Bipolar disorder

Psychiatric disorder is more common  than we may think. One such common disorder, which could be linked to our increasingly busy, isolated and stressful lives, is bipolar disorder.  What is bipolar disorder, what happens in the brain, and how do friends and loved ones help a person who may suffer with it?

By Dr Samantha J. Brooks Ph.D.

Bipolar disorder – a mood disorder characterised by polar extremes of mood – was once known as “manic-depressive disorder”, which sheds light on the symptoms of this often debilating psychiatric condition.While it is normal to experience fluctuating periods of happiness and sadness associated with usual life circumstances, a person diagnosed with bipolar disorder will have triggered swings from extreme happiness and high levels of energy, to extreme sadness and hopelessness, within a matter of hours or days. Extreme happiness presents as mania, such that a person becomes excessively active in behaviour and speech, finds it difficult to sleep or sit still without fidgeting, and may have racing thoughts and ideas that fly quickly through the mind in illogical succession.  A person in the manic phase may take more risks, such as being more sexually active, taking drugs or spending more money.  Compare the manic phase to extreme sadness, where a person may experience debilitating depression and limited energy.  During the depressive phase a person may sleep all day and feel as if everything in their world is hopeless, with no motivation to change things. Both extremes are like a see-saw for the individual with bipolar disorder, who will likely experience no sense of organisation or control over their life. The extremes of bipolar disorder are associated with fluctuating neurotransmitter levels in the brain – a significant rise in dopamine levels for mania and a significant drop in serotonin and opioid levels for depression.  Less extreme versions of this debilitating condition – that often see people eventually losing their jobs, becoming withdrawn and not engaging in everyday activities – are known as hypomanic states.

It is important to remember that victims of domestic and emotional abuse may appear – or are led to believe that they are – behaving in a manner akin to bipolar disorder, and if this is happening to you it is vital to seek urgent support. A correct diagnosis of bipolar disorder does not stem from a disgruntled partner, an ex or a psychopathic boss, who may gain pleasure in causing upset and confusion – a manipulative tactic known in modern parlance as gaslighting – but rather stems from meeting strict criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual Version 5 (DSM-5). The DSM-5 can be relied upon – as the bible of psychiatrists – to determine real cases of psychiatric disorder, so that the individual sufferer can receive vital treatment (such as pharmacotherapy or counselling) to improve their quality of life.  The DSM-5 recognises four main types of bipolar disorder.  The first is Bipolar I Disorder, where manic episodes last for at least 7 days and severely consume the energy resources of the individual, to the point where they may need hospitalisation. Depressive symptoms usually co-occur for around 2 weeks and may also be present during episodes of mania.  The second is Bipolar II Disorder, which is defined as a successive pattern of unprovoked depressive symptoms and hypomanic states that cycle for at least 7 days, and might even surprisingly occur at the same time.  The third is Cyclothymic Disorder (also called cyclothymia), defined by numerous periods of hypomanic and depressive episodes lasting consecutively for at least 2 years (1 year in children and adolescents). Finally, Unspecified Bipolar Disorder is a catch-all category, where a person may exhibit episodes of mania or depression, but not usually within the same timescales as the main diagnoses.

What then, are the neuroscientific bases of a DSM-5 diagnosis of bipolar disorder – in other words, which brain regions are more activated in the MRI scanner? Recent studies of bipolar disorder have demonstrated, particularly in response to emotional stimuli like faces, that an over-active connectivity occurs between the amygdalae and prefrontal cortex – brain regions associated with arousal/fear and goal-directed behaviours respectively. This suggests that people with bipolar disorder may not be able to effectively self-regulate their emotional responses to their environment.  Such hyperactivity in the brain may also be associated with learned responses that began during significant past trauma, or may even be due to the increasingly stressful, busy and socially-isolated lives we lead today.  For example, chronic trauma, stress and social isolation (e.g. due to long working hours and parental separation) may cause a downregulation (reduction) of opioid receptors in the brain – the locks to the pain-relieving brain hormone keys. Opioids are the brain’s natural defense to pain – including emotional pain – and so if chronic emotional pain is experienced, opioids may become less potent over time.  We also release opioids and other hormones, such as oxytocin, during intimate pair-bonding.  If emotional and/or physical abuse is chronically experienced, a person may begin to exhibit more and more signs akin to emotional dysregulation and bipolar disorder.

And so, if you are a friend or family of a person who may be exhibiting manic or depressive   coupled with periods of low energy and hopelessness, in a cyclical pattern over long periods, with no obvious cause, it might be useful to do the following.  First, gently communicate with the person, to try to establish if there are serious, underlying causes for this behaviour, such as physical or emotional abuse (don’t simply assume that they are suffering from bipolar disorder).  Be prepared that the person may not wish to open up immediately, but be supportive and accepting.  If no obvious cause for the behaviour is established, then the second step might be to suggest the person visit a psychotherapist, to talk through with a trained professional who can establish the cause.  Finally, with the help of the therapist, a formal diagnosis for the behaviour can be established and treated, usually with a combination of suitable medication and further psychotherapy. 
symptoms, such as excessive energy, lack of sleep and risky behaviour (promiscuity, excessive spending and debt, gambling),

The ultimate take-home message is this: don’t be quick to give a layman’s diagnosis to a person who may exhibit symptoms akin to bipolar disorder, as there may be other reasons for their behaviour.  However, if a formal diagnosis by a trained professional is established, a person suffering with bipolar disorder has a wealth of treatment options available to him or her, that can enable them to continue living a fullfilling, enjoyable life!  We must always remember: life is too short and too precious to cause - or exacerbate - human suffering!

