Stanford Cottage & Guesthouse

Francois and I have a cute & cheerful house in Stanford that we rent out as a little guesthouse. We have spent years renovating, decorating and loving this house. Sometimes we have friends or family who stay at the house, so I thought I’d do a little post on *everything* you need to know about Stanford to have a really good time here. Here is your Helpful Guide to Stanford for Beginners:

Stanford is about 15 minutes drive from Hermanus (quaint seaside town famous for whale-watching and popular with holiday-makers), so about 2.5 hours from Cape Town. It’s a tiny little country village situated on the Klein River. It’s surrounded by beautiful farms and mountains. It is very quiet and very safe. One of my favourite, favourite places in Stanford is a farm called Stanford Hills Estate. It’s so GREAT for kids and dogs.

Stanford Hills Estate is about 3km before Stanford. It has a restaurant called The Tasting Room that overlooks a sweet little dam with rowing boats. My kids (and dogs) love to swim in this dam. The estate also has putt-putt for the kids, lots of things to climb and play on and loads of room to run around. They also have horses and offer horse riding through the vineyards & farm. Also look out for little buck, sheep and the resident pig called Crackling. You will love spending loads of lazy afternoons here; sipping wine, having lunch and watching the kids play.

The estate also offers loads of accommodation on the property. From the big Manor House with swimming pool to the sweet cottages and the gorgeous Afri Camps camping sites. We have stayed at all their accommodation options over the years and love them. In fact, we love this farm so much that we got married here. Here are some pictures of their Afri Camps ‘glamping’ sites. Please note that the entire estate is dog friendly!

There are other super fun things that you can do inside Stanford Village. A few of my favourites definitely include booking a boat cruise on the African Queen! The boat can take loads of people (I had a birthday party on it) and they have a braai on-board. They also have tubes so you and your kids can swim, float & cruise along the river in style and enjoy the beautiful scenery. Just pack your meat, cooler box, a towel and drinks!

Other things that I really love in Stanford is that they have a Sunset Market on the Village Green on the last Friday of every month. They also have a little farmer’s market outside the Stanford Hotel every Saturday morning with fresh produce, pies, brownies, cheeses, meats and all sorts of delicious treats. I also really love riding my bicycle around the village and taking long walks along the river!

If you feel like taking a drive to Hermanus for lunch or an early dinner – there is a fantastic little restaurant there called Fick’s. It’s situated around Fick’s Pool – a famous tidal pool in Hermanus. It’s dog friendly and the kids can swim there too! Perfect for hot days. Unfortunately they don’t take reservations, so you might wait for a table. It’s totally worth it though!

Other things to do in Stanford: Eat Italian food at La Tattoria. Great Gelato bar next door, too! Have lunch, wine and chocolates at Oliilo Coco. Visit their only pub: Table 13 for great pizza, sport and sometimes live music. Find great coffee and pies at Ou Meul Bakery. If you love animals, you might want to venture out to Panthera Africa for a big cat experience. If you’re super adventurous, you can book Shark Cage Diving in Gansbaai around the corner. Marine Dynamics are the best and it’s actually a very kid-friendly activity! If you have kids who love gaming, you can drop them at Stuffed Creations for an hour or two while you explore the village. Stanford really has something for everyone.

If you’re looking for a dog and child-friendly guesthouse in Stanford, then you can even book our own house, The Dragonfly! It’s a 2.5 bedroom house with a big garden, kids play room and it’s dog friendly! You can mail info@stanfordcottage.co.za to find out about dates and rates! I’m really proud of this house because Francois and I decorated, furnished and renovated it together while we were still dating. Here are some pictures. 

 

 

 

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We got Covid and it sucked.

This year has been a nightmare for most of us, but especially over here at The Rabbit Haus. My husband, Francois works in tourism and owns a well established tour company called Wine Flies Tours. It relies mostly (and I mean 95%) on international tourists. In season, he has 5 or more tour busses out into the winelands every day. Above this, they also do private tours, Kruger Safaris and helicopter tours. When we hit lockdown, his business closed completely. He didn’t earn an income for almost 6 months and had a whole team of staff and tour guides to try support. I do marketing and PR for mostly the hospitality industry and I also write for a few other companies – mostly content and blog posts. I lost 80% of my clients during lockdown and the clients I did have, decreased their services to a minimum. The schools closed. The kids were adapting to home schooling and everything changed in what felt like seconds.

My dad (who I am extremely close to) let me know that he was leaving the country. For good. He lived in KZN, in my same childhood home. I quickly bought flights for him to come and say goodbye to us in Cape Town. I hadn’t seen my dad in over a year and all I wanted was a last hug, dinner, cup of tea and for him to see his only grandchildren before he left South Africa. A few days before his arrival, he caught wind that the airports were going to close and they had to move their UK flights forward. Immediately. I got a frantic voice note and my dad got on a plane to the United Kingdom that same day. I didn’t get to say goodbye. Out of all the ways that Covid affected me personally, that remains the worst.

Fast forward a few months and Francois and I completely restructured our businesses. I stepped in as the Marketing Manager of Wine Flies Tours, I started teaching again and I put my writing career in children’s books on hold. We launched an extensive PR campaign for local travel and got great coverage on television, radio and online media. Francois got bored and started making biltong fun fun, which quickly turned into a little business and he is now stocked at quite a few places around Cape Town. I picked up a few new additional clients, the kids were finding their groove at school and getting ready for their final exams. We booked a holiday to Mozambique  and JUST as everything seemed to be going better… We all got Covid.

