanzibar in December last year and I got nostalgic enough to write about it.

I certainly don’t need to convince people who love resort vibes or fans of sunbathing that Zanzibar is a good location to visit. The beaches there are really beautiful, the water is warm and luxurious hotels are exactly what you’d expect. A traveller who’s allergic to such vibes, like us, may need some working on to choose this location.

My verdict is that the island is worth a trip but a week is more than enough to do the exploring. You should also keep in mind that it’s comparatively expensive there. We paid more for our week in Zanzibar than two weeks in Azerbaijan. Even if you opt for cheaper accommodation and manage to get decent flights, trips, car hire, food and tourist attractions are quite pricey.

This list includes my subjective “best of” to see on the island and some humurous unrelated comments, because it’s me.

1. Prison Island

The tortoise refused to pout with me.

Prison Island or Chunguu Island is by far the best thing to do in Zanzibar. It’s an island with a tortoise sanctuary which was home to a prison, where slaves were kept.

Being able to feed the tortoises is pretty amazing

Apart from amazing, giant, often pretty old tortoises that you can admire and feed, the prison building is worth to have a look at. Despite of its sad history, today the prison is an interesting building with tree branches on the walls.

Here’s Johnny!

The water around Prison Island is particularly beautiful and clear which makes it a perfect spot for snorkelling.

Getting to Chunguu Island is very easy. There are lots of boats on the shore of Stone Town ready to take you there so the easiest thing to do is just to strike a deal directly with a boat owner. Have a look at the names of some boats as well, just because they can be hilarious (e.g. Facebook).

The trip to and from the island costs 10-15 USD off season. If you buy it through a local licensed guy or a tourist office, it’ll cost you a bit more but the experience is exactly the same as a guide doesn’t go with you to the island.

2. Spice Farms

Oh dear, we’re THESE people…

There are many spice farms in Zanzibar and many of them offer amazing tours for tourists. We visited the Jambo Spice Farm close to Stone Town by purchasing a deal including transport with a tourist operator.

This is how what you make nutmeg of looks like
A young avocado

It’s a super interesting trip because you learn how spices you use every day look like. We were given a cone to put various spices and fruit in as we were walking around. We saw cocoa, cloves, nutmeg, young avos, jackfruit, bananas and lots of other stuff.
We also ate different fruit and one guy even climbed a palm tree to get fresh coconuts for us to drink out of. I was overly full towards the end but “no” wasn’t an answer.

Yummy!
So much to try but your stomach is more flexible than you think

You can probably notice the tipbox on the picture above. At every stop on a farm people expected tips. This is true for Zanzibar in general because there’s not much work there and people are desperate to make income. Even if you pay for a visit in a museum and a guide, that guide will politely wait for you to get the idea why he’s still hanging around after the trip is done 馃槈

3. Stone Town

The Old Fort

Stone Town is an old part of Zanzibar city and I could write a post about it on its own as that’s where we stayed. If you’re there, you’ll get surrounded by lots guides willing to offer you a city tour. We preferred to see things on our own but we ended up visiting most of the landmarks, anyway.

The Old Fort from outside, there’s a tourist office with decent prices on the left.

Of course, there are monuments and museums to see but that’s something you’ll find in any guide. Zanzibar has had a turbulent history so it’s worth spending some time in these places to find out more about it.
The island was an important slave-trading port and apparently even today people with slave heritage are looked down on by inhabitants of Zanzibar with different heritage.

This picture gives you an idea about the general vibe of Stone Town

If you’re not that keen on getting facts about Zanzibar rather have a slow walk around Stone Town and allow yourself to get lost. It’s a really beautiful area with a charm partially coming from the neglect and lack of maintenance (no, really).

A friendly seller from the Spice Market

From the things not to miss there’s definitely the Spice Market (official name: Darajani Bazaar), where you can shop for spices, fruit, fish and many other things. Stock up for the upcoming year and don’t forget to try red baobab sweets.

Fishy fishy

Don’t buy with the first vendor and check prices around. People are, of course, trying to get the most money they can for what they’re selling to you. This means that prices can differ significantly.

Another thing you shouldn’t miss in Stone Town is a sunset. Kitschy as it is, it’s still stunning.

