Where Were You? At Nyaru!

I have posted this entry on Tripadvisor, as well as my Niume blog, but the photos are not necessarily the same as the one in this post.

Many private game/nature reserves often lean towards being just a touch pretentious.  This is not the case with Nyaru.  The place is a tranquil, family-friendly getaway, about a half hour from Mossel Bay.  Two Saturdays ago my parents and I visited the reserve, just to have some much-needed down-time.  We weren’t really sure what to expect, because after all, we’re not really bush people.  But…it was close enough from home for us, and as we didn’t have to travel far, we were able to use the money we would have spent on fuel, on a game viewing experience.

20170218_162600

When making the booking, the process was handled quickly and efficiently, by a lady named Sarah, who followed up with a printable copy of the confirmation.  I made a special request for an early check-in, which was met with special consideration.  The check-in process was also dealt with quickly and we were showed to our accommodation by a young, friendly member of staff named Lauren.  Not long after we had unpacked, Sarah came to personally check on us, to see if everything was to our satisfaction.

The facility offers various accommodation options – The Nightjar Retreat, which is the only option that offers a bath and shower.  All other rooms, be they villas or chalets, have showers only.  The balcony not only overlooks the dam, but gives the occupants a 180-degree view of the reserve.  If you’re a keen game-, or bird watcher, don’t forget to pack in a pair of binoculars.

We stayed in one of the villas, which, like the chalets, are self-catering units.  Each villa has large sliding doors which open onto a small verandah, overlooking the pool and the mountains, giving the illusion of space and airiness.

While all the villas are furnished to the same design, each villa is unique in its selection of furnishings.  The one we stayed in had two large vintage-like wingback chairs, African artwork-, and a large wall clock made out of a barrel. It had a large double bed, with two bedside lamps.  The other villa, which I viewed for comparison in this review had two leather single-seater couches, twin beds, a single bedside lamp, abstractly-modern art- and a large silver clock on the wall.

Both villas were equipped with flat screen televisions, a sleeper couch (for a third guest) and selected satellite TV channels (although with the breath-taking surroundings, I am not sure one really needs TV).

I am quite the advocate of a small kitchenette in any room, because when I’m away, I don’t want to be dictated to by meal times, or schedules.  I had enough of that in boarding school!  The kitchenette is well-equipped with crockery, cutlery, an induction hot-plate, the requisite pots to us on the hot-plate, airtight-containers for left-overs and a fridge/freezer.

There are a few small things that need attention in the villa we stayed in, which did not at all negatively impact our overall experience.  We did mention these ‘snags’ upon our departure and Sarah assured us that our comments have been noted and that the required action will be taken to rectify these issues.

Only my parents and I were booked for the 16:30 game viewing experience, which made it a special family affair.  Our outgoing guide, Natasja, answered all our questions and shared her knowledge with us.  Her love of bird-watching was also evident as she pointed out many ground-, and tree-dwelling birds to us.  It must be mentioned though, that if you’re looking to see the Big-5, then this may not be the lodge for you.  There are many species of antelope to be seen, as well as giraffe, ostriches and zebra, to name but a few.

The resident meerkat and warthog are huge hits and are happy to pose for a photo with the guests.

20170218_162323

 

20170219_085356

After our drive, Natasja was kind enough to show me the chalets as well.  The little thatched units are cosy and depending on the number of guests, can house 3, or 5 people.  Each chalet also has its own verandah but includes a braai area.  The chalets are also located much closer to the main reception/dining area than the Nightjar Retreat and the villas.  If you’re looking for a bit more privacy, I would recommend the villas rather than the chalets.  Both sets of accommodation have a small pool close by to cool off.

20170218_125058.jpg

 

We opted not to have a formal sit down dinner at the restaurant, but rather a picnic.  The selection of food blew us away!  While we were on our game drive, the staff set up the food at a small sheltered ‘lapa’ overlooking the entire reserve.  A true ‘dinner with a view’.  We did have an unexpected guest too.

