How to enjoy a Comic Con!

On Sunday September 16th, I attended my first Comic Con – the first ever Comic Con in Africa!

I have waited YEARS for Comic Con to come to SA, and as soon as I saw the announcements my Glugster and I were determined to go. Hubby doesn’t mind dressing up, but its me who wants to CosPlay, and its so easy with Terry Pratchett’s Nanny Ogg as my alter ego!! So hubby came along in civvies and carried all our stuff, while I hung onto my hat! 😛

As soon as we could we booked our tickets for the Sunday (Saturday was already sold out), and I started checking on my costume. I tried to make my boots more red, made sure I had the right spray to make my hair white, and got my mom to make me a cape (the last one I used was rented).
In the weeks ahead of Comic Con I asked a couple of friends to play Granny Weatherwax and Magrat Garlick to my Nanny Ogg, and we went as Terry Pratchett’s Wyrd Sisters! It was SO much fun, and we were recognised a lot more often than I thought we would be – with people taking pictures with us and of us!

Picture by Starbright Jewellery

Once we got home, I realised I hadn’t taken NEARLY enough pictures of the day, and some of the incredible costumes I saw, and we hadn’t seen everything there was to see! I started thinking about how we can make sure we miss nothing next time, and that is how this blog post came about.
So. What will I do differently next year?

  • First – shoes!
    I will make sure that both my Glugster and I are wearing super-comfy shoes (mine were no problem, his weren’t fabulous) because there’s a LOT of walking and standing at Comic Con!
  • Second – we will start saving money WELL in advance!*
    Food and drink at expos is notoriously pricey (as in R20 for a can of Coke) and you can’t spend the day there and NOT eat, but you need money for all the cool stuff thats on offer! The original artworks and paintings and jewellery were SO “must-have”, and if you are a collector there are comics and games and all kinds of things you may be battling to find in actual shops.
  • Third – we will have a “schedule”!
    Our plan is to first check the list of talks and workshops happening and what time they are taking place so we can be sure to be in the right place at the right time. Then we will do a tour of ALL the stalls and displays and have a good look at everything on offer and on show. Then we’ll break for food, and THEN we will walk around checking out everyone’s costumes and taking pictures of, and with them!

If you went to Comic Con Africa this year, did you get a VIP ticket? Is it worth the expense?

*There is NO way I will ever fork out several hundred rands for a photo with a celebrity, unless I win the lottery!