Monday, 23 November

Francois’ birthday was on Monday, 23 November. He woke up saying that he felt tired and that his body was sore, but we put it off to him being very tired. It’s the end of the year, we had been on holiday in Stanford for our wedding anniversary and had many late nights and far too many drinks. I genuinely thought he just had a 2-day hangover (which you know, is a thing). We even stopped to visit his dad in the morning (a diabetic) and I had arranged a little surprise party for him: A full day in the winelands with some of his best friends. We spent that Monday with at least 20 of our friends – eating, drinking and travelling together until at least 10pm that night. We had no idea. We did take Francois’ temperature on Monday morning just to be sure, and it was completely normal. Also – the tour bus we were in was seated according to Covid regulations, eg the bus can normally take 13 passengers, but we were at capacity of 9 passengers according to Covid regulations. The bus had also been fogged, sterilized and all passengers were checked for temperatures, hands sanitized etc. This is important later.

Tuesday, 24 November

On Tuesday morning, the kids came back home from a week with their dad. Noah was at school for an exam and Ben was just hanging at home with us. Francois felt bad, but still not like – “flu bad”. He said he felt like his body was really sore and he was feeling chills like hot and cold vibes. Not like a fever. He had no cough, no sore throat. Not even a sneeze. No temperature. I on the other hand started coughing a dry cough and also started feeling the chills. The worst was definitely the lethargy. I felt like even walking to the bathroom was impossible, but I had the kids and everything else to take care of.

Wednesday, 25 November

Our nanny came into work. Ben started getting cold symptoms so I kept him home from school just in case. I still honestly thought that we were just tired and probably just had a hangover from Francois’ all-day party on Monday. We had scares before. I have gotten sick with colds this year and so has Ben. We had been for Covid tests earlier this year which were negative. Not wanting to take a chance, Francois went for a test and by now we were letting the friends from Monday’s party know that three of us were sick. I got hit with the worst case of lethargy I had ever felt and I am counting having raised 2 newborns. I got into bed that afternoon and could not move. Francois and I were just like, critically exhausted. My cough was getting a bit worse but not bad – just the odd wet cough. No other symptoms except a really sore body and absolute exhaustion. Francois and I dragged ourselves to Lancet for his test. I stocked up on all the flu meds I always use: Corenza C, Myprodol, Vitamin C and Zinc for us. For the kids, I got Corenza C paediatric syrup and Stilpane syrup. If you’re a parent, you may know that Stilpane knocks a kid out like a sleeping pill, and I knew that Ben needed to sleep to help his body heal. My son Ben is asthmatic and is on chronic medication. He has been hospitalised a handful of times, making him high risk for Covid. Things were starting to get real very quickly at this point. I pulled the kids from school and told our nanny not to come in anymore. I still didn’t think that we had it, but I was just being safe.

Thursday, 26 November

I woke up feeling like I could never get out of bed again in my life. I almost wet the bed because walking the 2 meters to our en-suite bathroom seemed impossible. Francois was literally just groaning next to me. I checked on the kids, gave them more meds and got straight back into bed. At this point, I told Francois “This isn’t flu. Something is wrong.” The only thing that really set up alarm bells was the total exhaustion and inability to move, stand or walk. Francois and I felt really, really dizzy and spaced out. I slept in for a bit and got out of bed at lunch time. I still had to look after the kids, make sure they were studying, eating and sorting out their odd squabbles. I had a few urgent work matters and had to clean the house and still walk and take care of the dogs, rabbits and our cat. We survived on take-aways and lets just say that my kids ate a LOT of cereal.

Later that afternoon, Francois got the text. He was positive. By now my denial had disappeared and I went into full-on panic mode. We had to contact everyone we saw that Monday. We saw his dad who is high risk. All our closest friends. Our nanny had been in. The kids had been at school. I felt this feeling of total guilt and almost like, grief? I had to contact the school, pull the boys out of exams. At the same time it hit me that Ben is extremely high risk. The kid has ended up in hospital with a cold before. Asthma attacks are scary. We put ourselves in total lockdown. Obviously.

Friday, 27 November 

All I could think about was monitoring Ben. The doctors wouldn’t see him and I was too scared to take him for a Covid test. It was very clear that we all had it. My other son, Noah absolutely NEVER gets sick. He had a headache for like 2 hours that week and that was it. Also, note that I started dosing Noah with all the same meds as soon as Ben got sick, so I think that definitely helped. We got a peak-flow meter (From Wynberg Pharmacy) which is a device that measures your lung capacity. I was advised to get Ben to blow into the device every 2 hours to see if his numbers were decreasing. I also got his emergency asthma meds (a strong cortisone called Aspelone) to boost his lungs above and beyond his regular meds. By the time I noticed a decline, I called our doctor who referred me to a Paediatrician who admitted Ben straight to the Paediatric Ward at our nearest hospital. By now, I was slowly getting my energy back but I was probably just running on adrenaline. We had run out of food at home and Francois was still very sick. He definitely got it the worst out of all of us. I had to leave Francois and Noah at home alone and stay over with Ben in isolation at the hospital.

