Our perfect honeymoon

I haven’t even written about our wedding, and here I am writing about our honeymoon. I think I’m saving that post for our 1-year anniversary which is closer than I even realised. I lost my phone a few weeks ago, and with it a whole bunch of images. It’s sort of terrified me about backing up photos, memories and thoughts in other places other than my phone and external hard drives. I didn’t actually LOSE my phone. Someone followed me (and my kids) through a shop and stole it out of a bag in my trolley but hey. It’s gone.

I’ve always loved the feeling of journaling because it makes all your feelings and memories that much more tangible. As I sit here, I’m worried that I won’t remember all the beautiful and perfect little details of our honeymoon and it was only a few months ago? Like literally 2 or 3 months ago… and it’s already faded.

So anyway, Francois and I went to Italy together when we were semi-serious boyfriend-and-girlfriend. I remember that we had a big fight in Florence and I sulked for hoooooours, which is why I will absolutely never see the Arno river again. Traveling as husband and wife is sooooo much more fun (and even more romantic). For this Italian trip, we headed straight for our favourites: Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast. I mean, we love Venice but we had been there twice before. I remember my first night in Venice, I ran to our hotel room to charge my phone and woke up the next day. I was so tired. Francois was furious haha. I’d always traveled alone before that trip, so it was really weird for me to do things WITH someone, but now I love it. I love experiencing destinations through him and his enjoyment, too. My favourite is after a long day of sights, we would pour a drink, watch the sunset and go through our photos of the day. That daily recap was the best!

So anyway, if you’re thinking about seeing Italy, then definitely see Venice. If you want to see the Amalfi Coast (Positano etc) then 100% stay in Sorrento and take ferries everywhere. Avoid Capri unless you’re a hardcore Camps Bay / Cafe Caprice type fan in which case you’ll love it. We hated it. Enjoy spending (literally, honestly) R350.00 on a drink for a mediocre view. I don’t want this post to be too “advicey” but you can go to Italy in the HEIGHT of season and you won’t be crowded in Sorrento or Atrani which are by far the most beautiful in Italy. If you’ve never been: go to Venice, Sorrento, Positano and Atrani in that order. You can land in Venice, take a train /ferry/road trip to Naples, then Sorrento, then a day trip to Positano, then a ferry to Amalfi and then Atrani is literally walking distance from there. T R U S T  M E. If you’re super into art or history, then throw Rome in there. The Sistine Chapel and Colosseum are literally… colossal. I found Florence to be very hipster and undeservedly overcrowded, but hey. Maybe it was that fight. It’s *extremely* Cape Town.

Anyway, we headed straight to Sorrento for our honeymoon and checked in at the sweetest little (weirdly affordable) private, penthouse apartment.

Wait, sorry – backtrack.

We flew out to Italy and our plane stopped in Zambia to refuel or something. And then the plane wouldn’t start again. Hilariously, they did the whole “put it off, put it back on again” thing while we were grounded which was alarming but still didn’t work. We disembarked after a very short flight from Cape Town. This sucked for various reasons, but mostly because of Francois and I’s “travel tradition”. We like to hang at a bar and get pretty decently drunk before a night flight because 1. fun! and 2. you sleep better. This has led to circumstantial issues in the past, like when we flew from Venice to Cape Town and had an *extremely* boozy “goodbye Italy” lunch. That led to us having to disembark a ferry from Venice to the airport because they wouldn’t let Francois urinate off the side of the boat. Look, when you need to go – you need to go. We had to make a stop, then (obviously) had more drinks there, VERY nearly missed our flight and led to F getting so ‘joyous’ on the plane that he couldn’t understand why the air hostess (he literally referred to her as a waitress) wouldn’t serve him gin and tonics while we were still grounded. He then got all the passengers around us to join his party, which they obviously did.

Moving on.

We had such a fun time before our Cape Town -> Italy flight that we were fully prepared to pass out right after dinner, which we did. Very rudely, we were woken up about 2 hours later, bleary – boozey eyed and then had to face the bright lights of the Zambia airport. Even worse? Small airports’ coffee shops, restaurants and shops close at like, 6? There wasn’t a bottled water or cup of coffee in sight, so we just sat on the airport floor for like 3 hours while the airline tried to figure out where to put us all. It really, really, really sucked.

Positive side: They ended up putting us into a hotel, which I realised was literally RIGHT next to Victoria Falls and on the Zambezi’s doorstep / river bed? so I was in my element! I’ve always wanted to see both the abovementioned. We ended up spending 2 more (fully paid and fed) nights in Zambia while they booked new flights and honestly, we were fine. We made friends with other stranded passengers, did a magical Zambezi sunset cruise, went into Zimbabwe, saw Vic Falls, went to the Royal Livingstone and even the Vic Falls Hotel. We had so. much. fun. It was a very welcome and unexpected honeymoon surprise.

When we finally got to Sorrento we were buggered, elated and relieved. It was the first time that we booked a self-catering house and it was the BEST. We shopped at the local grocer and made our own dishes from Italian tomatoes, truffle oil, buttery pasta and parmesan. The best part? On our first night as Casa Correale, our stupid umbrella wouldn’t open (it was HOT) and I couldn’t figure out the airconditioning. I knocked on a neighbour’s door for ‘damsel in distress’ assistance and met our downstairs neighbour, Gerardo. He is a fantastic old man (late 80s) who lives alone in his g o r g e o u s apartment. It ended up that he owns our flat and he assisted us with everything we needed. We loved him so much that he invited us to see his apartment the next day (I die) and we invited him for drinks at our place, which ended up as a sing-along at HIS place (he used to be in a jazz band) and thus began a lifelong friendship between us. We still stay in touch with him with regular phone calls, voice notes and an open invitation for us to stay in that glorious penthouse apartment again, as his guests. We’re already planning our next trip! We love that man deeply and want to get a long-stay visa so we can pop over to him if he ever needs us.

Anyway, Sorrento is magical and if I can recommend ONE restaurant it would be what Gerardo recommended to us: The Five Sisters. You have never in your life had such authentic Italian food, which such a good view and the absolute worst service (depending on which sister you get). The 5 Di Leva Sisters restaurant is situated at Marina Grande which also happens to be the BEST spot in Sorrento! Honestly, I get teary just thinking about it as it was by far my favourite day in Italy, ever. The restaurant has been visited by the likes of Jamie Oliver and Sophia Loren, and it’s run by 5 obnoxious, charming, irritable, gorgeous and rude Italian mamas. They aren’t tourist-friendly. Nobody tries to upsell you. They aren’t interested in English. It’s kind of “come eat or go home, we don’t really care” attitude and it’s just so authentic and awful and wonderful all at the same time. Please go. Ignore the thousands of Trip Advisor reviews from the snooty English and just go. It’s definitely my most memorable dining experience of all time and the food is phenomenally authentic. We ended up having limoncellos with the sisters and they looooved Francois / Franco (everyone in Italy calls him Franco or Francesco)

From Sorrento, we did our usual (frightful, anxiety-clad) bus trip to Positano as a day trip. A bit later in our trip, we headed to Amalfi and then walked up the hill to Atrani which is (my God) the most beautiful, picturesque place I’ve ever seen. In my life. Ever. Atrani is tiny and consists of exactly what you see in the photos: One beach, one square. Maybe 5 restaurants and like 800 people. That’s it. And it’s magic. On our next trip to Italy, I’m heading straight for Sorrento and Atrani, without a doubt.

