Staying In – Siege Day 4

Jacob was right all along – a good wash or shower will wash away all your problems. The WHO says so. Remember that incident between our ex pres and the daughter of a friend. Old showerhead has had the last laugh. That military doctor of his and Shabir is a bit of a miracle worker. Just look how long the Shaik has survived past his best before date and how sick our friend Jacob was just the other day and how good he is feeling now. That doctor should be put in control of our national coronavirus efforts. We will all live to a ripe old age.
Speaking of which.
This enforced practice for retirement is showing me just how difficult it is being old. My dad, bless his soul, always said being old is not for sissies. You were so right dad. I am so glad you could enjoy the garden right up to a few months before the end.
We began our day, Lovey and I, at the Café Sombrero sitting partially in the sun and enjoying the garden, the mealiepap (with honey, cinnamon, butter and milk) and the coffee and Kani Bran rusks. Excellent way to start the day. We topped it with a little stroll through the garden, picking some lemons along the way. Not a bad start to a Monday morning.
I have not checked the latest Covid-19 news and stats yet (never mind the Rand). That is all too real. The enormity of the situation only hit home last night. A bit of a slow learner you might say. Its just that although you know the theory – it is different in life. So, slightly sober this morning. We so love to look at the negative we often miss the bright side. It seems 90% + have light symptoms and recover fully. Our chances are actually quite good to make it through this. The glass is nine tenths full. Just don’t spill it or knock it over. And do not kick it.
I am loving the sounds of the children on their bikes and Mr D our trustee in charge of the watering busy with the sprinklers and struggling with a recalcitrant pump. I think that was a Spanish word or two I heard. The pleasant sounds of life.
Not hearing the cars and trucks going past is blissful.
Enjoy the peace while it lasts.
Viva Café Sombrero!

Staying Alive – Day three of Covid-19 lockdown #1

It’s proving to be a long start of a really long weekend. Peaceful, “rustig”, pleasant and relaxing it has been so far, but… for how long?
A cool breeze is pointing to the possible early onset of autumn here in the Cape. We were all hoping the warmer temperatures would chop the virus off at its suckers as was suggested early on in the episode. Not so sure about that any more.
Our garden is looking really good except for the patches of grass where the nineteen guinea fowl who reside with us in the complex have been decimating the lawn. My neighbour above me has had enough. Yesterday he grabbed a red towel and in his pj’s charged them like a matador. Confusion was the order of the day. They slipped back while we weren’t looking though. Tough fowls, these. Real survivors. I see a duel developing. With very fit guineas and a very fit neighbour.
My Lovey is spending a lot of time on her phone. This led me to think, what would we have done pre smartphone? The radio would have been on all day and we would have been on our phones whether cellular or landline talking to people, hearing their voices feeling their emotions. Now we seem more cut off than ever, as if it is a Survivor Virus reality type show. Don’t you feel its all a little surreal? Even dreamlike? As if we all discovered magic mushrooms at the same time. I find communicating via text is just not the same as talking to someone. Just chatting.
Lovey and I have just come back from a walk around the complex gardens which are quite spacious as the developer was generous with the space between buildings back in the day 30 years ago. We met a neighbour jogging and exchanged pleasantries at the two metre gap as required and chatted to another neighbour who was sitting in the sun reading. A real village feeling. A lucky village, as we have enough space, fair security and it is well kept.
On day three; puzzle number two. It is a 500 piece jigsaw puzzle of a dachshund. At least we know all the pieces are in play.
We have an issue with tiny ants which invade our house before rains or when their moisture in the air. Nothing is sacrosanct. As a result we now have ant flavoured cookies amongst other ant infused delicasies in the house. It s an acquired taste, but interesting. Wonder if this is a business opportunity. Ant infused gin. I mean, you can infuse gin with anything these days and make a buck.
Hang in there.

Running home – Day two of siege

Running home – Day two of siege

Made it painlessly through day one of the first SA Covid-19 lockdown. I expected the country to do it (easily) as we are experienced in stay-aways and strikes. Should have been a piece of cake. And it was, except for a few contrarian hold outs in traditionally revolutionary areas. Viva! Viva? Mmmm.

Looking back to Thursday and my experience of it, is interesting.