Mall Crawling!

~~~ this blog post was not solicited by any person or organisation, I wasn’t paid or asked to write it ~~~

My son and I have always been mall rats, enjoying spending time window shopping and browsing in shops, and as our knucklehead is home for the weekend, the three of us decided to go and check out the new Mall of Africa today. We were dying to try the Krispy Kreme and Starbucks, but as it was a Saturday afternoon the queues were a little crazy, so we headed for Cinnabon instead.

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We strolled around checking out the shops for hours, with my Glugster and the knucklehead getting stuck in BT Games and The Gadget Shop while I checked out places like Claire’s and Accessorize! 😀
We were very happy to note that the Ster Kinekor has a Cine Prestige (and an imax), so for future date nights we don’t have to drive for miles to see a movie in absolute comfort!
I was supposed to visit Kaz Lingerie on the mall’s opening day, but the insane traffic and crowds put me off completely, so I popped in there today. If, like me, you are particularly well endowed when it comes to boobage, and you need quality bras that won’t break the bank, Kaz is the place to go!! The ladies are incredible and they go out of their way to find the perfect bra for you! I had to giggle though- when my Glugster and I headed in there, the knucklehead waited outside! 😛

Ooh – and I was very impressed with the bathrooms! There were plenty of stalls in the ladies loo, and they were clean (which I think should go without saying in a brand new mall), but what I really liked was the one basin that has been lowered, the handbag hooks on the walls that are within reach of the loo, and the fact that the stalls are big enough to step into AND close the door behind you – without having to straddle the toilet seat! AND I wasn’t bashing my elbows on the walls of the stall!

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We spent an age in Hamleys toy shop, where I was delighted to find Schleich horses that I can add to my collection, and then we headed back to the food court for a very late “lunch”.
All the fast food places had queues for days, so since we were actually feeling like pizza we decided to try out Hello Tomato – which we had never heard of before seeing it today!

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While we waited for our pizzas, which were really yummy on thin crusts, the knucklehead went to carve his name in the wooden Africa-shaped boards they have set up in the food court for visitors to “autograph”.

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After we’d eaten we headed for the Checkers to try and take advantage of some specials they had on offer this weekend, but by then the mall had started to get REALLY busy so the queues for tills were crazy. We headed for the express tills as we only had 9 items, so we weren’t too long waiting, but the shop was uncomfortably full by then, with not a lot of room between the tills and the start of the shelves, so we decided to head home.

There is only one parking meter at each entrance at the moment, so you queue for a bit to pay for your parking, but you can pay by card – like the Gautrain ticket machines, so you don’t have to first go and find an ATM if, like us, you never carry cash anymore.

The mall itself is very beautiful, and inside it feels open and light and airy, and today we only really checked out the one level so we will definitely be heading back there, although it won’t be on a weekend if my husband has any say in the matter. 😛

Sad, Sad Santarama Miniland

Last weekend, my Glugster decided he wasn’t in the mood to stay home and binge on series, so he Googled up a storm to see what was free in Joburg, and decided we must go and see the James Hall Museum of Transport, since it’s free entry. I love museums, with many fond memories of trekking through all kinds of different ones with my family, so I was very keen.
Off we went, only to discover that the place is closed on the third weekend of every month!
Not wanting to waste our drive out there, we did some more Googling and found the Bensusan Museum Of Photography And Library, but it was also closed already.

Then we remembered we had driven past Santarama Miniland on the way to the transport museum, so we decided to stop there. There were a few buses and cars in the parking lot, so it looked busy, and parts of the giant van Riebeeck statue had been repainted. My Glugs has fond memories of visiting the place as a child, and I’d never been, so we were both keen on visiting it.
There was nobody at the gate as we walked in, and there was the racket of happy kids from inside, so when we met up with someone just inside and she said there was a graduation party going on, I asked if we could walk around while they partied on, and we didn’t pay an entry fee.

The first thing we saw as we went through was a run down putt-putt course, and a HUGE statue of Michael Jackson! Huge as in two or three stories tall! Of all things!

We carried on down the path, rather aimlessly as there didn’t seem to be any directions or guide anywhere, it became clear why we hadn’t been asked to pay an entry fee.
Neglected is not the word.
Abandoned. Forgotten. Dilapidated.
Only the party venue in the corner behind the entrance is still maintained.