20170218_18380920170218_184314

Ironically we were tuckered out from a day of fresh air and relaxation and retired to our clean, crisp, comfortable beds for a good night’s rest.  The following morning, after a steaming hot shower, we went to the restaurant for breakfast.  Many of the reviews I had read on Tripadvisor prior to booking stated the breakfast as rather ‘basic’.  I guess it depends on the guests’ expectations.  To me, a selection 2 juices, 3 cereals, fruit salad, cheeses, yoghurt, croissants, muffins, cheese and preserves and the option of a full hot breakfast of bacon, eggs (to preference), sausage, baked beans, hashbrown, tomato and toast, seem more than sufficient.  The only thing that I did miss at breakfast was filter coffee and hot milk (for both cereal and coffee).  The hot breakfast was served quickly, on a heated plate (big thumbs up), and again, it was a meal with a view.

We were quite sad to have to leave, because while we arrived as strangers, we left as friends.  We will definitely be back.  After all, this soul-restoring hidden gem, is literally, right on our doorstep.

20170209_195836

 

 

 

2016: It wasn’t All Bad

I didn’t type a post on January 1st as I have done for ages.  It’s not that I didn’t want to, I wasn’t of much value yesterday having rung in the New Year with Neil, Eliza, Neil’s friend, Grant and his wife, Casey (who happens to be Eliza’s cousin) and only had 4 hours of shuteye.  I’ll admit the hangover was deadly, but if I had to do it over, I would.  I had a great deal of fun and honestly, I was happy to see the back of a year in which I had shed a great deal of tears because of unsolved worries and constant financial and emotional stresses. It was a harsh, unforgiving year in the sense that I not only came to realize, but accept that many people are fickle and that they will only be in your life as long as you are able to give and they are able to take.  Once the proverbial well dries up, those same people who would telephone you once, sometimes twice, a week, can’t seem to operate the telephone anymore, nor can they make a special effort to pop in for coffee when they happen to be in the neighbourhood.  It hurts, and it makes me bitter, but I am not going to allow the bad vibes to cloud my hopes for 2017.  I also realized that there are good people out there too – people who I hardly know and who I least expected would care, who have proved to care more than some people I’ve known for a long time.

Looking back on some photos taken last year, I am grateful for the happy times that I had too.

Dad and I attended the first birthday of the parkrun.  I can’t remember when it was, but I do remember the theme was funny hats.  We didn’t do as many parkruns as we did in 2015, but this year that will change.  Dad has been very tired with his part-time job and the ridiculous hours involved, so I didn’t want to push the envelope too much.  It was good for us though, our bonding thing, so we need to get back into it.  It will also take his mind off the worries he has, albeit for a little while.

parkrun-birthday

Elizabeth’s sisters had babies early in the year – the first being Anna and Miles’s little princess, Karolyn and less than a month later, Ilne and Zachary welcomed their first-born, Harold to the world.  They are both sweet kids, with polar-opposite personalities.  Elizabeth is such a proud aunt, who shares their progress with me often.  Little Harold started walking just before Christmas.

I did a first aid course in April.  The course matter was intense, but the instructor made the day informative, interactive and fun.  My certificate is valid until 2019, but honestly I hope that nobody at work has a serious injury because I think my nerves may get the better of me.

first-aid

June I decided to do some baking.  I made a peanut butter and syrup swirl roll which turned out to be such a resounding success, a friend makes it regularly for her children.

june-bake

 

July I broke away to Shayla-Rae for a few days.  It was, as it always is, spectacular to see her.  She taught me how to stoke a proper wood-oven and she cooked on the stove for me every night because I was totally fascinated.  Let me tell you something:  a chicken roasted in a Dover oven tastes out of this world.

july-shelagh-rose-2

In August Carla, her friend, Elaine and I went to Benguela Cove where we did a wine and chocolate pairing – a first (but definitely not a last) for me.  It was a special day, a memory etched in my mind.

