All posts by Regina

Weekend Coffee Share: The Gatvol Edition

Hi everyone, welcome to this weekend’s coffee share (aka the gatvol edition). It was a busy week on the work front. I started my year after a December/January holiday with a bang. There was lots to catch up on and do. I welcomed a new member to the team, participated in global strategy sessions, and did a lot of thinking about the strategy for my country – South Africa.

On Tuesday I went to the dentist for root canal treatment. It wasn’t as bad it sounds, my dentist is rather gentle. It is done now and I go back next week to check that all is ok and measure out a crown for the tooth. Otherwise, the other teeth are fine – thankfully.

Ok, this is where it gets a bit bleak … we are gatvol in South Africa with rolling blackouts. The planning that goes into navigating 3 blackout periods each day is worthy of a NASA mission!

Rolling blackouts continue and they are punishing for everyone in the country. Each day I have between 6 and 10 hours of no electricity. I am fortunate to have an inverter and batteries, and a generator if necessary … and a lot of planning around this goes into my day.

Firstly, the morning blackout – is it going to affect coffee preparation? Now, this is very important because it sets up the day for me and no one wants to have a grumpy Regina on a Zoom call because of no coffee.

Then it’s seeing which meetings are going to be within the midday blackout and making sure that I have connected to the inverter in time. Sometimes I am so focused on what I am doing that I forget and part way through the meeting my computer goes dark with a sudden jarring and shocking speed. I rush to connect to the inverter; it takes 3 minutes for the system to come up including the fibre router.

Then, for the evening blackout session – dinner! What me or Chè cooks is very much dependent on this. Does it need oven or can it be done on the gas stove? Does it need convection microwave? Can I put it in the Instant Pot before the power goes off (the crock-pot won’t work because there isn’t enough time between blackouts, and with me working I don’t have the mind space to plan this out.

There is the Wonderbag, a wonderful proudly South African invention.

I prepare and simmer the food for 20 minutes and then put it in the Wonderbag (have a look at it, it is truly awesome) and it will finish cooking with the residual heat. It really works, like a slow cooker but without the electricity. This also needs me to do some pre-planning, and sometimes I’m not always that organised due to work. Maybe we should just barbecue every night.

On blackout level 6 there are 2x two-hour slots and 1x four-hour slot, so a total of 10 hours with no power. EVERY DAY! And this is when the lights come on on time – sometimes they switch back on up to 1 hour after the scheduled time.

And we hope that there aren’t any faults. The constant switching on and off of power to areas plus the cable theft leads to faults. If power is not restored after 1 hour we can assume there is a fault and log it with the municipality. There were 2 faults this week.

I worry about the food in the freezer and the fridge. And this situation is likely to continue for who knows how long because the government can’t manage the utility and make it work for the country. This includes approving private power producers to feed into the grid. It has been on the cards for a while but with the red tape and corruption things are progressing at a glacial pace. (By the way, rolling blackouts have been happening sporadically since 2007; 2022 and 2023 have been particularly bad).

In the meantime, businesses are suffering and it’s affecting the economy and the confidence of foreign investors which we need.

People’s morale is down. We are gatvol (South African slang for completely fed up; very upset).  We make do with inverters and the generator (we want to install solar but we will only break even in 20 years, so not much of a compelling business case). Electricity (when there actually is), is still cheaper here compared to other countries.

This is depressing so I will stop talking about it now.

On another thing … I got the usual Upper Respiratory Tract Infection this week, lots of pollens about I believe. I visited the doctor because I am doing 2 training classes next week and I need my voice. Luckily they are in-person and I don’t use slides, so no electricity is needed. That is the upside of in-person classes versus virtual classes which I still do at least once a month – worrying about having power.

So, as I sit here in the dark working on battery power and data, I will bid you farewell until next week.

PS – the neighbours are having a party, and the music is on powered by battery. The party needs to continue in spite of everything.

From a gatvol Regina in South Africa.


Stream of Consciousness: Of Rains and Plans

Stream of consciousness January 5th, posted on January 10th … oh well …


It’s raining now, softly-ish, filling the pool with lovely water that I can use later for backwashing and cleaning out the filter. The pool level is almost to the top. It’s rainy, with only a few hours of sunshine over the middle of the day: there’s a sleepy quality to the day; the cats certainly think so, dozing as they are. Looking out into the distance I see that it is foggy, unusual for this time of year; it is after all summer here. But it’s not a cold rain; I am sitting on the sofa wearing shorts and a t-shirt.

I’ve scrolled through Instagram (twice), re-read certain parts of A Little Life (again) and read a chapter of a book on my phone. I’m still on leave for the next 2 weeks and only now, in the new year am I really relaxing. The stress of Christmas and new year celebrations are over, and now my time is my own for the next 2 weeks: then work starts again.

I’m almost wishing I was back at work but I know how important and precious this time off is. But can an entrepreneur and business owner really take time off? My thoughts are with my business occupying my sleeping and waking moments: waking up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, worried, weird dreams expressing fears – I can’t wait to get back to it and get this show on the road. To make this year a good year, another good year, a better year. I have plans, growth plans. Being the best, being better, being being being. Just being. I find that I rather enjoy the business side of things. It’s exciting, exhilarating, stimulating, and creative and now I’m able to do what I want without needing to ask for permission. The business is my own and I only want the best for it. The best for my team. The best for my clients.