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.

 

Spelunking is a Dumb Word

13608329_10154086372406117_428368562_nSpelunking is when you explore caves, right? Because otherwise my title doesn’t make sense. I’m too lazy to Google it. I’m right though, aren’t I? And it is a weird word. Spelunking. It sounds like something went super wrong. But like jokey-wrong. And there aren’t many things that could go wrong when you’re inside a cave that could be considered jokey-wrong. You know? Like things going wrong inside a cave would be things like cave in  or spontaneous explosion causing a cave in or flash flood. Oh giant rat monser. Not good. Much death. No.

Anyway – we went to the Cango Caves on our Family Road trip and it was kind of awesome because even though I went when I was about 11 I did not remember much about it except for the part where my friend Angeline forced me into The Devil’s Chimney and I had to learn lamaze breathing in a very short space of time. Well done to 11-year-old me for not having a panic attack. This time I skipped The Devil’s Chimney. Of course I blamed claustrophobia/time/expense for the skip, but let’s face it: this ass wasn’t going to fit in that hole this time.

In all seriousness though: take your kids to see the caves. Encourage them to ask the guides questions. The Cango Caves are an exquisite sight to behold and the history behind their discovery is fun to listen to. Far more fun than anything you might read in a book at least. If the vastness  and magical sparkle of this place doesn’t overwhelm you, it may be that you need to be a little nicer to your inner child. That little thing wants to come out to play! Ok?

Also…it’s not possible to walk around in that place and not go crazy trying to remember what show/movie had a cave scene with giant dodgy rats in it. Was it Doctor Who? Was it Merlin? Was it Atlantis? Do I need to rewatch all of those shows to see if I can find them? Well yes, obviously…

If you’d like to look at about four pictures that I took at in the caves then check out my #nayesexploresthecangocaves hashtag on Instagram. They’re really crap though. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. I should stop talking now. It’s getting weird.

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Review: The Girl on the Train

The Girl on the Train
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**********THERE ARE SPOILERS IN HERE**********

Now that we’ve got that out of the way…

I finally managed to borrow this book from someone (thank you Caroline!) and I spent the weekend discovering what all the fuss was about.

I have admit that despite being someone who reads a lot of crime fiction, I did particularly enjoy this one. It was obviously written with a lot of care and attention to detail. The characters struck me as well rounded and human without being like those intolerable anti-heroes that seem to be popular these days but who I detest and can’t read about.

Anyway – I’m not going to go on and on about the gist of the story, but I will mention that I found it particularly refreshing that it didn’t turn out to be a Gone Girl situation. It was more real than that. All of it was real. From the gaslighting done by the main character’s ex, to the violence she experienced at the hands of not one, but two men.

Actually the whole thing was just creepy because it wasn’t too hard to imagine any of it happening for real.

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Is the Owl House haunted? Because it should be…

DSC_0144-01-01A trip to Nieu Bethesda is a given when it comes to touring around the Sarah Baartman District so obviously we had to go out of our way on the way to Oudtshoorn (if you look at a map you will see that from Graaf Reinet these two places are in opposite directions…) and pop in to the home of fossils and owl decor.

The road to Nieu Bethesda is paved with not very much. Unless, of course, you count stunning views of valleys and a farm stall or two along the way. Ok…maybe it’s just one farm stall. But there are a lot of monkeys on the side of the road as well as warthogs so that’s kind of awesome. I wonder if folks who live in other countries get to see so many animals along the sides of their roads. I bet you not! Not like us at least… *insert winking emoji here*

Now, contrary to popular opinion, I have to admit that I find Nieu Bethesda to be kind of…well…a little bit creepy! And I do realise that we’re not actually supposed to admit this…but come ON folks! You can’t tell me that while you’re driving around those dusty dirt roads that it doesn’t occur to you how this teeny hamlet might be an excellent location for a new South African horror series to take place in.

Imagine it: a weird cult of animal carcass-wearing locals pretend to be completely normal during the day, but at night they gather in the forest and eat the babies of the collection of permanently pregnant women they keep locked up in a shed somewhere. And you just know there’s going to be a scene where some woman who is eight and a half months pregnant is hiding behind a praying shepherd in the middle of the night, trying to convince herself that no, those things did NOT just move. 

