Eish!!: March 2009

Friday, March 27, 2009

SA Blog Awards 2009 - Best Food and Wine Blog Review

This category is one I look forward to every year. Although I obviously cannot test out the legitimacy of all the recipes, browsing through the finalists I always find a few I would like to try. That combined with the natural interest in liquid beverages...

Best Food and Wine Blog

[Blogs written primarily about food or drink.]

  • www.cooksister.com : Last year's winner (in two categories) is back. Seamlessly interspersing personal and food related posts, the easy going writing style in posts just the right length make this another strong contender this year. Written by a South African residing in London there is an eclectic mix recipes. In fact, I am extremely tempted to try out the latest recipe for my visitors this weekend. The design and layout of this blog hasn't changed much if at all since last year (Not that I'm one to talk) so as good as the content may and the food may taste be it does have a slighly dated feel to it.
  • thecru.co.za : Written by Brendon Shaw, a guy who's passion for wine shines through his writing. Beautiful pictures of food and the wine country are included but it's the wine and wine estate reviews that set this blog apart from the crowd. Reading through the last couple of months worth of posts, I have already learnt alot about the local (Cape) cultivars and even discovered some estates. Next time I need to stock up on some wine I will be making a stop here so I can make some educated purchases. The design is classic 2009 blog styling. It's clean, easily navigated and the posts neatly categorised and there's some quality links in the side panel.
  • 4cousins.blat.co.za : A quirky outlet for the marketers of a quirky wine, Four Cousins. Although all the posts essentially center around wine, they are not necessarily only about the wine being marketed. There are tips and ideas for serving wines, recipes, pairing advise and general information that a newbie can use to feel like they know just enough not to be belittled by the wine elite.

  • my-easy-cooking.com : Nina Timm is a stay-at-home mom, wife, want-to-be chef and caterer. Her recipes are inherently South African and decidedly pratical. Well within the reach of the 'amateur' cook her recipes are presented in a way that feels exciting but attainable. A blogger.com blog I can't help but think template could do with a little upgrade, a little chic understated template redesign would up the ante both nationally and internationally.

  • whatsforsupper-juno.blogspot.com : AKA Scrumptious Blog, another blog using the blogger platform that has made into the finals. Written under the pseudonym 'Juno' by a 'shy' freelance writer and food obsessor, this blog is all about food and recipes. The recipes presented range from things you expect to see at an international class restaurant to Granadilla cake made with Coca-Cola. What is most evident in the posts is the amount of effort that goes into each entry. There are back stories, tips and/or a bowl full of information on the ingredients preceding each recipe. This one is most definitely for the enthusiasts.
  • blog.winecountry.co.za : Henré, aka 'the Plank', has created an awesome portal for all things wine in and around Paarl and Cape Winelands. The classy design effortlessly aggregates the information available to the reader. I was immediately drawn into clicking myself far into the depths of this site. I was relieved to learn that there are multiple contributors as this blog has wine, food, tasting and event reviews, recipes and even videos ... and there are Afrikaans articles nogal! An awesome resource and worldclass window into the Cape Winelands