august-wine-tasting

September was a month of celebrations.  Mom turned 70 and she and dad also celebrated their silver wedding anniversary.  I took them for a fancy lunch and afterwards we ate cake – for days afterwards.

mom-birthdayanniversary

I also turned 18, for the 19th time and did something different – a Murder Mystery Party.  It took a lot of planning and while nobody was really sure what to expect, the evening was an absolute hit!

whodunnit

My Herbalife business picked up systematically throughout the year, and I’m trusting that the trend will continue upwards this year.  My upline had a promotion for the members in their team and I qualified for a Hawaiian themed-party in October!  Pictured here are all the qualifiers.

herbalife-qualiiersw-dinner

The same month I decided to give my hair a bit of a chop and while I hate selfies, many of my friends wanted to see the new look.  I like it, but sadly, finances don’t allow for a short do that requires constant upkeep.  By the end of 2017 my hair may very well be long enough for me to sit on!

haircut

One of the most special events that happened in October was the birth of Neil and Eliza’s second son, Leonard.  I am the first person that will tell you I am scared of babies, but he is special.  I have really bonded with him and look forward to cuddles from him when I go to visit them.  Their eldest son, Noel, who is three now is such a good big brother.

November Carla treated a number of us to a weekend away for her birthday.  We went to a tiny little place called Nature’s Valley (about two hours from here).  We had a special time, bonding as friends, over wine, laughter, food and the tranquility of the nature there.  I’m sure another weekend will be on the cards this year.  Topping the last one may prove a bit difficult, I think.

nv3nv2nv1

Elizabeth also had her birthday and my gift to her was an open-air movie at the Botanical Gardens in George.

movie-in-the-park

The last month of the year brought with it summer and with that, the annual Colour Run.  It is marketed as the happiest 5k on the planet and I think it lives up to that statement.  I was man-down afterwards because the heat was extreme.  It is fun and the positive vibe is electrifying.  The only downside is the struggle to get clean afterwards.  It took me three days to get all the paint out of my hair and off some parts of my body.  Will I do it again?  Absolutely!

colour-run

Dad also bought Mom a hand-reared cockatiel, who I named Marley.  It means misty meadows and she is grey, so it was a no-brainer.  She has proved to be a real joy.  She is only nine weeks old, and can be a bit of an attention-hog.

marleymarley-2

The saddest thing that happened in December was the devastating veld fires which raged for a few days.  There was speculation that someone had tossed a cigarette butt out of the car window, but it turned out that it was arson.  One of the fire-starters was caught red-handed and arrested.  People could have lost their homes and so many animals would have been displaced, or worse, killed.

veld-fire

There were other gems throughout the year – random drives with Mom to The Point to feed the seagulls, or simple pleasures like a beautiful sunrise, entering the American Green Card Lottery (I’ll know later this year if my application was successful, but I have a really good feeling that my dream of writing a novel in The Big Apple will be realized) a homemade grilled cheese sandwich, real boerekoffie in an enamel mug and even a spontaneous cheese and wine with a friend on the back of his bakkie.

In closing…

reach-for-the-stars

 

 

That Peace…

…that Peace that Paul wrote to the Phillipians about…I received it!

Phillipians 4:7 “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (ESV)

A great deal of things happened this weekend…Roosterkoeks the size of tablets, coffee at Steve’s folks on their farm, a touch of the mysterious at Sulina’s Faerie Sanctuary, an ice-cold something at the Dros in Roberton, a wors-braai on Du Toit’s Kloof Pass, a walk from Three Anchor Bay to Sea Point and back, photos at Signal Hill, a stop at the Lindt shop, a pop in at that Waterfront, rugby in a box at Newlands, watching the lights from Ou Kaapse Weg, a drive over Chapman’s Peak, via Hout Bay and Camp’s Bay, feeding the squirrels and pigeons in the Company Gardens…but that is not what I want to share today… despite all these wonderful memories, one moment, a few fleeting seconds actually, is what I will probably carry closest to my heart for a long while still.

