It has been more than a year since I last posted on this blog… In that year I have worked on another successful AfrikaBurn (2015’s theme was The Gift),


the very last Swartland Revolution and also got to travel to Australia to help build and have fun at their Burning Man Regional Burning Seed.

DPI container times by andy flint

Burning Seed takes place in Matong State Forest in New South Wales – a lovely shady setting for someone used to putting on these events in harsh desert environments.

Here is an extract from my blog post, published on Seed’s blog last week.

“The setting, the faces and the accents may change, but at its core the spirit of the people, who give so much of their time to put on an event of this nature, remains the same. This is my tribe.

Same / Same, but Same, but Different

To date I’ve been lucky enough to work at Nowhere, the European regional Burn in Spain (2012 and 2013) with around 1000-1200 participants and at AfrikaBurn, the world’s biggest regional, in the Tankwa Karoo of South Africa (2013 to 2015) with numbers in the range 8000 to 11,000.

Burning Seed 2015 was a fantastic middle ground in terms of participants (3,400 or so) and I really enjoyed the sense of community I found at Red Earth City.

Interestingly the concerns and issues that plague the membership and the Operations Team at AfrikaBurn HQ in Cape Town also resonate with the Burning Seed team in Australia.

The rapid growth of the events, the constant need to reinforce the message of consent, conflicts between the Ten Principles, keeping everyone happy in a radically expressive environment and burn-out amongst key team members seems to be all too evident both sides of the pond.”

To read the entire article and for more info on this fantastic event, please head over to their website.

fun time flies…

Oh dear. It is the 20th of January 2015. It has been more than 2 months since my last blog post. It is not that nothing happened in those two months, to the contrary, LOTS happened and the later the year got the more exhausted I got, the hotter the Swartland got and the less I wanted to stare at a computer screen…

So, I think I need to do a quick recap of the last parts of 2014, the holidays and the first 3 weeks (omg!) of 2015…


After the very successful 5th Swartland Revolution I packed a pair of work clothes, a warm jacket and a sleeping bag and head to Tankwa with a few of my DPW crew members. Our mission was simple: to go sort out the storage mess we left in May (after 7 weeks in the desert no-one is too keen on packing things away neatly); to do a bit of an inventory (after 7 weeks in the desert no-one is too keen on inventories and spreadsheets); build a campsite where we can stay when heading up for missions like this and have lots of fun…

All missions were accomplished.


IMG_3644 IMG_3600 IMG_3605 IMG_3642 IMG_3624 IMG_3646The Tankwa is hard man,

it refs you up then drops you down,

the highs are wide open sky high and the lows are deep and dry.

It tests your limits and pushes your boundaries.

We packed we loaded we drove we moved we unpacked we set up we made a new temporary home we organised we inventoried we drank we made fires we burned the remains of the wattle tower with fireworks! we drank we shot more fireworks out of the (pea)cock we drank we went off road we watched sunrises and sunsets we got dirty we moved 120 toilet boxes we screwed we pozzied we lid up subterrafuge we danced oh how we laughed…

but i also reflected, I wrote, I cried, I asked my self what the hell and why oh why…

Two important life lessons from Tankwa.
Always cut your nails before going to live in a semi desert
and always leave when you were supposed to go. Anything longer is too long.

IMG_3669Back in “civilisation” I completed the most bizarre job of my life, buying and fitting outfits for the winemakers at a major Stellenbosch wine estate…

IMG_3788we hosted two more weddings on Kalmoesfontein (I am now also the Wedding Coordinator for the farm, Adi called me that in an email so it must be official…)IMG_3873 IMG_3875IMG_4030IMG_3993IMG_4034we had an ‘end of year’ pool and pig party (Agnus the pig got smoked)IMG_3957 IMG_4016I assisted on the Woolworths Flavour Society’s end of year xmas party at Spier… wrapped everything in gold!IMG_3973IMG_3993IMG_3992i flew to Gauteng / the North West for a week to visit old friends and attend the wedding (and last-night-a-batchelor) of one of my best mates from high school… IMG_4052 IMG_4075

IMG_4179while we were there another friend from high school and I decided to spend some time at Supersport Park in Centurion to watch the Proteas play (destroy) the West Indies… IMG_4122

one night off the grid in Observatory, deep JHB,IMG_4135 IMG_4134

and then it was time for me to farmsit – on Kalmoesfontein I entertained various groups of friends – firstly my girlfriends from high school and their partners for an early xmas lunchIMG_4149 IMG_4153 IMG_4154my housemates from 2014, my homeless American friend and my brother for actual xmas lunchIMG_4173IMG_4241we hosted an end of year ‘arty at Nansen street for our Afrikaburn crew and friends and family, IMG_4207where a water balloon fight soon turned into a paint fight… IMG_4206spent a day at the beach with the family (the real blood one)IMG_4231 IMG_4266

