The Latest: Possibly tainted eggs found in more countries

first_img In this photo taken Monday, Aug. 7, 2017 an egg is being extracted with a pipette in a laboratory of the Chemical and Veterinary Investigation Office in Krefeld, Germany. Dutch investigators detained two men Thursday who are suspected of being involved in the illegal use of pesticide at poultry farms that sparked a massive food safety scare in several European countries. (Marcel Kusch/dpa via AP) THE HAGUE, Netherlands | The Latest on an investigation of eggs tainted with an illegal pesticide in Europe (all times local):4:30 p.m.Reports of possibly tainted eggs linked to the pesticide scandal in the Netherlands and Belgium are cropping up in several countries.Luxembourg’s government has said that it received eggs from a Belgian producer whose eggs were found to contain Fipronil. Some eggs were sent back, while others were used in minced meat and luncheon meat. The remaining minced meat has been destroyed. In Denmark, 40 eggs from a farm affected by Fipronil have been found at a baker, Nikolai Kuhn Hove of the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration told Denmark’s TV2 channel. The eggs were seized Wednesday and the state agency said it would continue to monitor the situation.Britain’s food safety watchdog says far more eggs from affected farms have been imported than previously thought.Dutch authorities arrested two men Thursday on suspicion of involvement in the illegal use of the pesticide Fipronil in poultry farms.3:30 p.m.British food safety authorities say far more eggs possibly tainted with the pesticide Fipronil have been imported to the United Kingdom from elsewhere in Europe than previously thought. But they say the number is a tiny fraction of the eggs consumed each year in the country.The Food Standards Agency says it’s likely that the number of eggs that have come to the UK is closer to 700,000 than the 21,000 officials previously believed had been imported.The agency has issued a list of recalled processed foods including sandwiches and salads in which the eggs were found, but added that many eggs were mixed with other eggs from unaffected farms, so any Fipronil residues would be diluted.The agency says that 85 percent of eggs eaten in the United Kingdom are laid there and “we have no evidence that eggs laid in the UK are contaminated or that Fipronil has been used inappropriately in the UK.”Millions of eggs have been pulled from supermarket shelves across Europe but no illnesses have been reported.2:45 p.m.Dutch investigators have detained two men suspected of being involved in the illegal use of pesticide at poultry farms that sparked a massive food safety scare in several countries.Dutch prosecutors said in a statement Thursday that the two men detained during a series of raids are directors of a company that allegedly used Fipronil in egg farms.Though no illnesses have been reported, prosecutors said there is evidence that public health has been threatened by “the delivery or application of the biocide Fipronil in poultry houses in the egg sector.”The raids in the Netherlands were carried out as part of a joint action with Belgian authorities.Millions of eggs have been pulled from supermarket shelves in Germany as well as Belgium and the Netherlands.3 p.m.Dutch and Belgian authorities are carrying out raids as part of a criminal investigation into the illegal use of pesticide at poultry farms.Marieke van der Molen of the Dutch National Prosecutor’s Office says investigators from the country’s food safety watchdog are conducting the raids in the Netherlands. She did not provide details on which companies or individuals were targeted.Van der Molen says the Dutch raids on Thursday are part of a joint action with Belgian authorities.Dozens of producers in the two countries are being investigated for eggs containing Fipronil, which is potentially dangerous. However, no cases have been reported of people falling sick.As a result of the scandal, millions of eggs have been pulled from supermarket shelves in Germany as well as Belgium and the Netherlands.center_img In this photo taken Monday, Aug. 7, 2017 Eggs are kept fresh in an egg-box in a laboratory of the Chemical and Veterinary Investigation Office in Krefeld, Germany. Dutch investigators detained two men Thursday who are suspected of being involved in the illegal use of pesticide at poultry farms that sparked a massive food safety scare in several European countries. (Marcel Kusch/dpa via AP)last_img read more