This past Sunday, whilst on a weekend away to Cape Town with Steve and Elizabeth, I experienced a fleeting few moments of that God’s Peace that surpasses all understanding.

On a whim, we jumped in the car at 06:25 to find a good spot to check out the sunrise…knowing that the best sunsets are seen from the southern side of Cape Town, I took the two “tourists” up the scenic Boye’s Drive then into Fishoek where we decided to take a walk on the beach. I was dressed in my skinny jeans and the shirt I’d slept in (we weren’t initially planning to be getting out where people would see us) and no shoes. While Steve and Elizabeth took photos I rolled up my jeans (with no real success) and put my feet in the water. Before I knew it I was thigh deep and after a quick conference with Elizabeth regarding the use of her jersey, I walked right back into the water and it happened…just before I dived under the waves, there was complete silence around me.

Image

I could have dived under the waves and not resurfaced. It wouldn’t have mattered because…I. was. at. Peace.

I can’t qualify my experience with words, be they spoken or written. All I can say is that in that fleeting five to eight seconds, nothing in my life mattered, except me and my Father in Heaven. He touched me in a supernatural way – I have been teary ever since, but I know that tears bring healing, so I am letting them flow. God is working in me, making changes for the better. So, even as I am not sure what lies ahead, I know that I can walk in faith, because I am filled with peace.

Of All the Things I Never Thought I’d Be…

…Star struck is one of them.  Because, in my mind, I’ve always thought celebrities are people, just like you and me.  Most of them work to earn an income (granted, much for than the regular Joe Bloggs on the street), they need to eat, drink and visit the loo, they need a roof over their heads, and companionship (be it in the form of six kids like Brangelina, or a cute dog, like Carl, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel owned by South African Celebrity DJ Gareth Cliff.  Love him, or hate him, he is a straight shooter, with strong opinions – something we don’t see much of anymore.  People are too aware of having to be P.C., but not Gareth…he calls a spade a front end loader and takes the consequences in his stride.

Last night Elizabeth, Jesse and I went to a DJ gig Gareth was doing at one of the local hot spots.  Before he started his set, I got him to sign his book, with his trademark “dog drawing” which I bought for myself for Christmas.

20140112_201445

20140112_201517

I rushed up to him, pen in hand and asked “Sign my book!”  He extended his hand politely and said, “Sure, what’s your name?”  So I told him.  I was surprised at just how tall he is, because on TV, as an Idols judge, he looks much shorter…but, as Jesse so properly pointed out, “It’s because he’s always sitting down.” And he has the most striking blue eyes.  The book cover doesn’t do him justice.  I wanted to ask if he would take a photo with me, but I thought better, because my legs were shaking like reeds in the wind.

It was awesome, the music was great, the people were dancing and everyone was having a great time, although I will admit, I think I might be getting a bit old to pretend I’m a teenager, even though I have a better body now than I did when I was at school.

Gareth Cliff

Our trio stuck around until after the witching hour and then we took a drive to McDonald’s, bought coffee and went and sat at the beach.  I can’t remember when last the three of us spent time together.  It was a super night, and hopefully we’ll get the opportunity to spend more time together this year.  The photos aren’t the greatest quality – it was dark and we were all quite tired… for those of you who don’t know, I’m the one in the blue top, and the long boots.

Zettie Jan and I Jan and P Jan and P2 Zettie and Jan

Of Businesses and Books…

For quite some time now, I’ve been selling Avon products to the girls at work and after about six months, the commissions are finally carrying the business! *Happy Dance!*  Now, having a head for business, and the personality for direct sales, I decided to start another sideline business selling Herbalife products.  You’ve all seen the tremendous amount of weight I lost…if not…read this post.

