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Hello lovelies,

And welcome back! ^_^ During July I had the chance to explore the town of Tulbagh, on a #visitWitzenberg trip with our content team. After spending a weekend here, I can safely say that Tulbagh is one of my new favourite gems in the Western Cape.

The lush winelands, beautiful country homes, charming cafes, friendly locals, and outdoor wildlife definitely made the trip memorable. Instead of gushing on about our time here, check out the photo’s below, and let me know what you think of Tulbagh! ^_^

Guinevere Guest Farm (C) Roseanna McBain

A visit to Guinevere Guest Farm resulted in driving along country lanes, tasting heavenly olive oils and wines (including a Pomegranate one), making friends with Shasha their friendly puppy, and touring the property.

Lush-landscape-Saronsberg-C-TG-Team

The cosy Saronsberg Vineyard cottages were our home during our #visitWitzenberg trip, and wow, is the property is gorgeous! The cellar tour and wine tasting is well priced, and highly recommended – I loved the 2012 Saronsberg Shiraz.

Things I love (C) Roseanna McBain

Things I Love decor (C) Roseanna McBain

If you want to eat out while here, I can say that Things I Love, and Readers Restaurant & Curious Cat Cafe, in the heart of Tulbagh, serve delicious dishes. Both also have plenty of eclectic items available for sale.

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With snow on the Matroosberg mountains, our team took a day trip out to Ceres early on Saturday morning, and I finally had my chance to touch snow, and build a snowman! If you plan on going to see snow in Ceres, going in a 4×4 or bakkie is recommended. Pack a second set of shoes and socks, wear gloves, a warm hat, hiking shoes, and take a bottle of water – the muddy hike up will ensure you’re thirsty when you reach the snow-playground.

Ceres Zipline Adventures (C) Roseanna McBain

While in Ceres, do go on a zipline tour. It’s fast-paced fun high above the river and you’ll get outstanding views of the area. No prior experience is necessary, as the guides will explain the what’s and how’s you need to know.

 

Until next time,

Ja ne,

Daughter of Dreams

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Hello darlings,

Thanks for tuning in again! ^-^

Sorry for not updating in ages, but as they say a picture is worth a thousand words, and here’s what I’ve been up to:

 

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Going to Indaba was an incredible four-day adventure which consisted of meeting interesting people, creating brand awareness and networking, and of course, bonding with my wonderful work colleagues.

African Sensations Lodge and Spa (C) Roseanna McBain

During Indaba we stayed at African Sensations Lodge and Spa, which is a little European-styled gem in Morningside. If you need to stay somewhere close to Durban central, I can highly recommend them! I’ll link to my “what I packed for Indaba” post soon enough – as I’m amazed that I fitted everything I needed into a weekender bag! Can you believe I’ve finally joined the ranks of minimalistic packers?

Half Day Bus Tour (C) Roseanna McBain

Andiamo-exterior-C-Roseanna-McBain

Don't miss the bus (C) Roseanna McBain

In June, I went on a half-day bus tour with  the amazing Elana E. We rode in style on a Hylton Ross bus, and stops included Andiamo Restaurant in the Cape Malay Quarter, Lagoon Beach Hotel in Blouberg Strand, and the gorgeous wine estate of Allée Bleue in Franschhoek. To keep spirits high during our #dontmissthebus trip, there were some interactive bus games provided by Dynamic Corporate Activities. All in all it was an educational and fun trip, with lots of special moments in between.

Rosie and Darryn @ Once in Cape Town

If you’ll be heading to the Mother City anytime soon, a stay at Once in Cape Town is highly recommended! This backpackers offers kitted-out rooms, good value pricing, a full restaurant and bar, and very friendly and helpful staff. They also organise weekly events, such as movie nights at and braais!

vWeekend trips and beauty (C) Roseanna McBain

With some sunny days in between all the rain and cold Cape Town was throwing at us, afternoon trips to Kalk Bay, Tokai forest, and sunset drives were in order, to fully make use of the rare, warm spells.

My beautiful sister and Ava.

My beautiful sister Desiree gave birth to my equally gorgeous niece, Ava Sophia. Welcome to the world little one! ^_^

The Hollow Cast (C) Roseanna McBain

And I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get on stage again as Doris the maid, in “The Hollow”. It’s an Agatha Christie crowd-pleaser, and the cast and crew were wonderful! I ended up doing an acting workshop right after the show ended – which was quite insightful – and helped to combat those post-production blues!