And why are these weird cult people evil? They’re evil because they spent too much time with the demons that inhabit OWL HOUSE!

Yes. I said it: Owl House is TERRIFYING! (more…)

Family in the Valley

imageYes, it’s already two weeks since I got home from our little Family Road Trip and I’m STILL talking about it. Perhaps I should start to learn to blog in real time…but I can barely get it right to Instagram in real time (unless I’m at home and hanging out with my cats) let alone somehow manage to write a couple of hundred words about something that I kind of reckon other folks should try (heehee!) so here I am: still talking about our Road Trip.

Now I took the housebound and the squidgets to Graaff Reinet mainly because I wanted them to see The Valley of Desolation because it remains one of the most beautiful places I’ve been to. Now, I get that some people find the place overrated, but I just don’t. I love the silence. I love the view. I love the echo potential.

imageOf course the kids loved it, which made me particularly happy because I do often worry that they might lose their sense of wonder to their computer games and the television set. (As an aside: Why does the media or just people in general keep telling us that will happen? As if we don’t have enough stress…)

The Valley is just outside of Graaff Reinet and is obviously one of the main tourist attractions around there. It doesn’t cost a lot to get into the reserve and it’s an easy drive to the top. You can hike around there if you like, but it’s pretty user-friendly for those of who who – like me – are not so keen on anything heavy while on holiday.

So why should you go? Because the soul needs food, and this is what soul food is…

For more pics of our Valley of Desolation exploration check out #nayesexploresthevalleyofdesolation on Instagram.

 

 

 

Booking Accommodation

13427723_10157146666340094_332521799876792001_nI’m back to trolling booking.com for accommodation options for top secret travel ideas at the moment and goodness I must admit that I’m not getting anywhere! Experience has (already!) taught me that a good photographer can make the dodgiest of places look lovely, so at the moment I am a little apprehensive because the places I can afford in the place I’m currently checking out already look a little suspect, so my imagination is going to dark dark places. But that’s part of the fun of adventure, isn’t it? Roughing it in funny accommodations?

Luckily, our last trip didn’t surprise us with any accommodation that looked good online only to end up being bad in reality. I’d love to think that’s a uniquely South African hospitality trait, but the truth is I was just lucky. My kids exclaimed “This place is awesome!” at each place we booked into, and each time I replied, “Of course it is! I chose it!” Sometimes when you’re a mom you have to pretend you’re a magical unicorn instead of admitting that you’re just as surprised as they are that the affordable place you booked for five people to stay in didn’t end up looking like something from a horror movie. (more…)

The Rejuvenating Effect of Small Towns

13530793_10157173065070094_1707521580_nI live in Port Elizabeth these days, but up until I was 17 years old I lived in the teeny tiny town of Molteno. Don’t know where that is? No worries, neither does the rest of the country! Maybe it’s just me, but coming from a small town makes it seem weird as hell to go on holiday to a small town. That’s just nuts, man! Holidays? Holidays need bright lights, or something. Or the sea, at least. No?

13522519_10157173066300094_141075267_nLately I must admit to feeling a LOT differently.  Is it age? Is it that the time I lived in Molteno and the time that I have lived in Port Elizabeth are about to become equal? I don’t know…but I’m falling in love with the small towns around our country, and while I don’t think I will easily go back to small town life, I certainly am enjoying indulging in it as a visitor from time to time. There’s beautiful architecture to be found – especially the churches and old municipal buildings. There are quirks. There are sweet people. There are exceptional views. Rolling mountains. Vast plains. Fresh air.  Starry skies beyond your wildest imagination. Silence. *sigh*

It is no wonder that these small places get visitors from city folk so often. This last weekend (gosh it’s already a new weekend and I’m only getting around to this now!) I moseyed on through Jansenville, Graaff Reinet, and Nieu Bethesda and despite their smallness I do kind of wish I had had far more time to take all they have to offer in. They are life and energy of a different sort. They offer sensory pleasures that our cluttered city minds sometimes forget to indulge in. They are a feast for body, soul, and mind.

