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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.

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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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Knysna Oyster Festival 2016

I’ve been to the Knysna Oyster Festival a few times and it never disappoints. I’ve been for leisure, pleasure, work and fitness. From exploring the nightlife and jumping off bridges to running a half marathon, it’s always been some kind of adventure.

BUT, I’ve never gone as a family. For years I walked past the numerous (many) kids play parks, activities and areas with regret and always promised that I’d return with my baby bunnies in tow. Whenever I attended the Oyster Fest, I always stayed at Knysna Hollow Country Estate. It feels like going ‘home’ walking through their doors because the lodge / resort is so homey, welcoming and unpretentious in it’s beauty and surroundings.

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We’re heading off to Knysna Hollow from 1 July for a long, long weekend of activities, adventure and quality time. I already have bungee jumping, paragliding, a forest walk, educational elephant encounter and whale watching in our itinerary. Their spacious family chalets are between R750.00 and R1000 per person on a Bed & Breakfast basis, and kids under 12 years sharing with parents stay free!

Family chalet at Knysna Hollow Country Estate

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The chalets open up to gorgeous lawns with various pools, play areas and a man-sized chess board on the estate. Don’t forget about Charlie, the resident cat. He is definitely my favourite and quite a legend at Knysna Hollow. I have such happy memories edging up to the fireplace and catching up with Keri for hours over bottles of wine and having sundowners at the poolside. If you’re looking for a family-friendly, jovial and festive but relaxed place to stay over the Oyster Fest or any other time on the Garden Route, then this is my highest recommendation. They’ve also launched Superior Eco Estate Rooms that overlook a perennial dam with prolific birdlife. The spacious rooms are decorated in a fresh Scandinavian-style which combines natural wooden finishes with a refined palette of blues and greys creating a calm and inviting space. View all their accommodation options here.

View of the newly built Knyna Hollow Eco Estate block.

Eco Estate Rooms at Knysna Hollow Lounge area with Flat Screen TV.

Knysna Hollow Eco Estate Rooms all have superior bathroom facilities.

See you soon, Knysna. The boys can’t wait! Looking for accommodation in Knysna? Check AccommoDirect for more <a href=”https://www.accommodirect.com/destinations/knysna/“>accommodation in Knysna</a>.

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Sydney and Melbourne highlights.

On 1 January this year, I got on a plane and flew from Cape Town > Johannesburg > Sydney and then Sydney > Melbourne. I’m so glad that I got to spend just over 24 hours in Sydney because it is breathtakingly beautiful. Really, I had no idea. I spent 6 days in Melbourne and didn’t see nearly enough, so I’ll need to go back real soon. It’s hard to decide between the two cities as a favourite, so I’ll let you make up your own mind. I have never really considered myself to be a foodie, but Melbourne has changed my mind on that. I ate some of the best meals of my life in Australia. Eeek, even (much) better than the food in Paris. I was really lucky that my host, friends and relatives in the area directed and treated me to all the right places. If you ever find yourself (or currently live in) Australia, then consider these my recommendations.

In Sydney, we dined at Darling Harbour at a place called Nick’s Seafood Restaurant. It’s right on the water, and has such a great atmosphere. Here I feasted on delicious oysters, seared salmon and wine. Even though it was after New Year’s Eve, there were still firework displays on that evening. Throughout my life, I will never forget standing in the doorway of that restaurant, gripping a glass of good wine and watching the colourful explosions over the harbour. I’ll never forget that evening. I sipped Moet at a trendy harbour club and danced until my feet hurt, finally collapsing in to a Novotel bed at around 4am, happy, content and exhausted.

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In Sydney I also really loved Opera Bar which is adjacent to the Sydney Opera House. I loved the Ice Bar? at Bondi Beach and I really, really love an area called Manly which has a gorgeous little bay with warm water and lots of little sail boats and yachts. I missed the boys so much here, because Sydney is built for kids and families. I imagined my boys playing in the (almost) deserted bays and taking them sailing in the afternoons, letting them jump in to the water from the boat and staying outdoors until 9pm every day, when the sun sets there. Honestly, I left my heart in Sydney. I’ll definitely be back.