They tested me and Ben straight away. The test itself is really sucky. We got swabbed around our tonsils which makes you want to hurl. I would much have preferred a blood test, to be honest. It seems like a stupid thing to even mention, but a lot of people ask what the test is like.

Ben was put on a nebuliser. This was Friday. Ben’s 10th birthday was on the upcoming Sunday and it looked like he was going to spend it in hospital.

The nurses couldn’t really come into our room because they had to put on like a dozen garments to even enter our ward. This meant that most of his medication was dropped at a table outside our room, which I would administer to Ben. I had to run his nebs and turn them off. I slept on a chair next to his bed and he struggled to sleep. His lung capacity wasn’t coming back up fast enough and would just drop every 2 hours again.

Saturday 28 November

If you’ve ever been in hospital with your kid, then you know that they wake you up at 5:30am. I was feeling super sick at this point and in my rush, hadn’t packed my own meds, toothbrush or even a change of clothes for myself. Obviously Ben had everything he needed because this is just how parents operate, right? The doctor came to check on Ben and didn’t want to discharge him as she felt that we would just come back again later. Knowing that it was Ben’s birthday the following day, she let us leave on condition that we purchase our own Nebulizer for at home, which we did. We ordered some groceries online and all of us literally just slept for what felt like a hundred years.

Sunday 29 November

Ben woke up feeling so much better. I actually felt 80% fine and Francois too. We had a cute little drive-by party and all the family dropped off cakes and presents for Ben. He really got spoiled rotten and was off his nebs by Sunday evening.

The following week…

We had another week of isolation to get through and were all feeling the cabin fever really badly. Luckily, we have a house in Stanford to we packed the family in the car to go isolate there. Our Stanford house has a big, beautiful garden so at least the kids and dogs would have more space to play and be active. We left on Monday and I asked my nanny to go to the house on Wednesday / Thursday to check on the cat and bunnies. She is a single lady living with another family, so she often stays over when we travel. Our Stanford house is my sanctuary.

On Wednesday our nanny told us that she was feeling sick. On Thursday her chest was severely tight. By Thursday evening she was taken to hospital for medication and a Covid test. I felt so helpless being all the way in Stanford, so I ordered groceries online for her to be delivered to the house. She had medicine and everything else she needed. By Friday she had tested positive. This meant that she had to stay at our house and was officially in quarantine. This also meant… that we could not go home. Apparently you can get Covid twice and if we went home and lived with her, we would need to go right back into isolation.

We would have just stayed in Stanford, but I had a meeting in Cape Town on Tuesday and the boys were also seriously missing their dad who they hadn’t seen in two weeks. We ended our quarantine, drove back to Cape Town, gave the kids to Graeme and then Francois and I had to check into a hotel. We stayed on Long Street for a week before we could come home on Friday afternoon.

Only 1 of our friends also tested positive for Covid. One who was at Francois’ birthday party that first Monday. Out of the other 20+ people we were with that day, everyone else was luckily fine.

Our nanny went home yesterday and she is feeling absolutely fine now. We are all 100% recovered. We did miss our holiday to Mozambique (you need a negative Covid test to get through the border) and the boys missed their final exams, class picnics and everything else. It’s the 12th of December and I haven’t even put up the damn Christmas Tree. We’re still tired. I spent all of today in bed, watching Greys Anatomy re-runs. I still feel exhausted and like I could just fall asleep anywhere, at any time. And (because I hate myself) I got on the scale this afternoon. Three weeks of no exercise and trying to “eat for energy” has really, really taken it’s toll on my body. I must have gained about 7kg but even worse is that I just feel horrible. Tired, gross, unhealthy and dehydrated. I feel like I need to run 10km and eat 10 salads and drink 20l of water to just feel normal again and I will. As soon as I can get out of bed again.

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Bunny fishing banana

I feel like I need to walk around here with a feather duster and dust all the cobwebs off of this blog! It’s been so long, and I’ve missed being here. I really love keeping all my memories in one place and having a little online journal! How I’ve missed writing.

Today I want to talk about Benjamin Nicholas Clark! He is the sweetest little guy that you’ve ever met in your life, and he loves nothing more than fishing. He started when he was about 2 years old and he’s NINE now. He’s caught more fish than anyone else I know and he’s really, really good at it. I don’t know what attracts people to fishing, but whatever it is – it literally has Ben hooked!

My boys each have their own hobbies, talents and interests. Benjamin is all about fishing and art. He loves to draw and sketch and has built up a gorgeous portfolio of pieces. I think that I help out more on the art side and his dad is also a passionate fisherman. They spend hours at the local dam or on a kayak pulling bass out. Once, when we were in Paternoster – I organised for him to go deep-sea fishing with a family friend. He pulled out the biggest fish out of all the grown men and was in his element. They caught Hotentots and that night Ben helped scale, prep and braai his very own catch. It was such a lovely moment to be a part of. He was SO PROUD.

Anyway, I need to keep all these pictures together for him, because it’s so nice to watch him grow through the years and develop into a proper little fisherman. I always wonder if he’d want to join a fishing club or go professional in some way one day. I love that fishing gets him out the house and into the outdoors, and that his best friend (James) is also a major fishing enthusiast. When Ben has a great catch, he immediately wants to call James on the phone and tell him all about it. Here’s a look at Ben’s fishing trips and catches throughout the years. What a great little man! I love you Ben.