  • foodblogs.24.com/tonguetickle : Great, simple, resourceful and practical recipes abound at Tongue Tickle. If it weren't for the lack of freedom of expression granted in terms of design by 24.com blogs this could well have been my favourite foodie blog. The tiny 'banner' that get's lost under the food24blogs header minimises if not completely obliterates any chance of the author creating any sort of branding opportunities. I would also like to read a little more background to tge recipes presented. Despite this Tickle has managed to pull in a pretty neat community, I would be intrigued to see how this could be translated in to the greater web-o-sphere.
  • blogs.thetimes.co.za/pendock : Neil Pendock is South Africa’s leading independent drinks commentator and a columnist for the Sunday Times, Financial Mail, winenews.co.za and Good Taste magazine. I first read Neil's online column a few months ago when he threw the spotlight on one of my old school buddies, now a winemaker. Reading his column (difficult to call this blogging), it is immediately evident that writing is his bread and butter. None of this amateur vague sentence-thought connections put onto the web for those who have nothing else do to to read. Here you have stories that once you finish reading you realise that you have just experienced a wine tasting event as if you were actually there or somehow know exactly what the wine tasted, smelt and even felt like. Apparently being 'now redeployed as an intermittent intermezzo,' I fear that this new found joy may become rare or even extinct
  • relax-with-dax.co.za : ... and on the other end of the scale we have Dax Villanueva. An IT professional that enjoys experiencing all Cape Town's gastronomic pleasures, it would seem. He doesn't pretend to be a professional food critic and I found is reviews refreshingly honest. It's always nice to get the feel of an establishment from the perspective of the ordinary man on the street. This you get, and should you chose to, you will not alone because he to seems to have managed to gain quite a following. While I did find his template design in itself practical and appropriate, the loud font used for the text in the posts gave you the feeling that Dax was shouting the text at you.
  • spitorswallow.co.za : 'Its an experience' is the byline for this 'blog' for wine lovers. On the positive, the masthead is probably the best of this year's entire crop of finalists, across all categories. Classy, quirky, off the wall, yet somehow belletristic (I know this is more of a literary reference, but just fits perfectly here). It fits into a site that is designed in way that you almost expect to get that slight breeze you feel when turning the slightly higher caliper paper of a glossy magazine. So now that the gushing is over, I am not convinced that Spit or Swallow should be sitting in the running for a blog award. Although it calls itself a blog, it is essentially a review site. Wine estates are listed and a short description/review offered, thereafter the reviews are left to visitors to the site. There is then a rating (swallow) that is given by each reviewer. Weblog? Me thinks not, but a cool site nonetheless.
My prediction :
  • Eish!! this is a tough one. Many of these finalist appear to have quite a support base andobviously loyal readership is where the bulk of the votes will come from. TongueTickle may just have the edge, if Cooksister's supporters let her down this year
  • Eish's pick : blog.winecountry.co.za

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

South Africans set to pay for Last.fm streaming (along with most of the globe)

According to this post at Last.fm blog, South Africans along with the rest of the world's users not resident in the US, UK or Germany will have to pay €3.00 per month to stream the over 7 million tracks in the Last.fm catalogue from the 30th March 2009.
The vague post claims this is ' In order to keep providing the best radio service on the web.' While I have no reason to doubt that this is yet another case of the short-sighted record companies meddling with internet business cases, the truth is that these are countries where they have the capacity to best market for ad sales, their funding source. They utilise CBS Interactive in the US, are UK based and apparently have always had a string presence in Germany.

For someone who just last week began fully utilising this service and a total convert, this is extremely disappointing and the 685 comments and counting under the post announcing the news shows that I am not the only one.

Q&A for users outside the US, UK or Germany (Source http://blog.last.fm)

Q. When does this go into effect?
A: We are currently planning to switch to subscription radio outside the US, UK, and Germany on Monday, March 30.

Q. What happens if I’m already a subscriber, or I buy a subscription before March 30th?
A. Your subscription will continue to be valid and automatically gain Last.fm Radio functionality after the switch. Existing subscribers don’t need to change anything.

Q. Does this affect listening to previews or full length tracks?
A. No.

Q&A for users in the US, UK or Germany

Q. Will I be affected by the changes to Last.fm Radio?
A. No!

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SA Blog Awards 2009 - Best Science and Technology Blog Review

It's that time of the year again. The SA Blog Award's voting process is in full swing and you have until the 1st April to exercise your democratic right to make the ego of a blogger that much bigger. As usual to assist you in making your decision, Eish!! will be reviewing the finalists in selected categories.

Best Science and Technology Blog
[Blogs primarily focused on Science, Technology, Computers or the Internet]