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For Melbourne, I’m going to give you just one favourite restaurant, where I had the best meal of my life to date. If you’re ever in the area, then you absolutely should visit…

Mamasita: For the best and most delicious mexican food of your existence. Mexican and Italian are my two favourite cuisines, and dammit this place was good. You can’t book a table at Mamasita, so expect a queue (all the way down the stairs, out the doorway and sometimes down the street) to get a table. And people do queue. Even in heels, like I did. The vibe is just so incredible, and you can tell that everyone is having a super good time and are seriously in to their food. The portions are small, served in a tapas style which is tradition in Mexican households. You get to order loads of different dishes and share them amongst your friends – and remember to wash it all down with a jug of their deliciously sweet Sangria. The highlight for me here were the Plantains which consists of long, baked, crispy banana fingers lathered with their signature salsas, sauces, relishes and guacamole. That would hands down be my “death row” meal if I ever had to make such a decision. Everything here was incredible and I ate until I really just couldn’t anymore.

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It was really nice to get a 9 day break from well, everything. I’m planning another trip for July and I can’t decide between Italy and America. July is ideal because of school holidays and also because I HATE WINTER TO DEATH. The first time I went overseas, the boys really missed me. But now, with the new school schedule, routine and dynamics – they are super in to seeing dad 24/7. So when I went to Australia they *really* treasured the time with him and I swear they hardly noticed I was gone :((( or :))))? So now I’m dead set on traveling a tiny bit more this year.

I’ve grown very fond of traveling alone. I don’t think that I would ever want someone by my side through any of it. I get to read and write and think and spend some good quality time inside my head. I get to internalise what I’m feeling instead of shouting “LOOK AT THAT BUILDING” to someone else every five minutes, you know? I always get home feeling a bit more adventurous, stronger and that tiny bit braver. And like I know this big, wonderful secret that nobody else does… you know? I hope you do.

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I wanted to mention that I didn’t take my ‘big’ camera on this trip, because I found it too stressful in Paris – constantly worrying about it, lugging it around, being physically weighed down. So I relied on my iPhone for all of this because memories don’t need to be perfect, right?

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Guest House in Stellenbosch, Cape Town

I recently stayed at the very charming Vine Guest House in Stellenbosch. Actually, it was my second visit. It’s a gorgeous little gem nestled in the heart of the winelands with pretty views, lush gardens and luxurious finishes. The first thing you’ll notice is how neat, clean and tidy it is. Second you’ll spot the modern, sophisticated yet comfortable decor style. The palette is soft and neutral – think warm greys, natural wood, and crisp white with pops of colour and some greenery. A lot of love, passion and consideration has gone in to the recent re-vamp.

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At the entrance you’ll find a little fountain, a dam with an abandoned rowing boat, tall trees, flowers and an uninterrupted view of the mountains. Vine has 9 guest rooms ranging from Superior to Executive. All rooms have a patio canopied by lush vines and some rooms offer a private terrace. They’re all fitted with air conditioning, flat-screen TV, a safe, hairdryer, bathrobe, Charlotte Rhys toiletries, snacks, wine, pool towels and a fully stocked minibar (even a Nespresso machine!) Check out their rooms here.

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I love this little guesthouse, which is situated on Bottelary Rd, just a stone-throw from Stellenbosch, and close to Paarl and Franschhoek too. This is the perfect spot to stay at if you want a tranquil environment that’s close to all the tourist attractions, cycle routes, monuments and wine farms in the area. Stunning for a stop-over if you’re exploring the winelands and don’t want to drive too far to get back to Cape Town. They serve a mean breakfast, and they’re opening their restaurant in just a few months! I had a sneak peek, and it’s going to be gorgeous. More on that soon!

Vine_Gallery-12You can find more information on their rates and book online on their website. Also check them out on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. I’m going back there again on Wednesday! I might try my hand at some tennis this time! Website here. **All pictures by Vine Guesthouse.**

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Carb free options at Col’Cacchio this Summer

I haven’t done a food post in such a long time, so I thought I’d share this with you guys. I’ve been doing a lot of eating at Col’Cacchio lately. We ate at the Cavendish branch the week before last and last week we went back to take aways. I’m trying to cut back on my sugar and refined carb intake because those food items make me feel pretty gross. Although I’m not a banter, I am always keen to try a carb substitute and kill some calories. Their new summer menu is simple, fresh, healthy and colourful. They’ve added banting ‘pasta’ dishes, and the vegetarian option I had was hands down the best meal I’ve had this year. I am not kidding. It was the Zucchetti pesto, made with zucchetti (julienned zucchini) basil pesto, Italian parmesan and toasted pumpkin seeds. I ate a huge portion and still finished off a caprese salad on my own (oink oink)

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Their new banting ‘pasta’ dishes use zucchetti as a replacement to pasta. Pastas include the Piccante made with zucchetti, pomodoro, chorizo, peppadew piquante peppers, mascarpone, chilli flakes and the Verde Rosso, a combination of zucchetti with chicken parmigiana. They still have their original menu if you’re keen on carbs, but have only added a handful of healthy, carb and sugar free options which they call their ‘banting’ section but should just call the ‘carb free’ option. Check out the Orientale dish below.

