I finally got to see a happy lion thanks to SANParks Open Week

img_2194Every year SANParks have an open week in September where it is free for all South Africans to visit any of our national game reserves. I have to admit that as homeschoolers we kind of love Open Week. If nothing else it always serves as a reminder that hey we have game reserves around here and we should visit them! This year, we are sadly going to have to give Addo a skip as a family…but on a happier note the reason we have to skip it is because next week we are road-tripping to Clarens!

I was, however, lucky enough to be invited to tag along with Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism on their trip to Addo Elephant Park yesterday – along with some crazy people, I might add – and I’m so glad that instead of being reasonable and declining the offer due to this month being chaos from (nice*) hell, I accepted the invitation and tagged along.

Sarah Dirsuwei from Chasing the Rainbow told me yesterday that if she is feeling particularly stressed due to work pressures she and her family will come out to Addo and just spend the day marvelling at the elephants. I have to admit I think she has a point. Spending the day out there in nature, allowing yourself to be taken in by the existence of such fascinating creatures, is cathartic to say the least. And if nothing else, it certainly makes you ponder the world, instead of yourself.

img_2221As we started our journey through the park, I found myself wondering – not for the first time – about why we even bother having zoos. This right here is how we learn, I thought. It is so hard to get on board with the “reasoning” that zoos need to exist because they are how our children learn about animals. Nonsense! Conservation is how our children learn about animals. And sanctuaries. And nature. And the circle of life. There I was, at 34, listening intently and learning so much as our game ranger tour guide shared all his wisdom with us. Explaining why there are no giraffes in the park (no tall trees – guys we should have concluded this with our own logic) and telling us about all sorts of wonderful and interesting things. I felt cleverer just listening to him. Don’t take my kids to the damn zoo. Take them on a game drive!

And then, almost as if nature herself was thanking me for that very observation, our vehicle turned left and right there napping on the grass were two beautiful male lions. I’ve never seen them out there in the wild. I’ve seen them in cages, looking bedraggled and weary. I’ve been on so many game drives, but not once have I ever been fortunate enough to spot the lions. One time there was one very far away and I could only see him by using the telescopic zoom on my camera, but that didn’t count. There they were though, napping in the shade, content as kittens. It’s such a pity that attempting to cuddle them would lead to certain death…

All I have left on my game viewing bucketlist is a hippo. I’m pretty sure that means that I had a damn successful weekend! I wish I could take even more advantage of SANParks Open Week this week. I wonder if I can convince the husband to take a day off work?

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*nice hell is when you’re super overwhelmed but the reason you’re overwhelmed is because you’re working towards something awesome. In this particular case: Road trip to Clarens with the kidlets followed by 6 days of bliss in Zanzibar with the husband. The impending breakdown will be worth it. I’m sure.

Ok fine I’ll go camping…

IMG_1746My husband made me go camping last weekend, even though he knows I hate it. Why do I hate it? Well because I’m a 34 year old woman who has three kids (I’m tired!) and a penchant for living out of her own league. That’s ok, right?

Ok fine it isn’t…

Don’t tell my husband but I kind of didn’t hate camping too much. He’ll get all enthusiastic and go oh my gosh remember how much you moaned about this to everyone and he’ll totally not understand that I moaned about it so much because I couldn’t think of another topic of conversation at the time.

Anyway, we took a trip to the Baaviaanskloof last weekend with some friends(#nayesexploresbaviaanskloof) and then camped out at Bruintjieskraal. Don’t get me wrong, roadtripping and then arriving at a destination where you still have to build your own house will never be my favourite way to do things, but I do have to admit that the affordability of it has this addicted-to-adventure queen kind of reconsidering.

As long as it doesn’t rain.

Or it isn’t cold.

Or the wind doesn’t blow too hard.

Or there isn’t a bathroom.

And I still have to be allowed to moan about it all a little…

Don’t let hypothetical future plans ruin your current actual plans!

IMG_0994I have this thing where I tend to be either all in or all out when it comes to pretty much all the things. I have no middle ground. No balance. No chill. And I suffer quite a bit (okay like 100%) from a phenomenon called state dependency which adds to all that no chill and no balance stuff. Seriously. How do balancy people do this life thing anyway? Because I am failing so hard!