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A weekend away as an Experience

A few months ago, I got an “Experience Days” voucher to try out. They’re a company that lets you buy experiences for people, – instead of presents. I happen to be big on this; I would much rather buy someone art lessons, a weekend away, bungee jumping etc instead of a random, heartless gift. So “Experience Days” is how you can gift someone things like horseback riding through the winelands, weekends away, shark cage diving, a supercar driving experience, a flower arranging course – etc. If you’re stuck on getting something for ‘the person who has everything’ then this site is for you. They’re big overseas and have just launched in SA. The company asked me to pick an experience for my family to do… just to get the feel of it and how it works. Check them out here > Experience Days.

I chose a night away, ‘Glamping’ with the boys in Montagu. You can find the listing on their site here. The place we stayed at was really, really cool. A few things I loved:

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  1. They’re totally affordable. It’s R800.00 for the voucher and you get your own, private campsite for a night, that sleeps 4
  2. They’re dog-friendly. It’s so hard to find a place where we can take Jack. I hate leaving him behind
  3. There’s a working farm on the premises with chickens, sheep, goats, geese, and alpacas. The owners live nearby and they give you food to feed the farm animals. The boys got to hold a 3-day old goat, see a 4 HOUR old lamb and baby geese too. They fed the Alpacas which was so sweet.
  4. There’s a dam there for fishing/swimming. We didn’t catch anything, but it was fun trying. Sort of!
  5. There are braai facilities, and you can order wood (R25 per basket) Your campsite has its own private kitchenette (with gas stove) and a bathroom with a shower.

The boys really enjoyed playing in a proper tee-pee. We slept in the handmade gypsey wagon which was pretty darn cool. There are beds with bedding and towels in the ‘rooms’ so you don’t have to worry about dragging your entire house along to go ‘camping’. It was a short stay and we definitely could have stayed an extra night. The drive is pretty far from Cape Town (about 2 – 2.5 hours) so pack entertainment for the kids.

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We fished, and Francois braaied for us. The boys played ball on the lawn and we felt like we were a million miles away, which was really nice. I made a big bed under the stars for the boys and we all laid there watching the sky together. Even Monkey (our new baby lovebird) joined for the weekend. He’s super tame and hand-reared – but I’ll tell you more about him another time!

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So check out Experience Days if you’re stuck on a gift for someone. What I like about them is that you can send gifts to friends and family in other provinces/countries without relying on the post office or a florist. The prices are good and there’s a big range of things to choose from. E.g. my dad lives in Durban, and I can send him a voucher to go River Rafting for Christmas. It’s something that I know he’d never do on his own, and I think it’s more special than sending a bottle of whiskey or similar, you know?

 

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The Forgotten Route

Last weekend I went on The Forgotten Route tour, which is a 2 day excursion in to the Karoo. The itinerary look something like this:

Starting point: Cape Town Tourism Office in Cape Town CBD. You arrive and quickly put your luggage into the tour bus’ vehicle. I don’t want to give too much away as there are some really great little surprises, but the group goes on a short city walk with some fascinating stops and mini history lessons. There is so much that we don’t know about this city! After a few stops (and great photo opps) we head to The Kimberly Hotel for a quick coffee and to receive our passports. The guide (in our case – Riaan) took photos of everyone with a polaroid camera, and these got placed into our passport for the weekend’s stamping!

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We took the tour bus from Cape Town to Karibo Wine Farm in Rawsonville. Our host (and winemaker) Karen le Roux was incredibly charming and we got to experience a private wine and biltong pairing as well as a wine and cupcake pairing. We also sampled some of Karen’s homemade Shiraz ice cream / sorbet that was super delicious.

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After Karibo, we headed to the Worcester station and boarded our train to Matjiesfontein. The train ride was beautiful and scenic. We all had a quick lunch and enjoyed relaxing and soaking up the view. The Karoo landscape is breathtaking and it was such a great feeling to be out of the city and amongst nature.

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We got to Matjiesfontein and were greeted by our guide, Riaan who had driven our bus there while we were on the train. We were welcomed at the station platform with cocktails and music before heading to our accommodation at the Rietfontein Private Nature Reserve. After dropping our bags, we headed to the famous Lorde’s Arms pub (the only pub) in Matjiesfontein and then boarded our bus – the shortest bus tour in the world, I’m sure. Our host, John was incredibly fun and hilarious. If you’ve ever been on his famous village tour then you’ll have a smile on your face just thinking about it. We were in stitches. After the (literally) five minute tour, we headed back to the pub for some honkey-tonk entertainment and singing from John.

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We had dinner at our accommodation – a beautiful Karoo braai, potatoes, braai broodjies, wors and salad coupled with loads of wine and more music. We huddled next to the fireplace while our guide braaied for us and their team prepared the other dishes and set our table for us. After dinner, Riaan took us to the Matjiesfontein Museum which is scary, creepy and fascinating. Their museum houses the largest private collection in the country.