After Atrani, we headed to Rome. I was surprised at how much I loved this city. The Vatican City was mind-blowingly beautiful, but the queues are by far the worst I’ve seen in my life. Worse than the Louvre. Literally times it by a hundred. If you plan on going, please just pay the jump-the-line fee because nobody has time to stand in the sweltering heat for 2 – 3 hours. The Sistine Chapel is B R E A T H T A K I N G. I will always be extremely and wholeheartedly grateful that I got to see it in person. Everyone should. We didn’t go inside the Colosseum because it felt weirdly touristy, but just walking around it is magical. We also did a red bus tour of the city which really helps you gather your bearings. The Trevi Fountain is an actual joke in terms of tourists. But… having sundowners on a rooftop bar, overlooking the Colosseum is something that I will treasure foractualever.

Italy is insanely romantic. I have never perved on my gorgeous husband more. Seeing him all tanned and muscular, sporting vests and breaking a sweat in the heat while sipping on Spritz was… rewarding. You will feast on pizza, pasta, seafood, limoncello and spritz. You will swim in warm oceans, tan, love, feast and inhale the entire atmosphere of the beaches lined with lemon groves and sunshine. I could not have asked for a better honeymoon (or husband) and I can’t wait to do it all over again.

<side note> I gained somewhere around 7 – 10kg in Italy over two weeks. Yes, it’s possible. And it’s 100% worth it. You cannot go to Italy and not eat pizza, pasta and spritz every damn day. Three times a day. The food is carb-loaded, the drinks are sugary and it doesn’t matter how much you walk… you’re going to ROLL out of there happier, chubbier and tanned. Enjoy every living second! I just started losing all that extra weight and now we’re off to Paris and Portugal this week. I can’t wait to get fat and happy all over again! Right now, I’m still in the honeymoon phase of our marriage and I suspect I always will be.

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Welcome to Bunny-Land.

You know what this blog is like to me? A friend. A friend that I’m really bad at keeping in touch with and never get around to seeing, but when we catch up again then it’s like nothing ever changed. I miss writing. I mean, I write for a living – but I miss writing here. I write for clients, other blogs and websites and I recently finished my first children’s book called The Silly Adventures of Buttons and Honey. I’m officially an author, and it blows my mind.

I have to tell you about the book first, though. About 5 or 6 years ago I started telling my kids these sweet little bedtime stories. You know when your kids are in bed and you’ve re-read all their books a hundred times? And you don’t even want to switch the lights on to find a reading option because, my God, that might wake them up all over again? I wish I knew the exact date or year that I made these characters up, because it’s literally their birthday and I just have no idea.

I created these characters called Buttons and Honey. They’re brother and sister bunnies who live in Bunny-Land, under a big apple tree. When I think about the sh*t that I made up I find it incredibly hard to believe that I’ve never taken drugs. I really haven’t. When you read the books one day you might suspect this, but seriously… I’m clean, you guys.

Buttons and Honey basically push boundaries. Instead of parents restricting you to one glass of Nesquick, these bunnies’ parents filled an entire swimming pool with Nesquick. And sweets. So it’s not “Alice in Wonderland” or anything like that. It’s more… Richard Scarry meets Beatrix Potter and Julia Donaldson. I have made up dozens of Buttons and Honey stories over the years.

A few months ago, I finally got the courage to actually write them down. I was laying in bed really late at night and I kept telling myself that I need to get around to it… to these books that I want to write. I guilted myself and then I had a super hard conversation with myself. The inner guilt-trip switched to motivation and I thought you know what? I’m just going to get out of bed RIGHT NOW and do it. The whole house was asleep and I was so tired, but I sat writing until the early hours (at least 2 or 3am or later) until I had all three of my favourite books penned.

Over the following couple of weeks, I’d gathered Theodore Key (the most incredible illustrator) and I spent so many wintery afternoons sitting in the sunroom at our Stanford house, putting the layout together. I can’t draw (at all) but I managed to shape the book into a 32-page layout, and off Theo went to bring Bunny-Land to life. There have been so. many. tears. I cried, cherished and celebrated every single step.

I got the most phenomenal literary agent (Catrina) and we signed contracts and put some legal things together. My designer, Colin put it all together and on my 35th birthday – I printed the very first Buttons and Honey book. Having that (and a bottle of Moët) in my hands was definitely one of the proudest moments of my life.

Writing a children’s Picture Book is much, much harder than I imagined it. Honestly, it’s so difficult, time-consuming, meticulous and expensive (if you’re paying for artwork). You don’t need to submit illustrations for picture book consideration (to publishers) but I wanted to do it for myself and for my kids. I was so proud to show them that mommy finally did it. I definitely think that I’ll stick to picture books, as YA (young adult) is so saturated and daunting for me. I think I’d rather leap to an autobiography one day, as I write very easily in this narrative.

What I HAVE discovered is an incredible, supportive, informative, encouraging, friendly and kind community of writers on twitter. Honestly, I have learned more about the world of publishing by following a few key authors, agents, illustrators, editors and publishers than I could have imagined. I’ve also reached out to local authors for support and the amount of gracious love and kindness that I’ve received has surpassed all the expectations I didn’t even have.

I’ve also learned that I need to keep blogging. I need to keep this narrative and my own inner protagonist going so that my craft stays fresh. I need to keep writing, communicating and surrendering my thoughts to typeface. I’ve realised that I’ve always lived in Bunny-Land and every step I’ve taken in my writing career (from poetry and anthologies of verse to gossip mags. From parenting blogs to news writing, press releases, social media content and lifestyle communication) has shaped and nudged my talents into various directions that all either hit the end of the stream of made me run out of steam. I either hit a brick wall or got gloriously bored. But not this. This is different, and I can feel it in every stroke of the keys, in every new rhyme, every furious scribble and I can see it in every illustration.

To quote my favourite lyric in one of my favourite musicals (The Greatest Showman): This is me.

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Weekend accommodation near Cape Town

Probably one of the biggest requests I get both personally and on social media is from people asking for recommendations on where to go for a weekend away. Francois and I are very lucky that we get to travel a lot. We both work in tourism and have friends, clients and projects all over the Western Cape, so we move around a lot. These are all places where we’ve paid our own good money to stay while travelling, and these are our favourites that we return to. This is my ultimate list of places to go around our beautiful city over weekends or even for mid-week breaks. I’ve highlighted prices and which places are dog, family or romance-friendly! I’ve put a lot of love in to this post, so please save it or share with friends to ensure that you *always* have the best time on your holidays xx

Old Mac Daddy trailers, camps & villas

This is the *ultimate* family-friendly spot for warmer weather. We’ve stayed at both the trailer suites and the villas. Daddy’s Hideaway is ultimate romance. The trailers and kid facilities are absolutely perfect. They are *extremely* child friendly. There is a really cool ‘beach bar’ at the lake with paddle-skis and canoes. The water is shallow enough for kids to swim and play while the parents can completely relax. They also have bicycles for family-rides and a really cool restaurant and pool. For parties and celebrations, they have a gorgeous self-catering house called “The School House” that can sleep 6 adults and 4 kids.