New chairman looking forward

first_imgBy Nick Creely The Pakenham Racing Club celebrated its third birthday in style on Thursday 8 March, with Simon Conn…[To read the rest of this story Subscribe or Login to the Gazette Access Pass] Thanks for reading the Pakenham Berwick Gazette. Subscribe or Login to read the rest of this content with the Gazette Digital Access Pass subscription.last_img

Northwestern State Advances to Semifinals for Third Straight Year

first_img The Demons – winners of 11 of their last 13 — had a 3:19 stretch in the second half in which they finished five of their six possessions with 3-pointers, capped off Ta’Jon Welcome’s triple that gave them a 77-63 margin. “I felt like that we ran and pushed the ball up the floor and allowed them to play free, catch the ball and make shots,” said Demons coach Mike McConathy. “When I coach relaxed and they play relaxed, that’s a pretty good combination, I think.” On his career… “It’s been an honor to play for McNeese these last four years. We’ve had a lot of memories with me and Desharick and it’s just been an honor and a blessing to wear that “M” on my chest.” “We didn’t have an answer for him all night,” said McNeese State coach Dave Simmons. Northwestern State’s relaxation lost its guard in the final minutes, as McNeese State refused to yield quietly. The Cowboys were able to whittle the lead down on the strength of their offensive rebounding, with first-team all-conference forward Desharick Guidry scoring nine of his 20 points on a host of put-backs. McNeese State pulled down 28 of their 51 rebounds on the offensive end. KATY, Texas – Northwestern State tied a Southland Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament record with 14 3-pointers as the fourth-seed Demons held off the Cowboys 96-89 Thursday evening at Merrell Center, advancing them to a semifinal date against top-seed Stephen F. Austin on Friday. POSTGAME QUOTES Northwestern State Head Coach Mike McConathy  Opening statement… “I’m really proud of the guys because they really came out and competed. Outside of certain things I thought we really competed in two of the three things we needed to, we did a really good job. We did a great job on the boards up until the last five minutes of the second half. Twenty-eight offensive rebounds is unbelievable. It was go effort. I felt like we ran and pushed the ball up the floor and it allowed them to play free. I felt like we really did a nice job up until the last 3-4 minutes of the game.” Sophomore Guard Zeek Woodley On his hot shooting… “Coach just told us to come in and play and Jalan always tells me to shoot, even when I’m missing so that what I did. I just shot the ball.” “That came late when we cut the margin down,” said Simmons of the Cowboys’ offensive rebounding. “We needed that kind of production earlier in the game.” BOX SCORE  |  PHOTO GALLERY  |  HIGHLIGHTS  |  REPLAY  |  BRACKET  |  TOURNAMENT CENTRAL Senior Guard Kevin Hardy On McNeese fighting until the end… “Coming out of each timeout coach kept telling us it’s not over, it’s not over and we believed him. We fought, we knew that we didn’t want to put our heads down and look at the lead and take ourselves out of the game. We just fought hard and tried to play to the very last second.” Guidry also added 15 rebounds in his final game with McNeese State, while all-conference third-team guard Kevin Hardy had 25 points, nine rebounds and five assists in his final appearance in a Cowboys uniform. Keelan Garrett had 20 points, including six of McNeese State’s eight 3-pointers. On having Guidry and Hardy the last four years…  “I’m going to be looking for them next year. It’s been a pleasure to coach these young men. They’re both leaders. They’re good teammates. I think for the most part, they established something that I hope the young group can follow in their footsteps.”center_img “I felt like that because we were getting the ball up and down the floor, we were relaxed and played relaxed,” said McConathy. Northwestern State shot 56 percent from the field, but were even more efficient in the second half, when the Demons hit 64.5 percent of their attempts, including nine of 15 from 3-point range. Leading 41-34 at the half, Northwestern State gradually put distance between themselves and fifth-seed McNeese State, as the nation’s highest-scoring team took as much as a 21-point lead with 5:50 left. On Northwestern State’s outside shooting… “I think when we play relaxed and we planned to shoot the basketball well. I felt like because we were getting the ball up and down the floor we were relaxed and played relaxed. When I coach relaxed and the play relaxed, that’s a pretty good combination we think. They did a great job in the zone and it created some problems, but finally we were able to get the ball and get it into the right hands.”  Welcome had 14 points, including four 3-pointers for Northwestern State, while Sabri Thompson added 12 points in place of Tra’von Joseph, who sustained a knee injury in the first half and is doubtful for Friday’s game. The Demons lost both regular season matchups against the Lumberjacks, suffering a 93-82 home setback on February 9 before falling 92-66 on the road on March 5. Sophomore guard Zeek Woodley was the biggest storm cloud that sent McNeese State (15-16) home, as he scored a career-high 34 points, including three treys to go along with nine rebounds. Woodley will enter Friday’s game two points shy of breaking the school’s single-season record of 686 points that Billy Reynolds has held since 1976. McNeese State Head Coach Dave Simmons Opening statement… “I thought it was a great game. We’ve come back, had an overtime game last night and it was a tough basketball game knowing that we didn’t want to get caught up in the pace that they like to play. But I thought, obviously, we played [Northwestern State’s pace] and you can see the score 96-89.” Senior Forward Desharick Guidry On his play…  “I felt like I was frustrated, just couldn’t hit a shot, but I just had to shake it off and come back in the second half and just play harder and rebound the ball.” On his career… “It’s been a lot of good memories. Met a lot of people. Had a great time. Me and Kevin [Hardy], it was good to play with my childhood friend. Good coaches, surrounded by good people. It’s great playing in front of your hometown every night.” Junior Guard Jalan West On the team’s offense… “I think my teammates did a great job of taking shots and getting to open spots and making me look good. I just tried to get them the ball and I just encourage them to make shots and take shots. If they don’t take it, then they’re not going to make it. Tonight I think we did a great job of taking and making shots.” “I think my teammates did a good job of making shots and getting to open spots,” said Northwestern State’s all-conference first-team guard Jalan West, who recorded his 10th-career double-double with 24 points and 12 assists.last_img read more