I had many friends over for visits, wine and pool timeIMG_4290

hosted the biggest NYE party the Partyberg had ever seen (featuring the biggest Bloody Mary I had ever seen on the 1st)IMG_4322 IMG_4342 IMG_4346

and then it was time, not for resolutions, but for reflections. I like to learn and grow from everything I do… IMG_4366this year is full steam ahead. I have a new Macbook, new iPhone, new clients, new outlook, new ventures and exciting things in the near future…

and I will try to blog more often, if only for myself.

Happy happy…


This weekend we (very successfully) hosted our fifth Swartland Revolution

When I decided to quit my advertising job in 2010 in an attempt to find work, people, project and clients that inspire me and feed my soul, I had no idea how perfectly it would all work out. Being able to work with the world class winemakers, stylists and event planners who are all so incredibly passionate about this place where I was born and bred, is really the apex of my career every year.

To hear the feedback from people (from all over the world) that attended anything from their first to fifth revolution this weekend just confirms that the Swartland is alive with passion and creativity.

Every tasting inspired, every meal revived and every party excited. The launch of our Caperitif bar was a huge success, I still poured people all sorts of concoctions with whatever was still in stock, long after the bar had closed and the barmen had left…

My work is not yet done, I want to put together a proper social media report for the crew (even if I dont know if they ever read it) and write some post revolution posts // I want to write huge THANK YOUs to everyone involved and shout it to the world // There are some crazy Caperitif plans to take over the (cocktail) world // We need to find innovative ways to spend the incredibly generous auction money on the kids of our communities and we need to work out how many glasses got broken… Thanks Cope…

I am off to the Tankwa for some AfrikaBurn work on Wednesday, I look forward to switching off my phone and not tweeting a single thing anyone says… and to do some quiet reflection on what exactly happened here this weekend.

So, more on all of this soon!

What do you doooo? Part II

Still in search of the answer to the dreaded “what do you do?” question, here is another week+ in the life of Helena…


Most of the last two weeks were spent planning, setting up and running the Food Market at the World Design Capital Thinkers and Makers Expo at the Cape Town Stadium. image_3

A grand display of local talent and creativity, I think my favourite parts of the exhibition was:

1. Ukusela Ekapa – I have seen this project a few times before this year, and during the expo I got to squeeze one myself. I thought you get your own back (logistical nightmare much!?) but it turns out you get a random Capetonian’s cup and that might be even cooler… Uniting 10 000 Capetonians through a ‘handshake’. YES.


2. Homing – firstly the artist is a girl who is taller than me (I find it SO strange having to look UP at women)… but besides her lovely physique – this installation is fantastic. “Homing is an unique instrument that allows an audience to wander through a forest of hundreds of glimmering copper strings, strung from floor to ceiling, to touch, listen and play their memories of home.  Dogs barking, laughter, thunder, traffic, a piano – wherever you may be today, wherever you may live, each string of the artist Jenna Burchell’s touch-sensitive instrument Homing triggers familiar sounds that take you back to that place, real or imagined, where you know you belong, feel safe, breathe easily.”

3. Prins – for the last few weeks (months) I have been slowly saying goodbye to my best friend. It is bitter sweet – he is leaving (me) for France for (at least) two years to study, thanks to a scholarship, something he has dreamed of doing since we were little plattelandse kinners. Prins, on display at the WDC expo last week, was one of his Masters’ projects. PROUD!


In the meantime, we -and here I am speaking as ‘the cousin who does the marketing and web stuff’ for AA Badenhorst Family Wines– launched (and sold out of) our first batch of Cape Tonic Water!

For too long we wished for a good, local tonic when sipping on our G&Ts, so we set Kyle up to make some for us… Like us HERE to keep updated on the next release, learn how to make a lekker local G&T and some other interesting cocktails!image_4


This weekend, as another one of the steps in the ‘say goodbye to the bestie’ programme, we went to our family house in Yzerfontein. Long hours on the grass in the sun with good drinks and great company… and Province won… image_1

And then it was a new week… image

working on Spier Secret the rest of the week. Come to the market Saturday it is well worth it.

