• Life is what happens when you’re making other plans…

    Life is what happens when you’re making other plans

    So you think you’re in charge of your life, right? Wrong! Apparently, it’s all about THE BIGGER PLAN… the one that’s set out for us long before we know about it…

    Let me paint you a picture. So you think you’re starting an online wine business, and that it’s all plain sailing. You apply for your Liquor Licence; it’s May 2017, and you have been busy with various parts of this ambitious process since the end of 2016. You’ve been proactively pursuing the licence since January 2017, so it shouldn’t take too long, surely?
    …and then you wake up one morning, it’s July 2019, and you’re writing a blog post whilst watching the sun rise in the African bushveld…

    As the sun paints the treetops and grasses orange, lighting up everything in sight, you hear the franklin cackling to me (your bush alarm clock). “It’s time to get busy, time to get busy!” But first, you take stock of what’s been going on, what’s made it possible for you to be the only online wine business you know that’s not actually online yet – no live website, no daily wine sales. Why is it taking so long to really get this business off the ground?! What am I doing wrong?!

    • Liquor License? Check, but it only came through on 23 October 2018 and cost an exorbitant fee when all was said and done (doing things legally and through the right channels is hellishly expensive and time consuming in this dear country of ours).
      ● Shop front to facilitate Liquor license? Check. It’s in the middle of nowhere because I never wanted a retail shop to keep retail hours and although my license allows me to trade 7 days a week (and long hours at that), it was NEVER the plan to sit in a shop all day, every day to sell the odd bottle of wine or Savannah. Besides, we all know that boutique wine shops open in great, upmarket places/retail outlets, and then close about 3 to 5 years later because they didn’t work out. So it’s the shop rental in the middle of nowhere (low rental), as a grudge payment each month, that allows me to trade legally and we pick up a little bit of local business from time to time. At least I am allowed to have a website for my shop, so I am officially above board!
      ● Web designers? Check. At last! I found a good team of young ladies who are in the know and efficient in their trade – but not before paying some serious school fees. ‘Third time lucky’ they say! I don’t want to talk about the money and time lost using dudd/freelance ‘web designers’ who have ‘loads of worldly experience’ and ‘good references’ and let you down! It’s too revolting to discuss, so we’re moving along swiftly!

    Queue the Talking Heads lyrics from “Once in a Lifetime” – ‘How did I get here…? How do I work this… This is not my beautiful life…’.

    So what’s the problem? Well, nothing really, I mean, I am happy and busy, healthy and loving my job, it’s just that thing that happens when you had other plans.

    Now that I have the right ‘website-making-people’, I now have zero (as in ZERO) time to get them the content they need to finish up and activate this temporary site which has been in progress since April 2019. And to add to the complications, some other life challenges have held me up (all outside of my own personal control), so it’s time to adjust back into the attitude of gratitude, and be grateful for what I do have:

    • A wonderful full time job in the bushveld, managing and running my brother and sister-in-law’s bushcamp, with an amazing team of staff who are the best, and whom I adore! I get to watch the best sunrises and see the most glorious sunsets every single day, and listen to the lull of lions and nightlife as I drift off into a deep slumber! What a glorious thing to have happened to me – the family property has and always will be my happy place, and the job is easy for me – busy, but easy. I love it here!
      ● A fantastic, special and reliable man on the ground running my shop for me, John, who is now fondly dubbed ‘John Plonk’ for obvious reasons.
      ● Regular, local buyers who like the physical position of the shop, and who come in frequently to support MsPlonk on our endeavours while they quench their thirst.
      ● I am possibly the only online store that doesn’t have a website, yet is actually still operating successfully (albeit minimally) with loyal and regular wine buyers, who have known me for years, and who buy and request wine even though I don’t send out my monthly specials or reminders anymore – there is simply no time for it. This makes my business unique (*fat grin*)
      ● Losing all my contacts off my brand new phone, database and system when my third laptop was stolen in a year and cell phone soon after, is only unfortunate in that I have to rebuild it, and didn’t back it up properly – school fees again! Time MUST be made for that but the biggest challenge now is that my capital is depleted and I am trying to keep this baby floating on good luck and passion alone.
      ● I sold my house and started a business – not the cleverest thing to do in an economy and country in crisis, but, I have Faith, and believe that ‘fortune favours the bold’, so here I am, believing it will all come together, sooner, or later, as it should.