France into Davis Cup semis after doubles win vs. Britain

first_imgDozens wounded as Iraqi protesters up pressure on government Filipinos turn Taal Volcano ash, plastic trash into bricks PLAY LIST 01:40Filipinos turn Taal Volcano ash, plastic trash into bricks01:32Taal Volcano watch: Island fissures steaming, lake water receding02:14Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard02:56NCRPO pledges to donate P3.5 million to victims of Taal eruption00:56Heavy rain brings some relief in Australia02:37Calm moments allow Taal folks some respite Lack of aggressiveness, defensive struggles weigh down GlobalPort Ai-Ai delas Alas on Jiro Manio: ‘Sana pinahalagahan niya ang naitulong ko’ Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. “One year ago I was 700th in the world and lost in the first round of a challenger. At that moment the Davis Cup, playing in front of 5,000 fans alongside my best mate, and in front of my whole family, was a long way away,” Benneteau said.Mahut ran into the arms of captain Yannick Noah, whose selections were questioned before the match. But Noah’s decision to pick Chardy ahead of the much higher ranked Gilles Simon and pair late-thirtysomethings Mahut and Benneteau paid off.“Magnifique, magnifique!” Noah shouted as he hugged the players, and the national anthem, “La Marseillaise,” rang out.The team then grabbed a giant Tricolor flag and paraded around the Kindarena in Rouen.“We knew it would be hard for us, but we kept going until the end and did a great job,” Mahut said. “Two years ago we lost to Britain (in the quarterfinals), even though they had Andy Murray then, and it was a very tough moment for us.”France has not won the competition since 2001.Three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray, who led Britain to Davis Cup victory in 2015, did not play this time because of an elbow injury and his absence was keenly felt.Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next SpaceX launches, destroys rocket in astronaut escape test At 5-4 in the third set, and with Britain serving to stay in the match, Mahut somehow returned two big smashes on the first point. But Inglot held serve for 5-5.In game 12, Benneteau’s forehand down the line made it deuce and brought France to within two points of victory. Then, Mahut’s strong backhand down the line gave match point on Murray’s serve.After a brief rally, Britain saved it when Benneteau netted.But a superb lob from the back of the court by Mahut set up a second match point and France took it when Murray’s backhand volley clipped the net and dropped on the wrong side.Mahut sank to his knees as Benneteau tilted his head back and clenched both fists.ADVERTISEMENT Canadian military mobilized to help Newfoundland dig out Panelo: Duterte only wants to emulate strong political will of Marcos Palace: Crisis over ABC-CBN franchise unlikely France faces either Serbia or Spain in September.“It’s really incredible, it gives you goosebumps,” Benneteau said. “Whether you’ve won 15 Grand Slams or none, playing in front of your country like this is incredible. It’s magical, fabulous.”FEATURED STORIESSPORTSEnd of his agony? SC rules in favor of Espinosa, orders promoter heirs to pay boxing legendSPORTSBreak new groundSPORTSMcGregor blasts Cerrone in 40 seconds in UFC returnLed by Murray’s strong serve, Britain competed far better than it had in Friday’s opening singles, easily won by Lucas Pouille and Jeremy