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March 2014: image credit The Citizen

As we walked around we were horrified by the ruin. It was almost too depressing to take pictures. The harbour is mostly empty. The giant shark – which I don’t get – has had dots and eyelashes drawn on it, and it now lounges in smelly mud. Some of the signs have been re-written by hand, with a permanent marker- the horrendous spelling a testament to disinterest. There are dead birds in various states of decay just lying around.
On the street side of the park, a tree has fallen over and collapsed the fence.

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When we got home I took to Google to try and find out what the hell had happened.

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The place is 42 years old, opened in September 1973 by SANTA to aid in fundraising for their fight against TB, and whilst they still own it the place was put under new management in about 2010. Perhaps after 42 years a level of neglect is to be expected, but this was quite ridiculous.

2013 picture credit: PathFinda

2013 picture credit: PathFinda

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The Hop-on Hop-off bus doesn’t even stop there anymore, although it used to!

I found the following on Jozikids amongst a string of negative reviews, but clearly things didn’t get much further after Mr Pillay posted:

Friday, 8th April 2011 at 01:28:34 PM
The Website had been updated on the day that I spoke to you, the price change as well as the fact that Miniland is under new management and ongoing repairs / maintenance. Santarama Miniland is actually owned and operated by the South African National Tuberculous Association. 
The place is under new management and ongoing maintenance / upgrade, we apologise for any inconvenience caused during this time of upgrading and assure our client’s that Santarama Miniland’s management team are doing everything in their power to restore Santarama to originality as quick as possible so as to eliminate any future disappointments. 
Regards 
Mr Pillay 
Property & Asset Manager 

Strangely enough, SouthAfrica.com still describes Miniland as “…a truly enjoyable and rewarding Johannesburg attraction…” with “…an amazing replica of the Dromedaris… a venue for parties, functions, events and weddings…” even though the ship was destroyed by fire in September 2013! There’s no trace of the ship now, but it used to look like this, and my Glugster remembers walking around on it.

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picture credit: 2summers

Looking at pictures of the park in its heyday makes me wish it had been maintained… There were little people in and on the models, and the models themselves had lights, music, and moving parts. There was a water feature running from a mini-Howick Falls, into a mini-Wagendrift dam, down a little river into a mini-harbour.
The mini-train doesn’t exist anymore let alone run on its overgrown track, although it’s said to be “in for repairs”, and there are pieces of a little display train now scattered around the park.

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image credit: MAHALA

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Robben Island has moved!

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2011 image credit: MAHALA

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I found this picture of the Maatjiesfontein display from way back when…

And look at it now…

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It’s very sad, and really not worth a visit.

Upfront Africa With Discovery Networks

Last night, my Glugster and I were lucky enough to attend the Discovery Networks Upfront Africa event at Levelthree Premium Venue, where the 2016 lineups for the Discovery Channel South Africa, Animal Planet, and TLC Africa were announced.

Whitney Thore was on stage, as was Andi Rive – The Lion Queen, and after a card trick or four Troy The Magician got someone on stage who then coloured in a picture he had drawn – and while he had his back turned she had to choose one colour at a time… And then he told us to look under our seats for a photograph from a photoshoot last week!

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The winner of TLC Next Great Presenter competition was also announced – Namibia’s David Mbeha. While our vote totally went to Joburg’s Star, David is very deserving of the win. What a personality for a twenty-year-old! He will become the first-ever African presenter for the channel!

I got to do some celeb “stalking” too, while nibbling on delicious snacky things – sushi FTW – and sip champagne. Here’s me with Whitney Way Thore, Troy The Magician, The Lion Queen, and Mix 93.8 FM‘s Helen Desbois!

Here’s the official press release:

DISCOVERY NETWORKS AFRICA UNVEILS ITS 2016 PROGRAMMING SLATE

Discovery Channel Presents New Scripted Series HARLEY-DAVIDSON; Oprah Returns to TLC with BELIEF; and More Local Content on Animal Planet with THE LION QUEEN S2 and MAN IS WILD.

Johannesburg, November 18 2015; Discovery Networks today announced its impressive 2016 programme line-up in spectacular fashion at its exclusive Upfront event in Johannesburg. The event also saw the crowning of Discovery’s first African presenter for TLC, as David Mbeha from Namibia was announced the winner of the hotly-anticipated TLC NEXT GREAT PRESENTER campaign.