Calling Cape Town…

I am spending my week at Cape Town Stadium running a Food Market as a sneak peak to next week’s Spier Secret Market. It is in conjunction with Cape Town as World Design Capital’s Thinkers and Makers exhibition and conference. As well as the registration / pick up for Saturday’s Colour Run…


Yes. Exciting food vendors selling yummy things while our world class city displays its amazing creative talent… If you, at any point this year, said to yourself or anyone else “what the hell is the World Design Capital thing about, what is it doing, what is happening…?” you should come down to the stadium this week to get the answers.

MAKE IT NEW exhibition (‪#‎WDC012‬) Cape Town Stadium presented by the Cape Craft and Design Institute! ‪#‎see‬ ‪#‎learn‬ ‪#‎do‬

Date: 15-19 October 2014
Time: 10am – 6pm
Cost: FREE to public

and remember to find our food market on level 02. Well worth it!

The Tankwa Padstal – like a phoenix

This is a reblog – the original post first appeared on AfrikaBurn’s Binnekring Blog on Friday


By now you probably know the sad news: the Tankwa Padstal, our favourite little padstal / bar / oasis in the desert burned down on Saturday 20 September. This past Wednesday morning, after a few quick decisions from Outreach and DPW, a crew of AfrikaBurn representatives were on their way north with a trailer full of supplies and support.

photo by Helena Sheridan

I said I would join and then regretted it for a moment when my alarm went off at 6am on a public holiday and I was still slightly drunk from the engagement party I attended into the early morning hours. It was however the best way I could have possibly spent my Heritage Day. I believe the Karoo landscape and people are a big part of our heritage, our history, our make up…

photo by Helena Sheridan

Spending the day with Hein, Susan, Walter and Henriette on their beautiful, sustainable working farms filled me with inspiration. Their passion and commitment to the Padstal ensured that it became the heart of the R355 and the greater community that they are a part of. The stories of support, love and encouragement that they have received from the people in the area, the AfrikaBurn community, the biker and old car crews that pop in for drinks regularly and so many others all over the country confirm this. More than a hundred locals are expected to turn up on Tuesday to help clean up the site, remove rubble and knock down some walls.

photo by Helena Sheridan

It was with this in mind that we pitched a big white stretch tent in front of the ruin of the Tankwa Padstal. In the shade is a bar (priorities!), a few tables and chairs and a coffee table made by Kurt (the manager at our Nansen Street yard). You could clearly see that the sight of the tent, a fresh white canvas (literally), delighted the Padstal crew and inspired them to rise again from the ashes.

photo by Helena Sheridan

So how can you help?

On Tuesday (30th September) there will be a big clean up mission on the site. By Wednesday we hope to erect another stretch tent to serve as temporary shaded space to trade and entertain from. If you can hit rebar, build shelves or work with a spade, you should consider joining…


Hein and Susan are very keen to start the library gain asap but lost most of the books –  any entertaining or educational books (ook in Afrikaans!) would be very much appreciated.

Many of the locals who came to sympathise mentioned that they did so because the Padstal provides a lot of help to their children and their education – I think pencils, pens, notebooks, erasers, rulers etc are excellent donations to ensure the kids still get this valued support.

Walter and Henrietta would like to tile the floors of the new bigger and better Tankwa Mall in mosaic style and any odd tiles, broken or whole, one or many, that you might have will be very welcome.

Hein wants to get the shop up and running with the essentials that they provide to the community asap – donating things like flour, mieliemeel, long life milk, sugar etc is a great idea!

Any loose shelving would also be very helpful. Susan mentioned in passing that they need a big f-offsign that says YES WE ARE OPEN! to put on the road, if anyone could make, design, paint or print this (and another that says ONS IS OOP JA!) that would be a lovely surprise.

photo by Helena Sheridan

The build process (and getting the decor as fabulous as it was before, considering most of the pieces were custom made or rare antiques) will take some time and sourcing – if you have anything special like that to donate, bring it on. Imagine how lekker it will be to stop for a last G&T before invading Tankwa Town next year (and every year after that) and see your donation up on the bar or wall…

Donations can be delivered to Kurt at 6 Nansen Street, Observatory, Cape Town on Saturdays between 9am and 1pm. Let’s show these guys how much we appreciate everything they do and get them up and running in time for their big Community Day on 1 November.

Padstal Community Day?

It’s true – up to 600 people are expected to turn up at the Padstal that day. The Western Cape Department of Health is sending a ‘medical truck’ with dentists, optometrists, doctors and nurses to service the locals; ou tannies from the area are coming to make roosterkoek for everyone; there will be boeresport and face painting and lots of fun activities for the kids; donkey carts will be serviced and donkeys will be shoed… and so much more.

