In just ten or so days’ time, Chantelle and I will be packing our bags, bundling the girls into the car, and fumbling to find a radio station that both of us can agree on, all so that we can hit the road and enjoy what should be a super awesome, nine nights long mid-year school holidays breakaway.
Interesting fact: this will officially be the longest road trip holiday that Chantelle and I have ever had with the girls – so it should be a pretty interesting experience all around!
Now, knowing that I despise just languishing in one place for too long, you might have guessed that this holiday road trip will involve a fair bit of driving around… and you would be 100% correct. Of course it does.
So, on to the rather exciting breakdown for our upcoming July 2017 holiday then:
We kick things off with a three night stay in Oudtshoorn (a place I’ve last been to a full decade ago!), using the wonderful looking De Oude Meul Country Lodge as our base of operations. From there we should be more than adequately placed to visit with ostriches, cheetahs and camels, go spot a waterfall or two, and of course enter some very famous underground caves.
Next we head straight up to the Main Rest Camp in the Addo Elephant National Park, where we’ll sleep for just one night. This should be an unforgettable first time experience for the girls, and I am looking forward in particular to staking out the main waterhole with them come sundown!
(Bonus fact: the last time that I was in Addo was back in 2009, when Chantelle and I embarked on our epic Honeymoon road trip around the country!)
From Addo we will then drive down to Port Elizabeth and spend three nights there in the company of Evan and Natasha. The girls are SUPER excited at the prospect of playing with their friend Evalynne again, while I have to say, I’m secretly rather excited to try and find an opportunity to slip out and visit the PE branch of the SAAF Museum, or perhaps make an attempt to see the infamous Cape Recife Lighthouse if the wind blows that way.
The last leg of our July holiday sees us shack up at The Gull self-catering chalet (right on Myoli beach!) in Sedgefield for two nights, a town of particular nostalgic value to me seeing as that was where I spent the vast majority of my holidays as a child thanks to it being home to my mom’s folks.
In other words, I may be even MORE excited than the girls for this upcoming little breakaway! ;)
The girls and I had the pleasure of spending some time down at the fishing/holiday coastal town of Gouritz (or Gouritsmond depending on who you ask) last December, with the trip being sweetened even further after learning that Chantelle could also come down to spend a few days with us on our holiday. (December holidays are of course peak season in the Guest House industry, meaning that while the rest of us play, she has to stay!)
Gouritz’s main beach carries an official Blue Flag status (meaning that it is a very well looked after beach in terms of water quality and facilities), and while that itself is great fun in terms of waves, a lot of the families with smaller kids prefer the sheltered tranquility of the Gouritz river mouth – which is honestly just as great, thanks to its soft white sand and calm, warm waters!
Very recently the Gouritsmond committee decided to have a beautiful wooden boardwalk installed in order to make access to the river mouth easier for elderly and young alike.
The project was pretty expensive (around R160,000 apparently), but the result is spectacular – a snaking, raised wooden walkway that lifts you above the sand and gives you a great view of the underlying dune ecology, while at the same time making access to the river itself a breeze.
For anyone that knows us, you’ll know that my girls aren’t at all fond of getting near water that might have living things in it, meaning that for the most part swimming in rivers and the sea is a complete no no.
However, with mommy on hand we did half manage to get these two little drama queens wet!
It didn’t last very long though.
So while the girls played on the sand with their Ouma, Chantelle and I got to spend some alone time in the water – which really wasn’t that bad a way to spend the last day of the year really.
(Especially if you knew that the night was going to be rounded off with a spit roasted lamb!)
Also, handy tip. Keep your slip-slops at hand when visiting the river. That walkway and surrounding white sand gets seriously hot in the middle of summer! :)
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Plus, a map – just in case you feel in need of a fishing holiday too:
Going for a holiday overseas is pretty daunting. So much planning, so much thinking, so much packing. Of course, one thing that doesn’t usually cross your mind is “What if something goes wrong?”.
Well it probably should, because just imagine you slip on a damp ramp in an Austrian restaurant and your knee folds in ways knees are designed to fold? Or perhaps you’re strolling around Mexico City, snapping pictures and then step into an open manhole courtesy of a stolen manhole cover?
Sure its funny now, but these things do invariably happen, which is exactly where the concept of travel insurance comes in to play.
Travel insurance is in essence a short-term cover that applies when you are travelling internationally. In general it covers a range of things from trip cancellation and luggage loss to emergency medical and personal accident assistance – the emergency medical probably being the most important of the lot!
(The South African rand doesn’t exactly stretch far in most foreign countries, making the thought of expensive foreign medical fees rather daunting to say the least!)
Respected insurance provider AIG now also plays in the travel insurance space, and has packages suited for individual travel, business travel, and for those of you still young enough to qualify, student travel.