Chardy against Kyle Edmund and Dan Evans.With the doubles at one set all, a forehand winner down the line from Mahut gave France set point on Murray’s serve. He double-faulted to give France the momentum. MOST READ Marcos monument beside Aquino’s stirs Tarlac town On the edge of America, census begins in a tiny Alaska town LATEST STORIES Presidency bid needs ‘deep reflection’ – Sara Duterte Julien Benneteau (right) and Nicolas Mahut of France celebrate as they won the first set during their doubles Davis Cup quarterfinal tennis match against Jamie Murray and Dominic Inglot of Britain at the Kindarena Stadium of Rouen, France, Saturday, April 8, 2017. (Photo by David Vincent / AP)ROUEN, France — France advanced to the Davis Cup semifinals after veterans Julien Benneteau and Nicolas Mahut won a tight doubles to beat Britain 3-0 on Saturday.Benneteau and Mahut edged Dominic Inglot and Jamie Murray 7-6 (7), 5-7, 7-5, 7-5.ADVERTISEMENT View commentslast_img read more

Drive under way to make turning left easier, safer

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREPettersson scores another winner, Canucks beat KingsGreuel, who chairs the council’s Transportation Committee, said the signals are part of a complicated citywide transit solution. “We have a traffic crisis in Los Angeles and people demand immediate relief,” Greuel said. “No longer will you have to play chicken with oncoming traffic to see if you can make it through the light.” City traffic engineers say the lights can reduce accidents by up to 66percent and reduce waiting times for motorists. The move comes as part of Villaraigosa’s efforts to return to dealing with traffic issues as one of his priorities. Intersections in the Valley that will get the new signals include Balboa and Burbank boulevards, Branford Street and San Fernando Road, Glenoaks Boulevard and Osborne Street, Glenoaks Boulevard and Tuxford Street, Glenoaks and Van Nuys boulevards, Hazeltine Avenue and Riverside Drive, Lankershim Boulevard and San Fernando Road, Lankershim Boulevard and Tuxford Street, Laurel Canyon and Osborne Avenue, and Laurel Canyon and Roscoe Boulevard. Also, Osborne Street and San Fernando Road, Plummer Street and Woodman Avenue, Reseda and Victory boulevards, the San Diego Freeway at Sherman Oaks, San Fernando Road and Sheldon Street, San Fernando Road and Van Nuys Boulevard, Sherman Way and Winnetka Avenue, and Vanowen Street and Winnetka Avenue. Expanding a program started last month to increase the number of left-turn signals and improve city traffic, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on Wednesday launched a new initiative under the banner of “The Right to Turn Left” campaign. At the busy North Hollywood intersection of Lankershim and Laurel Canyon boulevards, Villaraigosa and Councilwoman Wendy Greuel announced that 100 more intersections throughout the city will receive the left-turn-lane signals. Villaraigosa said 60percent of the intersections that will receive the signals are in the San Fernando Valley. “Every commuter in this city has a fundamental right to turn left,” Villaraigosa said. “Logjams created by intersections without left-turn signals are responsible for some of the worst gridlock in the city.” The program, expected to cost $3million out of the Department of Transportation’s budget, is expected to be completed by June 30. 213-978-0390160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