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I also tried the vegetarian banting pizza, which comes with a medium side salad and delicious dressing. You can eat a whole cheesy pizza covered in veg and not feel like a fatty-fat face afterwards. A cauliflower pizza base does not taste like a flour based one, but it’s kind of like white bread vs wholewheat bread – tastes good, but not exactly the same. My kids didn’t know the difference and ate the whole thing. I tricked them (and myself) right in to those vegetables.

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They also have banting desserts which I understand as (refined) sugar free? I’m kicking myself that I didn’t try one, but the cheesecake (with macadamia cacoa base) looked so good. If anyone wants to take me to lunch this summer, it will be here. As a side note, they are kid friendly. The kids get crayons to draw on the table cover, and some dough and cookie cutters to ‘bake’ with.

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Price wise, I didn’t write down numbers but when I took the boys: We all had mains, I had a coffee and the kids had a milkshake each. Our bill was R250 so it’s really good. Check out their new menu here > www.colcacchio.co.za for more details.

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On being in Paris alone.

A few people (mostly Graeme) have asked how I experienced traveling alone to Paris. You need to understand that as a mother, wife and business owner, my life is pretty packed full of commitments and responsibilities. Obviously so is Graeme’s! The thought of being completely alone if even for a few days to do only what I wanted to do, was very appealing. I spend a lot of my time feeling guilty. If I take the boys to get new shoes, I’d feel guilty if I stopped to look at a cute top. When I’m working in the afternoon, I feel bad if I haven’t taken the dogs for a walk, or spent enough time with the kids. I feel bad when I ask Graeme to read the bed time stories because I’m too tired. Or if I wasn’t organized enough to get the kids bathed, lunch boxes packed and dinner ready by the time G got home from work. Of course he doesn’t expect all of that, and definitely not on the clock (and tells me frequently) but this is my family and I want to take care of them. Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I like to have these things taken care of for the boys. I feel bad when I don’t hand school forms in on time, or forget the odd change for a bake sale. I can’t attend every school trip and cringe when I tick the “unable to assist” or “unable to accompany” boxes on the permission slips. I know that all parents feel this kind of guilt in some form, and I know that it bites in to all of us.

I feel guilty when I have to cancel a play date, or when I’ve forgotten the dogs’ flea and de-worming schedules. When I haven’t made a nutritionally balanced lunch for the boys and shove a bowl of noodles in the microwave. When I’ve broken a promise on taking them to a movie, or for a milkshake. It’s taxing, emotionally. It’s not a quest for balance, it’s about feeling okay with your efforts in relation to your results.

For me, the prospect of being freed from obligation even if just for 5 days was quite attractive. An actual holiday, from my emotions and the darkness found in the depths of self evaluation. It’s not that I was running from responsibility, because I completely love being a mother, wife and business owner. I ain’t no hussy. I really do love my life, if it’s okay to say that… without sounding conceited.

There’s a vulnerability to traveling alone. An excitement. A sense of anticipation. What will happen? What will I do? Who will I meet and how will I feel? In a world of responsibilities, routine and having Graeme available to run to at every opportunity – I craved a little bit of mystery and wondered how I would feel too. Would I get sad? Scared? What if I got lost or in to some kind of trouble. Being anonymous  and vulnerable in a foreign city filled me with anticipation. A sense of greatness. Strength. Independence. I wanted to learn, experience, grow and make myself susceptible and available to foreign experiences.

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If Graeme was with me, he would have carried our backpack when it got too heavy. We’d dine together, so nobody would have approached me, or confided in me. I wouldn’t have got lost or missed that train because Graeme never gets lost. I would never have felt afraid or vulnerable, because G makes me feel so safe. I wouldn’t have struck up accidental friendships, or spent an hour at the Eiffel Tower taking photos for tourists, just for fun. I wouldn’t have sat in silence at the Luxembourg Gardens pond for two hours, feeling desperately lonely. I wouldn’t have cried at the Degas for 20 minutes, because being alone in front of my favourite painting with nobody to share it with… allowed me to experience and absorb it in silence and in solitude. Without conversation and company as distractions and comfort, I think that I felt and experienced so much more. Of myself.