The next morning, we had breakfast at the beautiful Lord Milner Hotel. Here you can choose between a cold breakfast (cheeses, meats, cereals, pastries etc) or the hot a la carte menu. After breakfast and loads of coffee, we boarded our bus and went to the famous graveyard in Matjiesfontein. Here our guide gave us more information on James Logan and his family. We then headed back toward Cape Town via Montagu. We stopped at their local market and shopped for homemade jams, soaps, art, crafts and treats before boarding our bus again and heading for Platform 62 in Asthon. If you haven’t been – this is a great find for a day trip! It’s basically an enormous farm stall with a huge wine, brandy, gin and liquer selection. They offer various tastings and pairings, and have a large restaurant outside with a kids play area, pet chickens and even a pet pig. The food is also really, really good – huge portions at such a good price. After tasting various spirits and wines, we headed outside for lunch before going back in to the tasting room for a really interesting and fun brandy tasting / pairing. We tried various (I honestly lost count) brandies with chocolates, honey, ginger, tonics and even orange juice. I highly recommend this pairing experience if you ever find yourself in Ashton.

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We boarded our bus again and headed for Marbrin Olive Farm in Robertson. Here we got to sample their various (delicious) olive oils and homemade bread. The truffle was definitely my favourite, with the sundried tomato variant coming in at second. We also tried their balsamic vinegars and then a good helping of their famous limoncello – which was a huge hit. The setting is so beautiful and they have plans to expand the property and introduce a restaurant offering. We’ll definitely be back for that.

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After that, we boarded our bus back to Cape Town, merry from the day’s festivities. We’d all bought wine (and limoncello) during the day and at this point we were all sharing and having a little party on the bus – coupled with The Forgotten Route’s very cool playlist. We arrived back in Cape Town at about 7pm filled with great stories, memories and new friendships from our trip. I’d highly recommend this tour amongst friends as everyone had a super great time.

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The tour costs R1850.00 per person and includes everything except your lunch on the train (average R100) and your lunch at Platform 62 (average R150 with your beverage/coffee) so you’re looking at about R2100 all inclusive for a full two-day adventure in the Karoo. This includes your tour, the guide, the bus, your train ticket, wine tasting, cupcake and biltong pairing, Matjies bus tour, Karoo lamb braai, accommodation, breakfast, brandy pairing and olive tasting. For more info > check out their website. Looking for more things to do in and around Cape Town? > Highly Rated

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Lately

I’m going to skip the whole “I haven’t blogged for so long because I’ve been busy” intro because *yawn* and because well, we’re all busy. We glorify it like it’s an achievement, but being busy really sucks. People throw all their savings at expensive holidays to get the hell away from being busy, so I won’t bore you with the details on why I’ve been too ‘busy’ to blog. I’ve still been writing though. I wrote this huge heartfelt post on my innermost self-exploration and emailed it to like five people instead.

I made a huge decision this year. See, last year I went on this gigantic mission with my business. I wanted to feed and grow it like something out of “Little Shop of Horrors” and once it was all set up, I looked at it and realised that it wasn’t what I wanted at all. Taking four days to reply to emails, feeling like we were ‘delivering’ instead of achieving. I felt like a waitress with seven tables and everyone sat down at once and it was awful. That’s not what I want. While I have a small group of people that assist where I’m absolutely unable to, I want to stay the face and project manager of my own company, you know? I want to maintain control and know exactly what is going on at every minute. I don’t want to delegate, I want to DO. So the first part of this year was greatly dedicated to re-shaping a lot of what I’d formed in to the wrong mould. And it’s been great. I’ve also been much more selective with our clients and ensuring that we’re 100% passionate about absolutely everything that we’re doing. What a huge difference that’s made for general morale… But enough shop talk.

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My children are by far the most amazing and incredible thing that’s ever happened to me. I know that you’re supposed to love your children, but I really LIKE them, you know? Like I sit for hours and just talk nonsense with them. I have to give you a little run-down on their current personalities because I’m just besotted.

Noah plays the piano and had his first music concert. I couldn’t get over how brave he was on stage. How confident he is in his ability and how comfortable he is with himself. Watching him laugh and joke with his classmates in the seats – I literally could not take my eyes off of him the entire time. He played so beautifully and was so proud of himself. He loves reading and languages and has never been overly interested in television. He LOVES tech things though, like to a borderline OCD level. I got a humidifier and it was like the highlight of his month trying to figure out how it works, what purpose it serves and the engineering behind all of it. Little things that we all walk past… like he would sit for 20 minutes and try figure out what else our oil heater can do. Which settings it has. It blew his MIND when he figured out that it had a timer. He’s just like that… he loves figuring things out. One day when we drove through that tunnel (you know the one that goes through a mountain – I think it’s on the way to Robertson or something) he said “When I grow up I want to be an engineer so I can make tunnels and bridges that are safe for people” and I swear. to. God he’s going to. I know that he’s going to end up doing something in that field, although it might switch to medicine when he’s older. I know he’ll love knowing how a body works and he’ll like helping people. He’ll definitely have a career with some sort of reward attached to it. Noah is also so social and funny and man, he’s just so smart. I know that we all think (know) that our kids are smart, but his teachers begged us to send him to be assessed when he was five and man alive – he really is a tiny child genius. When they assess kids, they do this personality test too (the whole thing takes like two full days) and Noah has what she called the ‘head boy’ factor. Meaning that he has strengths in every department – emotional, intellectual, rational, physical and social. He’s a very lucky kid.