Price: R1695.00 – R4095.00 per night for a trailer suite (3 people) or villa.

Family: Yes | Romance: Yes | Dogs: Nope | Parties: Yes

Website: https://oldmacdaddy.co.za/stay/

Wildekrans Country House

I did a full review of this house as I loved it so much. It’s a gorgeous historic homestead that is perfect for romance, small families, art lovers and active people. They offer 2 hiking trails through the beautiful Kogelberg and offer gorgeous breakfasts. I would say that this is perfect for active couples who want peace and tranquility, reading a book (they have a big selection) at the fireplace, going on hikes, having naps and exploring the incredibly beautiful garden and grounds. We really loved staying here. They have private suites and free-standing cottages. There is so much to do in the area. We even did an afternoon trip to Botrivier to the famous pub.

Price: R1535.00 – R2375.00 per night for a suite suite (3 people) or cottage.

Family: Sort of | Romance: Yes | Dogs: Nope | Parties: Hell no

Website: https://www.wildekrans.co.za/gallery.htm

Galileo Farm

I really loved staying here because it is incredibly dog-friendly, private and romantic. I have a thing for water and most of the cottages overlook a private dam with little boats. There is such glory in sitting on your porch, lighting the fire, pouring a drink and watching your dogs play and swim in the dam in front of you. It’s magical. Note that they are 100% self-catering so this is perfect if you want to do your own thing and not see other humans at all. I stayed at Coot’s Cottage but there are a bunch of other properties on the estate, too!

Price: R1580.00 – R4000.00 per night for a cottage or bigger house

Family: Yes | Romance: Yes | Dogs: Yes | Parties: Probably

Website: http://www.galileofarm.co.za/accommodation/

There are also beautiful wine estates in the area. I personally love Almenkerk. For dining out, I love Hickory Shack and The Pool Room at Oak Valley OR the Elgin Railway Market. Hickory Shack is more family-friendly than Pool Room though. If you don’t stop at Peregrine Farm Stall for groceries, fresh apple juice, droewors and a pie then you’re absolutely nuts.

If you’re looking for a place to stay in Paternoster, then this is your best bet: https://www.stayinpaternoster.co.za/. They have loads of gorgeous houses on the website that you can search according to the amount of people you are and if you have dogs, etc. If you can’t find anything there, then try Paternoster Tourism on 022 752 2323 with your requirements. They are super nice and helpful. I was always really scared to go to Paternoster because I heard that the crime is really bad, but we have never had a single issue. The tourism in the area has obviously increased a lot lately due to Wolfgat winning awards, but please note that it is pretty much fully booked all the time, so if you are going to Paternoster FOR Wolfgat, then check with them on a reservation first. My other favourite restaurant is Die Gaaitjie which is ON the beach and has incredible food. My favourite pub in Paternoster is the Panty Bar at the hotel. The bar is legit covered in panties and you’ll have to ask them for the full story of how that all happened! These are the places that we’ve stayed at there, mostly with friends!

Son-n-See: Paternoster

I know that they say they are not dog friendly, but we asked really nicely if we could take Jack and they agreed. I find that most places will let you take your dogs if you ask super nicely or offer an additional cleaning fee if your dog sheds a lot, etc. It’s a 3 bedroom house with the living BEST entertainment area and view! Honestly, there isn’t much better than that view over the bay at sunset.

Price: From R2300.00 per night for the entire house

Family: Yes | Romance: Yes | Dogs: Maybe | Parties: Yes

Website: Stay in Paternoster listing 

Lilla’s Landing: Paternoster

Again, I know it says “no dogs allowed” but they made an exception for Jack, so he came along! If you call “Stay in Paternoster” they’ll tell you which owners might be willing to bend the rules depending on what dog or how many you have. I really loved this house and we used it for a staff party. It sleeps 10 and is RIGHT ON THE BEACH. The views from the bedrooms are absolutely incredible!

Price: From R3500.00 per night for the entire house

Family: Yes | Romance: Yes | Dogs: Maybe | Parties: Yes

Website: Stay in Paternoster Listing 

Zula Beach House: Paternoster

I’m going to be honest, this is my all-time-favourite place that we’ve ever stayed in Paternoster! It’s more expensive, but please splurge if you can! The other houses are also beautiful and right on the beach but this one is just truly magical. It’s *extremely* dog and child friendly. The owners have put so much love in to this house and even supply dog bowls, toys, kids beach toys etc. The entertainment area is absolutely divine and the location is spectacular. The house has an adjacent cottage so it can sleep 10 or 12 or you can book just the cottage, the house or both. It’s ON the beach and our dogs kept running down to play in the waves and coming back on their own time etc. This is a haven for parents as you can very clearly see the beach (your kids, your dogs) from the comfort of the outdoor area so you’ll have your eyes on them at all times.

Price: Cottage from R2000.00 per night, House from R6000.00 per night (sleeps 10!)

Family: Yes | Romance: Yes | Dogs: Yes | Parties: Yes

Website: http://zulabeachhouse.co.za/beach-house-paternoster/

Gordon’s Bay:

We’ve stayed in Gordon’s Bay twice and to be honest it isn’t my favourite and if we’re going away for a weekend, I’d much rather go to Paternoster. If you are pressed for an affordable spot, then check out Manor on the Bay (guesthouse) over here and Harbour View Lodge (ask for the room with the view) over here. Their price range is R730.00 for single rooms and R1198 per couple.

Other

We’ve stayed in Betty’s and Pringle Bay a few times, but again – I really just prefer Paternoster to all these other options! If anyone can recommend an affordable, family and dog friendly house in this area, then please email me so I can add it! And I know that it’s not exactly ‘weekend away’ distance but if you’re ever going to Knysna as a family then I highly recommend Knysna Hollow for kids!

I’ve heard that Yzerfontein is beautiful but I haven’t personally been there, so drop me a line if you’d like me to add you & your family’s favourite holiday spot to this post!

I could honestly lose my mind writing about how much I love Stanford. It’s so perfectly positioned on the Klein Rivier with a gorgeous country vibe, but then it’s also like 15 minutes away from Hermanus. We have stayed at dozens of places in Stanford while Francois was renovating his new guesthouse! Out of all the places we stayed, I highly recommend, of course – his guesthouse…

The Dragonfly!

This renovated old farmhouse has been in Francois’ family for 3 generations. He’s lovingly renovated it for over a year. The house is a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom with a reading room & sleeper couch. So it can sleep 4 adults and 2 kids, I would say! It’s perfect for a family or 2 couples going away for a weekend together.