And I really should make a point to explore all of these little places more often…

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Flamingoes in the Bay

DSCN4658I had a bit of a daft experience last week. Every time I drive back into Port Elizabeth from the Grahamstown side of town I peer through the car window and look longingly into the Cerebos salt pans, searching for flamingoes and wishing I could get a closer look at all those beautiful pink spots and photograph them to my hearts content. After returning from our trip to Port Alfred a couple of weeks ago, the husband and I actually tried to get closer – much to the polite annoyance of the security guard at Kouga – but we failed.

DSCN4681Well, last week when we set out on our little #larteradamsroadtrip I didn’t expect for there to be flamingoes on the menu, but as we drove along the road between Port Elizabeth and Redhouse, we came across the salt pans situated on the side of the road and guess what? FLAMINGOES! And yes, I know maybe it’s silly, but I didn’t know they were there so it was kind of exciting to stumble upon them by accident. Of course, I finally got to photograph them and made an absolute mess of the whole thing because it was really cold and windy outside so I just shot them from the car. Them’s some bland pictures!

It’s ok though. I know they’re there now, and I’m trying to get to know my town better, so I’ll definitely be back there to explore a little more closely. Next time I might even look up some interesting facts to share with the kids so that I don’t have to just point and go “Look at the pretty birdies, guys!”

Flamingoes, you guys!!

It’s so damn cool!

 

Exploration and Good Vibes with the Minis

13467745_10157159166085094_1899616964_oCan I tell you a bit of a parent shame I have? I enjoy being away from the kids. And I really like that Ty and I don’t have any kids together because it kind of means that we get a parent break regularly. These breaks keep me sane. Sure, we miss the kids a little. But it’s a nice missing. It makes the whole “should I have another kid” question super complicated and tough to answer, but that’s a story for some other time.

The thing is, because our children have two families, it tends to be a little too easy for Ty and I to indulge in getting away as a couple – or just staying in as a couple for that matter. We do take the kids with us on a little holiday from time to time – but it’s one of those things that only comes about if timing works out properly. Obviously we don’t like to take away from the kids’ time with their other parents because that wouldn’t be fair, but let’s face it: when it comes to getting away, the biggest reason for leaving the kids behind is that it’s a LOT easier to get the most out of a vacation without them. Setting aside the fact that taking the kids with tends to more than double the costs of getting away, the biggest difficulty when it comes to family travel is that sometimes the kids are assholes. And yeah, I know we’re not supposed to admit that kids are assholes, but they are. And often, after you’ve spent a whole crapton of money that you can’t afford on a family trip that you only sort-of want to take, at least one of them will turn into a sulkmonster (or similar) and kind of spoil the break for everyone. This is a thousand times worse than when they are just being jerks at home. For me, at least. (more…)

Review: Me Before You

Me Before You
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’m supposed to be doing something else right now but instead I’m kind of just staring into nothing and trying to think about how to assess this book.

Would it be enough for me to just go “huh?!” and leave it at that?

I’ve wanted to read a Jojo Moyes book ever since I spotted my first one in a book store at Canal Walk which was probably a thousand years ago. For one, her name is Jojo…immediately that made me curious. For another, her book covers are always kind of pretty. Neither of those reasons are worth much when it comes to choosing books though, so I’ve always just kind of bypassed her.

Then this book became a crazy kind of famous. Which is dangerous when it comes to choosing something to read – especially for me. Because instead of judging the book by whatever criteria I usually judge books on, I end up judging it against its fame. And that’s not right. But I can’t help it.

Firstly, I admit that this story was not at all what I expected. I thought “Me Before You” was going to be a sort of empowering story about marriage. I have no idea why. And I was keen on that kind of story. I’m married. Empowerment it good. I like those kinds of stories. Especially when my empowerment levels are low. I was expecting a book that I was going to paint pink with my highlighter. I expected to find lines and lines of wisdom to make note of.

There was no empowerment. There was no wisdom.