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Sometimes he says the most incredible things like the other day he asked me if I thought that a particular girl at his school is “the one” for him. I was like well my boy, I don’t know…. ??? He doesn’t believe in Father Christmas because “It doesn’t make sense – how can one person be at the same place at the same time every year etc” when I suggested elves, he straight-up laughed at me. Like I was the child. Anyway, I’ve sworn him to secrecy to protect his brother’s innocence. But man… he says the craziest things. The other night he said he loves me, and I bragged: “I love you MORE!” and he replied “I love you more than space-time continuum” and I had to google that really fast. Like hello, please can you be eight years old and not twelve? He is such a bright, happy boy. He’s also super in to origami right now and spends hours practicing his folds. I can’t wait for him to read all of this one day. Noah, I’m so proud of you x

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BENJAMIN. Well look, if he doesn’t end up being a vet, archaeologist, zoologist or paleontologist then I will be shook. Bunny Banana is obsessed with animals. Noah goes to the library and brings back story or joke books, and Ben puts a new ‘information’ book on my lap every week. “Information books on mammals. Fossils. Dinosaurs. He has probably brought home every educational mammal book that poor library has. His bedtime story is a fact book on animals. He has always been like this, and now that he’s started reading and can scan titles – it’s even worse. We went to a bookshop recently and he asked the store person: “Bring me ALL the information books on animals” and sat on the (kids area) floor while this poor guy loaded books in from other sections. Ben sat there for a good hour trying to soak up as much information as he could. He also really loves math, so I buy him these cool workbooks so he can do sums.

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Ben loves television. Ben loves television probably (definitely) more than he loves me. He watches documentaries about earth and (yes) animals. He watches cartoons that give information about different species. When you talk to Ben, he’ll rattle on and on about this habitat and that ecosystem. His language ability is honestly profound. I took him to the UCT clinic for his asthma a while ago, and this retired professor handled his consultation. Within five minutes, the professor (sincerely) asked if he could use Benjamin as a speaker at his next conference and could not believe how well articulated he is for his age. He wanted me to get Buns tested, but you know what… I don’t want to. I just want the boys to be kids and like dinosaurs and be engrossed by our household appliances.

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Ben is my baby. Noah thrives on independence. In the mornings, he makes his own toast, lets Jack out, makes my coffee, pours himself a bath, gets himself ready and reads a book and has had like, an entire life before Ben and I have even woken up. Bunny still asks me to pour him some juice and he’s so soft and caring. Honestly – Ben is the most caring person you’ve ever met in your life. He also has an incredibly innocent and beautifully naive quality about him that makes you fall in love with him at once. While Noah is super social and popular, Ben is the sweetest little loner. He’s not lonely, it’s just that he’s so fulfilled in his own company. He has like, one close friend at school but other than that, Ben lives completely in his own little world with animals, books, maths and television. As I watch his reading improve, I get more and more excited for him. A whole new world is going to be available to him, and I can just picture him sitting in his room for hours, soaking up information.

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I honestly can’t get enough of those two or their love for each other. Their bond is the most beautiful, precious thing and it would break your heart if you ever saw it. Really, I’m so grateful that I get to watch them grow up. There is nothing sweeter.

There’s so much more to talk about, and I’ll chat more again soon. I want to write a whole lot more again – about everything that’s been going on. I also want to write about the places we’ve been visiting and I want to talk about some serious stuff, but more on that next time. PS It feels really good to write again!

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Hello

There are a lot of things that I haven’t made time for lately. What stands out the most for me is that my house looks like the inside of a handbag, I’m not sleeping a lot and I have hundreds of unanswered work emails and texts from friends who I love so much. I feel like I am behind on *actually* everything. But I’m happy.

Noah can READ MUSIC, I mean how special is that. He can play the piano and it makes me want to cry. I am so, so proud of him. I want to write an entire entry JUST on that. I have so much to say and it needs to come out in no particular format, otherwise I’ll never be able to write again.

I have this recurring dream that I have another baby. There is nothing more boring than hearing about other people’s dreams (I know) but… In this dream: I keep forgetting that I have a baby. Like, “I can’t remember if I have a baby or not- can anyone confirm?” In this dream there’s always a really bad thing that happens like I don’t know – a natural disaster or something. And I leave town but forget to take the baby. Then I call a few friends and ask if they have my baby… and then I wake up. I sleep next to the boys every night (co-sleeping is for the mother, I assure you) so then I just like, pull them toward me and inhale their smell. It’s the best feeling. It’s the worst feeling.

They’re incredible children. Every now and then Graeme and I text each other like “How damn cool are the boys?” I have no idea how they got so incredibly smart. Kind. Handsome. Hilarious. We’re supposed to love our children, but man I just really LIKE them – you know? They tell these really funny jokes and do magic tricks and watch documentaries and play the piano and care about everything so. much. Are all kids this cool? Probably not.

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My computer keeps crashing and I’ve been having issues with my emails which has made me want to jump out of a window for actual real. I got *another* new computer but I don’t have the patience to transfer all my files to the new one, or I get half way then give up because I need that ONE file on the OTHER computer and then just revert back and hope that nothing crashes. This (old) computer is tragically slow and won’t even let me edit images. It’s affected my blog, my job… my mental health.

Tonight I chucked my dressing table out of my room and replaced it with a desk. I figure that I enjoy writing in my bedroom more than anywhere else, so maybe this will encourage some late night motivation.

I have somebody to love, which I appreciate more than I probably ever have before. I get to hang out with someone who I learn from and who makes me laugh until I cry… all the time. I feel like that needs a separate post too, but I’m an incredibly lucky girl to feel even half this happy.