The house comes with 4 bicycles, a boat (with engine) and is situated a stone-throw from the river. It’s dog friendly and has a gorgeous vegetable garden and cricket pitch. It was a huge garden and is fully fenced, so your pups and kids will absolutely love it.

Price: Cottage from R1350.00 midweek and R1650.00 over weekends

Family: Yes | Romance: Yes | Dogs: Yes | Parties: Yes

Website: https://stanfordcottage.co.za/

Stanford Hills Estate and Africamps

Stanford Hills is so special to me. We got married here because it’s just my favourite place on earth, full of so many happy memories. They have every kind of accommodation and are extremely dog and kid friendly. The restaurant (The Tasting Room) makes the most divine food and you can watch your kids & dogs play and row on the river and have fun from the comfort of your table. Accommodation wise they have self catering cottages, a manor house (for big groups) and a sweet little trailer overlooking one of the dams. Then they also have Africamps on the farm which is very ‘glamping’ and has gorgeous views.

Price: Cottage from R800.00 per night in low season, depending on your accommodation option

Family: Yes | Romance: Yes | Dogs: Yes | Parties: Yes

Website: http://www.stanfordhills.co.za/stanford-accommodation/

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Fall in love with Franschhoek

I’ve received dozens of messages from friends asking for travel advice. Everyone wants that first-hand recommendation on places to stay and things to do in certain towns. I’m exactly the same, which is how I’ve discovered so many incredible places. I’m lucky that both Francois and I work in tourism and love traveling, so we often nip away for mini breaks and excursions around Cape Town.

I’ve been to Franschhoek a few times and over the years, and I’ve hand-picked a few favourites. This is also a really nifty little guide to send on to friends who are visiting the area! I’ve included all budgets here, as we’ve been there for different reasons and experiences. Eg, I treated Francois to a weekend’s stay at one fannnncy place as a gift for his 40th Birthday. Other places we’ve stayed at in a quick “We really, really don’t feel like driving home” situation. I love Franschhoek very much, but I would pick these places and activities as recommendations to my friends, and wanted to share it with you!

This is by far the most important part of your Franschhoek journey. There are so many new restaurants on offer in the valley, and they are exceptional. I mostly enjoyed:

Beleef Restaurant: I can’t get over how really cool this chef is. Herman Steyn has created a menu that features traditional South African cuisine with a brand new twist on “boerekos”. He’s so animated and I really, really love what he’s doing with the entire vibe of this restaurant. The food is no frills, no fuss – just really great food in generous portions. He changes menu items weekly and changes the South African dish (Ou Kaapse Kos) daily. On the night I was there, I had the Lamb Tomato Bredie which was honestly *incredible* and is a family recipe from one of the kitchen staff. View the full, standard menu here > Beleef Menu Franschhoek. Honestly, it’s such a great vibe for dinner and they have a special lunch menu too. The cocktails are really tasty (go for the Gin ones) and the atmosphere is great. The walls are adorned with art pieces on sale, with a different artist on rotation. Contact: 1 Place Vendome Huguenot Str. Tel: 010 110 8325. Websiste: http://beleefrestaurant.co.za/ 

Le Petite Manoir: Again, I don’t know which one I’d recommend more out of this one or Beleef. They are both exceptional for completely different reasons so please do both if you can! Such a great chef with an incredibly warm and friendly atmosphere and very experimental food. Not “weird” experimental like “Here is a mapani worm oyster slug wrap with a freshly creamed eyeball”. The Flavour combinations and textures are honestly incredible. I highly, highly recommend the Salmon and the Shortrib. Franschhoek is honestly so spoilt with these two, brand new restaurants on the scene.  Address: 54 Huguenot Road, Franschhoek, Telephone number: 021 876 2110. Website: http://lepetitmanoir.co.za/

La Colombe: If you’ve never had a dining experience like this, then treat yourself immediately. This is a fantastic venue for a fancy special occasion, as the entire experience is quite (deservedly) fancy. The food experience is immaculate. I have never been to a restaurant that had as good service or attention to detail. Everything about La Colombe is… perfect. You will not go wrong by treating your partner to an experience here. You get to meet the chefs, and the dishes flow effortlessly as every plate grips you with it’s beauty and flavour. My food writer friend, Sam recently tried the same menu and let me use some of her pictures. View her full post here. Find La Colombe at the Le Quartier Français Hotel . Website: https://www.lapetitecolombe.com/menus

Le Petite Ferme: If you want beautiful, vineyard views then this is where you want to dine. This restautant is definitely child-friendly if you want to dine somewhere where you can enjoy great food at an incredibly beautiful place but where your toddler can still run around on the grass. I have always loved the food here and their wines are sensational. I would recommend La Petite Ferme as a stay-over or a great place for parents to enjoy a seriously delicious meal outdoors where children can roam free. Pack them a blanket and some lawn toys and you’re good to go and enjoy your lavish lunch in peace. This is where I took Francois for his 40th birthday but more on that just now! Another child-friendly dining spot in Franschhoek is La Motte and Maison if you’re looking for more options.

The Elephant and Barrel: Perfect for if you just want a beer and a lekker plate of ribs and chips. Perfect for when you’ve just stumbled off the wine tram and need a tequila or a burger or maybe both. That’s exactly how I first discovered this fun, easy-going sports bar in the middle of the winelands. Great spot to watch the game too! Highly recommend. Address: Centre du Village, 48 Huguenot Street.  Website: http://elephantandbarrel.co.za/

Chamonix. This is great, great, great for families. This is sooo great for kids! I can’t believe that I hadn’t been to Chamonix before but it really just blew me away. They have beautiful lake houses that you can hire, they have game drives and wine tasting and restaurants and waterfalls and cellar tours and absolutely incredible wine. I saw this little cabin where you have your OWN. PRIVATE. WATERFALL and natural pool outside your door with absolutely zero cellphone reception. If you’re doing a long-stay in Franschhoek then I would definitely recommend this estate. It’s also a very popular honeymoon destination and all-around fantastic place to spend your time. I hear that they’re getting giraffes too, so I’m definitely going back. Address: Uitkyk Street. Website: http://www.chamonix.co.za/

Le Petite Dauphine. Another incredible place to stay at very friendly prices. It’s a big estate with lots of little chalets scattered about, all within walking distance of the main house, restaurant and coffee shop. The estate has loads of long, winding dirt roads so take your bicycles and take your kids. I saw at least two dams and two pools and there is loaaaads of open space. I love the way that the little houses are decorated. Some sleep 2 but there are family units too. This is such a sweet, pretty and comfortable place to stay. I really felt at home here. Address: Excelsior Road. Website: https://www.lapetite.co.za/

Le Petite Ferme xxx I’m not joking when I say that this place has the most beautiful ‘hotel room’ that I have ever stayed at, ever. So beautiful that we’ve stayed there twice. This is where I booked for Francois’ 40th and treated him to the luxury and beauty that is Le Petite Ferme. If you’re looking for a destination to really treat your loved one, then book the Bridal Suite. With your own verandah, pool, gorgeous views of the valley and an incredible restaurant and wine selection – you won’t disappoint. Website: https://www.lapetiteferme.co.za/ 

There are so many other great places to stay and my friends over there have also recommended The cottage at Montpellier, the Lavender farm guest house and to look via Airbnb in the hills.