Now, I’m not going to lie and say it was easy – it was damn hard work, both in and out of the gym – especially when it came to drinking my shake on a winter’s morning, but hey, the results speak for themselves.  The extra protein in the shake also helped me build muscle and I’m more focused than I have been for a long time, drinking their Herbal Beverage once daily.  I have loads of energy to do the things I enjoy – gym, work, walking.  At first I was really sceptical about selling when Steve approached me with the idea – but after attending two business opportunity meetings with him, and hearing others’ success stories, seeing the marketing plan, hearing that business can be done in over 80 countries, that they’re listed on the NY Stock Exchange and understanding that I would have an amazing support base, I was sold.  Two weeks into the business and I am chuffed to say I’ve made R625 profit.  I smiled very broadly when a friend sent me this…she gets me!  I made this my BBM profile- and whatsapp profile pic and it has got me some business 🙂

HL

I’ve already got a few return customers, so this is going to grow.  I’m hoping to sign a few friends up, so that they too can experience the benefits of the products, and so my business can grow.  Watch this space people!  Mid-Thirty Misfit is going places – in a stylish, healthy body!!

What’s great too is that there is no conflict of interests because while Herbalife does have health and beauty products, its focus is on good health and sport nutrition, so some of my Avon customers are showing an interest.  I’m super excited, because this extra cash comes in very handy, especially when one considers…I’m moving into my own place next month!  **Another Happy Dance**

The place is fully furnished, with two bedrooms (although with the right amount of shuffling the furniture about, I can make it three!), two bathrooms and a garage for my car.  I get the keys on the 15th of January and will move in the following Saturday.  A number of my friends have indicated that they will come and help me unpack my boxes, so the move should be quick and painless.  One thing I will say is that I have a truck load of books.  I couldn’t believe just how many boxes I have labelled “books”.  I’m quite sure I can start my a new town library! While packing the last bookshelf yesterday, I came across my very first book – “The Wind in the Willows”, inscribed – This Book Prize is awarded to Mid-Thirty Misfit, for the Most Improved Reader, Grade 2, December 8th, 1987.  Exactly 26 years to the day I received it.  I will pass that book on to my son/daughter one day.

Continuing with books, I’ve finished The Shack by William P. Young – it’s been on my shelf about five years already.  I was so taken with his writing style that I hurried off to the bookstore to get myself his next book:

Cross Roads

I only started reading it last night, so I can’t really say much more than, “I’m intrigued…”

I best get back to work…there is lots to be done before the holidays start on the 20th.  And yes, I know I still haven’t blogged about the Peace of Eden weekend.  I must, I know.  And I will.  Promise!

Wine Tasting in Herold…

It is scary just how quickly time flies, especially at this time of the year.  I have realized, with some dread, that it is a little over six weeks to Christmas!  And, with that said, a little over five weeks until we close for the summer holidays.  Eek!  There is so much still to do.  But, being a little more in control of my internal panic button, I am still taking time out to relax and recharge my batteries, like I did during two weekends in October, with friends, both old and new…

The first was with Elizabeth, Steve (who was no longer in a relationship with Michelle – not sure who broke it off, or why…) and another friend of ours Gerald.  We went wine tasting at Herold Wines, which is about 45 minutes from the town where we live.

We set off on the Saturday afternoon, the pouring rain not dampening our spirits.  We drove in Gerald’s 4 x 4 as we were travelling over the historic Montagu Pass, which is not a tarred road.  It wasn’t really necessary as many day to day cars travel the road, but it was definitely more comfortable.  The 45 minute journey took substantially longer than expected, but only because Elizabeth and I kept screaming “stop”, jumping out and snapping pictures.

Image

Image

We eventually arrived…

Image

Image

The range of wines is limited to six, so the tasting went quickly…

20131012_152458

and then we headed off to our digs for the evening, a self-catering cottage on the farm called Flufftail.

IMG-20131026-WA0010

It was quaint, clean and comfortable.  The water was hot, there was a fireplace and best of all…no cell phone reception, so we could really enjoy each other’s company.

IMG-20131026-WA0011 IMG-20131026-WA0014 IMG-20131026-WA0016 IMG-20131026-WA0019 IMG-20131026-WA0023

We stayed up quite late, but as is par for the course, Elizabeth was up first, then Gerald and then Steve, and as much as I tried to pretend not to hear the noise, I was up just after five too.