Scotland rugby star John Hardie suspended amid inquiry

first_img“As a result the player will not be available for selection for Edinburgh or the Scotland national team. “It is normal practice with such matters that we are unable to comment further given the nature of the investigation.” Scotland and Edinburgh rugby star John Hardie has been suspended pending an internal investigation.Scottish Rugby said it would not comment on the nature of the inquiry.Hardie will not be available for selection until it is complete.A Scottish Rugby statement read: “Scottish Rugby and Edinburgh Rugby confirm Scotland international and Edinburgh forward John Hardie, has been suspended from duty pending an internal investigation. last_img read more

DD Motoring: A call for help in the middle of the night

first_imgThe pager could have been rattling around the floor for a while or just for a split second, you try to figure out if you’re dreaming or your pager is really going off…Your best laid plans are put to the test as you try to get dressed as quickly as possible. A sock stuck in a trouser leg slows your progress for seconds, but it seems like minutes. With keys at the ready you unlock and lock the front door of your home. Everyone knows that lives in your home not to block your car in.As you get behind the wheel of your family car your pager goes off for the second time. Your heart races no matter how many times you have responded to a call like this before, because now you know that someone is in terrible bother. It will take about 3 minutes to drive to the fire station at night and another 2 minutes to get a printout of the call and get into your firefighting gear.In Letterkenny at the hospital roundabout where the fire station is located a fleet of ambulances with blue lights lighting up the darkness will be already on their way. Now we know that the call is a Road Traffic Incident from the print out.We turn out a fire engine, and emergency tender and a traffic management jeep. We remove the gloves for fire fighting to fit surgical gloves underneath them. There is a silence in the fire tender as it speeds to the scene as the box of surgical gloves is passed around to each fireman.We all know what lies ahead for us in the next few hours. The medics in the ambulances at the scene have radioed back to their control centre which in turn has contacted us looking for our estimated time of arrival.We now know what is involved in the crash and also know that the medics need us right away to help them to release casualties from the crumbled wreckage that once was a family car.We can get to work as soon as we arrive at the scene but also know that we can not stop the clock. We know we are now well into “the golden hour” of the casualties at the scene.There is nothing glowing about the “golden hour” at the scene of a serious accident. It’s the 60 minutes following the time of the impact of the accident.Cases of severe trauma, especially internal bleeding, require surgical intervention. Complications such as shock may occur if the casualty is not managed appropriately and with speed and efficiency. It therefore becomes a priority to transport patients suffering from severe trauma as fast as possible to specialists, at a hospital, for definitive treatment. Because some injuries can cause a trauma patient to deteriorate extremely rapidly, the lag time between injury and treatment should ideally be kept to a bare minimum; this has come to be specified as no more than 60 minutes or the golden hour, after which time the survival rate for traumatic patients is alleged to fall off dramatically. We are now working away at the incident. All the training never prepares you for what you will see or experience. For me it helps if I don’t know the person that I am cutting out at a car accident, that way I would hope I could concentrate a bit better on the difficult job involved.Even if you don’t know them, as a fellow human being you know that from them moments on, their life is going to change for ever, that’s if they are lucky, if you could call anything about a car crash lucky.For some their life will have already ended in the impact of the Incident even before the emergency service were even called out to the crash.Now their family, just as we as firemen were called out in the middle of the night from our homes in an effort to save their life, the emergency services will be trying to identify those involved in the crash and in turn the Gardai will have one of their most difficult jobs calling at their homes in the middle of the night with this heartbreaking news. 23,943 people have died on the roads in Ireland since 1959, (when the statistics began). That’s how many times a member of the Garda Siochana has had to knock on the front door of homes through out Ireland to inform family members of this fatal news.Between now and Christmas Day these statistics will show that one member of the Garda will be calling at the door of someone in Donegal with devastating news. It’s less than three weeks and I would be so happy if this turned out not to be true.People in the present day all want to make their journey home for Christmas, for as tradition goes to celebrate the birth of Jesus who’s mother Mary and Joseph also made a journey home on what turned out to be Christmas Eve.For families that have lost a son or daughter a father, mother, brother or sister on Irish roads over the years, even if their accidents didn’t happen around Christmas their loss of a family member will be missed the most at Christmas. For them what was supposed to be a joyous occasion now becomes a very difficult time of the year.The keys of a car lying along the roadside, in the background life goes on but not in the same way for those who have lost someone on the roads in Ireland. Think of your journeys on the road of Ireland this Christmas and not only on your destination. Photo Brian McDaidI hope I haven’t annoyed anyone with this motoring column this week especially those that have lost a family member on the roads, but, if by any chance writing this we could manage to change just one road statistic on these the weeks heading into Christmas it would be a result.People do funny things at Christmas, that they never would think of doing all year round, make last minute decisions to take journeys to visit a friend or do a good deed on the run up to the festive season. They think of the joy that they may create but might not think on the road journey involved.Focus on the journey home as much as the final destination.Safe, safe motoring folksOur motoring correspondent Brian McDaid was a member of the Letterkenny Fire Service from 1985 to his recent retirement at the end of November past. He thanks the members of the Letterkenny Fire service for their kind words on his retirement, for his presentation of service certification by Asst. chief fire officer, Michael Scott and the presentation by Donegal Fire Fighters Association represented by Firefighter/ driver Michael Purtil. DD Motoring: A call for help in the middle of the night was last modified: December 7th, 2016 by Brian McDaidShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Night Blossom-Inspired Banshee at Pandora