Dr Samantha Brooks is a neuroscientist at the UCT Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health, specialising in the neural correlates of impulse control from eating disorders to addiction.  For more information on neuroscience at UCT and to contact Samantha, see Note: Images royalty free, courtesy of

Click to read all previous articles by Dr Samantha J. Brooks Ph.D. 

The future is homes that are smaller, smarter and greener

Affordability, convenience and security are the key factors driving a distinct buyer preference at the moment for smaller homes packed with “green” features and “smart” technologies.

That’s the word from, SA’s biggest bond originator, who says that affordability remains a serious concern for most buyers because they are still labouring under relatively heavy debt loads and worried about rising taxes and the increasing cost of food, fuel and utilities. “SA consumers are much more conservative spenders than they used to be and really careful now about getting in over their heads.

“Consequently, while the banks are keen to lend to homebuyers and our bond approval rate is at 80%, the highest level since the 2008/ 09 financial crash, the latest statistics from Absa show that the total of outstanding household mortgage balances is currently growing more slowly than it did last year. The year-on-year growth rate is down from 3,6% in November 2017 to 3,1% currently.”

This does not mean, he says, that South Africans are buying fewer homes – only that they are buying less expensive homes. “This is confirmed by our own statistics*, which show that more than three-quarters (78%) of the bonds granted in the past 12 months have been for less than R1,5m – and that 60% were actually for less than R1m.

“In general terms, these cheaper homes are also smaller, as indicated by recent FNB research showing that the average size of new homes being built in SA has shrunk from a peak of 203sqm in 1974 to around 162sqm now – and that accounts in large measure for the current slow growth in home prices (2,9% year-on-year) in spite of a drop in the prime interest rate and increased sales volumes.” 
However, Botha says, affordability is not the only reason for the increased popularity of smaller, cheaper homes. “Changing lifestyles also play a big role. Household sizes are shrinking, for example, so buyers generally need fewer bedrooms. Many homeowners now are also short of time so don’t want a large garden or home to maintain. Traffic congestion is also driving a significant shift from the large homes of the suburbs to smaller homes in urban centres. 

“In the SA context it must be said that smaller properties are usually also easier and less expensive to secure, and the effect of this concern can clearly be seen not only in the increasing number of estate developments, but also in the steady growth of Sectional Title in SA over the past 30 years. In the late 1980s, secure sectional title developments accounted for only 6% of new builds in the country, but today they account for 27% of all new homes.”

The quest for greater security and personal safety, he says, is also one of the main factors driving the current rapid uptake of “smart” home technologies in SA. “Using these technologies, owners can monitor their alarm systems and security cameras via their smart-phones even when they are not at home, photograph any intruders, open or close garage doors and gates, and turn lights on and off to make it seem as though there is someone at home.   

“This is definitely appealing to SA homeowners and according to Statista, the overall value of the smart home automation market in SA is expected to top US$60m by 2020. Meanwhile, there is already sufficient demand for local security companies such as Fidelity ADT to have introduced security-focused smart home packages.”

And finally, says Botha, the trend towards smaller homes is being driven by a growing awareness among SA homebuyers of what it costs in environmental terms to run a larger home. “Cape Town residents have seen, for example, how much water can be saved just through more conscious usage, while the threat of renewed rolling blackouts this winter is causing many others to revisit the drawbacks of electricity derived from fossil fuels.

“As a result there is rising demand for smaller homes that use less energy and water and are already fitted with ‘green’ equipment such as heat pumps, solar panels and rainwater tanks. And some of the banks now even have special home loan options for owners who want to retrofit such ‘green’ systems, because doing so definitely adds value to their properties.”

Anne-Marie Bamber is Norgarb Properties dedicated Home Loans Consultant. She has over 15 years’ experience in assisting clients with their Home Loan needs and has placed many happy families in their dream homes.

Contact her today for no cost stress-free home-buying.
Anne-Marie Bamber
Home Loans consultant
Tel: +27 (0)21 851 3568 | Fax: +27 (0)21 441 1494 | Cell: +27 (0)82 071 1665

Permission to Braai

One day you wake up and think that you're finally going to build that built in braai you've wanted for years. It should be easy, choose a spot, grab the bricks, cement it all together...

However, there is more to a built-in braai than just throwing bricks together. There are all sorts of things you need to consider - the height of the flue, spark inhibitors, the proximity to roofing timbers, wind, rain, heat, planning permission, and so on.

One of the most frequently asked questions is: "Do I need planning permission for a built in braai?"
Well, yes and no. A built in braai is normally classified as "minor building work" and whilst you do not need to submit plans, The National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act (No. 103 of 1977) states that no person may erect, alter, add to, or convert any building without prior approval by the local authority. So as long as you comply with the "minor building work" regulations and have received permission from the local authority's building control officer, you do not need to submit any plans.