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Anyway, I just thought I’d say hi. I feel like I don’t know what’s going on in the world right now. I feel like I’ve lost myself somewhere between everything. I look at pictures of myself from a year ago and don’t recognise that girl at all. This past year has changed me. I feel like I don’t do anything that I enjoy anymore and I don’t know why. I am like number 7 on the list of my own life? Why? I’m stepping back a bit and trying to figure a few things out. Trying to open a conversation with myself, but who has time to think anyway?

Nobody.

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2017

I’m super ready for 2017. It’s such a cliche to feel this motivated at the beginning of the year, but I feel so fired up. Last year was all about new beginnings and setting things up for growth. Laying down the groundwork and foundations to keep building. Go taller.

I bought this house that still needs so much work, but it’s here. This year I’ll be re-doing much of the kitchen, sorting out the garden, putting in the vegetable patches and creating all the living walls. I want to plaster and paint the exterior walls too, which is going to be such an expensive project, but we’ll see if I can get it done. I learned a lot about money and investments last year, and the goal is to get this house to a point where a rental would cover the bond. It’s a far reach, but totally attainable. I think we’d only want to live here for another year before moving on to the next property. The boys (and Jack) definitely need more space so that they can grow too.

We set up the new classroom for our training facilities and we’ve signed four new, exciting clients that we’re kicking off in 2017. I love watching these projects take shape and come to life. We hired another team member and there’s another one coming in January. Delegating has always been my downfall, but with the right tools and people in place – I’m slowly learning to let go and not hold things back. Letting go has also created all this new time to get more creative and passionate about the day to day dealings, instead of shoving work down the production line.

Benjamin is starting grade ONE. He’s going to learn to read and write this year, and I’m so excited for him. He’s starting guitar lessons, and Noah is doing piano. The house is about to come alive with music and even more books and activity, which I’m really looking forward to. Watching my boys grow and learn makes me happier than anything else ever could. Motherhood is truly rewarding, exciting and wonderful.

With a bit more free time, I’m more dedicated than ever to my blog. I’ve missed writing here, and sharing my thoughts, experiences and stories. I opened up boxes of my old journals and diaries the other day – where I’d documented my life since I was twelve years old. Someone said that I’m so lucky to have that: all my thoughts, experiences and memories to keep forever. I want to keep remembering. I also feel that my writing is quite rusty and I need to keep practicing to keep my own little voice alive. I reached out on twitter and asked what you guys want to read more about, and it seems like you’re mostly interested in travel, food, lifestyle and personal stories.

I got the most beautiful email from a reader last week, and she said “Finding out about your blog might have been the best new year ‘gift’ for me. This morning my friend phoned me, and we talked. I was crying and then.. then she thought about you. She started telling me about your story and I felt hope.. hard to describe the feeling, maybe relief. I asked her for the link and immediately, I looked at your story. “I can relate”, I thought. There is hope, there is another chance for me. I felt ‘I CAN do this’.”

Receiving emails like this is what makes blogging so important to me. Writing about the harder times is difficult and vulnerable but we’re all just people, going through our own struggles. Fighting with our partners, losing friends, struggling at work, feeling down. Eating too much, eating too little. Dealing with our own insecurities and fears. Obstacles. Sometimes there’s so much going on that I can’t share on social media, but only to protect the privacy of those close to me. A lot has been going on, but it’s getting better now. Slowly.

Life is beautiful, and fragile. People are strong. We’re all so capable and fierce, even at our worst. I want to see us all try harder in 2017.

In 2016 I met a man who changed the way that I see a lot of things. Someone older and (I hope he never reads this) much wiser and experienced. He motivates me, makes me laugh until I cry and he loves me. Having someone so supportive and fun-loving at my side has driven me even more. Driven me mad at times : ) but more on that in another post.

I feel like I learned a lot in 2016 and I know that many of you feel the same. Some of you have big things heading your way, like new life, babies and marriages. New jobs and businesses. Opportunities, new cities – new homes. More travel. New love. Apparently (according to numerology) this year marks the start of a new cycle, and is the ideal year to make changes and go for everything you’ve ever been afraid of.

Happy 2017 to all of us. Let’s do this!

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2016.

I was scrolling through my Instagram last night and couldn’t believe how much has happened this year, and how much everything has changed. And I mean everything. Let’s get real for a minute, because I want to be able to read this again in a year’s time and really remember how this year felt.

In 2016, I started my first year as a single woman. I wanted to say “single mother” but I don’t feel that way at all. Graeme is a great, involved dad who sees them almost half of their time. What I really struggled with was NOT seeing them that much anymore. The first few months, I spent a lot of time at home. I threw myself in to work, which I love. I didn’t want to socialise and spent a few weekends in KZN, visiting my dad and childhood friends. I also watched the entire Sex and the City series from scratch. Then all the movies. Obviously.

I hadn’t dated since 2007. It was all so… weird. I started a life with someone at 23. The adjustment was difficult, but not awful. I missed the familiarity of being around someone who knew me, to be honest. I’m so proud and surprised at how unscathed the boys were by any of it. Noah slotted in to ‘man of the house’ mode and helps me so much. In the mornings, he gets up before anyone else and lets Jack out for his morning tinkle. Those tiny little things make such a huge difference around the house, and he loves any kind of responsibility.