Some of you may have noticed that I’ve become a little travel and photography befok. This is sort of a midlife crisis I suppose. A nice one, though. It’s just that I suddenly woke up and realised that I don’t want to wait to do the things that I love anymore. And I actually for once and for real set about fixing that. During this process I came to acknowledge that while I will be busy being a mom for the next ten years at least, after that I’m going to pretty much be on my own with no career or idea of what to do to keep me busy.

And so I came to decide that while I educate my children, I should begin educating myself in a field that interests me: travel. Which will inevitably lead to taking more pictures and writing more stories. Three of my favourite things. Right there. Oh my god I am SO excited about my future for the first time ever!

So what’s the first thing I do after making this decision? I decide that I must go to a travel conference in Jerusalem in March. This I somehow need to finance on an unpredictable salary while still making sure my family doesn’t starve.

Nadine: chill. (more…)

A Sanity Saving Staycation at the Plantation

13934945_10157366918415094_3507844175433383530_nI’m sitting on my bed right now watching TV and feeling grateful that I’m in a should I nap or read? mood rather than a if I don’t nap for seven hours right now I might as well set myself on fire mood. Last weekend had a weird suck factor to it that I don’t really want to get into right at this moment but it did and it left me feeling out of sorts and perhaps a little irrationally wounded. Anyway, sometimes I have to wonder if The Universe somehow conspires to apologise for these things by injecting a little goodness just when you need it.

13906895_10157366918850094_535266262889412620_nOn Tuesday night Ty and I got to stay in the bridal suite of The Plantation which is situated just outside of town and it was more glorious than I even imagined it would be. Ty won the night for us in a little competition that he entered back in April, I think,  and we decided to use it on Monday night because Tuesday (Women’s Day) marked our 7 years together anniversary. Now of course, such places are usually way out of our league. We humble folk don’t usually indulge in such fancy things, but my goodness it was a welcome treat! We were fed the most incredible picnic right in our room. I think I squeaked and oohed and aahed through that entire meal! Cheese and crackers-type food is kind of my favourite thing to eat. But this was over the top! Homemade pate and a cranberry salad with salad dressing that I all but ended up drinking from the bottle! The luncheon meats were obviously bought from places I would never consider stepping foot in. All of it: so beautiful! And we got to wash it down with the most delicious bottle of champagne! And then blissful sleep with no real life to bother us until morning. (more…)

On Depression, SAMREC, Cape Recife Lighthouse, and why are all the snails dead?

13686700_10157312362800094_8714966834069855283_nCan I confess something just quickly? I’m feeling absolutely depressed today. Like cry-about-the-undone-laundry depressed. Worry-that-I’m-not-enough-for-the-kids depressed. Holy-crap-I-need-to-work-more depressed. And it’s damn hard to get anywhere when I’m feeling like this. It’s hard to not want to do anything but sleep. I get that it’s not real. I get that it’s in my head. But it’s here today.

So I need to try and think of something that brings me actual joy. And I need to damn well remember that even though 2016 has been a shithole of a year for the world, in many ways it has actually been a kind of awesome year for me.

Remember that, Nadine! Dammit! Remember that this is the year that you started to take your love of travel seriously. You made it work. You ARE making it work. For the first time you have moved from that’s not possible  to  how can I make this possible? And that’s a big deal. And even though the state of the world pains you to no end, it has also served as a very grave reminder that life is to be lived now because later might not exist. And you’re getting better at it. Which is something. (more…)

Congrats to the Ticket Winners!!

13782274_168105583595180_1259028898326339199_nHappy Tuesday, folks!!

This is just a short CONGRATULATIONS post to the folks who actually commented on the Wine Show Ticket Giveaway last week.

I decided to split tickets as follows:

1 ticket to Jocelyn Fryer

1 ticket to Anonymous (heehee I know who you are!)

2 tickets to Nkosana (we can’t leave out the Mrs now can we?)

This means that everyone is a winner and I get to feel like Oprah for three point five seconds which is kind of cool.

 

Would you like tickets to the Tops Wine Show?

imageI was hoping to put a post or two between all the alcohol posts so that folks don’t end up thinking that all I do is drink wine and beer, but yesterday was a hard mom day and the glorious plans that I had to gush about the wonders of one of our local institutions kind of fell by the wayside in favour of me hiding under my duvet and playing on Instagram for most of the afternoon (and evening). Did you even notice? Of course not!

