Our December getaway

So it’s already the 22nd of January and this is my first post of the year, yes it is a little late but truth be told it has been a conscious decision, a break from all technology, a self-induced time out if you like and I have to admit it was so worth it. Old school is cool!

We enjoyed our holiday so much as we had quality family time together. The curse of not having cellphone or Internet connectivity where we stayed turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

But enough of that. Let me fill you in on what we got up to.

Princes Grant

Oliver the dinosaur hatching from his egg
Oliver the dinosaur hatching from his egg

After the whirlwind of school closing, your big 4th birthday bash, the last minute dash to close off on everything at work, we left in the early hours of the morning on 15 December and headed down to Princes Grant on the Natal north coast. Here we spent almost two glorious weeks with Gagga, Grandad, Uncle Ryan, Aunty Jen, Aunty Kris, Uncle Quintin, Nathan and Gemma. Luckily the house we hired had six bedrooms and enough space for all of us to have our own space.

It was an absolutely spectacular setting with a deck that gave us a view of the lagoon, beach and golf course. There was a pool and jacuzzi which was a massive hit. But I think the two golf carts that came with the house were what caused the most excitement. We were so spoilt with fabulous weather and so lucky to have a Grandad who gave us this wonderful gift.

Asking Father Christmas nicely for a race car track
Asking Father Christmas nicely for a race car track

Highlights of our time there included: quality time with family, dam building on the beach, nature walks, loads of fun rides on the green golf cart, bum sliding down the dunes, hours of canasta and backgammon, golf for Dad and some for Grandad, visit from Cara, Kyla and Gabriella, bike rides, early mornings with Gagga, swims in the sea, chasing and catching crabs, time with the Kaufies and the Snow clan, stories about Stan and Herman the bucks, a visit from Father Christmas on a yellow fire engine plus a ride on the fire engine singing songs through the loud speaker, driving the ‘car’ at the clubhouse jungle gym and so much more. 

Over and above all of that, is that you reached another milestone monkey – you started diving and swimming. It was amazing to watch your confidence build and your abilities grow daily. We were so proud of you.

 

Dive in action
Dive in action

Salt Rock

From the luxury of Prince’s Grant we moved on to ‘squat’ with the Kaufies at Zane and Debra’s house in Dunkirk Estate. Here the three of us slept in the kid’s room with you on a cot mattress on the floor and Dad and I each in a single bunk bed. We had a wonderful time with our special friends and their Gogo and Popsy who are so dear to us. We spent three nights with them with visits to Sage where you loved playing in the mini sheriff’s office and houses, trips to Grannies tidal pool, a walk down memory lane by visiting Salt Rock Hotel and lots of laughs.

Casa da Goodwin in Kamberg

Wading in the beautiful clear waters of the Little Mooi River
Wading in the beautiful clear waters of the Little Mooi River

The last day of 2012 saw us on the road again heading towards our final destination, Uncle Dave and Aunty Tish’s farm in the Kamberg where we went to ring in the new year with them, Uncle Lloyd, Aunty Carrie, Uncle Brian and Emma-Kay. I would love to say we partied the night away and saw the new year in but sadly not; some managed to stay up till just after midnight but we weren’t amongst them.

IMG_1424From the heat and humidity of the coast we welcomed the cooler, wet weather that is so common to the area. After two days of rain though we were happy to take the break and spend time at the beautiful Kamberg national park.

You and Dad had a ball hiking up the hills around the farm, picking blackberries, exploring the pine forest, keeping the beagles Chelsea and Bentley in line, looking for baboons, and having special boy time.

The farm is a wonderland for you with the dam, kiwi plantations, stream, Uncle Brian’s attic room, muddy patches, bridges – everything a little boy could wish for! You made me laugh so much with your constant questions of ‘why?’ to Uncle Dave who wasn’t prepared for your inquisitive mind but I think loved the interaction.

We have had such special times at the farm as a couple and as a family and this time again was no exception. How lucky we are to have family on both sides that we love spending time with, have common interests, challenge our thinking and keep us grounded.

Finally our holiday drew to a close and we headed home after three weeks away feeling more connected, much more relaxed and even more blessed than when we left.

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.