It hit me at about lunchtime on L-Day -1 that I could be short of my most important meds. We charged down to Clicks and Tops. My wife to find out about a Flu jab and me to stock up on a whisky, a couple of shumba quarts and a box of the sweet pink stuff for my Lovey. Mission possible, even went for a de-fleecing at my barber.

On the way back from filling up our water bottles at Oasis we noticed crowds of people queing up to get into the cash and carry. More than a hundred people with absolutely no social distancing whatsoever.

Really?

My Lovey was given a thousand piece puzzle of a typical Parisian street scene, complete with paintings on easels etc. We launched into the build with great enthusiasm. It is fun to build a puzzle together. Until you realise the reason the puzzle was given to you is that at least 10% of the pieces are missing. Bummer. So watched a bit of Bourne Supremacy for a while. For the third time, I think. The thing is the basic plot is good and the execution brilliant, both the acting and the cinematography is top class. I see all sorts of detail on the second and third viewing. Respect.

Speaking of viewing. Some of our local coverage of the whole “gedoente” is more than a little dodgy. Can our editors not train the junior reporters a bit before sending them out? As for the editing and programme construction. The less said the better. Some of the reportage is very good. Daily Maverick is doing an astounding job. They are curating the flow so as not to inundate the reader. That is good news management.

I did my parkrun 5 km this morning round and round the outer perimeter of our complex, on the inside if you know what I mean. A bit slower than I thought though. Strava does not lie. All of 36 minutes later I staggered into the flat for my second cup of Antigua French Roast. What a reward.

I decide mealiepap was just the thing for breakfast. Last week I had bought a packet of mealiemeal at Pick n Pay. A house brand of theirs called Livewell. I liked the packaging. Now I really should not be swayed by pack design. I have a degree in communication science and supposedly know all about the influence of design, packaging, colour on consumer behaviour, or should. No different to Iwisa. Dollied it up with a blob of butter and squirt of honey. Best survival food ever.

Its just as quiet here this morning as yesterday was. There is quite a plump cloud over the Dome of the Helderberg and a gentle breeze cooling the morning down. The doves are cooing and every now and then you hear the flutter of their wings. I am loving it.

I feel so sorry for the 1170 who have tested positive and their loved ones. With over 28 000 tests done so far it seems we are still below the curve.

Hope it stays that way.

#parkrun #root44

Staying home – a home trip

Staying home

It’s quite still this morning, Friday 27 March, two weeks before the first Good Friday of the new decade. More like a Sunday than the Friday it is.

The news we are hearing is not so good. The first two people have died here in the Western Cape and over a thousand fellow Saffas have tested positive. And this is only the very beginning.

All my alarms are switched off. I have invited nature back into my life. No deadlines, just the rhythm of the day. Bliss.

You must see how many birds and bugs share our garden with the cats and us. I am imppressed.

It is interesting that our government chose to emphasise that one of the victims died while being treated in a private health facility. The “us vs them” mentality so ingrained in our society needs to be flushed out, and quickly. I think most do not realise they are boxing themselves in like that. Self limiting. We are all in this together, whether we like it or not.

My cats are loving it. You can’t here cars, only bird song and chatter. The guineas are roaming the lawn, some say destroying it with their incessant digging others enjoying the sheer freedom the fowls enjoy. Both cats are near me, Gemmer half awake, eyeing the birds casually. Pebbles at peace with the world, doing what cats do so well, fast asleep on the table. I am more aware of the bugs and the buzzing around me. Life goes on.

Several older people live in my complex. They are a bit sombre and have been a bit more serious about it all.

Generation C starts today. The post Covid-19 generation will inhabit a different world to the one we knew. If their brains and tissue cells aren’t fried by 5G they will be caught up in a world of machines dictating their lives, or will they rebel? Say enough is enough. No more. The future will tell.

The youngsters born in the teen years are an amazing generation, better prepared to face the challenges ahead than most before them, I think. So maybe we will have better days ahead. Even the boys can multi-task up to a point.

Twenty-one days to go.

I am quite fortunate in that I have things to do. Hopefully some freelance work, a proposal for a remote learning system to develop, immersion in photography, building puzzles, sorting out the garage, just looking at the butterflies and the bees, working on my cooking skills, or lack thereof. Practice a bit for retirement. No time to be bored.

What will the 21 days bring?