  • dchetty.co.za : Relaunched in November 2008 and needing 'to start at the very bottom of the pile,' D Chetty is producing masses of content primarily technology focused but not even close to being able to be truly pigeon-holed as a technology blog. I have full respect for a guy who is able to churn out content on such diverse topics, not afraid to express an opinion or two along the way. The site design is impressive and you can see that he is a blog reader himself and has borrowed design hits from various sources. If I had to find something to criticise it would be the lack of a masthead. Some type of branding would be a good way to create an identity in a space he is clearly beginning to make his mark
  • startupafrica.com : It's all in the name. 'StartUpAfrica is a blog dedicated to entrepreneurship in Africa with a particular focus on technology entrepreneurship.' Ismail Dhorat uses this blog as a vehicle to disseminate information, thoughts, useful information and tools a startup can use to get from the birth of an idea, to market and ultimately to success. He also uses it as a way to highlight African startups in the ICT industry. I particularly liked the 'Submit Startup' button on the top menu, where startups can submit their details for review. The layout is simple and business-like, not a great fan of maroon personally but the quality of the content more than compensates for this.
  • matthewbuckland.com : Last year's best business blog, written by someone who was a SA Blog Awards judge in 2007, one would expect this blog to be a strong contender in this category this year. The thing is, when Matthew Buckland speaks, people listen. When the the GM of Publishing & Social Media at 24.com, the former GM of Mail & Guardian Online, the co-founder amatomu.com and Thought Leader (pause for breath here) writes it's always something worth reading. I enjoy reading the tech. stories and innovations written and reviewd in a comprehensive, but not overly wordy manner. The design is unexciting yet functional and the Presentation links are worth the visit on their own if you have any interest in web and technology trends.
  • bandwidthblog.com : Not much has changed since last years review of Charl Norman's tech blog. Now is the a good or bad thing? I guess if you are the reviewer it's not so good. If you are wanting to get the low down on what is important in the Web 2.0 scene both international and local then this is a great thing, this is still the place to go. The simple design keeps your focus on what is really important, the content.

  • imod.co.za : Also in the running for SA Blog of the Year and last year's winner in this category Chris Mill's 'Cape Town blog' has become one of SA's premier blogs. Unlike the previous blog reviewed the design and content has continually morphed over the past year and once again I would find it difficult to have to categorise this as a tech. blog, in fact the Blog of the Year award seems way more of a fit as Chris shares his internet and technology finds and prowess just as readily as he does pieces of his personal life's experiences. I've always enjoyed Chris's various design templates for iMod, they are always simple and functional.
  • pauljacobson.org : Probably best described as a personal blog about tech, Web and Digital Media lawyer Paul Jacobson uses this blog as an outlet for his interest in gadgets and other 'cool stuff.' This web offering probably epitomises what a blog should be. Information shared by enthusiasts with just enough knowledge and passion to make for great reading. This blog has a great design, great content and sufficient local focus to be added to my regular read list.
  • systemshock.co.za : I have to admit systemshock.co.za is a new site to me. For someone who regularly trawls the SA blogosphere and has a particular interest in technology this surprises me. That said anyone interested in hardware and particularly gaming will eat this blog up for breakfast .. and then come back for more for lunch. The site design is something I can only aspire to. It presents it's mass of information in a way that is easy to take in, and I must give special menu for the neat sliding menu at the top. Shiny and smooth! I have to,however give a 'grrr' to the lack of any 'About' page. A pet hate of mine, as I always like to find out more about the source of the information I am reading, and give kudos in these reviews.
  • handytechtips.blogspot.com : This blog appears to be a bit of a wildcard. Again, like the previous blog, written by a seemingly anonymous blogger (no biography or about page) this site template when compared to the other finalists has a distinctive web 1.0 feel to it. But let's push that to the side for a moment and look at the content. Of all the finalists this one offers the most content that the average Joe ... er ... Barber can use. Tips on how to use internet services to save money, get free games etc from a South African perspective is going to have huge appeal to the non-internet elite.
  • skepticdetective.wordpress.com : I write this review with a certain amount of trepidation. After doing my usual scan through a finalist's latest page or three worth of posts, and reading a short (they are always short) biography, I am usually able to get a feel for what the author(s) are trying to achieve, the tools and knowledge they bring to the blog and the overall objective for them publishing what they do. After going through this sequence this time I felt like I missed something. Firstly, the reason for their nomination is clearly based on science, not technology ... I think. The lack of background information of the author (another grr) or blog means I have to assume the sceptism them applies to everything ... I think. The simple design makes for easy navigation and neat albeit uninspiring presentation, which is a pity as although the I struggled with the overall data package, the individual postings made for extremely interesting reading.
  • samsungblog.co.za : This is the place to go for all things Samsung ... from a South African perspective. Trawling through site for the first time its was not immediately obvious to me if this was an official Samsung property. Obviously scrolling to the bottom of the page confirmed this to be the case, but then I found myself asking a) if this ambiguity was done so on purpose and b) if so (or not) is this a good thing. Perhaps a more obvious branding would give it more 'officialness?' I also noticed that this was created by Cerebra, a bunch I have immense respect for, and this unfortunately meant I suddenly expected more. More of what? I have no idea, just more! The design is functional, if not stimulating and has all the necessary components in all the right places, although I would like to see the 'downloads and manuals' placed in a more visible spot, I found it's positioning and conservative typeface easy to overlook.
My prediction :
Vote here