    Richard Branson says (a very successful man), he lives life in ‘flow’ – well, I am going to do the same, and will try to trust the process, even if I get some mud on my face along the way. Looking good is overrated anyway, being happy is more important. So, while I sip an old classic; Simonsig’s Kaapse Vonkel on the old, open Landy, watching yet another outstanding sunset in Africa, I decide: I will NOT give up on MsPlonk, I just need to manage my time better. Bare with me fine folk, thanks for the support and for believing in me – it’s coming together – slowly but surely! Because… as they say, ‘Life is what happens while you’re making other plans!’

  • Black Friday Madness – a tradition way beneath something as sacred as wine

    With the craziness of Black Friday behind us, and Cyber Monday being done and dusted too (oh how the money hungry retailers of today, WILL make a plan to extend their talons), I decided it may be the right time to express my snobbery or point of view, regarding this hectic tradition which I do not subscribe to…

    A little interesting fact: Black Friday was traditionally started, a lot further back in history than we realize. Starting with good old US President Abe Lincoln – he decided to call the last Thursday of November, “Thanksgiving” and make it a holiday day, to celebrate the first harvest, and coming together of the Native American communities and Colonialists, working together, in peace .

    In time, it started the holiday season early, which in turn (especially during the Great Depression way later in history), got the retailers stressed out, and worried that they would suffer financial losses due to shopping time cut short.

    To summarize a long story and make it short, the historical happenings that lead to what we now know, as Black Friday are as follows….

    In 1905, a Canadian store launched its first Thanksgiving parade, which brought on a lot of hype to consumers. The parade had Santa roaming the streets on his sleigh, leading them into the shops, obviously accompanied by luring “specials”. Out of respect for the Thanksgiving ethos, the retail store bosses made a gentlemen’s agreement, to wait till the day AFTER Thanksgiving, to open the parade for the shoppers (weren’t those the good ol’ days when religious or moral acknowledgement holidays were given priority over consumer shopping?!).

    But, by the time of the Great Depression, in 1939, petitions were being lodged in Parliament to change Thanksgiving to the 4th Thursday in November. By 1950’s, people were calling in sick at work, to go shopping the day after. Skip forward – it happened. Thanksgiving holiday got changed officially in parliament, and Black Friday got made famous in print, the first time, in 1966 .

    A little known fact is that, it wasn’t always a positive connotation day – the police called it Black Friday because of the traffic accidents, and mayhem (even violence), that it caused. Stock market economists used to talk about “Black Monday” or days of the week, when trading was BAD, and markets crashed.  “Black Thursday” in fact, fell on 24 October 1929, and, signalled the start of the Great Depression.

    It used to describe the horrid darkness surrounding the madness of shoppers gone wild, or the bad business days – but, the retailers, found a way, as they do, to bring positive connotations to the traditional Black Friday name, and sent out the message of hope, and excitement (which had also, in the meantime, become true). Stocks were sold off at cost price, for one day only, with the aim to bring financials into the black, from having been in the RED. Black signifying positive balances, red obviously signifying a loss. It is, after all, the most profitable day to retailers, of the whole year.

    (Thanks to KIMBERLY AMADEO, of The Balance, for the above info)

    Image result for thanksgiving and black friday the balance

    Image by Grace Kim © The Balance 2019

    So, there you have it, a story of woe turned good and yet, I still feel it’s not the right thing to be associated with wine.

    “Why” you may ask…?

    In ancient times, its been said that Wine was used as a truth serum. According to Wikipedia, and, a common phrase in wine circles…

    In vino veritas, also written as in uino ueritas, is a Latin phrase that means “in wine lies the truth“, suggesting a person under the influence of alcohol is more likely to speak their hidden thoughts and desires. The phrase is sometimes continued as, “In vino veritas, in aqua sanitas“, i.e., “In wine there is truth, in water there is good sense.”

    You see, wine is a quality, magical juice, made in an alchemical process, an art, and brings such joy and pleasure to the world, I just can’t see how Black Friday, where mad shoppers fight each other for that saving, and the ugliness which occurs around it, could possibly be justified as congruent or necessary for the beauty of wine –

    With dignity and calm, we buy wine (hopefully online with MsPlonk) and enjoy it, slowly. You get what you pay for, if its more, my apologies. It will be better than the cheaper ones, and the wine farmer still gets his dues.