Over 200 guests were treated to the presentation which saw Discovery and DStv executives announce the key shows set to premiere in Africa next year across Discovery Channel, TLC Entertainment and Animal Planet, while performances byWhitney Thore (MY BIG FAT FABULOUS LIFE), Andi Rive (THE LION QUEEN) and Troy (TROY) provided added star power to the night’s proceedings.

“2016 is set to be another incredible year for Discovery Networks in Africa, with a fantastic slate of new series and one-off specials proving yet again why we have the leading factual entertainment portfolio in Africa,” said James Gibbon, EVP & Country Manager, Discovery Networks CEEMEA. “From landmark documentaries filmed right here in Africa on Animal Planet and even more must-see lifestyle content on TLC, to a brand-new ambitious scripted series for Discovery Channel, next year our content offering will be second-to-none!”

DISCOVERY CHANNEL

Key Discovery Channel series announced at the event include the ground-breaking documentary SHERPA premiering in Q2, which details how Mount Everest’s Sherpa community united following the deadly avalanche that struck in 2014, killing 16 of their members. TELESCOPE is the brand-new documentary film set to premiere in Q3 that will take Discovery Channel audiences behind the making of the greatest telescope yet – NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope – a veritable time machine capable of taking us back to the origins of our universe. In Q4, Discovery Channel will look at the real-life story behind HARLEY-DAVIDSON in its next scripted series which examines how the iconic brand has paved the way to becoming a national symbol in American culture. And returning favourites FAST N’ LOUD, GOLD RUSH, and RUNNING WILD WITH BEAR GRYLLS will ensure Discovery Channel is truly unmissable in 2016.

TLC ENTERTAINMENT

On TLC, South Africa’s #1 lifestyle channel, audiences can look forward to a host of new faces and must-see moments.TINA MALONE: MY NEW BODY (Q1) sees British actress Tina Malone attempt to reshape her entire body after a huge weight-loss; then in SAVE MY STYLE, celebrity stylist June Ambrose transforms contestants from social media in this brand new makeover series coming to TLC in Q2. FIRST HEARTBEAT is the moving reality series premiering in Q1 following one couple and their emotional journey to start a family. And Oprah Winfrey returns in the New Year withBELIEF, a ground-breaking television event exploring humankind’s ongoing search to connect with something greater than ourselves. TLC viewers can also look forward to new dating series MARRIED BY MOM AND DAD and LOVE AT FIRST SWIPE, as well as new episodes of SEX SENT ME TO THE ER, CAKE BOSS and MY BIG FAT FABULOUS LIFE.

ANIMAL PLANET

Africa will once again take centre stage in 2016 on Animal Planet in series such as MAN IS WILD premiering in Q3, which follows one outlandish animal tracker and his novel and very brave approach to studying animals in the wild. South African lion conservationist Andi Rive returns for a second series of THE LION QUEEN in Q2, as she continues her mission to raise awareness about a species that is facing extinction. DR. DEE: ALASKA VET follows one dedicated woman as she travels across glaciers and mountains to care for the wild and domestic animals of America’s largest state; and frightened felines are reunited with their owners in the lovable new series TREETOP CAT RESCUE coming to Animal Planet in Q1.

The SAKKS Koi Show

On Sunday my Glugs and I went to the 2015 SAKKS Gauteng Koi Show at Val Bonne Country Estate (which we wouldn’t have found without the GPS).
We had a koi pond at our old house, and we’ve had several koi, but we don’t have a pond anymore and we miss it. My Glugs introduced me to the joys of koi keeping, and since he does all the pond maintenance and PT, I just get to enjoy the fish.

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The koi contest was something else, let me tell you. Some of the fish that had been entered were almost a metre long! And exquisite! We walked round and round the big pools where the  fish were on display before heading to the stands where there were all kinds of koi for sale.
Without a pond to put them in we didn’t buy any koi, but there were so many I would have loved to take home! I think if my Glugs and I could do so, we’d have a garden that was at least half-koi pond!

Just for interest’s sake, here are some of my favourite koi varieties, and if I could I’d have at least one of each of these!
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And these ones Glugs and I both like…

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And Modderfontein Reserve (Val Bonne is inside the reserve) is like a hidden jewel. We couldn’t get over how beautiful the place is, with a few dams, walking trails, biking trails, and a beautiful picnic area next to “Fisheagle Dam”.
Unfortunately we can’t take our pooches with us, but we’re actually keen to go back and have a picnic.

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So apart from fish-phobic Shebeeliciousness, who probably wouldn’t even read the post since I put “koi” in the title, what do you think of them?

Have you been to the Modderfontein Reserve?