Of course this is not the book’s fault. It was I who somehow got the wrong impression about what I was picking up. My fault.

But here’s the thing: It was just fine.

Once I erased the expectations and went, “oh, ok, not what I expected but whatever” – it was only fine. And fine is fine. But I don’t understand why this book is so famous. It’s weird to me. I predicted the ending from about a quarter way in, which I tend to do a lot, and at least this wasn’t a mystery novel, but still. It just didn’t have any sort of profound impact on me, which it seems to have had on a lot of people.

What I can say is that I did enjoy it enough to read it quickly and it took me out of a book slump that has lasted for months – although this is the first time in months I’ve had some down time to actually read so that might have something to do with getting through it. These sorts of easy novels that demand little of us are actually a godsend sometimes and obviously there is nothing “wrong” with them, I just can’t help feeling a little “un-edified” by it all. It was kind of a little silly. I feel like it was supposed to have an impact but it just didn’t quite hit the spot.

I could go a little dramatic and ask if my “spot” is broken, but I know it’s not. I do particularly like it when books make me think though. Or at the very least nod along in agreement. Or offend me, perhaps?

I suppose it did get me thinking a little though. Like about why this kind of book does so well while others that have completely blown our minds seem to remain a secret from the rest of the world. Is it because of the content? I suppose assisted suicide, like dodgy BDSM with billionaires, is kind of controversial and perhaps interesting if it’s not something you’ve contemplated before. I suppose the presence of money is nice. It caters to that spark that likes to dream about what we would do if we won the lottery.

Otherwise I don’t really know.

Do you?

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I need to tell you about feline leukemia…

IMG_20160301_104616Yesterday I had to do something that I have dreaded the thought of for probably most of my life: I had to hold my beloved pet while a vet put him down. I won’t even go into how much it sucked or how much both my husband and I cried. That part you can use your own imagination for. You’ve probably been through it yourself, or if not you’ve probably thought about how hard something like that might be. You don’t need me to describe it for you.

What I do want to talk about is something else. I have learned a crazy amount over the last 24-48 hours about cat health.  Jonny died of feline leukemia which it seems he probably contracted from his mother when he was born. It lay dormant for these last 18 months or so, and then completely floored him over the weekend. On Thursday he disappeared on me which stressed me out completely though I tried to be reasonable about it because he’s a cat. On Friday I found him but he seemed grumpier than usual and I started to worry that he was a bit depressed due to a feud he’s been having with the neighbour’s cat. On Saturday I fetched him from the kitchen and he lay with me in bed all day while I played on my blog and watched tv and kept warm. On Sunday he pretty much did the same thing. It was cold. So it seemed reasonable. The other kitties were doing it too! Just like right now as I write this. At around 1am on Sunday he urinated all over me and then started to breathe really hard. By 2am I couldn’t handle it any more and made Ty call the vet. By Monday afternoon it was time to let him go. (more…)

Dear Man in My Life: I Won’t Defend You

 

The news of Brock Turner’s lenient sentence after he was caught raping an unconscious woman is all over social media today. It started trickling in a while ago, but now to say that it is gushing all over the place would be a bit of an understatement. He raped someone. There’s no doubt about that.

And he’s going to jail for it for only six months, because the judge felt that a harsher sentence would negatively impact the rest of his life.

I don’t have anything to say about this that hasn’t already been said.

But this morning his father defended him, saying something about the sentence being pretty steep for just twenty minutes of action. He believes his son should not go to prison at all.

So to the men in my life, I want to say this:

If by some awful turn of events, you find yourself in this kind of position: I will not defend you. I will not be sad that you have been arrested. I will not be upset that you are going to jail. I will not mourn the loss of your future.

I will be upset that you raped someone. I will be devastated that you altered the life of another human being. I will be disappointed that I was wrong to ever respect you.

I might still love you. I might still visit you in prison. I might even “welcome” you home when you get out. Maybe. Depending on exactly which male in my life you happen to be.

But I will not defend you.

I will never again trust or respect you.

I most certainly will never refer to your violation of another human being as “just twenty minutes of action”. And I will not tolerate anyone who does.

Because fuck that noise.