Food on the Forodhani Market

Stone Town offers at least two great and not overly pricey food options (the luxurious options are really easy to find). The first one is the night food event, Forodhani Market. It takes place very close to the promenade, where people gather to watch sunsets. The food is really amazing and there are countless options to choose from.

Was it a date or a baobab shake? Can’t remember.

Another one is called Lukmaan restaurant and is closer to the Spice Market. It was so good we went to eat there twice during just a week long stay.
They have a variety of local options with unusual dishes and drinks to try. It’s super busy and it’s hard to find a free table but usually you don’t have to wait too long for someone to leave.

This seafood soup was among the best dishes I’ve eaten in my life

Let me just make a general comment on food in Zanzibar here. It’s absolutely amazing! Our stay there was a constant moutgasm (mouth + orgasm). Yes, some restaurants we visited were very pricey, by Cape Town standards, but we didn’t dislike what we ate once.

4. Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park

Magda among mangrove trees. I don’t see a book with this title selling.

The so-called Jozani Forest is worth a visit as long as you don’t expect a lot. The most interesting things you’ll see there are mangrove trees, which are among very few trees that can grow in salt water.

Monkeys horsing around. Look how long their tails are!

If you’re lucky you’ll also spot some monkeys. The trip around the park is, unfortunately, quite short but the guides are very knowledgeable.

5. Nungwi

We could print it and sell it as a postcard

Nungwi was probably my second favourite adventure after Prison Island. It’s a perfect day trip from Stone Town. We rented a car and got a temporary permit for foreigners for around USD 30.

Nice shot, huh?

We started the day by visiting Fukuchani Ruins, which are Portuguese ruins dating back to the 16th century. When we arrived at the spot a guide appeared literally out of nowhere and started to show us around before we even said a word. He told us a bit about the ruins.

This cave is not as scary as the one in “The Descent”

Then we visited a cave, saw a baobab tree and a nearby village. Local children seemed fascinated by us and many of them, along with our guide, assisted us back to the car, where in shame for we were trying to start the car. My husband was trying to figure out why it wouldn’t move for what felt like eternity, while I kept waving back and smiling at the cute children waiting for our departure.

He’s not impressed.

In Nungwi itself, you must visit the Nungwi Mnarani Aquarium. It’s a bit disappointing in size but gives you one in a lifetime opportunity to feed turtles. They have fully grown specimen as well as baby turtles.

This couch has been made from recycled materials only

You’ll also learn more about how to protect the environment and why you should #refusethestraw. Last but not least, you’ll see a small collection of everyday use objects made from recycled materials.

The Village

Next to the Aquarium you can find a local village with a fish market. Don’t worry about finding a guide, they’ll find you before you’ll manage to say “What should we do next?”. Our guide was an honest and no BS kind of a guy who told us a lot about how difficult life in Zanzibar is for locals. He also showed us his home where I got beaten up by a little girl because we had not football ball with us as a gift.

A dhow boat in construction

We also visited a traditional Zanzibarian dhow boat in construction. It was quite interesting to see people making an actual boat with their hands, while I can barely make chocolate coconut bites.
We concluded our trip with a late lunch and a short visit to the beach. The water was warm and nice but I could have done without drunk and young Polish tourists I could unfortunately understand.

Final Thoughts

Hungry cats everywhere 馃槮

Zanzibar may look like a paradise but is not one for people who live there. Humans suffer because of unemployment and related poverty. You can also see starving cats everywhere.
It may be an overpriced tourist destination but by visiting it and being generous with your tips, you’re supporting the local community and the one industry that’s doing well.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my list. If you’ve been in Zanzibar feel free to comment and add places I’ve missed but are worth seeing. If you’re planning a trip, let me know how it goes.

Fit Dessert Recipe: Chocolate Coconut Bites

You remember when I was telling you about my newly discovered passion for making desserts in the article about Lindt chocolate fondant pudding making class? That was an indulgence but in general, I aim to make desserts I make at home a healthier alternative to what’s easily found in the shops.

One of my favourite chocolate bars ever is Bounty. However, as I started to pay more attention to what I eat and limit my sugar intake, the coconut goodness covered in chocolate became to sweet for my liking. I did some research, experimented a LOT myself and now I have a recipe I’d like to share with you.