 

As you can see, I’ve been a busy, busy girl!

I have a few more upcoming trips for July and August, so you’ll get another photoblog update soon!

Until next time,

Daughter of Dreams

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Monkeyland treetops

If you read Part 1 of my overview of the Knysna Trip we took, you’ll know this post details the second half of our Saturday in Plett, during our content teams Knysna Weekend with our partners.

Saturday Mid-Morning

We left Tenikwa with heavy hearts, but were conscious that we were already running slightly behind on our itinerary (and it made me half-wish we had an Effie there to propel us onward to stay on schedule). So we madly dashed to the cars, bidding the wonderful Tenikwa staff farewell, and shot up the road to get to Monkeyland, which is the largest free-roaming primate sanctuary in the world!!

Canopy Bridge

We drove towards the massive enclosure rising up and towering above us. As I walked to the doorway chatting excitedly about what we were about to view, we were greeted by a chorus of “Welcome to Monkeyland” given to us by the international volunteers. They smiled, opened the doors and led us through a stone courtyard that had a tinkling a water fountain, into the main shop and reception area. Vijver (who gave me a tour of a sister site, the New Jukani Wildlife Sanctuary, later that day) met us at the interior reception and led us outside into Monkeyland, telling us that Hamedi, the Head Ranger would be with us shortly – he was a wonderful, informative, humours guide, and it’s easy to understand why he loved coming to work each day. Standing and looking around as we waited for our tour to begin, I can say the setting was incredibly beautiful, and being a lover of forests, I felt at home under the lush canopy of indigenous trees, which conveniently blocked most of light rain that drizzled down.

Cappuchin monkeys

You can read my full thoughts about our experience at the largest free roaming primate sanctuary, on my Monkeyland Primate Sanctuary post, with a second post about it due to appear on my work blog soon (I had so many facts from Hamedi and so many memorable moments, I couldn’t try and cram everything learnt into just the one blog post). Needless to say it was another amazing experience, as we got to learn about the New World and Old World monkeys who make up the sanctuary, and discover their differences, habitats, how they use their tails, and how the rehabilitation programme works.

Spectacled Langur

The Cappuchin monkeys were very memorable, but it was sighting of the Spectacled Langur that made our fascinating journey through Monkeyland magical. He’s rarely seen by visitors, so for him to walk along the longest canopy bridge in South Africa, past us heading to one of the numerous food tables was incredibly special. Again, we were loathe to leave this beautiful sanctuary, but we were running late once again and swiftly headed off to visit Monkeylands other sister-site, Birds of Eden.

Channel-billed Toucan at Birds of Eden

Saturday Afternoon

Birds of Eden is the largest free-flight aviary in the world, and we could fully appreciate it’s size as we drove to the parking area – seeing the ginormous netted aerial space it took up. Heading in, we were met by Lee Decker, the curator, who was quick to smile, and just as quick to sternly inform some nearby parents to not encourage their children to try and touch the rehabilitated birds (who had to first unlearn habits ingrained from years of being kept by humans). It was both a humours moment and a learning one to think that bird owners, though showering their pets with love and affection, are also being cruel in not letting them live their lives as nature intended them too, especially those who buy exotic birds taken from their parents as chicks, to be sold for a profit. At Birds of Eden (as at Tenikwa) the birds are meant to be free to choose if they wish to interact with the humans who visit their aviary or not – and majority of the time, it’s a not.

Birds of Eden waterfall walk

Lee was wonderful, and stayed by my side for the majority of our tour, answering my questions as I tried to quickly scribble down (in a legible fashion) her wealth of information garnered by years of experience. There were numerous feeding tables set up around the sanctuary, and this is due to the same reason there were numerous feeding tables at Monkeyland: different species will almost always live together in harmony if there’s enough food. However, the second the food becomes scarce, fighting will break out in an effort to ensure that each individual can keep themselves fed. The moral of the story is a well-fed primate of bird, is a far less aggressive one.

Birds of Eden flamigoes

Birds of Eden too was truly beautiful, with all kinds of species living together, a natural waterfall set amid the trails cascading through the sanctuary was breathtaking to behold. Sadly, at this point, most of our cameras had died, and since it was our first official work outing, none of us had considered bringing along the camera chargers (which we should have done as we dined at the Jakaranda Cafe and the cameras would have had ample time to charge! A lesson learnt for our next trip). Desiree did a full breakdown of our time spent here, which you can read at our work blog. It’s titled A Visit to Birds of Eden. I’ll also come back and update this post with my full experience at a later date (or do a separate post on it later in the year, don’t worry, I’ll also provide the link when it’s up ^_^).