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There were times that I really longed for Graeme. I had a particularly bad day when I really just struggled with everything. I got lost in translation between 6 floors and 2 information systems that gave me conflicting routes. I missed my train to Monet’s house by 6 minutes (there’s only one every 3 hours) and cried at the station for what felt like most of the day. I put my sunglasses on, I sat on a chair surrounded by strangers and foreigners and I just cried. I missed Graeme when I flooded my hotel room (a disagreement between a tiny shower and it’s curtain) and realized there was no towel in my suite. I missed him when I was queuing at the Louvre and had nobody to share the excitement with. When I saw something beautiful. When I went to bed at night.

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I feel like I really and genuinely connected and engaged with myself for the first time in years. It wasn’t just about the sites and the art or the people and the history. It was about adding another layer to my character, my experience. I feel different. Empowered. Humbled. Satisfied. I mostly think, act, plan and react based on what the people I love need and want. The kids, their milestones and achievements. My relationship with my husband. My business and other projects. Obligations.

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Eventually, I’m going to tell you about the people I met. Conversations that struck up in ticketing queues. In bookshops. In cafe’s. While waiting for drinks or a meal. While being lost. I want to talk about the man from Norway who went to Paris to fulfill his dreams, and now works in a bar at the Moulin Rouge.  A 27 year old girl from Italy who was about to return home to break up with her boyfriend of 8 years. She drank a lot of red wine, and I kept her company until midnight. A 20 year old French girl with a broken heart, who doesn’t understand how young she is. A 31 year old man who was distraught after converting from Catholicism to Hinduism for his wife and was about to walk away, without their 2 year old daughter. A young boy who got lost in the Carousel de Louvre and cried desperately until I took his hand and soothed him, waiting for his mother to find him. A baker from Los Angeles who had traveled to Paris for a funeral. A lady from Milan who was visiting her oldest friend, and wouldn’t let her pay for anything at lunch. An American woman named Tasha who travels the world and hates it, and also cries in stations. Her dad likes to take a lot of pictures, and it embarrasses her deeply. A French painter who has been painting for 35 years, and now spends her days doing portraits of tourists at Place du Tertre, for 30 euros a piece.

I have so much to talk about, and so much that I want to remember about this trip. I haven’t even touched the photos and memories on my camera yet. I haven’t had time to absorb everything, but yesterday was probably my favourite day in Paris. We’ll talk soon.

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How to create a perfect, Pinterest inspired kids room in South Africa

Clever Little Monkey is definitely the best kids furniture & decor shop in South Africa. You’ll find the most beautiful collections to transform and kids room in to a Pin-worthy masterpiece that your kids will LOVE. You can shop everything from wall art, decals, bunting, bedding, scatters, furniture, beds, accessories – literally everything you need to create the perfect look for your child’s play or bedroom. I wanted to quickly show you a few of their goodies.

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The best news? You can shop all of their beautiful items and curated collections online. Check out Clever Little Monkey here > https://cleverlittlemonkey.co.za/ and some of the items are currently on sale! Happy shopping, friends!

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31 is the new 21

I turned 31 yesterday and I’m so excited and relieved. When you turn 30, there’s all this pressure to be new, improved, changed and suddenly mature. Your 20s are flipping hard, and Graeme and I did it with two babies and then toddlers in tow. Somehow. We started playing house from the age of 23, and at 23 you don’t even know a single thing, never mind how run a life properly. We grew, we learned and through all of it we never let go of each other. I’m grateful. I’m proud of us. 8 years and 2 cities later, we have our solid family unit; a beautiful home, established careers and a mountain of things we still want to achieve. Like everything finally fits. So here are a few reasons why I think that 31 is the new 21.

1. I can barely remember who was at my 21st ten years ago, and I’m hardly in touch with most of them anymore. People who I thought were my BEST, forever friends. While most of my current besties are from my childhood, I think you make your solid friends in your late twenties, and another group after you’ve had kids. Friendships change, careers move at different paces and having a family shifts your priorities. When I say “shift”, imagine a construction site and a very large bulldozer pushing your old priorities off a cliff. In my 20s, I let go of BEST friends who weren’t even friends at all. There’s sort of a “ek vat nie kak nie” attitude that comes in your late 20s and you realize that not all friendships will survive these years. And that’s okay!