YOU’LL NEED:

200 g of desiccated coconut

+/- 200 g of coconut milk

30 g of honey

200 g of dark chocolate (you may need more if it鈥檚 chocolate with a low percentage of cocoa. I use 70% Lindt coating chocolate. Slabs work too but are WAY more expensive)  

Pic 1

Mix desiccated coconut, some coconut milk and honey in a bowl (Pic 1 and 2).

Pic 2

Continue by slowly adding more coconut milk. Your goal is to form a firm but slightly moist mass (Pic 3). You can touch it with your finger to check the consistency too.

Pic 3

Leave the prepared mixture in the freezer for 40-45 minutes. Take it out and form balls putting them on a plate covered with baking paper (Pic 4). You can form bars, if you prefer but in my experience once they鈥檙e covered in chocolate, they look like turds.
When you’re done forming balls/bars you can lick the remaining mixture off your fingers and the bowl. I do it every time.

Pic 4

Leave the balls in the freezer for at least 1 hour. You can also keep them there for longer until you’re ready to move on to the next step. This also means that you can always have some of them ready for coating in the freezer. Just remember to put them in a container, if you’re not planning to use them immediately to prevent them from drying out.

You’ll need melted chocolate for your next step (instructions at the very bottom). When it’s melted put the plate it’s on at a lower setting. That way the chocolate in the bowl won鈥檛 solidify and you鈥檒l have more time to cover the balls in chocolate without them disintegrating.

Take the balls out and cover them one by one in melted chocolate, inserting them into a bowl with a spoon and rolling them in chocolate. If you already put them down and you see you’ve missed a spot, cover it by pouring a bit of chocolate over it.

Don’t lick the spoon when you’re still busy – the melted chocolate is super hot. Wait until you’re done with the balls, there will be leftovers. Promise!

Ta-dam!

You’re officially done now. Your delicious chocolate coconut Bounty like delicious treats are ready. If you want to impress your guests even more, you can make the bites perfect by removing the odd looking parts of the chocolate coverage with a knife. Keep refrigerated.

Last but not least, remember that this is a better alternative to what you buy in a shop only if you eat it in moderation 馃檪

INSTRUCTIONS: CHOCOLATE MELTING

Find a small pot and fill it with around 3 cm of water. Put in on the stove and place a bowl on top of it. Smudge the bowl with coconut oil (that way the chocolate won鈥檛 stick to the bowl). You can use a different greasy liquid such as olive oil or butter but with coconut oil you can be sure that it won鈥檛 affect the flavour. Break the chocolate slab into small pieces and place it in the bowl. Don鈥檛 make the setting too high, rather allow more time for the chocolate to melt. Wait until it melts entirely, checking with the spoon whether there aren鈥檛 any pieces left. If everything has melted, you’re ready to start to coat your treats.

LIFE HACK: If you like cooking with chocolate or like chocolate in general, it鈥檒l work out cheaper for you to buy coating chocolate in bags.



How To Get A Driver’s Licence in South Africa As A Foreigner

Yesterday I picked up my actual driver’s licence finishing my almost two year long ordeal of trying to get it. My problem had nothing to do with my skills: I passed both theory and the practical test at my first attempt. The two serious problems that I did encounter were confusing bureaucracy and problems with driving schools. I really hope my experience will save you some time.
I’m pretty sure some tips will be useful to any foreigner living in South Africa but I was doing the test specifically in Cape Town so Cape Town expats may find it more useful than others.

1. Get A Traffic Register Number

You won’t get anywhere without a traffic register number. Because you’re a foreigner, unless you’re a permanent resident, you don’t have an ID. You need this number to be able to apply for your driver’s licence. I was also asking myself why they can’t just use my passport number but computer says no, so just get over it. You’ll also need the TR number if you ever want to buy a car.

The only place where you can apply for a traffic register number in CT is the Cape Town Civic Centre Motor Vehicle Registration Centre. If anyone tells you anything different just ignore them and don’t want to waste your time like I did. To get a traffic register number you officially just need: your passport, your permit, some pics of you. This is what they’ll tell you at the call centre. In reality, it will all depend on the official you’re dealing with.