If you would like some more information or you are keen to help out in any way feel free to contact myself on Helena@afrikaburn.com or Robert who heads up Outreach on Robert@afrikaburn.com.


Heading up there again tomorrow. Blessed to be involved and in a position to help.

Wie maak vir Gansbaai lekker..?







A few days in Gansbaai.
Hellos and goodbyes.
It’s been too long
we should do this more often.

Party prepping and cooking for crowds
Supplies for a surprise(!)

The coming together
of like minded strangers
A mutual friend
a special glue

Cocktails and sunshine
Beers and a braai
Good food in great company
New friends and old
And that beautiful space in between

I am going to miss you my brother my friend.
no matter the distance or time that will pass
Between us a bond
A friendship beyond.

So we party a last time
Like when we were young
Squeeze every moment
Build up the reserves
Go now and prosper
every opportunity well deserved

I’ll see you in the future
look forward to meeting you there.

[Or something like that. Exact thoughts and emotions yet undecided.]

“What do you do?”

When you meet new people (or even run into old acquaintances) they always seem to want to know what it is you DO. Society is obsessed with our careers, our work, our jobs, as if it defines us in some way.

As someone who does a little bit of copywriting, a bit of online marketing, some event logistics and cat herding, occasional styling and scenic work and whatever comes my way and seems interesting… I dread that question.

So, to try and find an answer to this dilemma I am starting a weekly “this week in the life of Helena” photo post… and I will take the first one back a little bit.

Saturday 6 September

some front of house / bar management in between good food, great wine and fabulous company at Adi’s mom’s 70th lunch on Kalmoesfontein. 


Monday 8 September



Tuesday 9 September

crossroads, robberies, job reviews and infighting leads to whiskey before, during and after an AfrikaBurn Operations meeting… The ego is a dangerous thing…


Wednesday 10 September

A shift of wine education behind the bar at Publik.


Thursday 11 September

Scribbles and scribe… practicing for sign writing (and quoting Tom Robbins to myself. After I finish a book I like to write down some significant thoughts from it)

image_3 (2)

Friday 12 September

It was all (Lemon Chiffon 1) yellow as I painted signs for the upcoming Spier Secret Festival.

image_5 (2)Saturday 13 September

AfrikaBurn Special Members Meeting… look up!

image_2 (2)

Sunday 14 September

AfrikaBurn DPW braai (and burn) as we start building our crew for 2015.image_1 (2)Monday 15 September

spent mostly sick in bed till I had to drag myself to Publik to serve people fine wine.

Tuesday 16 September

ended on a roof with a view over Cape Town harbour.

image (2)I realise very few of those look like actual work, but (pictures of computer screens and emails are boring and) isn’t that the beauty of freelance..?

Happy Wednesday, I am off to Gansbaai to see long lost friends. Mini break! I’ll post pictures of whales soon…

with a spring in my step…

Today is (kind of) the first day of spring. Well, it is the first day of September and we like to be optimistic and call it spring. Let’s go, let’s get winter behind us… Happy spring day.

hello spring

In school its significance was the chance to dress in ‘normal clothes’ or civvies, short for ‘civilian clothes’ (I guess)… These days people Instagram lots of pictures of flowers, companies try to sell you something by cleverly connecting their product to #springday and friends devote their Facebook statuses to talks about the weather and what an amazing place we live in.

Spring brings hope, new pages, a light at the end of the tunnel (summer? Holidays? Christmas? The end of another year?) and the illusion that just because the sun is out, or on its way back, everything is hunky dory. It is easier to be positive and happy when the sun shines, when you are tanned golden brown and eating watermelon on the beach. It sets a great mood full of positive energy and we need to use that to our best advantage. (more on that later, maybe)

I was scared of winter, I dreaded it. I ran away from it. For two years I left just after the first hectic cold-rain-all-week winter weather arrived and returned late in September (spring! Duh). This year I stayed. I promised myself I would endure and enjoy the colder, darker and damper side of Cape Town and that I will try to learn a few things about myself at the same time.

Yesterday the sun set spectacularly on this much dreaded and debated season of my life. 


What had happened during this winter of 2014 in my beloved Cape Town?

Well, for one, I finally decided and started to seriously contemplate and plan towards a move out of this town… Thoughts and considerations about moving out of the city and into the country (that I have mulled over since my return from Europe in 2012) became a reality; finally I felt that the time was right.

With big changes and decisions come big questions (from everywhere – everyone from that voice in your head to your best friend to the stranger at the other side of the bar suddenly asks questions) and lots of contemplation. Are you sure this is the right move, it is rather bold? Are you sure you (who gets bored SO easily) will not feel trapped, stagnated out there? What if you get lonely. Are you not old before your time… What if you become ‘the strange tattooed lady with the chickens and veggie patch that lives all alone in the middle of nowhere’??