If your braai does not fall under "minor building work" then you will need to submit plans for approval before building commences. If you are not sure which category your built-in braai will fall under, it is probably best to check with your council just to be sure. If your braai is being built against a boundary wall, in most parts of SA, your neighbours' consent will be required. This can be done by informing them in writing. Keep in mind that they might object if the smoke will interfere with their own property and the enjoyment thereof.

Because the regulations can be a bit of a minefield and no case is the same, it is probably best to contact your local building inspectors for advice on where and how to begin. From there you can go to the planning department of your local municipality. If plans are needed, by law, only building plans from professionals registered with the South African Council for the Architectural Profession will be accepted. This may seem like a complicated task, but you won't regret the fees when you have peace of mind that the person you've hired has sound knowledge of the regulations and you can get everything right the first-time round.

Happy braai building!

Norgarb Properties Agent Andre Ter Moshuizen who specialises in the Claremont area, shares some household tips and handy home hints with you every month. Read more of his articles here. []

Andre Ter Moshuizen: 082 602 1367 | | []

Staying Healthy as We Get Older

Blog Harfield: Staying Healthy as We Get Older (May 2018)

By Dr Murray McDonald

Getting older is an inevitable and often tough part of life. But it doesn’t have to mean giving up on your health. In fact, we know more than ever about how to age well and stay as vivacious, and this advice doesn’t have to be complicated. Would you like to know more?

Your Age is How You Feel
Gone are the days when 60 years old meant a mandatory blue-rinse and a donkey cart to the retirement village. Not that there’s anything wrong with those things – I happen to love donkeys. But as we’ve advanced as a society we have pushed our life expectancy higher and higher. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that those years are healthy years. To avoid illness and have as much energy as possible requires a concerted effort. So where should your effort be best applied?

The Game Doesn’t Change Much
“I guess I’m just getting older.” I hear this every single day. And while it’s true (that is more or less how time works) it doesn’t mean that your body just gives up on you. It’s far more common that you give up on it. And it’s utter rubbish. Do certain things decline with age? Yes. All sorts of things. Is it scary? Yes. But do you know what makes them decline more than anything else?

Lack of use.
Our muscles, our joints, our brains all require constant challenge to stimulate their strength. Move it or lose it. And THAT is where a lot of the problems lie. As we get older we start doing less. We move less, we go out less, we learn less – we ask less of ourselves. And our bodies give it to us. Less.
Why do we do this? We feel tired because we get up at night to pee. Or we get comfortable with staying at home rather than going out. Or our knees hurt. Or we’re just not hungry. And all of these are perfectly reasonable excuses. However, though different to the excuses we gave in our twenties and thirties, they amount to the same. We see them as insurmountable barriers instead of challenges.

The ultimate challenge is getting what you want out of life.

What is important to you? What makes you tick (or tock)? Is it time with your children? Or grandchildren? Is it getting out of the house? Out on the town? Is it a sport? Or just staying fit enough to tend the garden? Whatever it is that fills you with joy or purpose or accomplishment, you need to live in a way that give you the mobility, the energy, the freedom to live your life the way you want.

And that is why I say: The game doesn’t change much. We need to eat properly. We need to exercise often. We need to spend time with friends & family. And we need to have purpose – something that gets us out of bed. So - with all of this in mind – what does a healthy lifestyle look like when you’re older?

The Healthy Ageing Lifestyle
1. Eat enough protein and vegetables: Nutrient deficiency and obesity are big problems that you can help solve by eating enough of the good stuff. You are what you eat so try not to eat too much junk.
2. Set exercise goals: Pick something that would mean a lot to you and work towards it in realistic steps. Whether it’s climbing a mountain or climbing the stairs, every journey is simply stringing enough steps together. Try including some endurance exercise e.g. walking as well as some strengthening exercises e.g. calisthenics.
3. Include your people: Burdens are easier when shared. Not only that, life is just a lot more fun with someone to help support and motivate you. So, whether it’s going to the doctor, making a meal, or going for a walk – take someone with you. They probably need it too.
4. Get a good physician: Because no matter how healthy we live, getting older increases your risks for all sorts of things. Find someone who does all your check ups and tests, but also listens to and takes time to teach you about your health.
5. Enjoy your body: It is a place we must all leave one day. Might as well take care of it to get the most out of it.

For more information, give us a call on 0216832996, browse our site at, or follow us on social media @TheChiroHealth.

The CV

The CV
Lipstick on a pig & other popular misunderstandings
Written by Madge  Gibson

In South Africa’s competitive job market, presenting a well-written CV is not only sensible, but shrewd.

Employers are increasingly frustrated by poorly constructed CVs that waste their time.
Laborious, cluttered CVs with lazy typo’s and spelling mistakes – these are a few of the
things that contribute to missed opportunities.

So what kinds of misunderstandings devalue a CV?

A good CV will get you the job - FALSE
Yes a good CV is important – it represents you - it’s an introduction that will hopefully lead to an
interview. But, if your interview skills don’t match the impressive CV content, you won’t necessarily get the job.

Having a strong CV but poor interviewing skills is about as helpful as putting lipstick on a pig.
You need both.