Elephant sanctuary ellies

Saturday late Afternoon

The Elephant Sanctuary in Plettenberg Bay was another incredible experience (how can you walk alongside these beautiful gigantic mammals without being moved?! But yes, I do acknowledge I need to work on a better descriptive word, apart from “incredible”) We were greeted cheerfully by Pieter, the manager, signed our indemnity forms, and headed in to grab some warm green waterproof ponchos and some more hot coffee. The ponchos were very welcome as the rain had started coming down during our late lunch at Birds of Eden, and showed no sign of letting up. So though you may look at the photographs of our time here, and harbor a suspicious that our group looks like we’re in an eco-movement cult (which we’re not – though we’re avid supporters of conservation), the ponchos didn’t detract from our Elephant experience in any way.

Leading Thandi

The girls of the content team (Lauren, Desiree, and I) got to walk the three female elephants chosen for our experience. They were Maroela (who was the herd leader and eldest elephant at 19 years), Jabu (the name is short for Jabulani meaning happiness, was a teenage elephant) and Thandi (yes, another Thandi – the name is a Xhosa one and it means “loved one” which I certainly felt towards her). Desiree took the lead with Maroela, Lauren followed with Jabu, and I led Thandi at the back of our pack.

Thandi smiling

It  was thrilling getting to approach Thandi, look into her chocolate eyes fringed with very long eyelashes, before I was advised by guide (Robert? Rodney? Ray? … I feel awful I don’t remember his name as he was fantastic) to turn and let her trunk gently fold over my  out-stretched hand. It was as though I was enchanted, as I led her from her afternoon relaxation alongside the waterhole, and into the forest thicket, feeling no fear of her bulky body or large but-ever-so-careful feet. Her warm breath brought life back into my frozen fingers, and I had no qualms discovering that, when I withdrew my hand at the end of the walk, my palm was covered with a layer of caramel-red mud, remnants of the dust in her trunk mixing with her warmed air. The guides lined up alongside their chargers, and they showed us their natural training programme – whereby the elephants are taught to do certain natural movements that they would in nature, to a command issued from their guide. Maroela was up first, and at the command of the strapping lad beside her, she gently knelt on her front knees, as she would as if she was foraging along the forest floor (though in nature, she would use her tusks to dig up grubs and leaves). Jabu followed her lead, and at a command from her carer, she unfurled her trunk and gave a loud, deafening trumpet, which she would do as a warning to other animals entering her space. Elephants also trumpet to clear out any dust or dirt which enters into their trunk – their only air source, and fifth appendage. Thandi, the doe-eyed elephant I walked was last, and again, at the command of the wonderful guide who’s name I cannot remember, curved her trunk up to protect her left eye, and unfurled her ears to flap them. This is done in the wild to cool down (as the ears have large veins, so when the blood in that cools, it is pumped to the rest of the body to cool it down – amazing hey!) and also as a sign that’s she’s about to charge. So if an elephant ever does that to you in the wild, get out of dodge as fast as you can!

Hubby, Thandi Ellie and I

Dani, Peter’s wife, Peter, and Darryn got to lead the elephants back, after they first held tail to trunk and walked around the forest clearing, before being assigned to the eager hands of our companions. We got to go back and feed them apples, which was fun, as animals can also show they’re not shy to ask for seconds, or twelfths!

We were led into an enclosure to watch a presentation and do a quick Q&A with Lloyd, who was our official head guide. Read all about our full experience on Lauren’s post about it: Enjoy an Elephant Experience For Life.

With time getting away from us again, our group split as Lauren and Dylan, Des and Keegan decided to return to the cabins in Knysna to freshen up for their evening restaurant meals.

Dani, Peter, hubby and I instead headed through to Plett Puzzle Park for an overview of the facilities, while I got to experience my final animal encounter on the trip.

Grompie's mate and hobbit house

Very late Saturday Afternoon

The New Jukani Wildlife Sanctuary (actually, it’s still just Jukani Wildlife Sanctuary, but since it was originally in Mossel Bay and they’ve moved, I’ve dubbed them new to differentiate the setting), is located within the Plett Puzzle Park, which my husband, Peter, and his wife Dani got to view, while I was privileged enough to be allowed into the newly populated park, which was not even open to the public yet!