So worth a thought then when next you find yourself on the airline website busy pricing tickets for your latest overseas getaway!
(Please note that this is a Sponsored Post, placed via the MyScoop blog advertising network.)
Related Link: AIG Travel Insurance
As you might have noted from the recent run of blog posts (almost all photo gallery entries mind you), Jessica, Emily and I really did get up to a lot over this December break. The girls all ended their respective playschool years around the 12th of December, and I joined them on leave around the 18th, meaning that we’ve had a good two or so weeks of each other’s undivided attention.
Unfortunately Chantelle was working for pretty much the entire duration of my two weeks’ leave period (in the end, she actually got two days off over that entire period, when at the start of the run she was expected to get none!), meaning that it was pretty much just me and the girls most of the time, and as you might have been able to tell by now, I did my absolute best to ensure that we did at least one fun outing on each and every day of our holiday together!
We fed ducks, we fed rabbits, we saw monkeys, we saw butterflies, we played at Blasters, we looked at lions, we visted with Oupa and Ouma, we swam with Granpa and Granny, we opened Christmas Presents, we ate Christmas lunch, we played on New Year’s eve, we ate New Year’s lunch, we went to the beach, we went to outdoor markets, we fed chickens, we played at Mondeor, we devoured McDonalds ice cream… well, you get the picture.
I spent the second last day of my holiday with Chantelle, Dad and Jess at Butterfly World – Mom unfortunately missed out due to an emergency Devon look-after call, following the unfortunate burning of Riley’s fingers on the lawnmower.
It was a beautiful summer’s day and despite the unbearable humidity in the butterfly enclosure, and what seems to be the loss of the porcupine exhibit, as well as the dried up river, little Jess seemed to thoroughly enjoy her big expedition.
We capped off the visit with a quick bite to eat, followed by a trip back to Pop’s pad for a nice, refreshing swim in the pool (while Chantelle enjoyed an impromptu nap). So, a good day out then.
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So I’m hurtling towards the end of my year-end vacation time (ugh, work starts on Monday again), and overall December and Christmas holiday 2012 has been quite the relaxing and enjoyable time, so I thought I’d better highlight some of it just for reference’s sake.
Other than the passing of Chantelle’s grandfather early December, the period has been an entirely positive one, and it all kicked off with the awesome birthday party celebrating Zandea’s 3rd birthday. Dean and Zania went all out, and I must admit to feeling a tinge of pride when Jessica was the only little one not to run away crying at the appearance of Dean in his traditional Father Christmas suit!
With most of Chantelle’s time being taken up by all the baking for her Sacred Ground Franschhoek deli contract, Jessica and I found myself spending an inordinate amount of time together, spending plenty of time at the beach and in the sea, wandering about the mall or any plastics shop that I could find, or visiting with the grandparents in Bellville, always packing in the swimsuits for just in case! (I even bought an electric pump and gazeebo to make the outside swims for little Jess in her inflatable pool more fun).
We pulled off a brilliant night market at Hathersage Farm to end off the market season, where we were lucky enough to be joined by both sets of parents, making it a proper family night out on what turned out to be a glorious summer’s evening with the most incredible vibe.
We had a stunning picnic at the Helderberg nature reserve with Ryan, Evan, Natasha and little Evalynne (plenty of frisbee was thrown that day), and we entertained Wayne and Candice, first at our place (or more specifically, breakfast at Sunset Spur in Gordon’s Bay), followed by a return visit to Hermanus. (This was particularly awesome because we hadn’t seen Wayne in two years, basically since they moved up to Potchefstroom!). We played host to Retha, enjoyed a rare date night which saw Chantelle and I dine at the fabulous Casa in Willowbridge, followed up by the excellent Skyfall James Bond movie.
In addition to all of that, I played a disastrous, but hugely entertaining, round of golf with Dad, Ryan and Jaco at Bellville Golf Course (thanks lastminutegolf.co.za), and although our New Year’s celebrations fell a little flat (fallen through plans and a frozen bottle of champagne), our Christmas 2012 was pretty damn awesome that to the brilliant Christmas day family get together that Claire and Riley organised.
I’ve been playing Gears of War 2 and FIFA 13 with Ryan at night, and even found myself helping out on a cake one evening, though the only true constant that played itself out each and every night was of course the big clean-up after a day of Jess running around the house! :)
So yeah, despite not going away or being particularly productive in my two and half week long, well deserved break from work, I still managed to make a good thing out of Christmas Vacation 2012 I reckon.
“Well Paddy, what do you mean by that?” asked a startled Brian.
“Three years ago, I thoroughly enjoyed the trip to the Bahamas. But on the return, we found out that my wife Victoria was pregnant. Good news for sure. Then two years ago, the trip to Hawaii was just as fantastic, but come to the end and Victoria was pregnant once again! And as you very well know, last year the trip to Mauritius was a right old success, but would you believe it, on the return we found out that Victoria was once again expecting!”