CVs aren’t as important these days - FALSE
CVs continue to be recruitment currency, whether in soft or hard copy. A well-written, content
appropriate CV that is easy to read will win the heart of many a recruiter, providing you with a greater chance of being considered for a role.

Including a photograph on your CV is expected - FALSE
You are applying for a job, not a date.

Unless your appearance is particularly important to the position (such as applying for an acting or
modelling role), the focus should be on your skills and experience. Also, including a photograph
immediately opens you up to unconscious bias based on your appearance – so why go there?

Writing your CV in the 3rd person is clever - FALSE
No. No. And NO. It’s just weird. Don’t do it.

Avoid tired clichés and self-congratulatory adjectives - TRUE
A CV should be an unpretentious summary of facts. Overselling or hyping yourself will only create
doubt about your objectivity.
Deal with the facts, use positive language and include achievements, but avoid blatantly boastful
language such as “outstanding”, “unparalleled” “inspired”, “winning” … etc.

Triple check for spelling, grammatical errors and typos - TRUE
Your CV is a business document not a WhatsApp message.

A badly written CV is a Red Flag, it can indicate ineptitude, indifference, or at the very least a lack of
attention to detail. No employer wants that. If you know this is an area of weakness, ask someone to
help you.

Size counts - TRUE
Ideally a CV should be no longer than 2 to 3 pages.

Part of successful CV composition is knowing how to write concisely without leaving out important
information. No one has time for lengthy documents these days, so the ability to summarise, as well as prioritise information, is a skill that employers welcome.
Remember, your CV is a summary, not a novel.

Minimise personal information - TRUE
The days of including your marital status, number of children, home address, ID number, date of birth, salary, drivers licence etc. etc. are over. With cyber crime and identity theft on the increase we need to be more circumspect with what we share.
Include contact details such as mobile number and email address, but the rest can be covered during a

Article by Madge Gibson, Harfield Village Resident


This recipe comes from a little Woolworths booklet I have had for ages.  Its easy and something different for a starter or snack. 


150g gorgonzola
200 Taleggio cheese
A few sprigs fresh thyme
4 Tbls honey
50g toasted almonds, chopped
1 sliced baguette


Set oven to 180 degrees. Place cheese and thyme in ovenproof dish and bake for 10 minutes or until melted.  Pour over honey and scatter the almonds.  Serve with the baguette.

Estate Agent
Cell: +27 (0)82 846 0739 | Office: +27 (0)21 674 1120 | Fax: +27 (0)21 774 4927
Focus Areas: Kenilworth & Claremont Village

An Update from the HVCID - May 2018

The Harfield Village Community Improvement District (HVCID) are proud to announce that the 2018 Harfield Village Carnival made just over a R100 000 profit. These funds will be used to kick start the Village's security camera initiative. The HVCID committee will be releasing more details about the installation of cameras and the time frames at our AGM in September. In the meantime we will be getting revised quotes to update our overall camera plan, as the technology and prices have changed since we first investigated license plate recognition (LPR) cameras. We will also communicate with Fidelity ADT, SAPS, Har-Lyn Neighbourhood Watch and any other relevant parties to ensure an optimal camera initiative.

We would like to thank all those people who assisted with the organisation of the carnival both in the lead up and on the day. A very big thank you to all our sponsors as without these organisation's support and donations the Carnival would not have been possible. And in particular to Fidelity ADT, the main sponsor, who have also donated 2 license plate recognition cameras. Finally we would like to thank all the residents, families and friends who came out in amazing numbers to support the carnival. Although we don't have controlled access and therefore cannot get an accurate attendance figure, it is estimated that about 15 000 people attended the carnival through the day, which is a record number.

Again, many thanks to our sponsors: Fidelity ADT, Remax Premier, Olympic Cycles, SA Home Loans, Norgarb Properties, STBB, Betterbond, Rawson Properties, Supa Quick, Audi Centre Claremont, Claremont Volkswagen, Heads Property and Seeff Properties.

And sponsors of services: City of Cape Town, ER24, Revprint, Good Hope FM, Everything Internet, GIBHW, Morne Pieper of Kiiu, DCP Industries, ABInBev, Madge Gibson and Ronel Botha.

Raffle prizes from Vodacom and Huawei, Blaauwklippen, Revprint, Change Initiative, Atlantic Storm Brewery, Milk & Honey and Warwick First Lady.

Manager - Harfield Village Community Improvement District (HVCID)
Cell: 081 412 6109 E-mail:

Sage One or Wave Accounting

Sage One or Wave Accounting- which one is the correct one for your business?

Out of the Top 10 Cloud Accounting Software - Sage One and Wave are my favourite.

Choosing the correct accounting software for your Business.

When I started my business, I purchased Pastel Express a desktop software, because I needed to use it for my clients' books and mine. I didn't immediately go out and buy it because it was not in my budget. So I started off with good old Microsoft Office Excel. I created my own set of books in excel. I still use excel on a daily basis.

But I found an accounting package that works for me. It is best suited to freelancers or one person businesses. It is an online cloud accounting package called WAVE Accounting. Very simple to use and if you make a mistake you can correct it. I use this for some of my clients. The good news about Wave Accounting is it is free.