Hyena sister

I was excited, nervous, but above all humble about the fact I was getting to meet some of the most amazing wildcats in the world, along with several other wildlife species, such as hyenas. Vijayer welcomed me (remember, I mentioned her in my Monkeyland post) alongside Rob and Steve, who were both movers of the wild cats to their new home, as well as guides, and go-to guys for the new Jukani. Vijayer’s friendly smile and caring attitude put me at ease, even after learning I’d be viewing the snake enclosure first (I actually don’t have a problem with snakes in the slightest, but snakes being moved, especially exotic and poisonous ones got my heart thumping quite loudly). Luckily, the enclosure was vacant of the cold-blooded reptiles, as it was still in the process of being completed, and as she deposited a handful of driftwood in the corner, which would be added to the various snake enclosures, I got to view the beautiful artwork already backing many of the new displays. We moved out and entered into the wild life area. Large expanses in each animal enclosure were populated with their natural flora, such as a wood at the back of the tiger enclosure, and an expansive plain with long grass dotted around it in the lion enclosure. There were strange little hobbit-styled hills in each animals habitat, and Robert explained that this was both a viewing point for the animals on the exterior, as well as a sound-proof shelter which they could enter to evade the elements, and stay in if they didn’t feel like seeing visitors.

Tsau the white lion

Impressed with the preperation and care taken with the wild cat habitats, we set of too meet the residents, still getting used to their new surroundings. Grompie was my first wildcat viewed here, though technically Kara, his mate was the one I spotted first. She was snoozing atop her new hillock home, but opened her eyes as she heard our approach. Grompie quickly came into view, and he was beautiful and rather subdued, due to the move. I quick gained a healthy respect for him came closer, and I got a good look at his sharp teeth as he puffed as he approached the fencing.

Angelo

Robert filled me in on the various Jukani residents, and their often sad-but-inspiring stories about their arrival, the resident that touched me most was Angelo, the blue-eyed White Siberian tiger, though Jukka the Bengal tiger and Tsau, the white lion also hold a special place in my heart. Read my full post about my Jukani experience at The New Jukani Wildlife Sanctuary, on my work blog. I’ll update this section further when I get a chance. After bidding the Jukani team farewell, I met up with the others exiting the Puzzle Park, and we raced back to our cabin to get ourselves ready for our dinner, at Sirocco (Dani and Peter) and Firefly Eating House (hubby and I).

The post on Firefly Eating House, Spice and Chai Bar on the TravelGround blog is already pretty lengthy, and I did an in depth overview of it already, so click on the link above to read the full post. It is a highly, highly recommended restaurant, with incredible food pairings, friendly service, and beautiful decor. I’m thinking of trying to make the Tom Kha soup at home some time, if I do, I’ll post the recipe and some pics.

On Sunday, we visited Sue, owner of the beautiful Belvidere Manor, located in Brenton-on-Sea. We had a delicious breakfast of scones and coffee, and then toured the premises. Check them out.

Until then, ja ne for now. ^_^

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Tenikwa Welcome sign

Hello lovelies,

As promised, here is the breakdown of our Saturday:

Our early wake up at 05:30 meant that as we drove from Knysna through to Plettenberg Bay just after 06:00, for our Cheetah Walk at Teniqua Wildlife Sanctuary and Animal Hospital at 07:00, we were surrounded by dark grey clouds, as dawn struggled to take hold of the sky. When we arrived at Teniqua and parked, the sun finally burst through the clouds and bathed the building in light as we entered. I remember thinking that it was a glorious way to first lay eyes on this incredible place (which I highly recommend you visit if you’re touring the Garden Route).

We were warmly greeted and ushered through to the restaurant side of Tenikwa, for some much needed coffee and were entertained by the Marabou Storks at the adjacent pond, as we filled our bloodstream with caffeine. Splitting into 2 groups – one of 6 and one of 2 – Lauren and Dylan went off first to start their walk with  Duma, the largest and most dominant cheetah on-site. Before I give a quick rundown of our groups walk with Thandi and Chaka (the two sibling cheetahs) I must give you the lowdown on the cheetah walks at Tenikwa:

Cheetah Walks are part of the cheetah enrichment programme at Tenikwa, as it gives the cheetahs exercise, a chance to mark their territories, and to give visitors the opportunity to encounter these beautiful felines up close. The term ‘walk the cheetah’ is a bit misleading, as we were only allowed to take the split lead (visitors hold one leash while Tenikwa guides the other) after we were acknowledge that we were to follow the cheetahs lead, and not set our own pace.

