Posh Ladies Retreat with Ford South Africa


Motor related events and gatherings (I might be generalising, but usually those centered around a group of men) are generally synonymous with talk about horse-power, handling and styling. Ask me. Being married to a man in the motor industry (from the Autostyle Motorsport group), one would assume that I know all about car styling, in-car entertainment and vehicle specs. One would also assume that I know how to change a tyre.

Knowing nothing about either, and rarely ever attending motor-related events (based on my previous judgement of talk about torque), I was invited by Nafisa of Wired to the Web to attend a Ford Ladies Retreat as her partner. The event was meant to provide an opportunity for us to drive various Ford cars and experience the smart technologies that they offer in their vehicles. The event was limited to ladies-only (with the exception of the Ford staff, the Driving Skills for Life team and the medic’s on duty).

Ford is more than a car manufacturer, it is driven by consumers, everyday people who may not be motoring fanatics, but know what they want and enjoy from their car. They also know what woman love; good food, pretty and picturesque surroundings, pamper treatments, and goody bags!

We were literally treated to a 5 star day. Our meeting point was at Buitengeluk Wedding and Conference venue, located within the magnificent Broadacres Estate in the Heart of Fourways, Johannesburg. We received our name badges and were welcomed by Ford and their agency. I loved the detail that went into creating the name badges, the ribboned-rosette and scalloped tag were so niQi-esque!


It’s rather nice attending an event and non-alcoholic drinks feature on the welcome table, after all, guests were driving today! This makes for a grand idea to an entrance hall at a party.



The tables were also set with crisp white linen tablecloths, with accents of pink and vintage-inspired flower pots. The detail extended to printed menu’s and the program for the day, so we were aware of what was planned.



The breakfast menu included Honeyed yoghurt and Poached pears to begin with. The pears were poached with Rooibos, Cinnamon and orange, topped with natural yoghurt and drizzled with honey – Yes please!


The Continental breakfast buffet featured a selection of cheeses and freshly baked Croissants and breads.




After breakfast, we were introduced to Driving Skills for Life, launched by the Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa in 2010. The training is offered free to programme trainees and mixes classroom learning and practical training to help increase awareness of safe driving techniques that also help improve fuel efficiency. The DSFL programme has been customised for South Africa to reflect the local driving environment and road conditions.

Our trainer took us through typical risk situations and how to best avoid and deal with it.

In order to avoid ‘Smash and Grabs’, rather leave your bag in the boot (never under your feet on the front, or on the passenger side). Cellular phones should be out of sight from potential hijackers, and you should be alert when approaching robots or stop streets.


Ensure that you keep your hands up at all times (in the event of your attacker thinking that you are reaching for a gun or weapon). Even when removing your seat belt, use your right elbow to slide under the seat belt all the way to unclip your safety belt, all the time remembering to keep your left hand up and visible.


Remember to get out of the car with BOTH legs, not the right or left first (your attacker might already be in the car, and you don’t want him driving off with you, or you fumbling with half a leg still in the car!)



Remember to always use body language instead of hands to signal things to your attacker. In the case of them wanting money, or your wallet, rather use your eyes, or your hips to show where the items are. Try to scream it out, but in most cases, your attacker is least likely to hear you.


Always be Alert!

– Be alert to your surroundings at all times.
– Take into account potential risk situations and environments
– Adopt a search pattern – look out for anything suspicious
– Remember to take preventative action

Risk Management at Intersections:

– Keep an eye on persons standing at or near the intersection
– Look for vehicles which may have followed you – they may try to box you in
– If a vehicle bumps into your car, ascertain whether you believe it to be an accident or not
– At all times keep escape routes open for emergency use
– Adjust speed when approaching traffic lights, so you do not have to stop
– Mentally prepare yourself to take action
– Consider the use of the horn or other methods to draw attention to yourself – if there is no escape route

Risk Management for the home:

– Be on the lookout for persons standing near your gate or driveway
– If someone approaches you, drive away or move quickly into the house
– At night, ensure that the area around your gate or driveway is well lit
– Phone ahead and give your spouse, parent or partner your estimated time of arrival
– Stay alert when unlocking gates – try to get the passenger if possible to open the gate
– Ensure that your gate is immediately locked behind you

Risk Management at Shopping Centers:

– Always keep your car keys ready on approach
– Stay alert and on the lookout while loading and off-loading
– Always try to park as close to entrances or security as possible
– When approaching your car, look underneath and around for anything unusual (sharp object/removed license plate)
– Lock doors once inside car and move off as quickly as possible
– If concerned about the risks, call security to accompany you to your car

Risk Management at the Workplace:

– Keep an eye out for persons approaching you or standing around parking bays
– Approach vehicle as per shopping center
– Phone security, let them know when you are arriving or leaving your premises

Risk Management on the Freeway:
– Watch out for vehicles telling you or trying to cut you off – take evasive action
– If you hit something on the road, do not stop but rather drive on as far as possible
– If you cannot continue, stop and get out and run away – phone the police if possible

Pro-active driving techniques:

– Keep proper stopping distances and escape routes
– Map your route when driving on unknown roads
– Change driving routines
– Keep position of car as open as possible – look out for objects on the road and on bridges
– When parking, reverse park for quick exit

The FIVE golden rules to remember:

1. Remain calm
2. Do not make sudden gestures
3. Avoid eye contact – except to identify
4. Comply with hijackers directions
5. Move away from the vehicle – get children out of the vehicle as quickly as possible

I think it is imperative for every woman, and man to be aware of how to handle yourself in these situations. I’m thankful to Ford for providing me with this life skill, and the knowledge imparted from the talk.