Suzuki S-Presso freshly brewed

The S-Presso is a compact and affordable urban mini SUV with a choice of five model derivatives and two transmission options in SA. Its either a 5-speed manual or AMT (the latter using Suzuki’s Automated Gear Selection (AGS) technology for smooth shifts using a manual transmission with self-actuating clutch) transmission, GL, GL+ or S-edition trim level.

Suzuki S-Presso-180

“We are very excited to introduce the new Suzuki S-Presso in South Africa. It combines many of our most advanced technologies, such as our HEARTECT platform, with our compact SUV expertise to offer a compact, but roomy and well-specified new urban SUV that is truly within everyone’s reach,” says André Venter, divisional manager for sales and marketing at Suzuki Auto South Africa.

The new Suzuki S-Presso shares its 998cc engine with the established Suzuki Celerio. This three-cylinder engine is code-named K10B and offers 50kW at 5 500 r/min and 90Nm of torque at 3 500 r/min and consumption of around 5L/100km.

It is a small car and in a way replaces the rather mundane Alto with a much more funky and practical product.

All versions of the S-Presso are very well equipped and feature electric windows for the front occupants, rear parking sensors, air conditioning, power steering and a multi-information display, which includes information such as distance to empty, trip duration and distance travelled.

On the GL+ model, Suzuki has bumped up the specification with its easy-to-use functional infotainment system. This system is touch sensitive and includes full integration for most smartphones through the in-built Apple CarPlay and Android Auto systems.

This  system also offers USB and auxiliary ports and Bluetooth connectivity as standard and will display the image from the in-built reverse camera on the screen.

S-Edition models retain the infotainment system and mirror the silver detailing on the exterior with similar highlights on the centre console, air conditioning louvres and side door panels.

The range starts at R134 900 for the GL manual and tops off at R160 900 for the S-edition AMT.

It comes with a 5-year / 200 000 km mechanical warranty, one year insurance and two year service plan.

The Renault Kwid is the most obvious alternative, but also look at the Mahindra KUV100, Fiat Panda and Haval H1.

#Doyou #Suzuki #S-Presso

Audi A1 35 TFS1 review

The baby from Ingolstadt is quite a little charmer and feels sporty, smart and upmarket as befits any model sprouting the four rings of Audi.

The A1 just looks right, both on the outside and in the cosseting cabin. The styling is in my opinion spot on and the quality is, well, Audi. Its smart and feels premium. The new model builds and improves on the previous generation and won’t disappoint Audi fans.

Audi Ai 35 TFSi

The nose of the new models has been quite radically changed with a new bigger grille, model specific LED daytime running lights and other changes depending on the options selected. The car as a whole is quite a bit bigger than the original.

The performance and handling is sorted and feels sporty. It is clearly aimed for life in the city, although she will soak up the long road. If you are planning t overtake when the car is fully loaded it may be worth your while to select sport mode as the normal mode will be a little leisurely for some at the moment you floor the volume pedal.

The point is – this car is fun to drive anywhere, especially in Sport mode. Aficionados of the four rings brand will love the new baby from Ingolstadt.

 

The cabin of the A1 is top class and really well laid out. The dash is a little busy. but that is just quibbling. I don’t think you will have any complaints. The bright yellow trim may become a bit much but I kinda liked it. Gives the whole look a youthful zest. The Audi optional MMI display system is impressive and functional, if a little excessive.

The 1.5L turbo-petrol engine produces 110kW and a pretty good 250Nm through the tried and tested VW group 7-speed S tronic box to deliver a satisfying driving experience. I only managed to achieve 9L/100 km in town, but the long term average consumption of the car is 8L/100 km in mixed driving. With a heavy foot in Sport mode expect around 10L/ 100 km and if you really drive with economy in mind you may get 7L/ 100 km.

The car we drove has a total value of R602 500, which includes a long list of optional accessories to the value of R143 600. These include obvious extra accessories like a fancy Bang & Olufsen sound system at R9 500, special 18 inch alloy wheels at R15 600, MMI navigation plus limited Audi connect at R24 500, a black roof at R10 600 and park assist at R13 000.

Some not so obvious extras are the climate and cruise control at R10 300, powered external mirrors for R4 100, leatherette cover for handbrake lever an astounding R2 500, headliner in black at R3 000 and the leather steering wheel at R3 400.
The seats also cost more than standard and the virtual cockpit and smartphone interface is R9 900.