The Wine Tram. Oh man, Francois and I loved this so much. You will taste plenty of wines. You will have fun. You will get drunk. Enjoy and kind regards. More info here > http://winetram.co.za/

Perfume Museum. This sweet-smelling little building is part of the Huguenot Musuem so just pop in there and they’ll direct you. Their website here: http://www.kumanovperfumery.com/

La Motte Wine Tasting & Sculpture Walk. Find more information here > https://www.la-motte.com/pages/sculpture-walk

Chamonix Wine Tasting & Game Drive

Option 1: R900 per person. Note that there are cheaper options and I highly recommend doing this! It includes:

Game drive and Tasting: Experience starts at Franschhoek Wine Tram; Day ticket on Franschhoek Wine Tram; Premium Wine Tasting at specific vineyards; Game drive.

More on their website over here > http://www.chamonix.co.za/wine_game_drive

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My Bonnie lies over the ocean

WE GOT ANOTHER DOG. Her name is Bonnie and she’s the cutest, sweetest little ball of fluff that you’ve ever seen. If you’re a Border Collie fan, then I’d definitely advise you to find a pup from an actual farm. I don’t know what it is, but those working dogs have such good breeding. Bonnie is from a dairy farm near Riebeek Wes. It took us forever to drive out into the farmlands to fetch her! I got her as a gift for Francois as he’s NEVER had his own, own dog and I think there’s something beautiful in having a companion like that. Francois loves bodyboarding and is at the beach every second day, so Bonnie (and Jack) are going to get loads of time outside! Dogs are also great because they keep you active. I don’t know what I would do without Jack, he’s the actual best. Anyway, Bonnie…

She is super cute but she is such. hard. work. right now! She’s really nervous in cars and makes a poo (!!!!) every time I put her in there. Francois has the weakest stomach I’ve ever ‘seen’ so I’m doing ALL the potty training and pick-ups myself. If he even smells a dog poo, his eyes water and he gags and it takes him so long to recover that I just do it all because really… it’s not that dramatic. Maybe motherhood toughened me up in that department. Does anyone have any tips on getting a puppy used to a car? Do I just google “How to make your dog stop pooing in your car?” This morning, she pood THREE TIMES on my BACK SEAT. She was sitting between the kids and made a pretty lady turd right between the boys. Then we had a nice long, peaceful drive on the highway with Bonnie crying, the kids screaming and me trying to chuck towels on the mess from the front seat while trying to navigate lane changes. Get a puppy guys, it’s great. Two towels, three poos and one vomit later, I got home. What is up with this dog? Do they get nervous tummies? Is it safer to just stop feeding her altogether? Her other favourite thing is to crawl under my seat while I’m going 100 on the highway and then sticks her head out at my feet pedals, which is GREAT for my anxiety and all of your general safety. (I’ve learned to stuff things under my chair so she can’t get in there!)

Potty training is just. not. happening. I wake up to a screaming family every morning because Bonnie really enjoys pooing in the bathrooms and in the passage that separates our bedrooms. She then especially enjoys stepping IN HER OWN (warm, squishy) poo, followed by running around the house and sometimes even rolls in it. I generally wake up to Francois gagging down the passage and the kids shrieking as they all (like intelligent, observant humans) keep stepping IN IT. It has been several weeks of this and my children (Francois included) have not learned to look down before entering the passage. We even bought those special Puppy Training Mats that look like big linen savers. They’re expensive and absorbent, designed and manufactured to encourage the puppy to use them. Something about a special scent added that attracts the puppy and provokes natural instincts and encourages return behavior. WELL.

Bonnie’s favourite this is to take these special and expensive mats and chew them to absolute shreds. Even the ones that I’ve frantically tossed on her puddles to absorb the liquids. I actually think that she prefers those, to be honest. Right now, this house is a mess of soggy newspaper, shredded cotton and half-chewed rolls of toilet paper. We’ve bought special cleaning products, air fresheners (with timers) and even specific sprays from the pet shop to break down bacteria and disguise odours. Every time Bonnie ‘goes’ inside, I have to cover it up like a freakin crime scene and I am tired. It’s really hard work to make it look like we’re a semi-hygienic, decent family at the moment.

So anyway, we got a dog. She’s cute and disgusting and you’d totally love her. This morning I caught her chewing on stale turds from the cat’s litterbox, wagging her tail at me in delight. Please will someone come and fetch her. Send us love, light… and a time machine. Welcome to our home, Bonnie Banana xxx

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Our new bedroom

A few months ago, we moved houses and Francois and I finally moved in together! We live in sunny Tamboerskloof in a really old and beautiful home that is super close to all our favourite places. Moving in together also meant getting rid of a lot of things, like my old bed that used to kill his back (old age, hey babe) and his bed that was just way too old. We played a bit of Goldilocks and found something that worked perfectly for both of us.

Our new bedroom doesn’t have built-in cupboards, so we have two gorgeous antique cabinets in a “his and hers” setup. Another thing we really wanted in our bedroom was a television. I know you’re totally NOT supposed to do that, but we wanted to create that “hotel room” feel with a bit of luxury and it is so great to cuddle in bed and binge-watch series. Also – so perfect for winter. When we moved in together we had an extra TV, so in to the bedroom it went! We have our own en-suite bathroom with a shower and a huuuuge bath, further adding to the hotel-room-aesthetic. Our bedroom also has a balcony with a semi-good view of Table Mountain.

Probably my favourite part of our room is our bed and the Balinese drapes which adds some beautiful romance to the whole setup. We got our new bed and headboard from Teljoy (An online retailer for appliances, electronics and furniture) on a month-to-month contract, which means that if we didn’t like the bed or if it hurt Francois’ back then we could just cancel and return it – like that whole rent-to-own setup with the choice to upgrade. You can rent a bed from R169pm and assume ownership after the pre-determined rental period. I downgraded from a King Size bed to a Queen and if I change my mind and want to go back to King, then I can. It also helps that delivery, risk and maintenance is included if anything were to happen to the bed. Check out their bed range here. We’re busy furnishing the Stanford guesthouse so this works out pretty well for us right now.

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Wildekrans, Grabouw, Botrivier and Elgin

Francois and I love to break away for weekends. We both work in tourism and hospitality and really treasure exploring new towns together. I’m going to start sharing these mini holidays on my blog because I get so many requests for recommendations and I want you guys to know about these cool places to stay near Cape Town. Many of our friends are also parents or dog owners, so I’ll always stipulate which places I feel are kid or dog-friendly. If you follow me on social media, you’ll see that we’re usually in Stanford, Gordon’s Bay, Swellendam, Hermanus, Matjiesfontein, Stellenbosch or Franschhoek. I’m going to start sharing more great “weekend away” spots at all these places, but today… I really want to talk about Wildekrans.