For the clients that have more complicated Bookkeeping with loads of suppliers, I use Sage One accounting. It is very user-friendly and has tutorials to follow. It has easy to read reports. You can set up your banking profile and it will automatically upload your bank statements to the accounting software. It has a preset chart of accounts which you can change or just use as is. I love to get new clients because I get to see how they manage there bookkeeping. I get to crap a bietjie and put things in order or if they have awesome books I work with what they have got and just offer a reconciliation process which makes me there checker.

Both packages Sage One and Wave Accounting are cloud basis,

so you can access them from anywhere there is an internet connection. You collaborate (Wave Accounting) or invite your accountant(SageOne) and we can pop in and check whats happening.  Sage One has updated the VAT to 15%, There is a setting in Company settings where you can tick the old 14% as the default tax while you are still catching up or completing the last financial year and last month. When processing you can change the VAT type back and forth.

If you do not love anything about accounting. I have met a few that don't they can just do there invoicing in either package and let us Bookkeepers Accountants do the rest and we will keep you up to date.

I am a certified Sage One and Wave advisor, if you need any information about the package or training on the packages please do not hesitate to contact me. Cherine Mac Pherson –, 082 403 0792.

Delicious soup recipes to keep you warm

There is nothing better on a chilly night than warming up with a hearty soup. Try some of these delicious recipes. Remember to make the soup piping hot so that you can enjoy every spoonful slowly and mindfully.

Creamy Thai Carrot Sweet Potato Soup
Serves 4


• 1 tbsp. oil (optional)
• 2 medium onions
• 2 garlic cloves, minced
• 1 tbsp. fresh ginger, minced
• 2 tbsp. red curry paste
• 4 cups vegetable stock (more if needed)
• ¼ cup peanut butter
• 6-8 medium, diced
• 3-4 medium sweet potatoes, diced
• Salt, freshly ground black pepper to taste
• ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
• Chopped coriander, lime juice and roasted almonds for topping


1. Sauté the onion, garlic and ginger for 5-6 minutes until the onion is translucent.
2. Stir in the curry paste.
3. Melt the peanut butter in some of the stock. Add to the soup pot with the carrots, sweet potatoes, salt and rest of the vegetable stock.
4. Bring the soup to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the carrots and potatoes are cooked.
5. Blend the soup to a smooth consistency.
6. Season to taste with salt and black pepper and add the cayenne pepper if you would like more spice. Thin the soup with some extra stock if the soup is too thick for your liking.
7. Serve the soup and top with coriander, a squeeze of lime juice and/or
toasted almonds.

Recipe adapted from

Roasted Broccoli Soup
Serves 4


• 1 broccoli head, separated into florets
• 3 tbsp. olive oil
• 1 stalk celery, chopped
• 2-3 medium carrots, chopped
• 1 medium onion, chopped
• 4 cups vegetable stock
• 1 cup milk
• Salt and pepper to taste
• ¼ cup strong cheddar and ¼ cup yoghurt for topping


1. Heat the oven to 200°C. Toss the broccoli with 2 tbsp. of oil and 1 tsp. of salt. Place onto a baking tray and roast for about 20-25 minutes until golden brown.
2. Sauté the celery, carrots, and onion for about 12-15 minutes until the vegetables are tender.
3. Add the roasted broccoli and stock and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the vegetables are cooked, about 30-35 minutes.
4. Remove from the heat and add the milk.
5. Puree the soup and add more milk if it is too thick.
6. Reheat the soup and season to taste.
7. Serve the soup topped with a dollop of yoghurt and sprinkling of cheese.

Recipe adapted from

Chunky Tomato Red Pepper Soup
Serves 6


• 1 tbsp. oil (optional)
• 2 medium red bell peppers, chopped
• 1 medium onion, chopped
• 2 garlic cloves, minced
• 2 tbsp. tomato paste
• 1 tsp. paprika
• 1 can tomatoes with basil
• 1½ cups vegetable stock
• 1 tsp. sugar
• Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
• Chopped fresh basil and yoghurt for the topping


1. Sauté the peppers and onion for 10 minutes until golden and tender.
2. Stir in the garlic, tomato paste and paprika and cook for 1 minute.
3. Stir in the tomatoes, stock, sugar, salt and pepper. Crush the tomatoes with the back of a spoon.
4. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
5. Season with salt and pepper if needed.
6. Serve and stir in some yoghurt and basil

Recipe adapted from

Leek and Potato Soup
Serves 4


• 1kg potatoes, diced
• 2 leeks, chopped
• 2 cups fat free milk
• 1 pear
• Salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste
• Chives, spring onions and/or chopped pecans for topping


1. Boil the potatoes in the milk for about 10 minutes.
2. Add the leeks and pear and cook for another 10-15 minutes until the potatoes are soft.
3. Blend until smooth.
4. Reheat the soup, and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.
5. Serve and top with chives, spring onions and/or chopped pecans.

Recipe adapted from

Kim Hofmann RD(SA)
Phone: 021 674 4666
Cell: 084 206 2715

Strength Training for Athletes

Attention runners, cyclists, athletes:
You may think that you don’t need resistance training, but you are likely wrong (or at the very least missing out). Resistance/weight training will make you stronger, which will translate into better power output - this means you can go harder and faster. It can also strengthen up your stabilising muscles (core, hips, shoulders, etc) which may prevent you from getting injured. Do I have your attention? Good.