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Twouble with Twitter - Video

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Cape Town singer Black Porcelain supporting International dup poet Linton Kwesi Johnson

I enjoy keeping track of those artists featured on the Eish!! Friday SA Music Spotlight. So when I received the following press release from Balck Porcelain, who was featured on the 10th October last year, the decision to publish it was an easy one...

South African singer songwriter Black Porcelain has been chosen to support internationally renowned (reggage) dub poet Linton Kwesi Johnson, who is touring with the fabulous Dennis Bovell Dub Band, on the Cape Town leg of his tour. This is a major feat for rising star Black Porcelain, who independently released her eclectic 5 track EP Green last year. Green was very well received across the country, receiving airplay on national, regional and campus radio stations alike.

Black Porcelain kicked off the year with an inspiring performance at the 2009 Women’s Show at the CTICC and is now currently working on her first full length album. Born and raised in Soweto, this tireless singer is very excited to be opening for such a respected artist “I was a little shocked initially, but now I’m so excited. I can’t wait to warm the stage for and share it with LKJ.”

The Linton Kwesi Johnson show in Cape Town takes place on the 1st of May in Wynberg at Maynardville. He will also be performing in Johannesburg, Durban and Grahamstown. Tickets are available from computicket.

For more information on the performance go to: www.whatsonsa.co.za

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Friday, March 20, 2009

Friday SA Music Spotlight - Cutout Collective

I saw these guys interviewed on some local Dstv show and really liked their personalities. Their knowledge of the local music scene within their genre and the energy they exude, oddly in a super laid back way, caught my attention.
So I did the Eishman thing and began trawling the interwebs. Like any self-respecting musician they have a MySpace and Facebook page and although they could probably make better use of these platforms there was enough for me to take a good listen and be extremely impressed.
My personal taste in electronic music is somewhere on the chilled, world, acoustic and eastern groove side. However there is just enough late 80's, early 90's edgy, synth electronica to grab my attention. Check out my favourite track 'Bloodlines' (available for free download here) and Fossils, and you will see what I mean. These guys are destined to make it big if they can stick at it and build up their audience.
Cutout Collective is Tim Apter, Jason Hartford, Flikkerr & Max Lehr and the for their sins are Johannesburg locals (Cape Town streets are too narrow for them!), keep your eye out for them their debut EP Eponymous will be released shortly and their tunes seem like they would be wild live!


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Monday, March 16, 2009

Cape Town Hospital Bend Road Closure Information

Public service announcement time :

Taken from capetown.gov.za


Construction work on the road improvements at Hospital Bend is progressing very well, and the contractor, Haw & Inglis, has managed to maintain traffic flows.

The dismantling and erection of gantries to facilitate the construction of bridge decks across sections of Hospital Bend is to continue at night, during traffic off-peak times over the next two weeks.

From Sunday night 15 March 2009 up to and including Wednesday 18 March 2009 (or earlier if work progresses better than expected) from 23:00 each night to 05:00, Hospital Bend city-bound only will be closed to all traffic.

This closure is required to allow the removal of the temporary girder support structure which was required for the construction deck of the new Anzio Road Bridge across the city-bound lanes.