City of sun and snow

It has been far too long since my last post but it has been an incredibly busy last few weeks. We have packed in a trip up a hot air balloon, ten pin bowling, term end, two 40th celebrations Sammy Jane and Bonnies birthdays, a couple of shows and not one but two fabulous trips away! I am not going to be able to go through all that we have done in one post but promise to catch up with updates on all over the week.

We returned today from our long weekend away at Sun City where we went up to join Dave who was there on the annual schools golf tournament. This is an incredible opportunity for school boys from 35 schools from all over SA to compete over four days playing both the Lost City and Gary Player courses. The coaches also got to play both courses so it wasn’t all work and no play!

I don’t normally talk about weather but oh my word there was snow at Sun City on Tuesday when Dave and the boys arrived. So bizarre when you consider that Saturday saw Oliver and I lying on the ‘beach’ at the Valley of the Waves in 27 degrees. The water was still absolutely freezing but that didn’t stop Oliver running in to catch the waves. Of course that meant Mom got to ‘enjoy’ the water too.

Oliver running through the waves
Running through the waves

With Dave tied up with golf Oliver and I got to spend loads of quality time together enjoying the diverse offerings the resort has on offer. These included trips on the bus which Oliver loves, racing lions at the Entertainment Centre along with driving cars at the games, taking in Dave’s back nine at the Lost City, playing chess with the giant pieces, riding the train but mostly walking. Oh and did I mention walking and just a little bit more walking.

Oliver chilling on the beach
Oliver ‘chillaxing’ on the beach

 

We also got to interact with wildlife being chased by a group of warthogs and seeing three massive crocodiles at the Lost City Golf Course, as well as having some cheeky monkeys and pesky birds try to steal our food. A very indignant Oliver chased them away.

After one disastrous experience with a babysitter, the less said the better, I spent the nights in with Oliver which if I have to be honest suited me just fine as I was exhausted by the end of each day. We did luckily have two evenings where we were hosted by the boys parents which Oliver came along to so I did get some adult time.

Oliver riding on the back of the golf cart with Dad
On the back of the golf cart with Dad

It was so wonderful to see how dedicated the parents were. Each of the four boys had at least one parent there to support them. And support them they did as in moots cases they walked every one of the four rounds which averaged six hours a day. I hope to be as selfless with Oliver one day and to share the special bond that was so evident between the Moms and their boys.

A special trip and although we didn’t get much family together time in, Oliver and I got to spend loads of quality time something that him and Dave will be able to do a lot of over the month long holiday!

Double trouble at Dikhololo

We took to the roads this past weekend for some much needed time out from the buzz of Jo’burg. However, leaving Jo’burg on a Friday afternoon is never and easy ask so the trip was off to a rocky start with traffic and confusion on which way to go. After a few wrong turns, some under breath mumbling by both myself and Dave, and over two hours in the car we finally reached our destination, Dikhololo Game Reserve.

Luckily though the trip was saved by the fact that the two boys, Oliver and Nathan were absolute stars, watching DVDs with head phones on 80% of the way – for those of you still wondering about the merits of screens for the car wonder no more these are a must for the sanity of all concerned! The drive through the mountains and over rivers  once again reminded me of just how lucky we are to live in a place where open areas and natural beauty are just a hop, skip and a jump from the city!

But back to Dikhololo. What a fantastic place for families, for those who still remember think back to those resorts of yesteryear like Aventura. It has tennis courts, loads of swimming pools including a heated one, super tube, putt putt, jungle gyms, bush walks and so much more.

With boys being boys, our weekend consisted of Nathan and Oliver riding their bikes all over the resort, chasing the guinea fowls, climbing up the koppies to the various look out points, building rock houses and generally just having great fun outdoors.

Mom, Oliver and Nathan sitting on top of the koppie
Mom, Oliver and Nathan on top of the koppie

Holidays at this stage of our lives are about giving Oliver the opportunity to learn andexplore different environments and this one did just that. There were only bucks, giraffes and other small herbivores in the reserve so we got to walk through the bush showing the boys what they eat where they live and of course talking about their pooh! We also walked to a watering hole and investigated all the prints, of course Oliver had to know which print belonged to who – some serious creativity on my side to explain each one!

Oliver and Nathan with the rock tower they built
Oliver and Nathan with their rock tower

So another experience notched up by the Goodwin family plus our honorary extra for the weekend who we love dearly and look forward to having many more with.