Steve went for a run, and Elizabeth and I decided to take a walk before breakfast.  There is something magical about farm life…

20131013_073440 20131013_074655 20131013_074723 20131013_075140 IMG-20131014-WA0007

Returning from our walk, we quickly prepared breakfast, while Gerald and Steve had a serious man-to-man talk at the fence … I love this photo because it looks like they are peeing at the fence, but they aren’t.

20131013_092217

It seems that everywhere we go, someone always ends up with wet feet or shoes…

IMG-20131026-WA0005

But, as with all good things…the visit soon came to an end and we had to head home…taking a few more pics along the way…

20131012_150244 20131012_151105 20131013_095519 IMG-20131026-WA0004

Our journey ended with a quick lunch of leftovers at the beach.

I am so blessed to be able to make memories with the most amazing friends.  Life is good!

I will put up the post about my latest camping trip (the second October outing) either tomorrow or Thursday, so…pop by for another visit!

In the Pursuit of Happiness…I went…well…read it and find out…

First of all, before I continue this post, there are a few things you should know…

1. I don’t camp. If it doesn’t have four solid walls and a roof, I don’t sleep in it. If it’s on wheels, I’m not keen on sleeping in it either.

2. I don’t mind the rain, as longs as I am between four solid walls and a roof.

3. I have a love affair…with my bed. Sure, I sleep in hotels on the odd occasion, but I’m always happy to go home and sleep in my own bed. I have an orthopaedic mattress, you see…

4. Dogs should be taught that barking at night is a disturbance. In fact, I personally think it should be covered by the nuisance by-laws.

5. I like my shoes and socks dry.

6. I love hot, clear running water.

7. I like to be able to get fully dressed after a bath.

8. I am not much of a mariner.

Now that you have a semi-picture of the prima donna I can be, you will enjoy the story that lies ahead. I went camping this past weekend. In a tent. Close to home though, beautiful scenery…

20131006_064443

IMG-20131007-WA0021

IMG-20131007-WA0008

but still…in a tent. For those of you who are a bit slow on the uptake, a tent doesn’t have four walls and a roof. It is a material structure, which, if not properly erected will either implode on you during your not-so-comfortable-slumber, or simply blow over in a gale.
It’s amazing that whenever I plan something outdoorsy, something will happen. In this case, everything will happen.

Two weeks ago it was my 34th birthday and I decided that in this new life year, I would try everything, retaining the good…so I thought camping would be a good place to start. I sent out invitations to friends asking them to join me this past Saturday for fun, laughter and memory-making in the sun. My invitation was received with quite a substantial amount of enthusiasm and timeous RSVP’s. A good sign…

Saturday arrived somewhat sooner than I’d anticipated, but I got up early and went with my Dad to the campsite. He was going to set up the motorhome for him and Mom and I was going to pitch a tent for Elizabeth and I.

20131005_101514
Steve and his new girlfriend, Michelle joined us later, along with Sarah (another friend from the gym), her boyfriend, David and another mutual friend, Jack. Elizabeth arrived some time later, a little green around the gills with flu, but soldiering on as usual.

Dad was cooking up a pasta storm while we all sat around watching him. He is so incredibly at ease doing the caveman-thing, that none of us wanted to interfere.

20131005_140205

We had wine to focus on.

20131005_161940

Pasta was set aside for us to enjoy after the rugby. The clash of the world’s best…the All Blacks vs the Springboks. We all piled into the cars and headed off to a local haunt to watch the game. Despite all our cheering, the Springboks lost the game, and we pretty much lost our will to live.