To accommodate night time traffic, the following arrangements have been made, similar to the arrangements which were in use previously:
• N2 (Settlers Way) inbound traffic will be diverted at the Main Road turn-off. From there city-bound traffic can turn right in Main Road and get back onto Hospital Bend via Anzio Road. South-bound traffic turns left in Main Road to get back onto Rhodes Drive via Woolsack Drive
• M3 (Rhodes Drive) in-bound traffic will be diverted via Woolsack Drive to Main Road. City-bound traffic will proceed via Anzio Road as described before, while traffic bound for Settlers Way can turn right at the Main Road/Settlers Way intersection.

Traffic travelling away from the city centre will not be affected.

From Sunday 22 March 2009 to Wednesday 25 March 2009, between 23:00 and 05:00 only, Eastern Boulevard in-bound will be closed to traffic from the De Waal Drive split at the top of Hospital Bend. During these times all traffic will continue towards the city along De Waal Drive.

This closure is required to allow the contractor to continue the erection of temporary support structures for the construction of the deck of the new De Waal Drive Bridge over Eastern Boulevard inbound lanes.

Traffic can proceed along De Waal Drive to the city, or alternatively get back onto Eastern Boulevard towards the city via Upper Roodebloem Road, which is accessible via an existing break in the separation between the opposing carriageways of De Waal Drive just under 1 km after the De Waal Drive – Eastern Boulevard split.

Detours will be clearly marked. Officers from Cape Town Traffic Services will be in attendance to assist the public.

To date all night time detours have been very effective with minimal disruption to the general public. We want to take this opportunity to thank the public for their patience and support during the closures to date.

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Friday, March 13, 2009

Friday SA Music Spotlight - Chasing Friday

It's been a while, but the Eish!! SA Music Spotlight is back! I like to do the bands I highlight justice, so when time is short I prefer not to post a half-hearted attempt and wait until I have some quality time available.
This week was almost another one past, when I got a quick reply from one of the bands on my shortlist. The enthusiasm and willingness to interact inspired me to drop what I was doing and start typing this post.

'If you’ve ever been stuck in a dead-end job (hopefully not anymore) you’ll know exactly what it means to be ‘chasing Friday’. Phill Black on lead vocals, Brendon Hull on backing vocals and lead guitarist , bass guitarist Nico Mouissie and drummer Andrew Mellish make up Chasing Friday a Cape Town band making waves on the local scene and seemingly on the brink of making that all important leap into the commercial success on the SA music scene.

Their current single 'It's not like London's calling you' is a moody/grungy melody fits into the current
consciousness of the SA youth torn between the love of their country, the perceived greener pastures beckoning and the bonds they have built with their peers at home. This, along with the tunes I have heard around the various internet properties they are utilising to get their gospel spread, already illustrates a growing, quality catalog of raw grungy rock and roll.

With the music video below already featured on Fuse TV in America , MK and DSTV's HD channel and singles getting airplay on Radio 2000, Tuks Fm and Mfm almongst others things are happening for these guys.

I thought it would be fun to get to know the guys a bit better, so here's a short text interview with the lead singer Phill.

How did the various band members find each other?
Nico bumped into Andrew on Facebook, I pulled in a few months later (knew Andrew frm school, since 96, we went to SACS together) through another band, Autopilot, we met Brendon! (he was good buddies with them!)

What names were in consideration before Chasing Friday won?
One was wilderthanvan....pretty crap! Can`t remember any others???

How are you using the web to market the band and how do you intend to going forward?
We are doing the obvious thing.....Facebook!But we also take pride in www.chasingfriday.com keeping it updated every week. you can download our debut produced track on iLike. We also have our music vid on various US sites and as a result it aired on Fuse US TV in the states shoot funny vids of us messing around.....and stick em up all over! Myvideo, youtube etc

What is the weirdest gig you have played?
ROAR springs to mind, you need garlic to fend off the vampires....... also after winning the CT leg of the RBF SABC battle of the bands, then having to pay for ourselves to get to the final in Gauteng, then waiting 12hours with 22 bands ahead of us, to only allowed to play 2 tracks????? ( you just gotta smile and wave boys! )

How would you describe the SA music scene?
Growing, with great potential! It is a very exciting time to be part off it! We love rocking out in SA.