Now, back on topic…

I mentioned before that there’s a Wine Show happening at The Boardwalk from the 4th to the 6th of August and I’m lucky enough to be able to give away two double tickets to the event. Technically I’m supposed to ask you a simple question like “when is the wine show?” but you all know that simple isn’t always my go-to style…

Because I adore Carnival Themes with An Extreme Passion and because I am a lover as well as a teller of stories, I thought instead that I would ask you this:

What is your absolute favourite Carnival Story?

Did it come in the form of a book? A movie? A tv show? Was your favourite carnival story a personal experience? Tell me what you love. Why you love it. How it makes you feel. Tell me. Show me! My favourite answers get tickets to the show, and if I struggle to decide I will hand it over to Facebookland to help me.

Sound good?

Of course it does!

(If you’re too stuck for an answer, go off and read Geek Love by Katherine Dunn, and The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern,  and then go and watch the series Carnivale and then come back and tell me how awesome they are.)

Otherwise, you can check out my Instajourney with wine here: #nayesexploreswine and leave me some Instalove while you think about your answer.

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From Beer Cocktails to Carnival Style Wine Shows

imageYes, I’ve already spoken about beer today, but last week I was also super stoked to receive a personal invite to the Tops at Spar Wine Show which will be taking place at The Boardwalk on the 4th, 5th, and 6th of August. I’m still not sure exactly how I came to be on this invitation list, but, when it comes to fancy invitations my new policy is to accept politely and ask questions later, lest someone figure out that I somehow got onto the list by mistake. Seems wise, doesn’t it? Otherwise you don’t end up getting to try awesome things like Beer Cocktails or whatever wonderful things the Wine Show has in store for us. As I write this I’m actually considering the life coaching merits of the movie/book Yes, Man – but I digress.

I was stoked to get this invitation for four reasons…

Reason 1.) This invitation is fancier than a wedding invitation and it makes me feel fancy. Feeling fancy is important for us frazzled moms who sometimes aren’t so sure of how good a job we’re doing at keeping it together.

Reason 2.) There was a bottle of wine that came with the invitation. Who doesn’t get excited by free bottles of wine?

Reason 3.) The theme they’ve chosen for this year’s show is The Greatest Show Unearthed  which is a CARNIVAL THEME!!! Anyone who knows me or has paid any slight attention to the little things that make my heart happy will know that I absolutely adore all things carnival themed. I am a silly crazy kind of excited! I absolutely cannot wait for the show!

Reason 4.) They’re letting me take my partner with me which is awesome because fun is better when I share it with this big bear of mine.

This is what the folks from Tops have to say about their event:

LIFE’S A CABERNET AT THE GREATEST SHOW UNEARTHED

The TOPS at SPAR Wine Show is back this August

From Merlot to Malbec, Pinot Noir to Pinotage, The TOPS at SPAR Wine Show presents South Africa’s top wine labels all under one roof. Back in PE for its 7th consecutive year, the event engages wine lovers of all ages and ilk to taste and buy the country’s best bottles directly from wine producers at cellar door and show prices.

Themed The Greatest Show Unearthed for 2016, the event will channel a vintage burlesque experience while expertly blending hundreds of fine wine exhibitors, edu-taining activities, food and festivity between the 4th and 6th of August at the Boardwalk. A highlight not to be missed is the popular Weekend Post Wine Theatre; it presents a series of interactive tasting talks hosted by industry experts and wine personalities.

Visitors are also invited to vote for their favourite wine producer in the “People’s Choice Awards” to stand a chance of winning a case of wine.

Tickets can be purchased pre-show for R120 from www.itickets.co.za or at the door for R140. Price includes a tasting glass, all tastings, access to The Weekend Post Wine Theatre and a map to help navigate the show.

Details:

–          Dates: Thursday 4th– Saturday 6th of August 2016

–          Time:

o   17h00 – 21h00 (Thursday & Friday)

o   12h00 – 21h00 (Saturday)

–          Venue: The Boardwalk, PE

 

About The TOPS at SPAR Wine Show:

The TOPS at SPAR Wine Show was launched in 2006 and has since grown to become arguably South Africa’s fastest-growing consumer wine exhibition. Buoyed by its new owners in 2015, the event now hosts five shows around the country in Johannesburg (11th show), Durban (5th show), Nelspruit (2nd show), PE (7th show) and Pretoria (1st show) between May and November. Besides its diversity of quality wines to taste and buy direct from the exhibitors at cellar door and show prices, seasoned wine connoisseurs as well as up-and-coming wine fans are engaged with its fun, edu-taining format that includes the Wine Theatre.

imageIt sounds fun as hell to me!