The Benefits of Strength Training

When you run (on the trail or the football pitch), you teach your body to get better at it. This is called the “Specificity Principle”. If it’s an endurance sport, your nerves, muscles, energy metabolism, and cardiovascular system get better at endurance (and vice versa for sprinters). But an unfortunate thing starts to happen - both the time you can spend and your ability to voluntarily push yourself harder on the road start to reach a plateau (and so does your performance). You’ve started to reach a ceiling on muscular endurance (oxygen/energy transport) that won’t respond to the “Specificity Principle” as easily as it used to. But if you can’t drive any harder, you CAN build a stronger engine.

What does that mean? It means that on the spectrum of sports performance, so far your muscle strength is a relatively untapped “weak link” - you still have a huge amount of potential that hasn’t been directly developed. And strength is “the tide that raises all ships” - by increasing power output you should have improved endurance. Moreover, increased muscle strength is beneficial to your stability. If the muscles that brace your knees, hips, core, and shoulders get stronger, you should make yourself more resistant to injuries. This effect is seen with general strength training (squats & pullups), but also with specific stability training e.g. planks & big rubber balls.

A Guide to Strength Training for Athletes
Entire sections of libraries have been devoted to this subject, but I’ll try to be brief and practical. Some general concepts:
  It’s important to train not just the muscles specific to your sport, but the whole body - it works as a chain and we want every link made of steel not sausage
 Stick mostly to the “big” exercises e.g. squats instead of leg extensions -  they usually offer the best return on investment (of time and energy) in the long run
 you will need to moderate your weekly training volume (e.g. distance run, number of sessions, etc.) to incorporate your strength training - avoid burning out like a dropped Citi Golf
 Learn proper technique! If that means reading a book like Starting Strength (Rippetoe), watching some YouTube videos of trainers like Bret Contreras, or getting a trainer for a few months, then do it. It will make your training SAFER and MORE EFFECTIVE.

To Get Started
I would suggest doing resistance training two days per week (that can increase with necessity & experience) and training your whole body each session - this means everything gets enough work without being OVER worked.

1. Start off with a general warm-up - this can be a bit of cardio and bodyweight exercises or a few yoga postures for 5-10min.
2.  Pick 3-4 main/primary exercises to strengthen the most necessary movement patterns: SQUAT (e.g. a squat or lunge), BEND (e.g. a back extension or straight-leg deadlift), PUSH (e.g. a pushup or dumbbell press), and PULL (e.g. pullups or dumbbell rows) - with necessity and experience I’d advise adding moves for TWIST (e.g. cable twist) and CARRY (e.g. farmer’s walks)
3. Do 1-2 warm-up sets with a light resistance, then choose a challenging weight for 1-2 ‘work' sets of between 8-15 repetitions -- the set ends when you can’t get another rep with good technique.
4. Next, perform 2-3 secondary or stability moves for the ‘core', hips, and/or shoulders as is appropriate for your sport e.g. runners should do some hip work and a bit of core, swimmers should do some shoulder work and some planks, etc.
5. Finish up with a bit of stretching and possibly foam rolling for any tight areas.

Every week you should try to increase the weight used or repetitions performed - this is how you make progress. Just don’t be a dumbass and try double the weight you used last - an increase of 5% is usually plenty. As you gain experience, start working in other rep ranges (see chart above) to focus on specific aspects of performance.

Final Thoughts
 Strength training is to support your sport: don’t go so hard that it makes you too tired to perform - what’s the point?
 Don’t overload certain patterns: if you are a throwing athlete (e.g. cricket, waterpolo) there is no need to risk injury by doing 8 different shoulder exercises
Change it up for variety, but not TOO often: no need to change the exercise you’re using every session - never getting used to an exercise actually deprives you of a lot of the benefits (but maybe change things up every 6-8 weeks).

Enough talk - get out there and lift something!


In today’s unequal, materialistic society where poverty is rife, psychopaths are all around us!  They don’t have to be violent, criminally-minded types (although they often are!) but can be fully-functioning, self-made individuals. What then, is a modern-day psychopath, and how do their brains differ from the ‘norm’?

By Dr Samantha J. Brooks Ph.D.

We probably all have a psychopath or two in our midst (think of a colleague, a friend, or even a
spouse); we might even be one ourselves, or at least have elements of psychopathy in our character! Commonly, psychopaths are men – as psychopathic traits are linked to testosterone levels and aggression – but they can also be found in women.  Should we be afraid of a psychopath?  Or can we learn from the potential wisdom of a ‘functioning’ psychopath that has enabled their traits to survive, thrive and even shape echelons of society? What are the traits of a psychopath, and where are they based in the brain?  These questions can be answered by modern neuroscience and psychological theories of personality.  But before we delve into these dark questions, keep in mind some of the most infamous psychopaths in history: Niccolo Machiavelli, Adolf Hitler, Hannibal Lecter, Jeffrey Dahmer, Joseph Mengele and perhaps Donald Trump. Think also of the Dionysian, reward-seeking brokers who made huge profits by selling unsustainable, high-interest loans to vulnerable first-time buyers, contributing to America’s sub-prime housing market crash and the global financial crisis in 2008.  These folks have in common an element of charm, persuasion, exploiting vulnerability, aggressive determination, and in some, a killer instinct.