The cheetahs set the pace, stopping, running, spraying, sniffing, and frolicking as they would as if they were in the wild  (so be prepared to jog if they sprint, and let go of the lead if they run). We were all warned not to look directly into their eyes, as this is a sign of a challenge in the wild, and that’s a challenge a human certainly won’t win if it should come down to a dominance match.

Thandi posing

Mandy Freeman, wife and co-creator of Tenikwa (her husband Len Freeman is the other co-owner, which you can read more about) came with on our group of 6’s walk with Thandi and Chaka. As we each took turns with the leads, I got to chat with her for a good long while, and she was patient and put up with my endless questions, as I tried to desperately memorize her informative and passionate answers. I was thrilled when I got to take Thandi’s lead alongside Msizi, the guide. She glanced up at me, and I felt a lightning bold of adrenaline and joy, (surprisingly, no fear) when her tawny eyes met mine, I had an overwhelming urge to stretch out my arms and hug her, but that likely wouldn’t have gone over well, so I resisted. She held my gaze as she lazily yawned and continued on wards, leaving me with a thudding heart as I walked alongside her, the overview warning of not looking into their eyes ringing in my mind. It seemed I wasn’t a threat after all, and was filled with delight as she sniffed at various bushes and trees as we continued on our trail. Msizi chatted easily with me, explaining certain behaviours. He noted that if Thandi had been in the wild, any cubs she may have had would likely have died. When I quizzed him as to why, he replied that it was because she was missing the tell-tale white tail-tip that female cheetahs have. In the wild, cheetah cubs follow the white tail-tip of their mother through the long grass, and without this guiding tip, the cubs would get lost and starve to death. I was saddened as I began to think of how many cheetah cubs die in the wild when mothers lack this normal genetic trait like Thandi does, which is due to the cheetah’s dwindling population being forced to inbreed.

Posing with Mzisi and Thandi

I quickly cheered again as Thandi flopped over to pose for photographs, and when she started to purr, as I reverently stroked her soft fur. The sound was loud and reverberated throughout my entire body, giving me a heart-warming glow that is hard to describe (actually, remember what falling in love feels like? Yup, that was the feeling)!

After the indescribably personal walk with the cheetah siblings we went back to their enclosure to watch them enjoy their breakfast, before they gracefully slunk off further into their enclosure for a well-deserved nap.

Thandi and Chaka resting

You can read my thoughts about the Tenikwa Wildlife Centre and Animal Hospital here, but needless to say it was informative, heart-wrenching, inspiring, and definitely made an impact on each of us. I have a full appreciation of the hard work and passion the Tenikwa staff have for the animals in their care, and a deeper understanding of why my father once considered becoming a game ranger.

A big thank you to Lara Mostert, from Birds of Eden and Monkeyland, as well as Stephanie Shobree for being superstars and helping our content team organise our itinerary so we could fit everything in, and still remain on-time.

Keep reading about our Saturday adventures, and let me know what you think about Tenikwa Wildlife Center and cheetah walks!

Until next time,
Daughter of Dreams

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Forest Canopy

Hello lovely people,

As promised, here is a ‘quick’ overview of our recent contents team trip to Knysna and Plettenberg Bay.

Perregrine Restaurant interior

Overview of Itinerary and our trip

Friday

– Hubby and I left home at 06:00 and set out to Grabouw, our first stop along the way. We were going to meet up with Peter and Dani to get some warm food and a caffeine fix at Peregrine Farm Stall, before we started our 4 1/2 hour drive to Knysna.

Breakfast

The drive from our house to Sir Louwrie’s Pass flew by, but as we ascended into the fog covered peak, the rain started bucketing down, to the point where we could hardly see the road, let alone the dangerous edges of the mountain pass. We were lucky to have a truck in front of us which blocked most of the rain, but the slow crawl up and over was nerve-wracking to say the least. After a warm welcome and some great food, we headed out onto the road.

After 2 hours on the road passing farms, sheep, cows, valleys, mountains, watching the various shades of green and yellow landscapes drift past in succession, we arrived at our halfway point: the town of Riversdale  which is home to a jail from the 1800s called the Ou Tronk.