    Yes, yes, while my ethos is to take the snobbery OUT of wine buying, I am still a snob at heart when it comes to quality vs. cash bargains…

    person pouring beverage on clear long-stem wine glass beside white ceramic plate with sliced bread and brown wooden board with bacons

    #buyWineOnline #MsPlonk.com #superiorWINES #delicious

  • MsPlonk & her Journey

    There is a time and a place for everything, all the wise folk have said so, and I happen to agree. When you get to my age and you’ve been through as much as I have, it’s time to start having fun!

    Contrary to many of my friends, colleagues and most people my age, I have done life in reverse. I didn’t start out having huge amounts of fun, then get serious, start a family and make money.  I was a mother by the time I was 18 years old, and having been at the Art School in Pretoria for all of my high school years, I had been taking my art form, music, seriously (and mind you, having a lot of fun while doing it) for quite some time. Many of my afternoon, evening or weekend hours were spent practicing music, attending orchestra camp, moving around for our performances or practice sessions, and so on. It was fabulous, and I loved it. I worked hard to do well.

    Even before that, at the age of 12, I started my working life in retail. My parents owned a shop in the centre of town called Poster Cave.  At a time where working weekends at the family business as a minor, was not frowned upon; it was the obvious thing to do –  I belonged to a free spirited family, and had parents who wanted to empower and encourage their children to earn money for themselves, and cultivate an independent and enterprising spirit- all five of us siblings had our time working in the one and only, ahead of its time, exciting little hub of imagination and retail fun, Poster Cave.

    Skip forward a few years and so it was, with three children and a stressful divorce behind me by the tender age of 26, I had to take life pretty damn seriously.  Bringing up three children alone, without a formal tertiary education, just about no alimony or maintenance to speak of, and then losing my father, who was always there to catch me before, a year after my divorce; – life became tough as nails for my noodles and I for a long time.

    I had tried my hand at advertising, natural healthcare, travel and tourism, property sales and then, I happened upon the industry of WINE.  Here I found my place. What a journey it has been. For the past 16 years I have been so blessed and privileged; – I have met the most amazing people, drank the best wines, and eaten the most delicious food. I have visited cellars, the ultra-modern and expensive ones, as well as the old, traditional and sometimes quite archaic ones too; I helped make wine (worked like a Trojan), and most of all, I have been having a love affair, with the beautiful “truth serum” we call wine. It’s an alchemy, to take something relatively and seemingly worthless and rough, from the dusty dirt of the vineyards and craft it into fine wine. Like a kaleidoscope, ever changing, magical, and genius, – the wine maker, viticulturist and Mother Earth’s terroir working in harmony, like the orchestra makes its music, to create Earth’s Poetry (to quote Master WINE maker and viticulturist Chris Keet). 

    Why then, the name MsPlonk? Many of my colleagues were doubtful of this choice of name, due to the association with selling cheap wine or “Plonk”. Well, it’s quite simple, as I said at the start, its time to start having fun. My beautiful children have grown into strong, independent and outstanding young adults, and they constantly encourage me to do what I really want to do and start having more fun with my life and work. So here I am, at age 47, taking a huge leap of Faith (feels a bit like that Bungee jump I never had the nerve to do in Vic Falls), being a little risky (or is it “RISKAY”?!) and cheeky, in a very snooty industry, and calling it, MsPlonk.com – love or hate it, it’s me in the form of a brand, doing what I know best.

    My feeling is; – There are enough pompous wine buying websites around, why start another one?! And, I am now, at this stage of my career and life, which is all about having fun – even while taking the actual wine very seriously. I chose the name MsPlonk, in deliberate and total defiance of this elitist Wine Stereotype  – A R2000 bottle of Champagne can be called Plonk if we just give ourselves permission to slang it up a bit . Because of the irony, and because if you know your stuff, and don’t take yourself too seriously in life, the wine will speak for itself, no matter what you call it. Besides, some of the most successful wine producers I have met, are anything but snooty. Some even work on their stands at wine shows, barefoot and in “kort-kort”- shorts.

    And while we are appreciating fine wine, lets also explore craft beers, gin and ciders too. If aged brandy is your passion, I’ll get you brandy, or anything you want in the field of craft beverages, fine wine, or even stock standard booze. All delivered to your door by MsPlonk, simply because life is too busy, and certainly too short, to turn into the schlep of searching for a good wine shop, or searching far and wide to find the hidden gems that I like to specialise in.

    Broaden your wine horizons, click ‘n pay, and that’s it.  Easy and convenient.

    Welcome! I look forward to helping you discover the magical world of wine and other lovely stuff too.

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