I did one of those life-altering things in 2017 and changed jobs, home, oh and hemisphere. Here at the one year mark of moving from Cape Town to Edinburgh, I’ve been reflecting on what I’ve learned in the process… 🤔

Edinburgh was built on seven hills, and no matter which direction you go, they will kick your ass. Even if it feels like you are moving downhill, wrong.

December 7, 2013

[This article demonstrates the kind of writing I was producing at Flow Communications for their client, South African Tourism. It reflects the kind of “rainbow nation” narrative that proved popular for their blog, as well as some of the SEO-driven principles towards keywords and linking.]

“I was taking a leak in the forest last night, and I swear, I saw a fairy! It was glowing in the dark!” [written 17 September 2014]

Whether it’s fairies or landscapes you’re after, Hogsback’s got it

It only takes a few stories like this from the occasional visitor to Hogsback to keep the magic and mystery of this beautiful corner of the Eastern Cape alive.

It’s hard not to get caught up in the fairy tale — this tiny town sits at the edge of an indigenous forest in the Amathole mountains, and if it wasn’t for the one stretch of tar road leading into town, you might feel like you’d arrived on the set of Lord of the Rings. And you wouldn’t be too far off. …

The Two Oceans Aquarium is one of the only facilities in the world that can and does regularly release sharks back into the wild. [written April 17, 2013]

It was an honour to be invited by the Two Oceans Aquarium to document the release of two ragged-tooth sharks back into the wild on 11 April 2013.

The process started a few days earlier, when the Aquarium team had to move Kay, a 207kg female raggie, out of her exhibit and up to the roof of the Aquarium, so that the vet could fit her with an internal acoustic tag.

As Kay makes her journey along the coast, and north towards the warmer waters of the Benguela current, the signal from her tag will be picked up by a…

South Africa’s Big Five are often seen as the main attraction when it comes to wildlife — but you’ll find plenty of smaller critters right here in the Mother City, too. [written February 24, 2015]

An agama lizard basks in the sun at the base of Table Mountain. All images by Stuart Buchanan

South Africa has long been known as a top safari destination, offering unrivalled wildlife encounters. But there’s a lot more to the country, and these days visitors are increasingly interested in exploring our artistic, cultural and musical heritage. [written June 6, 2014]

The major cities are where South Africa’s diverse cultures collide, and as a result, their music scenes cater for virtually any taste. If it’s live performances you’re looking for, then clubs, pubs and halls are the spots to uncover local talent.

Cape Town is no different. Within the City Bowl alone, you’ll find venues offering jazz, folk, metal, house, hip-hop and blues, to name a few.

The Crypt is a great venue for hip jazz cats — discretely hidden underneath St George’s Cathedral, the acoustics make it an ideal spot for live music. You’ll hear young township musicians playing a…

Cape Town may be on the south-western tip of Africa, but it is home to people from all over the world’s second-most populous continent. [co-written with Lynnette Johns on July 12, 2014]

The doorway to the African Music Store says it all

Take a stroll through the heart of Cape Town, the old CBD, and you will hear a range of languages, including Swahili, Amharic, French, Portuguese and Arabic.

The Mother City has become Little Africa, from curio shops and stalls selling food, to clothing and appliance stores.

No one knows for sure how many people from the rest of the continent now call Cape Town home. Some came to Cape Town to escape war, famine and poverty; others came for the adventure, and to experience life in another country. …

[written June 5, 2015]

Corvus the Crow, by Kevin Merritt. The artist was inspired by one of the SKA scientists’ favourite constellations. All images by Stuart Buchanan (with kind permission from the National Gallery)

South Africa will soon be home to one-half of the world’s largest radio telescope, the Square Kilometre Array (SKA). The other half will be hosted in Australia, and together this project will probe deeper into the night sky than ever before in an attempt to answer some of the fundamental questions about the universe, and the origins of life. These are questions we have been asking since the dawn of humankind, and the Shared Sky exhibit celebrates this sense of wonder through traditional art.

[written July 30, 2013]

These days, many tourists consider themselves responsible travellers, and care about the impact they have on the places they visit.

People want to know about the effect that their holiday activities have on the environment, or on the nearby human or animal population. Sure, you may have it on your bucket list to come face-to-face with a lion, for example, but if one was taken from the wild and caged so that your dream could come true, at what cost to the natural world would your experience come?

At the same time, there is no better way to get people…

On 8 September 2016, NASA embarked on its first asteroid-sampling mission, OSIRIS-REx, with a successful launch from Cape Canaveral in Florida.

1. What is this mission all about?

OSIRIS-REx stands for the Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer (regolith is dust and soil covering solid rock). It’s a spacecraft designed to head into space and make contact with an asteroid called 101955 Bennu, collect a sample from it, and return it to Earth.

Visit the mission’s incredible, interactive website for an illustrated, step-by-step explanation.

2. An asteroid? What’s that? Is it the same as a comet?

A comet is typically made up of ice and dust, whereas asteroids are made of rocks and minerals.

3. Where is the asteroid and how long will it take to get there?

Bennu’s orbit is between Earth and Mars, and OSIRIS-REx will spend two years getting there, with a planned arrival of October 2018.

4. What do we hope to learn from this mission?


Stuart Buchanan

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