Where it once held prisoners, it now holds a wonderland of antiques, arts and crafts. It’s intriguing to wander through it, and view a beautiful courtyard with lollypop trees, antiques, store rooms and nicknacks.

Kings Gift1 (Darryn)

We finally reached Knysna and made our way to the beautiful cabin in the woods (Kings Gift).

mitchells gropu shot

From there, we raced into town to grab a bite to eat, before we began our Mitchell’s Brewery Tour and Tasting. Dave McRae, our host, tour guide, brew master, and beer aficionado, gave us the low down on how they craft their various beers and took us for a walk through the brewery. The tour was informative and entertaining, and once it ended, it was time to taste the fruit of the hardworking craft brewers. Round after round of beer was served to us by Dave and his lovely daughter Sandy, who certainly has her father’s quick smile and good sense of humour. The craft beers left me with impressions of bitter, sweet, malty, rich, creamy, sparkling, and definitely tasty! In no particular order, the beers we tasted were:

Michells-Brewery-by-Des clinking glasses

  • The Forester’s Lager which was my second favourite beer, was refreshing and slightly sweet.
  • The Bosun’s Bitter was good, but a bit too bitter for my liking, though my hubby and the other males with us quite enjoyed it.
  • The 90 Shilling Ale was also good, and Dave informed us that it’s often the drink chosen by those who are entering the Knysna Marathon (held during the Oyster Festival period) to carbo-load on.
  • Milk & Honey Ale was a dark-coloured ale that carried a faint scent of milk and honey, and left a slightly sweet taste behind.
  • The Mitchell’s Cider was the clear winner for me (yes, I’m aware it’s not a beer) as it was bubbly, carried the taste and scent of apples, and I could easily see myself drinking it at a braai with friends, or at a cocktail do.
  • The Raven Stout was my 3rd favourite, as (and please nobody shoot me) it reminded me a fair bit of Guinness, being both creamy, rich, and filling.
  • Old Wobbly Lager: I found hard to make my mind about this one, as there was nothing inherently wrong with it’s colour, taste, or scent, but I think perhaps because the alcohol content in it was rather high, it was one of my lowest rated tastings (do try it though, as you may like it).
  • Finally, there was Milkwood, which is a 1/2 Forester’s Lager, and 1/2  Bosun’s Bitter mixture. Though this one was unfortunately unavailable during our tasting, it’s a clear winner for the locals.

Mitchell's Brewery best photo

Our Whale Watching tour with Springtide Charters had to unfortunately be pushed back to Sunday morning, as when evening fell the lagoon waters were a bit too choppy to navigate safely out the harbour.  Instead, Evelyn (wife and co-owner of Springtide Charters) popped down to Mitchell’s so I could interview her while the others made merry inside with the local crowd.

She was a vivacious, bubbly person, who easily switched between making jokes, stating facts, and earnestly talking about conservation efforts of both the lagoon, and local schools, that I quickly fell under her spell and even today I remain in awe of her conversational prowess. A half hour later, with a notebook full of information, I bid her adieu, and headed back inside for my glass of Sparkling Mitchell’s Cider, and mingle with the ‘honorary members’ of Mitchell’s. The small crowd of locals who gathered at Mitchell’s most Friday nights were funny, interesting, and quick to engage us in conversation. As the stars came up we headed back to the cabins for an evening braai to replenish ourselves, before we all retreated to our separate bedrooms to try and sleep before our early morning start on Saturday .

Click to read about our Saturday adventures of walking with cheetahs! ^_^

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Hello from the back seat (Dani and Peter in front, Hubby and I in the back)

Hello from the back seat (Dani and Peter in front, Hubby and I in the back)

Gosh, this is starting to become a bit of a trend with me, isn’t it? What with sporadic posts every five months? 🙂

Some news from my end is that I’m back from the most amazing weekend trip ever – in which our company content team and partners headed up to Knysna for the weekend! We got to do a brewery tour and tasting, walk Cheetah’s at sunrise, visit Monkeyland and Birds of Eden, walk, feed and touch Elephants, and then ended off our Saturday of crazed rushing by have supper at the most amazing restaurant in Knysna!

All the details about the where and what’s at will be showing up here in text and pictures in the next week (our company blog is doing a Knysna week so all first-hand stories will appear there first), but for now, I’d like to tell you about a fantastic website my friend Lauren found (who by the way, is a competition guru) .