Exiting the pub we were greeted by rain… Putting my best game-face on, I drove back to the campsite, thinking that Steve and Michelle were right behind us. Mom was snug under the covers in the motorhome and dad was waiting for us ever so patiently. Sarah, David and Jack decided to have dinner in their tent, but were soon piled into ours as they’d left the flap unzipped and as a result, all their goods and chattels were wet. After about a half hour, Steve and Michelle had still not returned and getting worried, I called. Steve told me they’d got lost. A likely story 😉

Now seven people in a four man tent is not exactly a bright idea, but we had good fun nevertheless. Laughing and joking and regaling tales of our childhood. I took a sip of my wine (which was in a mug because all the glasses were in the now-locked motorhome. I took a big swig and felt something solid go down my throat. I spat the wine out very quickly, but it was already too late. Jiminy Cricket had made is way down my throat. Thankfully he was already disinfected by the alcohol.

The rain had dampened spirits just a touch and soon everyone was ready for bed. Sarah and David decided to rather go home and come back the next morning; Jack did the same (he had to work at six a.m.). Part of me wished I was going home too, but soon the rhythmic pitter-patter of the rain lulled me to sleep. I was quite warm in my fluffy blanket and comforter on my inflatable mattress.

Said mattress did not remain inflated for during the night, so consequently, I had a not-so-comfortable-slumber. But not before first being assaulted by said mattress. Due to the fact that it was deflating, it was somewhat flexible, so every time I tried to turn over, which was often, the stupid thing would wrap around me like a hot dog, or, if I sat up, it would bend at my waist, knocking me on the back of my head, making me wish that it was morning already so that I could hunt down the barking dog that kept waking me up in the first place. I vowed that if that dog emerged I would bark right back at it.

Morning broke very quickly, with Elizabeth waking me up at 05:30 because she needed to go to the loo. Seriously?! “MTM, please come with me. I don’t feel well…” So, being the trusty friend I am, I unzipped the tent only to be confronted by a haze of smoke. Thinking WTF?! I tried to get out the tent only to walk straight into the gauze. That’s right people, I didn’t unzip the door properly. There are two zips. Once the second one was open, the smokiness was gone.

Steve was already up. Given the fact that he has to be at the gym at 5 a.m. every morning, it is understandable that his body-clock couldn’t sleep late. Michelle lay blissfully unaware of everything around her. Poor woman had worked the entire Friday night, and not had any sleep after coming off shift the Saturday.

After trotting off to the loo, Elizabeth and I wanted coffee and found Steve at dad’s magic bucket which warms water, but alas, does not boil it. Desperate for caffeine I asked Steve if he’d go to the gas station and buy us some and he obliged. He’d just finished putting on his shoes when Mom and Dad woke up which meant he didn’t have to anymore and we could make coffee in the motorhome! Parents to the rescue!

Now caffeinated, I was actually ready to face the world. I just couldn’t get warm though. Turns out that my sneakers, fabulous as they are, they are not waterproof, so as long as I kept walking on the wet grass, the water would seep in, wetting my socks, resulting in me staying cold.

After changing socks about five times, I decided that the only way to get warm would be to have a bath or a shower. I couldn’t get the shower taps turned on, so I decided to have a bath. I nearly plutzed when I opened the tap and brown water came out. Elizabeth was in the opposite bathroom and her water too, was brown. I was not amused. Turns out that the park uses the water from the river which is filtered to remove organisms and such, but it can’t remove the colour. I was horrified!

Knowing me better than I know myself, Elizabeth shoved me aside and poured about half a bottle of bath foam in the bath making the brown water invisible under a white blanket of sweet-smelling bubbles. I eventually climbed into the bath and was pleasantly surprised that the water is even hotter than ours at home! I lay and soaked for a while. When I was ready to eventually wash myself, I realized that I had no soap. Crap! I bemoaned my lot to Elizabeth who came to my rescue with body wash, but not after negotiating the use of my sponge because she’d left hers at home. Fair deal…

Out of the bath and ready to get back into dry clothes…only to discover I’d left my underwear in the tent! So I had to go commando…first thing I did when I got back to the tent was put on my bra and panty.

Dad being the awesome man that he is already had a fire going, so Elizabeth and I held our shoes over the flames and got them dry. A flame licked my shoelace and it caught alight, but I slapped it out very quickly.