We have good friends who live in Elgin and another friend who recently moved to Villiersdorp nearby. We planned to stay with our friend Deborah, but we were also itching to stay at this beautiful little place that we’d both heard of before: Wildekrans Country House. Francois had surgery on his knee and ankle recently, so we needed a weekend to really relax, recover and connect with each other again.

We started the weekend by stopping at Peregrine Farm Stall, obviously. If you haven’t been, then drive out there (1 hour from Cape Town) just for that. Get their Springbok Pie, their pressed apple juice, a coffee AND a handful of crunchy apples from their own valley. Right around the corner, we stopped at a place called The Pool Room for wine tasting and tapas. I would highly recommend the chardonnay and their housemade Emmenthaler – which was the best I’ve ever tasted, even when compared to what I tried in Italy and Paris. The place is seriously beautiful.

We drove through Grabouw and stopped at this famous butchery where the ORIGINAL Grabouw wors comes from. You know the ones you see in the shops? That’s not “THE” original Grabouw Wors. Francois explained that the original has an apple tree on the label and is the recipe of the butcher that works there. We also bought biltong (that I thought was a bit too salty) & droë wors.

Feeling super full and quite chuffed with our purchases, we headed around the corner (all of these places are like a 5 minutes’ drive apart) to Wildekrans Country House. They have one big manor house with three en-suite bedrooms, a lounge and a big dining room where breakfast is served. We booked the room with the en-suite lounge, so we had a private breakfast nook in our room, which I LOVED. The main lounge has a really great book selection, a fireplace and a little honesty bar. It was just perfect. Our room and private lounge also had a mini library, private fireplace, patio and gorgeous view of the garden. The manor house has a really impressive contemporary South African art collection (loved the Kentridge pieces) with loads of gorgeous sculptures in the garden. If you’re an art lover, you’ll be in heaven. The owner, Alison runs really cool hikes and guided walks around the property, so if you’re feeling energetic (I was not) then totally check that out.

We checked in to our room, dropped bags then took a taxi to Botrivier – also around the corner. A quick heads up: There are ZERO uber drivers in that area, so if you’ll be having wine with dinner, then use a shuttle/transport company. We used Overberg Transfers and were helped by Adam > +27 79 503 6849. The service is not cheap as they drive through from Grabouw, so just check prices before you book.

Botrivier Hotel is insanely cool. They have a bar there, and it’s so old school. SO old, in fact, that they have two separate bars: One for ladies, one for men. The space isn’t used like that anymore but you can still see the original, separated rooms. Isn’t that crazy? We played cards and had a few drinks while chatting with the locals. When we got back to Wildekrans Country House, we lit our private fire, opened some wine and sat chatting until the early hours. It was so perfect. The next morning, breakfast was delivered to our little dining table at 9:00 am. After breakfast, we climbed back into bed with tea and biscuits and read and napped.

That afternoon, we went to our friend Deborah’s house for a braai. She lives in Elgin and has a beautiful house overlooking the valley. We huddled around the fire and played with her kids and chatted until late before heading back to our guesthouse. The next morning, we slept late again and had another private breakfast. Francois got back in bed and had a nap while I explored the grounds and checked out the estate’s old converted barn, swimming pool, sculptures and rose garden.

I wish that Wildekrans was dog-friendly, but unfortunately, it’s not. It’s definitely (extremely) kid-friendly, as there’s another self-catering, private cottage on the estate that would be great for families. Also note that the pool is enclosed/fenced off (is anyone else AS paranoid about water as I am?) Affordability wise, this country house won’t break the bank because the winter rates for June, July and August are between R625 and R725 per person sharing – including breakfast.

If you want to create a weekend like this for yourselves, then here’s an easy link-map: Peregrine Farm Stallhttp://peregrinefarmstall.co.za/, Grabouw Slaghuishttps://www.facebook.com/grabouwvleis/, The Pool Roomhttps://www.oakvalley.co.za/the-pool-room, Wildekrans Country Househttp://www.wildekrans.co.za/, Botrivier Hotel > http://bothot.co.za/. And the shuttle company we used > http://www.overbergtransfers.com/425116157 

If you’re looking for dog-friendly accommodation in the area, then stay at Galileo Farm nearby >http://www.galileofarm.co.za/ and if you’re traveling as a family or if you want the best ribs in the Western Cape, then rather have lunch at The Hickory Shackhttp://www.hickoryshack.co.za/. If you want any further details or recommendations then please drop me an email. I’d love to help you plan a super fun trip!

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Wedding Inspiration

Francois and I are getting more and more excited and involved in planning our dream wedding. We both want something that is very intimate, romantic and sentimental. We’re getting married in the garden of his home in Stanford that has been in his family for four generations. Francois used to visit his grandmother there as a little boy and has so many good memories of the home. His dad has put so much love and hard work in to the house, even laying the new wooden floors by hand. He’s also created a beautiful vegetable garden and built a little fence for it too. It’s become a huge, family love-project and he’s just gotten started on the garden to make it beautiful for our little wedding.

We’ve decided on around 80 guests who are our closest friends and relatives. We’re hiring furniture and bringing in caterers and we’re getting married in a little chapel a few blocks from the house. It’s so exciting as we both love planning. I’ve put him in charge of food, beverages and music / entertainment and I’m handling decor, admin and logistics. We haven’t had a single disagreement on anything because our personal taste is actually exactly the same.

We want the food that is served to be our favourite dishes. The menu is going to get weird – from oysters to toasted cheese sandwiches, but we think it’s going to work! We also want to cook some of the food ourselves (at least the main dish) so we’ll liaise with the catering team and figure out how we’ll be able to pull that off, even if we can just have help with the prepping. There will definitely be loads of surprises on the day, so I can’t say too much without ruining the magic for our friends who are readers.

I’ve pulled some ideas together to help us with the look and feel of the wedding. We found pictures of exactly what we had in mind, which really helps with planning amongst our friends. I definitely want to do the flowers myself (with the help of my mom and his sister) and we both really want our friends and family to get involved in the setup. I definitely don’t want a wedding where we just ‘arrive’ and everything was done for us. We really want to get involved and savour every moment of the planning. I want to use fresh produce from our own grown vegetables and flowers from the home’s garden. I want every little detail to have meaning and for the people who we love most to get involved with us. These pictures are a little peek of what we have in mind. It won’t be exactly this, but this is more or less how we envision spending the afternoon and evening to celebrate our marriage. Less than 6 months to go!

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From the future Mrs van Binsbergen.

About two years ago, a friend who also works in PR (hello Sascha) was working on another project and asked me to help one of her other friends (and previous client) with the launch of his new wine. I’m trying to remember how I met Sascha, but it was through social media and other wine events, I’m sure.

Enter: Sascha’s email on the 24th of May, 2016 with the introductions, client brief and this extract on Francois: “He is doing really well with the relaxed, quirky and entertaining spin on his tours – he is a really likable guy – one of those cheeky and charming Afrikaans boys.” A few days later, I met Francois for coffee to discuss the event… and now here we are, almost 2 years to the day from our first meeting (8th of June, 2016). Here are some pictures from his launch. Little did we know!

