If I look back to winter, then quite a lot of my weekends with the girls looked like this – after all, we had a pretty pleasant winter in terms of weather this year:
1) Spend a little time playing at home while I do a couple of household chores. (Mind you, quite often joined by the other little girls in the complex!)
2) Spend some time eating pancakes and playing in the sand pit at Root 44 Market.
3) Enjoy a drink and play on the jungle gyms at Mondeor Garden Restaurant (with Chantelle during her split).
4) Sundays almost always involved pony rides and pancakes at Blaauwklippen Family Market.
5) And yes, every now and then the girls would help me do a little shopping. They rather enjoy the trips through to Cape Garden Centre mind you. I wonder why…
And these photos? They’re all taken on just one pleasant weekend back in June!
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In hindsight, seems a pretty decent way of spending one’s weekends then, don’t you think? :)
One of the big surprises Chantelle had organised for my big birthday weekend away in Franschhoek was a private flight with the Stellenbosch Flying Club over at the Stellenbosch Airfield. Needless to say, she was devastated when we arrived there on the Saturday morning only to be told that it had to be cancelled due to the heavy cloud and mist conditions.
In fact, the next couple of reschedule attempts also fell through due to bad weather, so in the end we instructed them to rather contact us once the weather finally looked good – which is exactly what happened this past Saturday!
With the flight scheduled for 12:00, Chantelle, the girls and I arrived at the Stellenbosch Airfield (just off the R44 to Stellenbosch) with plenty of time to spare, signed all the papers and met my pilot for the day, a young 22 year old chap by the name of Benrico Vermeulen.
Chantelle and the girls settled down over by the clubhouse on what truly was a gorgeous winters day – lots of sun, no wind, not too cold, and plenty of grass for the girls to run around and play on – whilst I headed off with Benrico to inspect what would the very first small plane that I’ve ever flown in before!
The Stellenbosch Flying Club own quite a few light aircraft which they utilize as trainers, and my plane for the session was to be their little (actually, not really that little) Cessna 172 Skyhawk – which as Wikipedia tells me is actually the world’s most successful light airplane ever:
The Cessna 172 Skyhawk is a four-seat, single engine, high wing, fixed-wing aircraft made by the Cessna Aircraft Company. First flown in 1955, more Cessna 172s have been built than any other aircraft… Measured by its longevity and popularity, the Cessna 172 is the most successful aircraft in history. Cessna delivered the first production models in 1956. As of 2015, Cessna, and its partners, had built more than 43,000.
(This particular one was built in the 1980’s as far as Benrico knows – which makes sense considering that the interior reminded me of that of an old Datsun bakkie!)
Some instructions, a lot of interesting things pointed out, and the next thing I knew I was seated next to Benrico and being asked whether I would prefer a normal take-off or a short take-off as we taxied into position. Not knowing the difference, I replied “whichever is the most fun one”, and after an incredibly short run up we were aloft in the air, with my mouth hanging wide open in disbelief at how utterly effortless the flaps take-off had been!
We weren’t up in the sky for more than a minute or two before Benrico urged me to take the controls. (Also, I didn’t know that pretty much all planes have twin sets of controls, but in retrospect, it certainly makes sense for trainer craft to have dual controls).
Take the controls?!?
I hadn’t been counting on that, and after a moment or two of backwards and forwards thought I did nervously and gingerly take them – oh my word, what an unbelievable rush! I was piloting a plane through the sky as if it was the easiest thing in the world! (True, I didn’t have my feet on the foot controls, but it counts so I’m taking it.)
What an indescribable feeling of joy and freedom! No wonder I’m grinning like an idiot in this snap that Benrico took of me!:)
The scenery on such a beautiful day was absolutely stunning. Clear blue skies, mountains all around us, initially the farmland of Stellenbosch below us, before giving way to the tennis courts of Somerset West and then finally the overhead magnificence of Strand, the deep blue ocean stretching out for miles in front of us.
Absolute heaven on earth in terms of landscape beauty!
We did some tight turns, flew over the beach and the sea, lazily circled around the Strand, Benrico answered my hundreds of questions, and eventually I turned us back towards Stellenbosch, before relinquishing the controls and shutting up in order to let Benrico concentrate and bring us back down to earth safely.
Seriously, what an amazing and highly recommended experience.
If you have some extra cash lying around (the 1 hour session cost about R1,400) and have never done this before, then you are missing out big time.
Definitely something that is worth ticking off one’s bucket list! :)
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Needless to say, Chantelle was relieved to see me back safe and sound on the ground, the girls were excited to see their daddy back, and so to end off what had been a truly amazing afternoon for me, we headed off to the Root 44 market (literally on the airfield’s doorstep) for some coffee, sweet treats and playtime in the sand pit!
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Oh, and just in case you were wondering, you need about 60 hours of flight time to qualify for your licence. In other words, tempting as an option for when I eventually reach my midlife crisis period I think…
Following our feeding of the ducks at the Strand duck pond (kicking off our jam-packed family activities weekend), we found ourselves driving down the R44 in the direction of Stellenbosch, our destination being the always family friendly Root 44 market – the end goal… well pancakes with the kids of course!