Every time a big question pops up (from where ever) you go through some degree of doubt, fear, stress… I can only hope that the fact that I have less and less doubt the more I answer, the more I contemplate, try to make sense and verbalise my reasons, means that this is a big bold move in the right direction. That I am sure. That only boring people get bored. That I am moving because I want some peace and quiet, less distractions, more time with my head, my thoughts, myself. That I have tons of friends I want to invite out there and who are eager to visit, so when I get lonely I will take a few bookings. Besides, I see the country side as a cheap, sustainable place to base myself in order to go on many adventures, a place from where I can travel the world and work on all the crazy projects in my head. I am an old soul… I am strange and tattooed and a little mystery never killed no one!

I am currently reading ‘Half asleep in frog pyjamas’ by Tom Robbins and some of the key themes in the book are set around The Star tarot card. Reading about tarot cards made me want to get my cards read… So I went to see a lady names Diana who claims to be a channel or a medium for connecting with Spirit. The card that she turned around ‘for me’ was The Star. It refers to ‘the calm after the storm’, to hope, optimism, good will, faith, inspiration, trusting and good things to come… It represents a breakthrough, a new opportunity to rise to a higher consciousness or clarity.

The jury is still out on how I feel about psychics, Spirits and the power of a pack of playing cards, but hey, I will take that as another sign pointing in the right direction and go boldly into this new season of my life.

Happy spring day!

The gentrification of Woodstock and why I am moving out…

I just read this article:


and then wrote this blog post:

I am a white Afrikaans chick from a middle class family from a small white Afrikaans town in the platteland. For me to be living in ‘lower dodgy Woodstock’ (as I like to call it, to test people’s social boundaries) is already gentrification. I realise this, I realise it every time I take the battery out of my car at night – a result of having had 3 previous batteries stolen from the bonnet… My multi racial housemates and neighbours all believe I am being targeted as ‘the white girl on the street’ and as much as I do not want to believe this, I am afraid it might be true.

In the 9 months that I have lived in this lovely duplex house on Sussex Street, between Victoria and Albert Roads (or Main and Lower Main as we call it) I have come to understand a lot about Woodstock. Consider this:

We, me and my three black housemates, pay rent every month to a Frenchman who lives in Berlin. He has just sold the house for 100% profit and we are starting to move out.

The morning after the first night I spent here I got to my car and the window was smashed in. “Welcome to the hood” my housemates said, “it is an initiation”.

Since then I have replaced 5 windows and 3 batteries. My rear view mirror, VW badge and mirror covers (!?) have all gone missing.

I am very friendly with the aging coloured families who are our neighbours. Most of these families have lived here for generations. It was one of these Ooms who told me, on that first morning, standing at my broken car window, to chain the battery into my car… (I tried that, three times, three different ways, no use). He also once told me that some property developer from Dubai had offered him R900 000 for his house (the house he and his siblings and his children grew up in). “And then what? Where will we go and what can we buy with that money” he asked me.

We are one street away from the very hip and fresh new Woodstock Exchange. In 2009/10 I remember visiting art studios some friends had. They had come there looking for affordable versatile spaces where they can build, paint and create. They made the grey, cold industrial spaces cool, and then got kicked out when it got renovated and the rent went sky high.


I find it all a bit ironic. Yes I get called a hipster often and being Afrikaans and white sure has its historical benefits… but, even though our landlord insists he wishes one of us could have bought the house, there is just no way in hell I could afford that. I am a gypsy hippie, I work freelance while travelling and exploring. I chose this house from all the options I had because  

  • The rent was cheap
  • The house was nice
  • The housemates were diverse and different to me
  • The street, with its pretty houses, bright colours, graffiti, panel beaters and god knows what that place across the road is, was still real and raw.

Now we have to move out as the house has been sold and the new landlords have new plans with the place. We have no intention of staying with ‘spoiled rich kids’ as Bongani called them, we wanted to live together, we had a good thing going here.

I see now that gentrification happens in stages. We were but one phases of this process. And if I feel pissed off about it, I can kind of understand why the Muslim family down the road just glare at me when I say good morning.

Maybe it is all a bit like how I feel when I first saw the brand new McDonalds right next to some of the oldest, prettiest buildings in my small rural home town…

 The times they are a changing and I am afraid our vision is clouded by money, greed and ego rather than sustainability, community and compassion.

But that, is a whole other story / rant / blogpost.