Mom and Dads getaway to Victoria Falls

So I know that it really wasn’t ideal for me to leave you again after having just been away for six nights but I’m sorry my darling boy it just couldn’t be helped. You see the previous trip was for work and I was only told about in September and it was a great opportunity for me to see colleagues from all over the world, which is always special.

This trip to Victoria Falls was planned in June already and was my birthday present to your Dad. What made it extra special was that Dad had never been before, which is definitely one for the books as he had travelled all over the world and seen some amazing things. The dates were also booked to coincide with Dad’s mid term break.

Dave looking like a 'camel man' - pic of us on the Lady Livingstone
Dad and I on the Lady Livingstone

We set off early on Friday morning with Mom’s heart very heavy at the thought of leaving you again but happy knowing that you would be well cared for, and spoilt rotten, by your Granny and Grandpa, and Gagga and Grandad who were sharing you over the weekend.

Walking out of the plane at Livingstone Airport in Zambia we were hit by a wall of heat. It was 38 degrees and felt like a hair dryer was blowing when the wind came up! Thankfully our beautiful lodge the David Livingstone had air-conditioning and a gorgeous rim flow pool on the banks of the mighty Zambezi river. Dad and I lazed around taking in the amazing view, watching hippos and elephants, and enjoying a Mozi beer. We then went on a sunset cruise on the Lady Livingstone which was so relaxing and gave us time to just unwind, take in the scenery and catch up!

Dad got his first view of the falls on Saturday morning. Unfortunately, the rains hadn’t come so it was incredibly dry, a stark contrast to when I went in April a decade ago. But nonetheless still breathtaking. The rock formations and sheer magnitude of the face of the falls would have blown your mind. We took in the views from every angle including from the ‘boiling pot’ at the bottom where we watched the bungee jumpers – a crazy lot.

On Livingstone Island looking back towards the Zambian side
On Livingstone Island looking back towards the Zambian side

Although our walk around the falls was amazing our trip to Livingstone Island was the highlight of the trip for Dad and I. We travelled to the island on a small boat from the Royal Livingstone (a beautiful five star hotel which we cant afford) in a group with a honeymoon couple from the US and a well travelled Aussie, Joanne. Being that close to the Zambezi and seeing all the white water was incredible. The best was yet to come though!

We walked around the island guided by Calvin and Alpha Omega (no lies that was his name) and got to see the gorge from the opposite side. The view was no less spectacular and it was amazing to think that Livingstone had stood where we were when he first ‘found’ Victoria Falls.

Sitting on the edge of the falls with our guide Calvin
Sitting on the edge of the falls with our guide Calvin

Moving on, we made our way to the ‘Devils Pool’ so named as it is on the edge of the cliff alongside the Zimbabwean side of the falls. We had to swim across part of the river in a V-shape because of the current without any harness. There was a rope stretched across near the edge that you could grab onto if you got washed away, a little scary. Once across, we perched on rocks and got instructions on how to enter the pool, either by jumping in or bum-sliding. Dad was the first to take the plunge with a massive jump and Mom was second in the group opting for the far less adventurous bum-slide.

The pictures don’t do it justice. The noise of the water, mist from the falls, beauty of the rock formations all add to what has to be one of the most incredible experiences for both Dad and I. For me I conquered my fear of heights and Dad well, lets just say that he was spoken to on many occasions for being to close to the edge and for giving us all mild heart attacks!

Dad hanging over the edge of the falls
Dad hanging out over the falls

After our swim back we were seated under a canvas structure as no permanent buildings are allowed on the island, and treated to a delicious three course meal served of course with the prerequisite Mozi beer. One of the wonderful things about travelling to another country is getting to meet people from all over the world. Our lunch was spent discovering more about our Zambian hosts and fellow travellers which was great fun.

As I said the trip to Livingstone Island was the highlight for us but for Dad and I just getting to spend some uninterrupted time together was the main attraction. We love you dearly of course but its nice to have some time to reconnect. Although we were away from you we thought of you often monkey and know that with your love of water, the outdoors and for things on a large scale you would love the place.

We will definitely be going back! Our plan is to take you in five years time in March or April when the river is in full flow and to do a helicopter flip to take in the amazing rock formations. So its a date that I look forward to sharing with you two boys.

School day memories

I know that Mom being away for six nights wasn’t easy for any of us but luckily for me i did sneak in some personal time. When I was in London last week I got the opportunity to meet up with two old school friends for dinner. Now when I say old I mean it in terms of the time we have been out of school – 20 years this year – and not in how we have aged because honestly I think we look better now, 80’s styling was not always that attractive! But I digress.

Spending time with Mandy and Lesley Anne we got to reminiscing about days gone by, friends and family and of course some of the ridiculous antics we got up to at school. We were all together at Potchefstroom High School for Girls which is largely a boarding school.

I was late in coming to the school only joining mid way through standard eight so thankfully escaping being a junior in the boarding house. Having come from a co-Ed day school in Johannesburg it was a difficult transition for me and what happened in my first two of weeks of boarding school ever didn’t help.

I promise, and those that were there can attest to this, that the following incident is completely true, it may appear as something out of a movie but it happened and in Potchefstroom of all places! Before going on, I need to give you some background.

Potchefstroom is a largely academic town built to accommodate children from the surrounding farming areas. It has a university, boys and girls English high schools and a number of Afrikaans schools. It is also the biggest town in what was formerly known as the western Transvaal housing a large amount of churches, shops, medical and sporting facilities, and a mental institution known as ‘Groendakkies’. Also, just outside of the town was the army base.