To my Port Elizabeth friends I just have four questions:

1.) If I run a ticket giveaway will you all take part?

2.) If you don’t win will you come with me anyway?

3.) If you come with me will you dress up? (say yes!)

4.) Where does one purchase stripy stockings?

Have a happy Tuesday, my lovelies!

Becoming a Beer Babe

imageOk so I’m laughing at the title as well. Actually no, I’m not. I AM a babe! *fluffs up own feathers*

Last week Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism invited me on a sort of beer tour which seemed like a serendipitous turn of events since the husband and I have been trying to explore our home town a bit more these days. Of course, exploring and fund fluidity tend to go hand-in-hand so when it comes to all expenses paid “invites” my policy is to respond with a resounding yes! And this particular time I even made my husband take a half day off of work to join me.

Apparently Brewery Tours are a thing around these parts and we even have enough craft beer brewery places to make the tours feasible! Who knew?! We were introduced to the folks running The Dockside Brewery on our mini tour and we got to hear all about the interesting workings of the craft beer world. Believe it or not, this rustic little spot located at The Grand Hotel in Belmont Terrace, not only makes a beetroot infused beer, but on Friday afternoon they launched a raspberry-infused beer as well. And even better than raspberry beer? Raspberry beer cocktails! Yum. Seriously: just yum! (for pics on this adventure check out #nayesexplorescraftbeer)

imageAfter our visit to Dockside, our tour actually got even more interesting. We all hopped on a bus (yay!) and rode off to Motherwell where we all got to hang out at a place called 469 Bar-Lounge – which is a bar slash lounge slash butchery.

Guys: what a vibe! I have to admit it was damn nice to get out of my usual zone and just zen out somewhere new. The music, the people, the food! All of it was damn lovely. We ate a weirdly not-oriental but still spicy chicken with slices of the most incredible dumpling I have EVER eaten. My husband was brave enough to try the tripe and pap. All of it cooked by the cutest woman who took catering to large crowds in a stride that I can only describe as majestic. No stress around here, folks! We only do happy.

As I was sitting there, with a full and happy tummy, sipping on Kasi Craft beer brewed in my own city while listening to a hybrid mix of marimba drums and house music, I couldn’t help but slip into my contented explorer state and just smile. I found the feeling. In my own town I found the feeling. If you’re a traveller you know the one I mean. It’s the one where you are completely out of your space, your comfort zone, and yet you are still content. You still fit in, even though you don’t fit in. It’s that feeling of being in the right place. Being in the moment.

And it’s just a little bit like being in love…

Beautiful Birds of Eden

DSCN5591I think Birds of Eden might be what heaven is like. Or if we get to choose our own heavens, Birds of Eden would be mine. If you like bird sanctuaries, this one will ruin all other sanctuaries for you for life, because it is magnificent. In fact, it is the largest free-flying aviary in the world, and being inside of it feels a little bit like magic.

I love birds. I don’t really know why. It’s not like I had an exceptional cockatiel as a kid and have never recovered from it. In fact I actually don’t like cockatiels so much. How did the segue into cockatiels… My apologies. Moving on…

Oh yes now I know why it segued into cockatiels: because what on earth could I possibly say about Birds of Eden that would properly express how I feel about the place. Very little probably. Or at least very little that wouldn’t have me coming off as a gushy poodle of some sort.

It truly is a wonderful place though. There’s something so special about ambling through the trees along the boardwalk and pointing out each new birdy discovery with your spouse and children. I imagine going alone would be satisfying in itself, but sharing it with my favourite people, ticking off each bird species in the bird booklet as we spot it, getting excited together at the magical shots we’ve caught with our cameras, and grunting in disappointment at the shots we’ve missed, always proves to be an especially good way to spend some time together.

I wish I could build a tiny little cottage at the bottom of that valley, under all those beautiful birds, and just spend my days being surrounded by them. They’re noisy, no doubt, but at the same time they are somehow very peaceful.