As always, Pure Pancakes didn’t disappoint, and soon we found ourselves a nice little spot on the grass in the kids play area on the edge of yet another bustling market day, and with all the pancakes now happily devoured piece by piece, it was time to play!
In the blink of an eye, Emily was clambering up and over everything (loving the slide at the moment it would seem – keeps me on my toes mind you!), whilst Jessica made a beeline for the sand pit – where she pretty much spent the rest of the morning!
Chantelle wandered off to browse the market (she doesn’t get to come out here quite as often as I do), whilst I just sat back and watched the kids at play.
So certainly not a horrible way to spend a beautiful Saturday morning then! :)
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I had to laugh, but poor old Jess has properly outgrown all of her 2-3 size clothes. Today I got her all dressed up for our Daddy and Daughter day of entertainment while Mommy worked the Willowbridge Market, and the plain and simple green t-shirt that Jess had picked out to wear pretty much left the whole of the bottom of her tummy uncovered!
However, she was determined to wear this piece today, so we hopped into the car and after stopping off to purchase some baking ingredients for Chantelle, I made a detour off to the mall, where we parked, marched in to Pick ‘n Pay Clothing, grabbed a 3-4 t-shirt in the same shade of green, purchased it, and once outside the store, promptly whipped off the tummy-baring, offending top for the much better fitting new wardrobe addition!
(Full disclaimer, she made me buy a pink one as well).
With her tummy now nicely covered, we were ready for the rest of the expedition, which saw us head out for some time spent at the Root 44 Market, playing in the play area on the slides and in the sand pit, not to mention wolfing down pancakes and listening to the live music on show.
Following on from there we also popped down to Helderberg Farm where we bought some carrots and feed and spent a decent amount of time strolling around and feeding the bunny rabbits, ducks, and rather vicious goats!
Oh, and there was even enough time before mommy arrived back home to still pop into the shops on our way home for supplies and booze (we’ve got visitors in the form of Retha and Miguel this evening), as well as spend some time crashing an endless amount of planes into the water in Battlestations: Pacific on the XBOX 360 – something that seems to amuse Jessica to no end!
Anyway, the point is that once we had gotten home and I threw her now very dirty clothes in the wash, I was forced to dig through her wardrobe to find something that fits her – the end result being that I had to settle on her new, just purchased this morning, bright pink t-shirt.
In other words, my little baby girl is definitely growing “up” quickly! :)
P.S. She went down the slide pictured above really, REALLY fast. Probably explains the expression!
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Despite the rainy weekend that most of Cape Town seemed to experience this past weekend, we here at Gordon’s Bay enjoyed quite a pleasant weekend weather-wise, meaning that Chantelle, Jess and I actually had a pretty good weekend together.
Friday evening we entertained Monty and Cheryl for supper (they had been here the whole day helping Chantelle out with her baking), and after they left, I ended up playing Fable III well into the early hours of the morning, meaning that in terms of beauty sleep, well I didn’t get all that much of it in the end!
Saturday morning Chantelle and I first took Jessica out for a stroll along the Bikini Beach road and then on to the harbour wall, before deciding to hop into the car and make the trip out to the Audacia Wine Estate to pay a visit to the popular Root 44 market.
And boy, they sure have been busy over the last couple of months, that’s for sure! They’ve significantly altered the layout for the better, everyone is now in covered tents meaning they can operate come rain or shine, there is plenty of seating both inside and out, and more importantly, they’ve finally managed to make the foot traffic flow such that it’s actually a benefit to the traders – at the start their layout was a little wrong, meaning that most people would in fact bypass the traders completely, one of the main reasons Chantelle and I decided against trading there in the first place!
We strolled around, took in the sights, enjoyed some tasty German food, and just plain and simple relaxed in the good vibe and ambiance created by the very talented live musician plying his trade on the day.
Eventually we headed off home and after a bit of an afternoon nap for Jess and Chantelle (more Fable III for me), we popped into the local Pick ‘n Pay for supplies, returning home to whip up two fabulous homemade pizzas and then settle down to watch the thoroughly entertaining The Avengers (still one of the best comic book movies done right!).
Sunday we took a trip through to Somerset Mall so that Chantelle could go and get a deep tissue massage in order to try and alleviate the terrible neck and back pain she’s currently suffering from. Luckily for Jess and me it turned out that Somerset Mall was actually hosting their charity book event over the weekend, meaning that Jess and I happily strolled from stall to stall, paging through kid’s book after kid’s book, and eventually coming home with a nice little haul of new things to read to Jess!
On the way home we stopped at the Mountain Streams Nursery to partake in some hot coffee and something a little sweet (A scone for Chantelle and a slice of Lemon Meringue for me!) at the homely Garden Café, a visit which little Jess in particular enjoyed, because after she polished off her chips, it was outside to investigate the birds and the fish, not to mention the horses which we spotted on the farm next door!
Back home, it was more Fable III for me, some Joy Ride Turbo on the XBOX with Chantelle, a delicious lamb and pork braai for supper, and a surprise viewing of Dumb and Dumber (seriously couldn’t remember that movie any more), capping off a good Sunday on what had been a pretty enjoyable and relaxing family weekend.
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