Some officials will ask you to bring in additional documentation to check whether your permit is legit. Yes, it’s Home Affairs job and HA has already issued your permit but some officials don’t trust us, foreigners.

People with straightforward permits will struggle the least, if asked for additional documentation. On a study permit they may want a confirmation from the University that you study with, on a work permit/critical skills a work contract. I was and am on a spousal visa with the right to run my own business and oh boy… Every person would tell me something else and once I had all the docs the previous person asked me to bring the next person was unhappy. I was asked among other things for: an affidavit confirming that I live with my husband, our marriage certificate, confirmation that I’m self-employed (like from whom, from my mom?) etc. Eventually I got pissed off and with a lot of fake confidence handed in the three things that are officially needed and it worked! If you’re struggling for whatever reason just keep coming over and over again, someone will eventually take your application in.

Once the docs are in the TR number will take between a week and two to be issued. Got it? Cool, now you’re ready for your next step.

2. Get a Learner’s Licence

With your traffic register number you can head to any exam centre to get an appointment for a theory test to obtain your learner’s licence. You’ll also need more pics and some cash but in this case the call centre will be helpful and tell you exactly what’s needed.

A month is enough to prepare. Once you have a date, start learning. Buy the newest K53 in CNA or any other place that sells books and magazines. When you’re familiar with most road signs and rules start doing tests. Your manual should have some but you’ll find a lot of them online too. It’s really not enough just to study because the questions are tricky and if you’re not familiar with the way they’re asked, you’ll fail.

Come to your test appointment on time with the docs you were asked to bring. They’re quite strict about being on time. If you’re just a tad late you may end up publicly shamed instead of not let in but I wouldn’t risk it.

You’ll know your results after more or less half an hour wait. If you’ve passed you’ll get your Learner’s Licence on the spot. It’s an A4 document that’s not super handy but now you can officially drive as long as there’s a licensed driver with you in the car.

3. Get A Driving Instructor

Stock image, not Kevin 馃榾

You may want to cover the basics (what’s what? how to start the car?) with a licensed driver you know, before you get a driving instructor. My search for a proper driving teacher was a tragedy that I’ll summarise for you because it’s also funny, when it’s not you.

My first instructor wasn’t the worst person in the world but he was often late or cancelled on me last minute. He was also a bit of a sexist douche. Last but not least, in 12 lessons he didn’t teach me the Observations, which is absolutely the most important thing in defensive driving that you’ll be tested on. If you don’t do them, you’ll fail as the marking system basically marks you down for every mistake you make. So every time you forget to do observations you lose points.

The instructor from the second driving school I tried arrived with a car that had no speedometer because apparently “a good driver knows the speed they’re going at”. The third school made a good impression on me with the first lesson so I bought a package with them. Getting lessons after I paid was a real fight, the instructors wouldn’t pitch or cancel most of the time. After two months and four lessons, when they started rejecting my calls, I gave up. I knew I wasn’t going to get my money back and fortunately I bought their smallest package. I was not the only one to have this experience. There’s also this story. And this one. And many many more… The school is still somehow managing to have positive Google reviews, which tempted me and is surely tempting someone even now.

Anyway, the instructor you SHOULD get is Kevin. It’s thanks to a friend’s referral that I met him. He’s honestly just great. He’s knowledgeable, reliable, patient and just a nice person. You can contact him on: 0828806318.

4. Get A Test Date

Apart from lessons with my instructors I did quite a bit of driving with my husband. Beware, though, it may slightly upset your marital bliss! I’d say that if you survive one of you learning to drive together you’re meant to be :p

When you feel ready and your instructor seconds that, get an appointment for a practice test. You’ll need more pics and more money but the call centre will tell you exactly what here as well.

My waiting time for the test was a month and a half with the Gallows Hill traffic department. One piece of advice I can give you is: listen to your instructor (especially if that instructor is Kevin) instead of studying the practice part from your K53 manual. It’ll just confuse you.

5. Just Do It

Arrive with a car in good shape (I was mostly learning to drive in our car) at least 15 minutes before your test. Try not to stress (right…I was literally shaking) and ask the Universe for an examiner who’s a pleasant person. It really helps if someone’s not trying to intimidate you on top of how stressed you are.