This means the bare car at R458 900 must be quite a plain bare bones affair. Do not judge the car by the pictures you see, especially the dash as it alone has been upgraded by about R45 000.

There are three models in the A1 Sportback range:
30 TFSi with a three cylinder 1L engine at R359 900 (same as standard T-Cross)
35 TFSi with four cylinder 1.4 engine at R458 900 (what we tested)
40 TFSi with four cylinder2.0L engine at R488 000 (driver’s delight)
These are quite basic cars at list prices so plan on adding R100 000 worth of equipment or finishes to the car of your choice as well as either the S-line pack or advanced spec level.

Alternatives include the Mazda3 Astina, Mini Cooper Hatch, as well as the BMW 118I, Honda Civic Hatch and VW Polo GTI with a bit of a stretch.

First published in AutoSold.

Audi Q3 S-line 35 TFSI S-tronic review

She is turbo blue. Very, very blue.

Audi Q3 S-line 35 TFSI S-tronic

She is seriously sassy and has a pair of hips to make das Bavarian Mädchen blush.

Audi’s Q3 is a thing of beauty, from the neatly ironed crease lines to her alcantara trimmings to her stunning dashboard with its oh so smart displays.

Altogether a great work of design. Although I must say I think her mouth is a little big, but let’s not quibble.

Let us also put the elephant in the room to pasture. What with the R152k optional extras fitted to our review car the sticker price is a little eye watering at three quarters of a million Rand, for a subcompact luxury crossover SUV designed for on-road use.

If you have the cash lying around and your heart says yes, you will enjoy this car.

Q3 enjoying the gravel in Betty’s Bay.

I found the engine somewhat laggy and the gearbox a little undecided, but if you are “rustig” and not in a rush, all is well.

Audi claims a 0-100 kph sprint time of 8.9 seconds and it’ll run to a top speed of 204 kph. The Q3 sits well on the road like all Audi’s do and the steering is satisfactory. I got around 7.5L/100km on the open road and around 12L/100km in town, partly perhaps because the little 1.4 engine which puts out 250Nm and 110kW, is working hard (but willingly) to move the relatively large body. Hopefully Audi will add the 2.0L engine soon to the line up. Now that will be a winner.

Audi have chosen wisely in the wheels department, the 18inch 235 x 55 tyres 100v from Hankook give just the right amount of feedback without becoming harsh. A very good compromise and just another example of how well thought out this car is from a design and styling point of view.

The cabin is a pleasure to be in. There are 3 trim levels: Standard, Advanced and S Line. The MMi (multimedia) selector wheel of previous Audis, which was good for inputting instructions when the car was bouncing along a road, has been removed. Personally I think the large touchscreen, good as it is, at the expense of real buttons is a bridge too far. It’s hard to hit the icons with a jiggling finger, however sharp the image may be. One tends to leave fingerprints on the screen as well. Thankfully the climate control retains actual knobs. Audi’s Virtual Cockpit digital instrument cluster is standard and includes all the information you really need.

The rear legroom is good, partly because the seats can slide backwards or forwards depending what your greatest need is – boot space or leg room. In fact the cabin feels quite roomy.

There are four equipment and two styling packages.

The Comfort package at R21 500 adds electric seats with 4-way support and heating, electrically opening and closing boot gate, and park distance control. The Technology package adds MMi navigation, virtual cockpit plus and ambient lighting at R33 500.

For R34 900 you can get the Sport Package which will give you 19 inch cast alloy wheels, 20-spoke V style, Alcantara/leatherette combination upholstery, headlining in black and  ports contour leather-wrapped steering wheel, 3 spoke, flat-bottomed, with shift paddles and multifunction plus.

Finally the S line Interior Package offers bespoke S line styling elements which add a distinctively sporty look to the interior for R15 900.The Black package changes bright trim to black while the parking package adds a 360° camera and park assist for R26 500.

Pricing

The basic trim level costs R565 000, the advanced line R585 000 and the S line R599 000.
A five-year or 100 000 maintenance and repair plan is included.

Cars offering similar specification or space include the VW Tiguan, Volvo XC40, Jaguar E-pace, Mercedes Bens GLA, Peugeot 3008, Mini Countryman, Kia Sportage and Mazda CX5.