“Well, that’s a fantastic tale Paddy, but it still doesn’t tell me what you want to do differently for this year’s annual vacation?” replied Brian.
“That’s the thing Brian. This year I’m thinking of taking my wife Victoria along with me on holiday for a change!”
So for the next four days I’m back to being a bachelor again, what with Chantelle and Jessica abandoning me to join Retha (who is taking a break from her South Korea English teaching job) for a nice four day long breakaway to Retha’s folks’ home in Nieuwoudtville.
The two of them picked up Retha and left on Thursday morning already, and from what I understand, should be returning home on Monday afternoon, just in time for Chantelle to pick up her first work shift in the evening. Shame, it is a long 4 to 6 hour drive for poor Jessica and mommy to endure, but as always I’m sure the payoff of a nice relaxing break from home will more than make up for it!
Anyway, it’s not like I’ve been left twiddling my thumbs this weekend mind you. I think this evening I’ll head over to the cinema to catch either Amazing Spider-man or Dark Knight Rises, Saturday will see me joining the pals for the rugby and a bit of a braai in the afternoon, followed by supper with Ryan and the folks, and capped off with me sleeping over at Ryan’s place. Sunday I’ll do some shopping in Bellville before heading off to join up with the friends in order to celebrate Zania’s birthday as well as break in Dean’s newly built braai room.
Yeah, so hopefully I’m kept busy enough such that I forget that I’m already missing my two loved ones. In any event, I’m hope they’re having a good time and that Jessie is at least giving mommy a little bit of a chance to rest!
(Had to chuckle though. First night off, and what do I do instead of putting my feet up to relax? I initiate a one-man braai while completely revamping the layout of the study. Sigh.)
So my year-end leave officially kicked in last Friday (thank you Mr. Public Holiday), and although we can’t go away for a proper year-end vacation (as per usual, it is full steam ahead for Chantelle at the guest house), I am determined to get out and about as much as possible so that it at least feels like I’ve made a proper break from work.
So far we’re off to a good start (well apart from the fact that both Chantelle and I are struggling with a bit of sickness at the moment, Chantelle bearing the brunt of it), with Friday being a proper Gordon’s Bay beach and harbour walkabout afternoon, with Jessie and me happily ambling along under the blazing midday sun – though perhaps for a little too long as both Jess and myself ended up with a bit of a sunburn on our exposed arms! (Needless to say, a) the pram didn’t provide enough shade as I thought it would, and b) Mommy was quite, quite cross with Daddy! Next time, instead of packing the suntan lotion in the pink bag and just leaving it there, I guess I’d better make use of it!).
Both Bikini Beach and the main beach are doing well (though the crowds are definitely reduced this year), with people rather enjoying the sun and unusual absence of any wind – with some entrepreneur even going so far as to bring in a number of fun kids’ rides and setting up shop right next to the Spur!
Saturday was an off day for Chantelle and in an attempt to squeeze even more birthday gifts out of her 31st birthday this year, she invited all our friends out to join us for an afternoon braai, followed by some Uncle Barry’s soft-serves on the beach afterwards. For a change we had a full house (well, apart from Evan who was called in to work), and in the end we enjoyed a great get together in some glorious Summer weather, which was doubly as sweltering for me out in front of that super hot braai fire! (You know it’s a good day when I turn the front outdoor fountain on.)
(Just a note though, while the braai was pretty awesome, the prior trip to the mall for supplies wasn’t so much – I hate shopping centres at this time of the year!)
Sunday was a proper outing as Chantelle, Jess and myself headed out towards Blouberg to join up with Monty, Cheryl and Rob at the famous Blue Peter Hotel, where we enjoyed a rather scrumptious lunch at a spacious table on what turned out to be a glorious Summer afternoon! This was followed by a quick stop in at the brand new super large Makro store, before heading to Bellville for a final round of coffee with the folks before the trek back home.
Monday was spend in large out at Somerset Mall, where we were in particular looking for a walking ring for Jessica, now that she has proved to us that she’s quite adept at standing for long periods of time on her flat feet. We eventually found one we liked (and enjoyed a round of Subway). Unfortunately for me though, on returning home and breaking it out of its box, I discovered that the ring was broken, meaning a frustrating return trip to the mall. Wonderful, just wonderful.
Tuesday was brunch at Hagglunds day, and with Chantelle heading off to work, it was a stroll along the beach for Jessie and Daddy, though this time I played it a lot safer and only ventured out once the sun had finished doing most of its damage for the day.
Right, and now you are pretty much up to date with my outings, and outside of watching lots of animated television and movies whilst looking after Jessica on a full time basis, that’s pretty much what the rest of my leave period is going to look like.
So perhaps not so much a vacation for me after all? O.o