What is Chasing Friday aiming to do during 2009?
Dominate South Africa and the world....seriously!!! Also shoot our 2nd music vid, get onto 5fm and work with our chosen charity REACH FOR A DREAM!

What will you be doing during the 2010 World Cup?
Apart from watching all the games, playing at one of them to. Listen out for our second single LET ME BE YOUR CHAMPION and you will know what i mean!


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How tough was the Argus Cycletour?

For those of you who missed my live Twitter feed as I struggled around this year's Argus Pick n Pay Cycletour click here for pictorial journal of my progress.

While it must be made clear that this year I was as unfit as I have ever been, this years tour was by all accounts toughest of the seven I have completed and would have been even if I had done a few km.s training. The gale force winds had a huge effect on all participants. Exactly how much of an effect is illustrated by the following statistics just in.

Target time Equivalent 2009 “Storm” time

2:45 actual 3:10

3:00 actual 3:35

3:15 actual 3:55

3:30 actual 4:20

3:45 4:45

4:00 actual 5:05

4:15 actual 5:25

4:30 actual 5:45

5:00 actual 6:25

5:30 actual 7:10

6:00 actual 8:00

In 2008, 1781 people did a “Sub-3”. In 2009 there were only 111. In 2008, 12844 people did a sub-4. In 2009 there were 4467. In 2008, 21765 people did a sub-5. In 2009 there were 12077.

Of the 73 start groups, only 2 made it through the first 100m without anyone crashing.

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Monday, March 9, 2009

Matt Damon at the Argus (Video)

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Thursday, March 5, 2009

Facebook Homepage change coming

Start preparing yourselves Facebook users. Next week your home page is going to be changing. As Facebook moves a more 'live' or real time experience the live feed will now be taking centre stage, or column. While this has the potential to create a load of noise, you will be able to filter the stream via friend lists.
The other major change Facebook will be adding will allow you to publish directly into this stream, rather than having to navigate to other Facebook pages.

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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Learner Husband

A few weeks ago I was treated to an early performance of Stuart Taylor's latest production, Learner Husband.
Learner Husband is Stuart's attempt to educate the male species using comedy, magic and ... pictures, yes pictures in the buildiong blocks to a successful relationship with the opposite sex. The problem? Its presented by a male, who admits to not yet having figured this out in his own life. But this means a whole load of back-tracking, qualifying, audience participation and even more laughter.

"Comedian Stuart Taylor and director Heinrich Reisenhofer team up to create the definitive relationship crash-course for the modern South African man. Revealing tips and secrets from Stuart’s soon to be published best seller: K53 for Learner Husbands, this step by step program that prepares you to survive the most perilous of driving tests: marriage.

Look out for Warning Signs they never tell you about (till it is too late) as well as Stuarts patented rescue formula ‘Sorry Honey, I was wrong!’. And that’s not all... Stuart will also reveal the early chapters of the nappy-busting sequel K53 for Learner Dads."

I experienced one of the preview evenings of this production and while still in development it was thoroughly entertaining, well thought-out and funny. I can only imagine how much this must have morphed and grown into a something special and truly South African.

Learner Husband is back @ The Baxter Theater in Rondebosch until the 14th March before Stuart takes it back to the Market Theater in Johannesburg in May.

Links :

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Monday, March 2, 2009

Twittering the Cycletour

As I have essentially not been able to train for this year's Argus Cycletour around the Cape Peninsula, I have been looking for a way of forcing myself to take it easy and make regular stops along what is sure to be an ardous course in my present condition.
I found it. This year I will be twittering my progress and my experiences as I struggle around the 110 odd kilometer course. The Cycletour is Cape Town's premier event and around 32 000 cyclists take part cheered on by thousands and thousands of supporters who don't just spectate, they participate as they egg on, water down and push up total strangers who like me find the trip more than just a challenge. Hopefully the upcoming tweets from hacker Eishman will help you experience a little of this spectacular event.

Follow from me on 07h30 Sunday 8th March (South African time) on twitter here, or keep refreshing this page and follow the updates in the left columns of Eish!! under the heading I'm Tweeting ...

... and while you are at it pop over to www.race4change.co.za and sponsor the Eish!! team.


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