Should we be afraid of a psychopath?

Psychopathic behaviour is often referred to as Machiavellian, named after the Italian politician, Niccolo Machiavelli, who lived during the Renaissance period from 1469 to 1527. Machiavelli appeared narcissistic - concerned only with his own interests – particularly in terms of remaining in power.  In his book, The Prince, he documented that immoral behavior can often – at least in politics – be justified by the end goal.  The book was heavily criticized because it appeared to provide recommendations for tyrants to stay in power no matter what the cost to individuals.  Those who follow Machiavellian principles will often hide behind convincing charm while exercising manipulation, deception and exploitation of others to achieve personal goals. The good news is that while a high percentage of killers appear to be psychopaths, not all psychopaths are killers – and in some professions, it might even be beneficial to be a ‘functioning’ psychopath.  Yet, it pays to remember the old adage: if it appears too good to be true, it usually is!  Under these circumstances, it is best to be cautious and vigilant.  And remember the song about not smiling at a crocodile - that you can’t get friendly with a crocodile, because he’s imagining how well you’ll fit within his skin!

Should we learn from the potential wisdom of a psychopath that has enabled their traits to survive, thrive and perhaps even shape today’s society?

For many reasons, psychopathic tendencies continue to remain and thrive in certain echelons of our modern society; the tenacity of a ‘good’ psychopath enables growth and the achievement of beneficial goals. Think of a firefighter, a soldier, a surgeon, a doctor, a lawyer – all professionals with strong emotion control that tend to score high on questionnaires such as the Psychopathic Personality Inventory (PPI). However, while functioning psychopaths are thinking of the bigger picture, in contrast, dangerous psychopaths are usually in gratification pursuit mode, able to put the blinkers on so as not to react emotionally and be distracted from their self-interested goals.  Both functioning and dangerous psychopaths experience less fear than the general population, and as such will repeatedly take risks to obtain hero status (functioning psychopath) or self-gratification at the expense of others (dangerous psychopath). Like a Great White Shark with dead, black eyes searching for its prey, a psychopath will relentlessly pursue a goal. Interestingly, recent neuroscience suggests that psychopaths do not lack empathy, but rather can expertly read a person’s feelings from overt bodily signals and little give-away signs (a nervous twitch in the face, a vulnerable way of walking) that is stored in memory for future exploitation. That psychopathy has maintained a stranglehold on the human character is perhaps due to the relentless pursuit of self-sustaining reward, and the development of brain circuits that support excellent memory and emotion control.

What are psychopathic traits and where are they based in the brain?

Psychopathy is relatively rare, and this may be due to the fact that collectively, members of society remember – and punish by example – previous bad behaviour. Only between 0.5 and 1.5 % of the general population exhibit high psychopathic scores; this figure rises to approximately 25% in any given prison population of ‘non functioning’ individuals.  Alarmingly, psychopathic traits are also found in modern-day business leaders at the rate of about 1 in 5, suggesting that some professional fields may thrive – and are shaped by – the guidance of psychopaths.  Empathy – an ability to understand another person’s feelings - is present in a psychopath, but they just don’t care very much.  Ruthlessly focussed self-obsession is key, coinciding with a lack of cross-talk between the prefrontal cortex (shown in blue with the red arrow of ‘Jim’s’ brain) and the emotional centres of the brain. Some neuroscientists have actually trucked an MRI scanner into notorious prisons in America to scan the brains of the most extreme psychopaths. The findings? Extreme psychopaths have reduced grey matter volume in the prefrontal cortex (the forehead) and in the temporal poles (above the ears). In terms of brain activation, when thinking about their own pain, psychopaths activate typical emotional and sensory regions, including the insula, amygdala and somatosensory cortex. But when viewing pain inflicted on others, these regions are quiet, but their reward centres light up – suggesting that psychopaths have an innate sense of Schadenfreude – or getting pleasure from the displeasure of others.

The take-home message?  Don’t take a psychopath home with you!

Dr Samantha Brooks is a neuroscientist at the UCT Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health, specialising in the neural correlates of impulse control from eating disorders to addiction.  For more information on neuroscience at UCT and to contact Samantha, see Note: Images royalty free, courtesy of

Click to read all previous articles by Dr Samantha J. Brooks Ph.D. 

How to handle a break-up with your bond

How to handle a break-up with your bond


Every buyer goes through a “honeymoon” period when their monthly bond repayment seems a small price to pay for the pleasures of home ownership.

But the romance can sour rapidly if that instalment becomes a burden - which can happen quite easily if your work hours get cut back, you really have to buy a new car or an addition to the family puts new demands on your household budget.

“And the problem is not going to go away by itself,” says Rudi Botha, CEO of leading bond originator BetterBond. “You need to acknowledge it and assess your options for dealing with it, as soon as possible.”

The signs that affordability is becoming a problem include making your bond repayment later and later each month, cutting back the repayment of other debts so you can afford the bond repayment, or perhaps even “borrowing” from your credit card or overdraft facility to make up a shortfall on the instalment.