After the DSFL demonstration we were allocated a Ford that we would be allowed to test drive. The vehicles available to drive for the day were: EcoSport, Kuga, Fiesta and Focus.


A plus for me is the Sync option which connects with your cell phone. You phone can now be tucked away into your cubby, as added safety from potential smash and grab situations.


We were given a route map with directions to our next vehicle change-over. Nafisa and I got lost before the first kilometer! Note to readers, we would make hopeless ‘Amazing Race’ partners!


We finally made our way to our lunch venue, the idyllic River Place Country Estate in Hennops River.




We were entertained by a lovely lady playing the harp; her selection of music was delightful!


For lunch, we began with a starter portion of Gazpacho (tomato-based, vegetable soup, traditionally served cold)


We couldn’t get enough of the Main Course of creamy Kingklip, served with savoury rice and roasted vegetable. I must persuade the chef to share his recipe with readers!


Desserts featured ice-cream, chocolate pudding, a cheese platter and Creme Brulee!


We were also offered a choice of pamper treatments. (Again, Ford really did think of EVERYTHING!)




Our guest speaker was author and True Love’s features and motoring editor Melinda Ferguson. “For six years Melinda Ferguson was driven by one motivating force: the next hit. For this, she abandoned her promising film-making career, lose her comfortable suburban home, her husband, her two children and, in a gruelling finale to six years of remorseless self-destruction, herself. Rescued from the maw of Hillbrow’s drug and prostitution underworld, Melinda not only survived, but recovered to tell this harrowing tale of how an intelligent, middle-class girl from Joburg hits rock bottom, face first, and claws her way back to redemption.” As ridiculous as this may sound, I loved listening to her speak. Her 15 minute allocation was not enough. She’s brutally honest, and I would imagine her to be a fantastic motivational speaker at a ladies-only event such as this. It’s also an example of how one can change their life. Each guest was given a copy of one of her books (my review is pretty much delayed due to already spending a considerable amount of my afternoon reading it!). Start off with ‘Smacked’ which is her first book (we got whiff that she’s busy with book 4 and 5 already)

It was already time to make our way back to our stating point. We did a vehicle change-over at the designated Ford stop-over and followed our detailed route map to Buitengeluk (all this before peak-time traffic)


We were treated to a High Tea back at Buitengeluk (complete with homemade lemonade!) for a well deserved wind-down after the ride back.




I particularly thought that the goody bag was so well thought of. Each guest received an emergency kit, a mani kit, a copy of Melinda’s novel, a t-shirt and a sunhat. In addition, our notes included directions on how to change a tyre.


The event was so well organised, and the content was important and relative to the woman who attended. If there’s one guestlist I must be on yearly, it has to be this. I also realised how much I enjoyed test-driving cars! (Yes!) What a grand affair, and well done and thank you to Ford and their agency.

Ford South Africa: http://www.ford.co.za/
Nafisa from Wired to the Web: www.nafisa.co.za
Driving Skills for Life: https://fordapa.drivingskillsforlife.com/index.php
Buitengeluk Wedding and Conference venue: http://www.buitengelukvenue.co.za/
River Place Country Estate: http://www.riverplace.co.za/
Autostyle Motorsport and Evo Tuning (for when you don’t want to change a tyre!): www.autostyle.co.za and www.evotuning.co.za

Like the Emergency Kit? Buy it here: http://www.autostyle.co.za/emergency-roadside-kit.html
Emergency Vehicle Tool Kit and Reflective Triangle includes
– 8ft Booster Cable (200A)
– 6″ Joint Slip Pliers
– 5 x cable ties
– Flashlight (batteries excluded)
– Screwdriver
– plastic safety vest
– First aid kit (bandage strips & sting relief)
– mini reflective triangle
– SOS banner
– all packed in a portable carry bag.

Special offer to niQi readers: Retails for R295, niQi readers get them at R250 (available in pink or black)
Please quote niQi when purchasing or email order to tilly@autostyle.co.za if wanting to order online.

4 Responses
  • Jeanette
    November 22, 2013

    Looks like it was an incredible day!

  • Fatima
    November 22, 2013

    Very informative. I really liked learning about the driving skill tips. We really need to have more awareness on this. Well done Ford!

    Lol @ you and Nafisa getting lost 😉

    I read Smacked about 6 years ago. What a great book. It’s a book I keep to remind me of the difficulty that seemingly ‘normal’ people undergo with substance abuse.
    It’s a major crisis in our society and is growing at an alarming rate!

  • Santa
    November 22, 2013

    What a fantastic spoil for the ladies!
    WISH I was there!
    WISH our people will take a page from this and add such pizaz to our events.
    Wishful thinking. 🙂
    Congratulations on a job VERY well done!!!

  • tasneem
    November 28, 2013

    how cool! Ford clearly knows how to cater to its Femme clientele! Great safety advice 🙂