IMG-20131007-WA0023

I’d rather have wet shoes than no shoes! We soon found out that the fire was for breakfast, not shoe-drying. Sausages, eggs and buns on the menu. Camping was turning out to be real fun.

Mom wasn’t feeling well, so I loaded her, and some of the stuff we wouldn’t be needing, like the bedding and my clothes in the car and quickly dashed her home. Once back at the site, I ended up with wet shoes again, so Dad said I should check in the motorhome. He remembered seeing mom’s wellies in there somewhere…I found them and soon I was happy camper because I was going to have dry feet for the rest of the day. Or so I thought…

Other friends had let me know that while they wouldn’t be able to camp, they’d join us for a barbeque on Sunday. They started arriving and soon we were a happy group of Dad, colleagues, friends and kids. I should mention at this point that I did this exact same barbeque thing, at the exact same venue for my birthday last year, and it was a great success. One of my friends Yasmin, who was there last year and I decided to repeat history and hire a pedal boat.

IMG-20131006-WA0000

We pedalled up river back to the campsite and Steve and some other guy-friends were standing at the fire, close to the riverbank, so when we pedalled in, Steve grabbed the rope and pulled us in. Yasmin and I couldn’t manoeuvre the rudder to come alongside the bank, so we “parked” as best we would with Steve holding the rope tight. We both got up at the same time and balance along the pontoons, but Yasmin stepped off a split second sooner than I did which resulted in the boat tipping and me going arse over kettle, fully clothed, with heavy wellies on, straight into the murky brown water.

Apparently it was like watching something in slow-motion – but it was not slow enough for someone to reach out their hand and grab me without falling in themselves. I emerged from the water like someone who’d been baptized by a madman, hair all matted on my face, clothes clinging to my figure and wellies filled with water and Lord knows what else.

The guys helped me onto the bank but once I was up and I’d realized what had happened, I burst into tears. Tears of embarrassment and shock. The fright was bigger than the embarrassment, because some years ago I dived into the shallow end of a swimming pool, which resulted in my cracking my head open and breaking my nose. The doctor said that it was a miracle that I hadn’t broken my neck. It dawned on me at that moment when I saw everyone that I could very well have fallen back, and hit my head, or broken my neck because I didn’t know how deep the water was.

Michelle and Elizabeth both came running with towels and calmed me down. I was shivering with cold. Elizabeth took me back to the ablution block and ran me another hot bath. At this stage I was so cold I didn’t care what colour the water was. The problem arose when I realized I had no clothes. They were at home, with mom. All Elizabeth had to lend me was her pyjama pants and her top. I put them on, this time forced to go commando, only to realize that the pants were short and the hair on my legs was so long you could pick up a signal from a space satellite. I grabbed another pair of pants out of her bag – mom’s very bright, pink, fluffy pants and pulled them over. Ah…legs covered.

I had to put on one of Dad’s tops over Elizabeth’s one because without it, it was quite obvious that I wasn’t wearing a bra. I really looked glam. Trendsetter, I tell you!

After lunch everyone went home and we packed up camp, with many wonderful memories. I can’t wait to go camping again, but next time I’ll be a tad more prepared. I’ll make sure:

1. To inflate the mattress extra hard and put newspaper underneath it (I heard it keeps the cold away).

2. To have more than one pair of shoes (and to make sure they’re water proof)

3. To have more than two pairs of socks.

4. To have more than one change of clothes, and not to take them home before I’m sure I’m not going to need them.

5. To have soap and all my clothes in the bathroom when I go to clean myself up.

6. To wear my bathing costume if I’m going to be close to the water.

7. To check my cup/glass of wine for bugs before simply taking a swig.

Next camping trip is booked for 25 and 26 October, at a place called Peace of Eden… but this is a different type of camping – the tents have beds in them, and there is a shower off the tent. Carmen and Ewan arranged it quite a while ago. I am looking forward to it!

galleryimage-tent-inside