I’ll never know what ended up differentiating me, or what made him want to commit his entire life, heart and future to me… and to us. The chemistry between us is a beautiful mix of friendship, adoration… and love. What has always attracted me to my relationship with Francois is that I suddenly had an overwhelming desire to be the best person that I can be. Somehow, I had the same affect on him. I grew so much stronger in everything that I did.  Throughout these changes in myself and the way he mirrored on to me, was like we were standing there all alone in the brightest light and really started to understand each other.

If you’ve ever had an experience where a relationship with another human has really hit your core then you will completely understand how incredibly rewarding this kind of bond with another person is. I read something the other day that really resonated with me:

“But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that’s holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life.”

A person who brings you to your own attention. Isn’t that just so beautiful?

So 657 days after that first coffee meeting, the man who I grew to love as a part of me got down on his knee, held my hands and cried as he asked me to be his partner in everything for the rest of our lives. To be his wife and to share my life with him.

Devastatingly, we lost Francois’ mother in April last year. Shortly before her passing, she had a dream that Francois and I would marry… and that things would happen in March and in November. We decided to have our wedding reception at her favourite place – their family home in Stanford, which Francois purchased last year and is in the process of renovating. We want to feel like she is part of the celebration, so true to her prediction (prophecy?)…  our wedding will be in November this year. Francois proposed to me on Thursday the 29th of March. This picture was taken after several bottles of celebratory bubbly. I love it!

I love telling the story of how he proposed. When Francois and I started getting serious, I always told him that I knew he would propose in the literal worst way. It would be something like… I would open the fridge and there would be a ring in the mayonnaise jar. On our trip to Italy, rumours stirred amongst friends that he was going to propose and I was like “No way – this is not him.” Way too predictable and romantic. He later told me about all the other ways that he’d considered proposing – one of them was to put my ring on a beer bottle. In. A. Grave. Yard. You get the point?

He proposed to me on the street. While I was waiting for my Uber. No really, he literally (actuallllly) went to my uber as I was waiting outside and said to the driver “Sorry, can you just wait… I need to propose to this girl quickly” like… are you joking? It was so unexpected. He had my DREAM ring made by my favourite jeweller and said that he would plan something lovely and romantic for when he gives it to me. He booked a beautiful dinner at the gorgeous Mount Nelson (my favourite) and arranged for us to stay at a guest house for the night. We went for pre-drinks at our favourite bar, and en route dinner he took me to the SAME spot on the same street where he first proposed and gave me my ring. What an idiot. It was perfect. I could not have asked for a more beautiful ring. It is honestly the most gorgeous and feminine ring that I have ever seen. It’s an oval diamond tube-set in a rose gold band and it feels much too fancy for my fingers, but I’m getting used to it. I love it so, so much. He did so good with this.

So right now we’re planning a very special, romantic and sentimental wedding for around 80 guests in Stanford. He’s planning the menu and choosing music and I’m hiring furniture, trying on dresses and sending out invitations. It’s all a big whirlwind and we can’t wait. Please expect a LOT of wedding posts, because we want to do something entirely different… and I really want to share it with you!

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Flying with children

Travelstart asked me to share some tips with them on flying with children. My friends, all I really want to tell you is what NOT to do by telling you a story of what happened to us the last time we flew with the boys. There is a big reason why this was the last time. We actually got those tickets via a Travelstart search, so check their deals on cheap Flights to Cape Town

Three years ago, we flew to Durban on Christmas Day because the flights were so much cheaper. The boys had received toy swords for Christmas (yay) well actually all their gifts included swords, shields, superhero costumes, water guns and erm… handcuffs. Metal ones. Obviously, those were left behind. On the plastic swords, I was just like… “maybe I should just call the airport and check if they can bring them on the flight…” like a good and organized mother, taking all the necessary precautions *pats self on back* It went something like…

Me: Hello Cape Town International Airport?

ASCA: Yes

Me: Is this Airports Company South Africa?

ASCA: Yes (doesn’t like being at work on Christmas Day)

Me: My sons have these erm, swords. You know those cheap, plastic, kiddies swords?

ASCA: Yes ma’am (probably doesn’t though)

Me: They’re not like, dangerous. I was wondering if the kids are allowed to take them like, on the plane. Just as carry-on? I mean carry-on is probably better. Is that fine? You know those plastic swords? Totally not dangerous

ASCA: They’re not metal?

Me: No-no, they’re plastic. Pretend. Like, for playing

ASCA: Those are 100% fine, they can bring them as carry-on. Yes that’s fine, as long as they’re not metal

Me: You’re really sure?

ASCA: Yes

Me: Oh good, I mean – they just got them today and they’re so excited about them… you know how kids love swords

ASCA: Was there anything else ma’am?

Me: Nope! Thanks so much for assisting! And HEY – Merry Christmas! :))))

ASCA: *click*

So off we headed. Okay no well, wait… They also had these plastic water guns. They’re so cool, you can add a balloon to the end of the (rifle shaped) gun and then you pump water into it. So actually not a gun, a pump!  They’re plastic and I was in charge of packing, so I was like “no man this is fine… it’s plastic, won’t even show up in the detectors… totally cool… I’ll just put them in.” And then the boys each had a backpack of toys and colouring books to entertain them on the plane ride. Check. Best mother ever. All sorted.

Well.

We got to the check-in counters to get our boarding passes. Load the bags. And the check-in lady (CIL) was like

CIL: Where are you flying to?

Me: Durban! And hey! Merry Christmas!! :))))

CIL: The 13:30 flight? (I don’t think she was of religion that celebrates Christmas) (at least not the sort of Christmas where you buy weapons for your children as gifts) (why did I do that again?)

Me: Yes

CIL: Bags please ma’am

Me: Graeme! (I mean really as if I could lift that bag. We’d only packed two bags – a communal one for him and I and a joint one for the kids. Because I’m smart!)

CIL: This bag is 27kg ma’am (HATES me)

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Me: That’s nice

CIL: You’re only allowed 23kg per bag, per person

Me: Yes, but you see – my husband and I put both our things in ONE bag. So like technically, the bag is 19kg UNDERweight.

CIL: No ma’am

Graeme: It’s fine, what do we do now? How much is the charge per kg?

Me: NO! I mean, this is ridiculous. We have an allowance of 46kg between us. That doesn’t make sense.

CIL: You could move some of your things to another bag so that this one is at 23kg

Graeme: That’s fi…

Me: NO! I mean. This is ridiculous. It’s the same amount going on to the same aircraft, you just want us to move it into a different container? I mean this doesn’t make any sense. This is just so ridi…

Graeme: Unzips bag to begin moving things from one bag to another. As soon as bag is unzipped, two water balloon rifles are exposed

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CIL: Ma’am…

Me: It’s fine, they’re plastic. Like, they don’t even have triggers, it’s just to…

CIL: Ma’am. We need to take you to security.