first_imgNight Blossom (the drink) Share This!Although banshee sales have been in a steady decline (evidenced by not seeing every person in the parks with one of them sitting on their shoulder, and with some colors making it to the Outlets), sometimes a new coat of paint is enough to drive sales. (Hey, it works for all those home improvement shows on HGTV, right? And it did work for rose gold everything at Walt Disney World.)If you’ve been hiding under a floating mountain, with the opening of Pandora, banshees became the must-have item. Although their heyday has passed, these plastic dragon-like puppets still remain one of the most popular items of Pandora merchandise.The latest variety for banshee is one themed after the equally trendy Night Blossom drink, which is sold at Pongu Pongu, right outside of the Windtraders gift shop where the banshees are sold. This colorful drink is a blend of apple-lime and desert pear slush, topped with passionfruit popping boba. The drink has many fans, and not just for its eye-catching appearance. (Sadly, I’m not one of them–the flavors are too strong and sweet for my tastes. But if you like this drink, you do you.)The new banshee is designed to feature these bold colors. First, here’s the drink… And here’s the banshee.If you haven’t bought a banshee yet, would this new color pattern make you want to get one? Or if you already have one, would you want to get this one as well? Or do you think that doing a “color of the month” for merchandise may not be as successful for banshees as it is for spirit jerseys and Minnie ears? Let me know in the comments.last_img read more