And so very special…

My Instagram pics of Birds of Eden can be found here: #nayesexploresbirdsofeden

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5 Monkeys in Monkeyland

DSCN5028Where are we at now? Three weeks since we got back from our road trip? Four? I can barely remember… This week alone has already felt like three weeks all on its own. So actually I wouldn’t mind going back in time a little and finding myself wandering back through Monkeyland, back when life was simple and my children didn’t need rescuing from bullies. Perhaps I should just take us all on another trip again? If only my bank account could agree with that!

Back to Monkeyland though…

Monkeyland and Birds of Eden are two of my absolute places in South Africa. I’ve been to Monkeyland 3 times and Birds of Eden 4 times, and I can still say that I’d be happily up for revisiting both again any time.

DSCN4952I can’t say I’ve been to many sanctuaries in my lifetime, but in comparison to the few that I have been to, Monkeyland is an undoubtedly superior space. Mankeyland is basically a fenced off piece of forest (I won’t pretend to know the dimensions, but it’s big!) where rescued and rehabilitated monkeys (and lemurs – so many lemurs!) can live out the rest of their days in “freedom” while still being cared for and fed by humans. The creatures in Monkeyland come from all over the world. Most of them are rescued or surrendered pets or performance animals, who are not capable of surviving in the “real” wild. While this is a bit of a sad thought, it does at least provide a way for folks like you and me to experience the wonder of these creatures without having to resort to frequenting the horrors of the nearest zoo.

Taking a tour guided walk through this place is an exceptional education for both young and old and I can’t recommend it enough for anyone touring through The Garden Route.

I wish so much that I could just quietly hang out in the sanctuary with my camera for hours on end, quietly waiting for the perfect photo opportunities to present themselves, but alas time and circumstance meant that in reality  I could only shoot off a couple of snaps as we wandered through the trees. I did a terrible job, but I have shared a couple on Instagram (follow me please – barely any of my instameet friends are following me back and I need some validatory love!) and tagged them with #nayesexploresmonkeyland if you’d like to check them out.

 

I can’t think of a cool aliterationy title for this post on Wilgewandel

DSCN4868I’m not quite sure where my slightly (a lotly) obnoxious mood came from because it’s not often that I’m in a good mood and cold at the same time. Actually never. I grew up in Molteno. I’ve been known to spend entire winters in a fog of gloom and sadness. Do you know how hard it is to pee when the thought of taking your clothes off brings you to tears? It’s brutal, man. And I at least have four walls around me!

Oh yeah… I was trying to talk about Wilgewandel…

When Ty and I got married we went on two honeymoons. The first one was the disastrous cruise to Bazaruto that ended up being rerouted to Port Elizabeth (yes, we’re still tender about that and we don’t wanna talk about it) and the second honeymoon was a road trip to Cape Town via the Wine Route and then back home via the Garden Route.

Anyway, one of the places we stayed at was Wilgewandel just outside of Oudtshoorn. It’s a little farmstay type place that has a lot of animals and a farmstall and camels and stuff. In other words: it’s a weird place to be without the kids. I kind of wanted to stay there during our family road trip this time, but it was way out of my budget for all five of us, so instead we decided to just pop in for a visit and let the kids hang out and play while we indulged in some coffee and goose watching.

Of course, the first thing that happened was that the geese chased my kids (Bridgette and Noah – Thomas is too dignified to be chased by geese) and they screamed really loudly so I had to pretend that I didn’t have kids while I was pretending to enjoy the really bad cu
p of coffee. It was hard.

The place is fun though and the kids liked wandering around. And they have alpacas and really one day when I’m big I am going to figure out how to breed alpacas because oh my god those things are so cute! Although: I might prefer llamas because it’s really fun to say llama… You know you wanna! Say it with me: LLAMA! 

13487913_10157159140655094_2005616977_nOh yes: Instagram pics can be found at my #nayesexploreswilgewandel tag and also check out Noah’s Instagram because his pics are kind of cute as hell too.  You have to go and look at my peacock pic because it’s really pretty and I’m not sharing it here because I want to manipulate you into giving me some Instalove (or hate if you think my pic is not all that, which it possibly isn’t) because I really really like Instagram, ok?

In the meantime here is a pic of my husband and I swinging together that you won’t find on Instagram because I took it with the Sony Xperia and those pics are ALWAYS too damn big to fit on Instagram unless I purposely crop them with extra space which I never remember to do.