I was settling into the routine of boarding school in a dorm which I shared with Rebecca (who was a year above me) and Stephanie and Beatrix (same year) who were on the other side of the half wall that divided our room. We were in the last dorm on the ground floor in North Wing, East House. One night after about a week or so of being there we heard some shouting outside and Beatrix called me to come and see ‘the boy playing with a pencil’. Needless to say it was not a pencil but rather his private parts!

We informed our housemistress, the boy was caught and it was discovered that he had been in Groendakkies but had recently been released into his parents care.

Two nights later, I woke in the middle of the night to find said boy climbing through the window on my side of the dorm. He had used a large rubbish bin as a step and broken off the horizontal burglar bar which he was holding in his hand. Needless to say I started screaming at the top of my voice and ran down the passage to Mrs Malherbe leaving Rebecca frozen to her bed. The boy was caught once again and returned to Groendakkies.

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Other than some army boys trying to break into the hostel to steal our bashers (hats) as part of their initiation and the odd snuck in Potchefstroom Boys High boy during visiting hours on a Sunday afternoon, we didn’t suffer from any other unwanted male visitors!

We did however get up to lots more mischief as you do in boarding school but although we thought it was so bad at the time, it was completely tame.

Some of the antics included hiding in a quad and tanning in our bikinis instead of school costumes – highly illegal, bunking out to go swimming in the school pool late at night, holding hands and kissing at school dances, smuggling old brown sherry or in the case of Lesley Anne Cape Velvet in to hostel and drinking said sherry with Oros – not recommended, not wearing regulation school underwear and so it goes.

We were so protected and in our own little world of bush post between boys and girls high – actual written letters, Saturday mornings downtown, movie nights, school dances, church, slap chips at the corner cafe, lunches at Mikes Kitchen after weekends out etc.

From someone who was so anti Potchefstroom Girls when first informed by Gagga and Grandpa I was going there, I am now appreciative of the time I spent there and the memories made. Dad also went to boarding school at St Albans and I am sure will one day share with you all that he got up to.

Special times indeed!

Six days in planes, trains and automobiles…

For the last six days I have been in transit in some form or another whilst traveling to our regional senior manager meeting from South Africa to Berlin via London.

As a born and bred South African public transport has never really had a role to play in my daily travels. How completely opposite this is to the lives of those in London and wider Europe.

Leaving on Sunday night from Johannesburg I boarded a plane for an 11 hour flight to London. Upon arrival on Monday morning I took the Heathrow Express to Paddington and then jumped into a taxi to our offices in Covent Gardens.

Tuesday afternoon saw me back on a taxi to Paddington then on the Heathrow Express back to the airport for a flight out to Berlin. Upon arrival late on Tuesday night I got a taxi from Tegal Airport to my hotel at Potsdamer Platz.

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Wednesday afternoon following work in the morning I managed to sneak in some sightseeing time and made use of the hop on hop off bus to get around. After some fantastic shopping for Oliver at Ka de Vie – an unbelievable shopping mall – a taxi trip back to the hotel.That evening having walked to dinner with colleagues we used a taxi to get back as it was just too darn cold to walk!

Thursday night saw me back on a bus this time to the venue for our official dinner in a stunning Swiss inspired restaurant on the eastern side of Berlin.

Friday morning was spent in meetings then in the late afternoon a taxi to Tegal, flight to London, underground ride to departures at Heathrow and overnight flight back to Johannesburg.

All in all four flights, four underground trips, six taxi rides and four bus rides -18 trips in total in just six days.This is the glamorous and often yearned after life of the modern day corporate traveller!

I am so incredibly blessed to have been able to get to see so many different places and meet fabulous friends and colleagues from all over the world but I have to say public transport is not for me. I love my car and the freedom it offers me far too much!

Where did September go?

Wow. It is already the 4th of October and as my boss pointed out to me today only 11 weeks left of the year…

I have been particularly bad at posting over the last few weeks but oh my word what a month September was. You see we had a small family event taking place, Kristy’s wedding. As the ‘Maid of Honour’ and unofficially appointed wedding co-ordinator I had my hands full. Added to this is the fact that Kris is not really known for her organizational abilities – her love for animals, adrenalin junkie, infectious laugh, tenacious spirit and loyalty yes, but organization no.

Also, Gagga went off on a cruise from Barcelona to Rome to celebrate her friend Kathy’s 50th returning just 10 days before the wedding. Spending my hard earned inheritance again 🙂 So, we had to push out the hens party and some other last minute arrangements – like getting Gagga an outfit – to the week before the wedding.

We also had another very special event the weekend before the wedding a visit from my closest childhood friend Cindy, her wonderful husband and three kids all the way from their farm in Henty, Australia (population 863). It was great to spend time with them, albeit too short and to gain a different perspective of how family life can be lived. Have to admit to being a little envious, particularly when it comes to things like safety and security.

The amazing thing about reconnecting with old friends is just how easy it is to pick up where you left off, even if you have added a little someone extra to your family. The many hours, days, weeks etc we spent sitting on ‘the wall’ that divided our properties talking through everything, dissecting every word or action from our current boy crush, moaning about our parents, dreaming about our futures, bemoaning our curly hair – all the things teenage girls care about, cemented a bond that transcends both distance and time.

How strange to, to see Cindy’s daughters, the age we were when we first met. Completely surreal but also not. Amazing how growing up and getting older creeps up on you when you are not looking and how you just don’t feel any different. In so many ways I am still that young teenage girl sitting on a wall sharing confidences with her friend.

I hope that Oliver too will grow up to have a friend like Cindy is too me and Dwayne is to Dave one day.

But back to our busy September. I am delighted to say that putting aside the stress and running around everything went spectacularly well and the last two weeks of September were an incredibly special time for the whole family. But more on the wedding to follow in a dedicated post or two as it is not every day that your baby sister gets married!