Me: WHAT THE ACTUAL F…

Graeme: Where are they? Do we need to have these cleared? What is the procedure? (annoying how level-headed and rational he is)

CIL: Please come with me. You’ll need to be escorted

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Before we could leave we had to fish through our bags to distribute those golden 4kgs. There is nothing glamorous about diging through your underwear with about 37 people standing behind you in a check-in queue. We had to go to the other side of the airport, the whole family and CIL in tow, with the 23kg bag containing the forbidden plastic water pumps shaped like guns. Very dangerous. Kids are by now all WTF YOU SAID WE WERE GOING ON A PLANE (fine, they did not actually say WTF) The bag needed to go through some sort of special clearance, departments were phoned, we had to wait a while and CIL was very happy to leave us there as somebody else’s problem for the day.

Eventually, they decided what I knew all along: THAT THEY’RE PLASTIC BALLOON PUMPS that can inflict absolutely no harm on another living being or aircraft containing passengers. Like, if someone was (let’s say) trying to hijack a plane with a neon green toy then y’all would be like “sit down”. I know you aren’t allowed to mention plane jackings in airports but like THIS IS MY BLOG AND I’LL SAY WHAT I WANT.

Satisfied and reassured that all our bags are safe and will arrive at the said destination at the same time, we were super eager to get to the boarding gate, maybe have a Wimpy  burger, buy a magazine (all parents going lololol right now) and relax before our flight (more lololol) Yay us! Before we even got to the boarding gate, while we were in the queue, it started again. This time from the Boarding Gate Lady (BGL)

BGL: Ma’am. Excuse me ma’am? Those aren’t allowed

Me: WHAT?!

She was pointing toward the boys’ backpacks. The sword handles sticking out in the centre – too large to be zipped up.

Me: No-no it’s fine, I called the airport and they said it’s cool. Really (trying to reassure her) it’s totally cool! (like really… I wasn’t worried at all) (thinking “shame”, maybe she’s new)

BGL: Ma’am those are not allowed through these gates

Me: Can I speak to your manager? This is unacceptable.

BGL: Step aside please ma’am

By now, the boys are inconsolable, we’re about to miss our flight and Graeme and I are having a full-on argument in the airport. On Christmas day. In front of everyone. The supervisor arrives.

BGL2: What seems to be the problem?

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By now, I am not wishing anyone a Merry Anything. As far as I’m concerned, it’s not even Christmas anymore. I mean, I am such an organized person. I had booked these flights in like October and all our Christmas shopping was done by mid-November. I LOVE administrative detail, being organized and having things go according to plan.

So I explained the whole thing to her, that I’d phoned, that I’d been told the swords are allowed, that well – we’re going to miss our flight and we really need to get going.

BGL2: Who did you speak to on the phone?

Me: I don’t know? The person who answered it.

BGL2: That person gave you the incorrect information

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Me: I’m sorry, but when you call THE AIRPORT which REPRESENTS… our airport and you ask an AIRPORT RELATED question, you sort of expect them to know how things work and give you the correct information, right?

BGL2: You were given the incorrect information. Those are not allowed on the plane. You can go to the security point and put them in with your main luggage. They might give you clearance.

Me: We were JUST there, our bags were already cleared. They’re probably already on the plane. I mean, I can’t do this anymore.

I usually don’t care a lot about these kinds of things, but these were my kids’ Christmas presents that I’d told them they can keep and that I’d already called to clarify and confirm because I was unsure. I mean, they were from Father Christmas, after all. Graeme was SO over it by now, but I was adamant that I was told this was allowed, and BGL2 is obviously wrong. And so it just got worse.

BGL2: Ma’am you’ll have to leave these here

Me: WAIT! I know. I’ll *phone* the airport right now here next to you and you can speak to them and they’ll just clarify everything. I’ll sort it all out right now! *presses redial*

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ASCA: Airport Company South Africa

Me: Hello, YES! Is this Airports Company South Africa?

ASCA: Yes (still doesn’t like being at work on Christmas Day) (basically this whole thing is all this guy’s fault) (not that I’m BLAMING him) (I am)

Me: I spoke to you earlier, about the swords – you know the toy swords? Did I speak to you?

ASCA: *pause* yes ma’am

Me: OKAY!!! So. I’m at the boarding gate. With the swords. And they won’t let me take them on the plane. Can you speak to the supervisor, please?

ASCA and BGL2 exchange words for at least… 7 seconds. BGL2 hangs up. Passes phone to me.

BGL2: Ma’am. You spoke to customer care. They aren’t authorised to make those decisions or to handle security queries. They’re just customer care

Me: That’s odd, cause I AM A CUSTOMER. Is there another number I should have called to get this kind of information?

Graeme: Tash seriously, we’ll leave the swords here, it’s fine. Is there a holding locker or something? Can we collect them on our way back?

We had to explain it all to the kids who by now had forgotten they even had swords they were so over it. I was over it. The airport was over us. Finally, all issues aside, we made our way through the boarding gates. I sighed with relief as nothing beeped when I went through the metal detector. No weapons in my handbag. Laptop all scanned through. I was READY to get to Durban. Christmas, round two was underway! Whoohoo!

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*beep beep beep beep beep*

Wait, what? No really… WHAT? Somewhere behind me, there was an issue with Graeme and the boys and security. No, really. I could see the Boarding Gate Scanner Guy (BGSG) freaking out a bit (whispering and making eye contact) as the boys’ backpacks went through that x-ray carousel thing.

BGSG: THERE ARE GUNS IN HERE

Me: You have got to be…

All other airport folks are now stepping back and staring at my family. Graeme looking at me as if I had just murdered someone. Or farted. The kind of fart that makes you not love someone anymore.

Me: I SWEAR I have nothing to do with… Graeme? they packed their own bags. Oh dear God why did we let them pack their own activity bags?

Noah’s bag contained: One pair of scissors. Two plastic guns. Another water gun. All of which got thrown into a big container next to the BGSG. Ben’s bag contained much of the same, another two pairs of scissors. Fair enough. Eventually, the boys got the backpacks back with wide eyes and renewed respect and fear for the airport system. Grays and I sort of stood around putting things back into bags, sheepish grins as the piled up queue and other parents just stood there watching us. Judging.

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And that was the first 2 hours of our holiday. It was obviously all forgotten as soon as they saw the plane and got lost in the excitement and wonder of flying. Have any of you had airport dramas like this? Of course you haven’t. Because you don’t pack guns and swords into your luggage, and nor do your children!

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<sidebar> Obviously I do not BLAME the airport for not allowing us to take these items on to the plane. It’s just a funny story. If you’re ever unsure of an item that you’re allowed to take on the plane, it’s best to phone ACSA and ask to be put through to the SECURITY department. The airports do a very good job. Please don’t ban us.

Unfortunately, I have to fly with the boys again this year. We’re planning a trip to Johannesburg  because I really want to take the boys to the Johannesburg Zoo. They both love animals and Benjamin wants to work as a Zoologist one day, so it’s going to be a huge treat/surprise for them. Check out TravelStart’s deals on > Cheap Flights From Johannesburg To Cape Town because there are so many deals on right now. I’m also including the infographic on how to fly with children, just so you can be more prepared this holiday season.

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