Don’t worry if you fail. A lot of people don’t manage the first time round. If you manage to pass, you’ll get a temporary licence straight away. It’s unfortunately another A4 document you’ll have to carry with you when driving. I’ve waited another month for my actual licence and didn’t get the sms promised until after I called to enquire and the licence was already there, so call to ask after more or less a month.

Lindt Chocolate Fondant Pudding Making Class

I’m still not done with my writing about our trip to Azerbaijan so stay tuned. Still, seeing that we’ve been back to Cape Town for a while I want to share with you a cool thing we’ve done in the Mother City.

Last weekend we went to the Lindt Chocolate Studio in the Waterfront for a Lindt Chocolate Fondant Pudding Making Class (I know, such a complicated name!). It’s basically a chocolate fondant making class. I know that you don’t know me but if you had known me you would have known that I was never big on cooking. As a result of a creative task from “The Artist’s Way” I’ve made my first home made Bounty and I’ve quite enjoyed it! I’m only interested in desserts for now so I was super excited to try these classes out.

We got our deal on Hyperli but if the special is no longer valid, you can just head to the website of Lindt Chocolate Studio directly to check out what classes they currently offer.

A Dress Up Party Vibes

Some people will find it exciting, others will think it’s lame. I remained unsure what I thought about the fact that I had to wear a Lindt chocolatier outfit throughout the experience. It certainly makes it better that everyone has to wear one too!

The good part is that you won’t get your clothes or shoes messy, even if as one of the participants of our class, you decide to wear high heels and an elegant and light jumpsuit for the occasion (yes, I’m being judgey. It was 10 am!).

How To Make a Delicious Dessert

The class was very well prepared. After you arrive and you put on protective clothes, you can choose your work station. You’ll find everything you need there: both in terms of utensils and ingredients. The thing I liked most was that the Lindt team had absolutely no trust in the participants so some ingredients were already mixed for us. It think it’s great that they assume that people have little experience with cooking as it minimises stress and maximises the enjoyment of the experience.

Our chef’s name was Dimo and he was a very nice guy. The instructions he gave us were clear and more importantly he had a lot of experience so he knew what to warn us against. It was also quite reassuring to me personally to hear all the mistakes that people had done before. I was not going to be, after all, the first person to put chocolate straight into the pot filled with water when trying to melt it with the water bath method.

We were given instructions at each step and apart from it Dimo would walk around the studio, checking whether people were progressing as expected and correcting the course of action when needed. He joked a lot if you did something wrong but in a nice, not mean way. I required some help from my husband but I managed not to do anything overly embarrassing and finished the class with a chocolate fondant ready for baking.

When our chocolate babies were placed in the oven to bake, we were given a short presentation about Lindt chocolate. I must say I’m a big fan of the brand so it was very interesting for me to hear about the chocolate making process. After that, we were introduced to 5-senses tasting technique and given a piece of mild dark chocolate to practise on.

If you look closely you can see who’s taking the picture

By the end of the presentation our fondants were ready and our work stations cleaned. I was very impressed how well the whole experience was organised. It’s astonishing to think that we learnt how to make a delicious dessert in just above an hour.

We ate our fondants with Lindt ice-cream (!!!). They were also additionally boosted with Lindor balls. The dessert was delicious but too indulgent for such an early time during the day. Fortunately, we were given take-away cups where you could place your fondant. We left the place with two Lindors and a fondant mass for baking at home from what the left-overs of the dessert we prepared.

Scope For Further Experimentation

Another cool thing about the classes is that you’re given 10% off your purchases in the Lindt shop, which is a part of the studio. The prices are slightly higher than in supermarkets but with all buy-bulk deals it really makes sense to buy at the shop for bigger purchases.

I was inspired to buy 2,5 kg of Lindt cooking chocolate for my future dessert making experiments. It’s not cheap but if you like cooking with chocolate it works out much cheaper than melting regular slabs and it is a premium quality product. In return I got a free box of chocolates and a loyalty card than in few purchases will result in 20% off!

All in all, it was a really really cool experience and I’d recommend attending one of the classes to anyone who enjoys cooking or is looking for ways to surprise guests at dinner parties.