If this is your situation, he says, your first step is to work out how long your cash “crunch” is likely to last. An interest rate decrease may be on the way, or you may soon be due for a salary increase. Perhaps you’ll be able to ease the situation quite quickly by cutting family spending, by taking a part-time second job to pay off your short-term debts, or even by getting a new, better paid, full-time job.

The second step is to stay calm, even if it looks as though you’ll be in a bind for quite some time. Take charge and ask your lender about options for lowering your monthly home loan repayment. You may be able to extend the term of the loan, for example, or “cap” it for a while and only pay interest until your financial circumstances improve. If you have owned your home for quite some time and have good equity, you may even be able to refinance the loan at a lower interest rate.

Thirdly, says Botha, you may decide that you really can’t manage the bond repayments at this stage and should rather sell your home, pay off your debts and start over.

“If that is the case you should seek professional help through one of the bank assisted-sale programmes to get the property sold at the best price and in the shortest possible time. This will enable you to keep your credit record intact and maintain control of your financial destiny.”

Whatever you do, he notes, you should not just stop paying your instalments and wait to see what happens. “The last thing the bank wants to do is repossess your home, but once the letters of demand start coming, it will be difficult to convince anyone that you are taking your obligations seriously and that any plan you have for making up the late payments is actually workable.

“And if you let your home be repossessed, you will lose whatever equity you have built up in the property and your credit record will be ruined for years. What is more, if the property is then sold at auction for less than you owe the bank, you will still be liable for the difference.

“However, if you are realistic about your financial circumstances and quick to make use of all the help that is available if you find yourself in trouble, you will soon be back on your feet and ready to buy your next home.”
Issued by etc

Anne-Marie Bamber is Norgarb Properties dedicated Home Loans Consultant. She has over 15 years’ experience in assisting clients with their Home Loan needs and has placed many happy families in their dream homes.

Contact her today for no cost stress-free home-buying.
Anne-Marie Bamber
Home Loans consultant
Tel: +27 (0)21 851 3568 | Fax: +27 (0)21 441 1494 | Cell: +27 (0)82 071 1665

Humane mole control

Humane Ways to Deal with Moles
Don’t make mountains out of literal mole hills. In fact, if you have a mole issue, take it as a compliment - it means there’s something good going on in your soil and an abundance of earthworms. Although having moles might be a compliment to your delicious soil, they can damage your garden. Here we’ll take a look at moles and the most humane ways to deter them.

Firstly, you need to determine if the mole is indeed becoming a pest. Moles have good qualities too, they turn the soil by aerating it, creating better drainage and they eat slugs and other insects which may be destroying your garden. If, however, the mole is digging up and ruining your flowers and lawn, you may want to consider helping him find a new home. 

Secondly, look for active tunnels. When you see a mole tunnel, indicated by the typical mole hill, stomp on it to cave it in. If it has been restored the next day, then your mole is definitely living there.
Here are a few ways to remove the mole issue without actually killing the mole:
1. Catch and Release
Catch the mole by flooding the tunnel. Locate a mole hill and insert a garden hose - this will flood the tunnel and cause the mole to surface. Gently collect the mole in a bucket or container and release it somewhere safe…preferably not your enemy’s garden. It might also be easier to have two people to do this, one holding the hose and the other to catch the mole as he surfaces.
2. Plants
There are a few plants which moles are not very fond of. Garlic and Chocolate Llilies have proven to be effective in deterring them. They also don’t like the smell of Daffodils or Marigolds, so you could use these as a hedge around your lawn. Although this might not get rid of the moles completely, you can rest assured that they won’t go near these plants.
3. Build a Barrier
There are a few ways to do this. The first step is to dig a trench around the area you wish to protect. The trench should be about 60cm deep and 20 – 30cm wide.
The second step is to fill the trench with gravel, clay or mesh, then cover it back up. The gravel/clay/mesh will stop moles from digging through.
4. Homemade Repellent
Castor oil is the base for both of these natural repellents. You can simply pour castor oil into the mole’s tunnel as this will upset his stomach and discourage him from hanging around, or you could make the following mixture - ¼ cup castor oil, 2 tablespoons dishwashing liquid and 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper. Pop it in the blender to make sure it is mixed well. Add 6 tablespoons of water and blend again. Keep this solution in a sealed container until you see a new mound appear, then add 2 tablespoons of the solution to about 4 litres of water and mix well. Take this solution and either use a spray bottle to spray it over the mounds of dirt and the surrounding grass or simply pour the whole lot down the mole holes. This will change the taste of the insects and the mole will gladly move on to scrounge up grubs elsewhere. For this to be effective you should re-apply this homemade repellent every two days and again after it rains.
5. Good Vibrations
This method is pretty effortless! Simply place a few wind- or battery-operated spinners along the mole’s paths and he will be happy to move elsewhere. Moles don’t like being disturbed and the vibrations from the spinners will be just like that noisy neighbour whose bass keeps you up all night.
So there you have it, 5 ways to get rid of moles so that you both can live a happy, peaceful life.

Norgarb Properties Agent Andre Ter Moshuizen who specialises in the Claremont area, shares some household tips and handy home hints with you every month. Read more of his articles here. []

Andre Ter Moshuizen: 082 602 1367 | | []