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2. You have more money. Scraping by in your 20s and sending your parents please call mes to help with your rent is something that most of us went through. The best of us. In your 20s you learn about credit and savings and investing and interest rates, insurance and bonds and taxes. You make some pretty expensive mistakes. I remember I BLEW my first credit card when I was 20 like why would you even give a 20 year old a credit card. I spent years tidying up my credit record and then years trying to build credit to qualify to buy a house. In your 30s everything sort of evens out, you might stop living month to month and debits off your account no longer break your heart. Sometimes.

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3. I am personally in better shape right now than I was in my 20s. I eat right. I care. I train. I run. In my 20s it was all big macs and 24 hour steers and now it’s all juices and water and salads and wholewheat everything. I never cared about my health, I was like WHATEVER I’M YOUNG I’LL EAT WHAT I WANT and now I’m like “Okay so I really want to live a long and healthy life and not get colon cancer.” I’ve also become more responsible. I used to party like a crazy girl and now I’m like “WHAT IS THIS 3 DAY HANGOVER.” Seriously – what is that?!

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4. Your soul sprouts. I was pretty selfish in my 20s with very little regard for others, the earth or consequence. In your 20s your heart will break. You’ll disappoint yourself, and others. You’ll gain an awareness of others that you didn’t think possible. Only when your heart is truly and completely broken will it be vulnerable and susceptible enough to comprehend how you’ve affected others. There’s a sensitivity and humbleness that arrives in your 20s somewhere, and you’ll never shake it. It will make you a better, more sensitive and caring human being.

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5. Your career will change maybe three times. You might not be working in the field that you studied and by now you’ve probably realized that your degree means very little in the greater scheme of experience. I made monumental professional mistakes in my 20s. I took jobs I didn’t really want, I worked insane hours and I said yes to a lot of things that I should have walked away from. You learn that passion is the very core of any kind of success, and you will never succeed at anything unless your heart is in it. At my 21st, I had just left my Journalism studies and I was working in an old age home and night shift at a hospital’s Emergency Unit. I wanted to be a nurse, and work in pediatrics. I wasted two entire years in the medical field, which I would eventually walk away from. I worked as a TV producer and Multimedia Manager until I found what I was passionate about. You will never feel as confused, lost and desperate as you do in your 20s. Eventually you’re like

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6. By the time you reach your 30s you’ve developed your personal style. Sure it might change later, but you start to build a wardrobe. You ignore trends and fashion and focus on yourself, dressing for your body shape and investing in good quality, timeless garments. What looks good in a magazine or on your best friend won’t necessarily suit you. You discover which colours and fabrics and cuts flatter you. I’ve thrown and given away heaps of clothes over the years and I’ve learned that it’s better to buy one expensive item a month than 4 cheap ones that won’t last three washes and definitely not to the next season. You go from cheap clothes to good clothes like

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7. For some of us, we learn about motherhood in our 20s. You learn a love beyond your comprehension or understanding. Your heart and soul leaves your body and probably never comes back. You become a nurturer, not just with your own kids but with all others. You will never walk past a crying child and you will appreciate and understand humanity in a much deeper and connected sense. Motherhood is amazing. It will test, grow, fulfill and break you.

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8. You will fall in love. With yourself. Your body, your heart, your personality. You’ll accept all your own flaws and setbacks and mistakes. You’ll work through your dark bits and you’ll reach a point where you don’t need recognition or validation. There’s a confidence that emerges somewhere along the line that will really change your life. You’ll start saying no to things, you’ll stand tall in your convictions and you’ll appreciate yourself for who you are. I was really insecure in my 20s and I wanted everyone to like me, agree with me, stand by me. As you grow, your confidence does too.

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I usually get sad around birthdays. Another year of life cut short. A year less with my children, and theirs. Another year closer to losing loved ones, but today… I feel good. Relaxed. Like my wild spirit has silenced and evolved in to a deeper consciousness and understanding of everything around us. I feel… satisfied. Now that all those BIG boxes are ticked, I’m excited to start enjoying life more. I want to travel and expand my studies and keep learning about myself and our beautiful world. I want to kick back and really enjoy my husband and focus more on him and watch him go through his own journey. I love that man so much. He fills my heart with a thousand sunny days, ice cream cones, forests and sunsets. I want to watch my children be children and spend less time consumed by my to do lists and deadlines. I want to write books and stories and poems. I feel ready for anything right now and I really do believe that 31 is the new 21, at least today, right now. Happy birthday to me, and happy it is indeed.

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