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Welcome to our Winter 2017 issue.

During production on this issue I had two life-changing experiences that will stay with me forever.

When the invitation came from Woolworths to attend the 30th anniversary of Ngwenya Glass in Swaziland I didn’t hesitate for a second. Not only does my son work and live in the Swazi Kingdom at the moment, but I also grew up in that part of the world and hadn’t been back for far too long.

Nothing, but nothing, could have prepared me for the spectacle that is Ngwenya Glass. I still cannot comprehend that in the most brutal environment, out of what looks like utter chaos, could come creations so beautiful and so incredibly fragile.

Ashraf Booley describes it perfectly in the opening sentence of his story: “Glassblowing is silent poetry with a rhythm that only a skilled few can master.” Magical!

The second occasion was being invited to the wedding celebration of Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen and Grant Bacon at Babylonstoren. Again, an unforgettable experience. The best advice Jan gives for planning a wedding, or any other special celebration, for that matter, is, “Just trust your gut. What matters is that afterwards you don’t regret not doing something you wanted to do.” Never have I seen such attention to detail. And to top it all, at twilight, when all the guests sat down to the wedding feast at the 56 m-long table set up in the gravel driveway of Babylonstoren’s Manor House, a perfect full moon rose from behind the Franschhoek mountains!

It’s nothing short of a miracle that the grooms actually got all the guests to dress in black while they stepped out in navy suits, and that they managed to convince everyone not to post pictures on social media. It is my hope that these and all the other inspirational stories we tell in this issue will get you through the cold months ahead.

Until spring.

– Sumien