I bought a house. I renovated a house. I found somewhere safe and happy for my boys to live and play and we made it a home – together. We danced in the lounge, we unpacked boxes and we ate a LOT of take-aways. On nights alone, I drank a lot of wine. We moved in to our new home on 1 July and that Winter was pretty tough.

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We had to say goodbye to our beautiful Daisy. Although we tried, our new garden is not equipped for two ‘farm’ dogs. She is a great guard dog, but her barking did not sit well with our neighbours – no matter what we tried. She is with my uncle in Durbanville and has become a friend to their Collie. She’ll always be in our lives and on family outings and camping trips, but we miss her so much. Every day. Losing Daisy was a hard blow on all of us.

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I got really good at filling my time and keeping busy. I tried dating and was pretty awful at it. I know that’s true because I watched a LOT of Sex and The City. I met the most incredible people this year. Kind, wonderful, driven and good hearted men. I also met trash. I’ll write about it eventually. It will have a catchy header like “The 3 Men I Dated in 2016” because I’ve learned that there are exactly 3 in every dating / MAN category. Again – so much educational value in Sex and The City.

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I met someone who is my equal in every way and who I learn so much from. Someone who scared the rabbits out of me. Someone who really loves me. I’m a really happy, lucky girl.

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I lost friends and made friends. I lost a best friend, which hurts a woman’s heart more than any man ever could – am I right? I respected my own individuality, because nobody should ever begrudge another for not conforming to their views or lifestyle. We can’t change or shape ourselves around other people’s expectations, and we need to accept and forgive each other for our flaws and faults. I learned so much about forgiveness this year, and what a gracious act it is. It’s one of the best and kindest gifts that you can give to someone.

2016 told me that I am a lot stronger than I thought I was. And that I don’t really care about anything that does not affect me directly. Some people call it privilege, I call it prioritising. I am not going to sit and argue feminism with you for 6 hours on social media when I could be working on a pitch, baking with my kids, running with Jack or drinking bubbly with my wonderful boyfriend. It’s not that I don’t care about women’s rights, it’s just that there is so. little. time. that I’ve learned to direct mine toward my priorities: The people who I love and who need me.

This year I took major steps in my business to give it room to grow. We’ve opened a classroom / training facility which is walking distance to my house. It’s such a pleasure to walk a few steps to the office every day – I really have landed with my bum in the butter here.

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I’ve taken a few knocks, made awful mistakes and really centered my emotions. I was all over the place up until about two months ago. Everything affected me. I found myself wanting to numb my heart with food, series, books, booze – any form of escapism that you could think of. I felt… lost this year. I have the most incredible friends who let me vent, lash out, act weird, be crazy and annoy them for like 10 months straight. A further shout-out to my long-suffering mother who could probably publish novels from our whatsapp threads. I appreciate and love my friends more than I could ever articulate or limit within the framework of words. You are truly beautiful people. I’m going to be a better friend in 2017.

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We ‘solved’ Ben’s asthma. After years of struggling with his tiny lungs, an allergy test saved the day. Also thousands of rands worth of special bedding, sheets, covers, cushions and mattress protectors because our little Bunny Banana is allergic to dust mites. It’s been such a relief to watch him grow stronger every week.

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Noah blew us all away this year with his passion for school, his new friendships and dedication to his schoolwork. He loves school more than anything else, and it loves him.

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That’s a wrap. I’m doing my Xmas shopping today and making the house FESTIVE for my boys who spent way too many evenings watching me work. I can’t wait to just be with them all day without any distractions. I’ll be a better mother in 2017. I’m going to be better at everything. Merry Christmas friends. I hope you have the most beautiful time with everyone who loves you.

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The Simple Things

Country Road asked me to showcase my own version of “The Simple Things” in life. Amongst all the chaos of work, school, personal projects and deadlines… What I love doing most is dedicating full, undivided time to Noah and Benjamin. We often do little tea parties where we’ll just hang out and enjoy each other’s company. Time without homework, chores and rules. I’ll make a big pot of tea and get us some delicious treats and sometimes we’ll play UNO or watch a great family movie or something and relax together for hours.

It’s sad how much kids have to do these days, from such a young age. Noah is in grade 1 and hates Mondays already. On that day they have mini sport, library and two 2 breaks. It hurts your heart to see how quickly they get thrown in to so much. They have 2 extra murals a week and swimming is coming back now too. It’s so important to me that they just get to relax with me, and forget about all the expectations that school already places on them.

So yesterday afternoon I fetched them earlier from school. I got to watch a bit of their drama lesson and laughed at their little performances. We had a long talk on the drive home and instead of hours of homework and routine, I popped by a local bakery, picked up some treats and let them have cupcakes and tea for dinner. I let them use mommy’s ‘fancy’ crockery (that I recently shopped at Country Road) which always makes them feel super special and grown up. Here are some pictures of my gorgeous boys, who I love more than anything else in this world. Looking at these photos made me stop and realise just how quickly they’re growing up too. It’s bittersweet, but beautiful. This is us at home, doing the simple things.

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screen-shot-2016-09-07-at-9-49-12-pmCountry Road let me select a few items from their store for our home to enjoy. I chose a dining set of their gorgeous white, grey and pink plates with matching cups. The wooden tray pictured above is also from them, as are the boys’ outfits. There are a few other items which I’ll share in my next post, when we talk bubble baths and lemonade stands. You can shop Country Road’s dining section here.

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