Summer concerts at Kirstenbosch

first_imgThousands of music lovers gather underthe mountain to enjoy the SummerSunset Concert season at Kirstenbosch.(Image: Kirstenbosch)MEDIA CONTACTS • Sarah StruysSA National Biodiversity Institute+27 21 799 8775RELATED ARTICLES• Winning bidder to name new iris• Garden of Hope for HIV/Aids• Eastern Cape bursts into spring• SA marks Year of Biodiversity• SA landscape takes root in UKFiona McRaeThousands of people have already flocked to enjoy a magical musical evening in the magnificent setting of Cape Town’s world-famous Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens during the current Summer Sunset Concerts series.The 2010/11 series of Sunday-evening concerts launched on 21 November last year with a performance by contemporary rock outfit Just Jinger, and will continue until 3 April 2011 when pop-rock band aKing will bring the programme to a close.According to Sarah Struys, events and centre manager for the South African National Biodiversity Institute at Kirstenbosch, the weekly events draw an average audience of about 5 000, meaning some 75 000 people have enjoyed the current concert series so far.In addition, thousands more attended the traditional Christmas carols services that were held on four consecutive evenings in December. The New Year’s Eve concert got 2011 off to an energetic start with performances by Cape Town band Loading Zone and the ever-popular “white Zulu” Johnny Clegg, an icon of South African music who has delighted and inspired his audiences for more than 30 years.In a testimony to how the concerts have evolved and grown in stature and popularity over the years, Struys points out that the early shows held in Kirstenbosch nearly two decades ago attracted about 200 people. Since being introduced as a fundraiser for the botanical gardens 19 years ago, the Summer Sunset Concerts have developed into a favourite fixture on the Mother City’s annual entertainment calendar.The blend of quality performances by leading acts, a stunning natural setting in the gardens on the eastern slopes of Cape Town’s famous Table Mountain, warm late-afternoon sunshine, and friendly crowds soaking up the music and mellow atmosphere while enjoying a sumptuous picnic on the lush Kirstenbosch lawns has attracted ever-growing audiences.According to Struys, thanks to the series’ huge popularity, the programme now features some of South Africa’s top music artists – but over the years has also served as an invaluable launch platform for many of them when they were still rising stars.Artists who have already graced the stage at the Kirstenbosch amphitheatre this season in a varied programme designed to cater for all music tastes include Just Jinger, Mango Groove, Freshlyground, top electronica outfit Goldfish, Jesse Clegg – son of Johnny – and rock groups Prime Circle and the Parlotones, among others.Among those still to come are all-girl group Jamali, the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra – hailed as one of the most versatile orchestras in Africa – and aKing.Musical collaborationsThe concert series has been by sponsored by Cape Town-based financial services provider Old Mutual for the past few years – only the second sponsor in its history – and the programme features several “Old Mutual Encounters”. Originally introduced in late 2004 in the legendary Kippies bar in Newtown, Johannesburg, the concept aimed to bring together two artists from different musical genres or creative backgrounds. The original Kippies Encounter featured rocker Arno Carstens and jazz diva Gloria Bosman in an electrifying performance that delighted the 100 specially invited guests.Artists still to perform at Kirstenbosch this year in these unique and exciting one-off collaborations include South African songbird Simphiwe Dana backed by a 40-piece orchestra; soul queen Lira and house duo Crazy White Boy; and jazz and neo-soul singer and songwriter RJ Benjamin joined by hip-hop artist Slikour.Trove of biodiversityNow spread over an area of 528 hectares and featuring an enormous biodiversity, the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens were founded in 1913. Today they are on Unesco’s World Heritage list and feature among Cape Town‘s top attractions.All proceeds from the 90-minute Summer Sunset Concerts go towards the upkeep of the gardens, says Struys. Thanks to the amphitheatre’s covered stage area the events go ahead in all kinds of weather – and the odd bit of rain usually adds an extra dimension to an already enchanting experience for the open-air audience.In addition to serving as an important fundraiser over the years, the concerts have also attracted large crowds to Kirstenbosch, thereby helping to introduce the gardens and their many floral and other natural delights to an extensive range of markets, Struys says. The team makes the most of this opportunity with exhibits on various biodiversity conservation themes, including climate change, at the top of the concert lawns.Kirstenbosch’s many attractions include a peninsula garden featuring some of the 2 500 plant species found on the Cape peninsula, and fragrance, medicinal and water-wise gardens, as well as a glimpse into the Cape’s rich history provided by the surviving indigenous wild almonnds of Van Riebeeck’s Hedge, planted by the Dutch colonists in 1660 to protect their cattle.The visitors centre includes an information desk, various retail outlets and a coffee shop. read more