The website is called WinStuff  which basically says it all. The long description is that they’re a website with a current list of competitions offered by all kinds of suppliers and companies around South Africa (electronics, getaways, lifestyle and beauty, etc)!!! If you’ve never heard of them, do yourself a favour and head on over there now – all you have to do is answer brief surveys in exchange for an entry (it takes under 1 minute)!

Apart from that, things are well, hubby’s moved jobs to a new company up the road from my work, meaning we’re saving on petrol and driving time daily (plus, I get to do lunches with him again, yay!)

In the meantime, check out my Flickr account for some pics from the trip, and I’ll be back soon to fill you in on the incredible experience we had!

Ja ne till next time. ^_~

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Looking up at the MSC Melody from the dock.

So, finally! Here are some pictures from our incredible cruise to Namibia. During our time on board, I felt very much like a socialite, meeting interesting new people, spending quiet moments with my husband, doing lunches and suppers with my mom-in-law and her boyfriend, and finally, getting some much needed R&R.

My wonderful father, since his officers are in the harbour, drove all the way down to the far pier to wave me goodbye (the crew had stopped letting people go ashore after we checked in, so I never got a chance to give him a goodbye hug), but waving madly to him as the ship took us further from shore, was very special, and a couple of kind gents even gave me a bit of a boost so I could properly see him and be seen (thank you amazing strangers, I got to have a Marilyn Monroe-esque moment)!

Leaving Cape Town Harbour

How would I describe the cruise? Well, in a word, an all-in-one first-class hotel and entertainment venue on water!

Our first day was one of exploration. After our check-in and finding our cabin, we grabbed our lifejackets, poured some coffee, and then hunkered down in our mess hall  to chat as we awaited the lifeboat drill (2 floors up from our cabin, with steep, steep stairs – it was a great glutes and thigh tone!). We arrived as the waiters cleared away the lunch buffet and removed the silver chaffing dishes (yes, I waitressed and know their name from numerous times I had to haul them out filled with food, and clear them away back in my days in America). The wait staff removing them was slightly regrettable, as it was an already warm day, so the boiling water below which heated the food filled the air with steam and added to the indoor humidity. After the drill, we could take our ease, which we did.

Every indoors waiting for the life boat drill to begin

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As our days were filled with sunshine, we spent time participating in games, drinking jewel-coloured cocktails, and I even got to spend 2 – 3 hours a day lazing on the sundeck with a book (bliss!). Surprisingly, I have learnt that despite a healthy childhood on the boats in the harbour, seasickness can strike without warning when out on the ocean. Don’t worry, it wasn’t the gross up-heaving  your probably imagining, thank goodness! It was more of a bone-deep tiredness that suddenly struck after I decided to skip a day of seasickness pills. In hindsight, that was stupid, but on the other hand, I adjusted fairly well after a long nap in our cosy cabin! 😉

I also got to enjoy a soothing Balinese massage by a wonderful therapist. She only gets to visit her family and children once a year, the rest of the time she’s a beauty therapist on MSC. She regaled me with stories of her homeland, and I have added Bali onto my list of destinations that I hope to one day explore.

Alright, enough blathering on about our time on board, and onto the pictures!

Our endless hallway

The above hallway was one of many, and they all seemed endless.

Passengers lazing about on deck.

Passengers relaxing on the sun deck. I became one of them shortly after this photograph was taken.

Hubby in front of the giant swimming pool that was soon filled with adults and children enjoying the warm water.

Passengers relaxing on deck.

This was taken on our second day aboard, and in that short time span, everyone seemed to had found a little niche to relax and socialise in.

Friendly waiter in one of the numerous dining rooms - this was the more formal lunch room.

One of the lovely lunch-time waiters in the more formal dining room.

Orchid center piece.

The formal lunch dining room had beautiful orchid center pieces (one of my top 3 favourite flowers).

Churning water. You can laugh if you want, but it was mesmerising!

The more informal lunch dining area, indoor pool (out of sight on the left), and one the far end, a cocktail bar known as muster station B. 🙂

The Casino

The casino was always busy throughout the day and most of the night. I won a goodly amount on the slot machines which almost entirely covered my massage! 🙂 Thanks to my Granny Loraine who gave me advice about casinos long ago. She said only play with what you bring in, and don’t spend any of your winnings. It’s a rule I’ve stuck to on the few odd times I’ve gambled, and amazingly, almost always walked out with more then I came in with!

Seagulls as we near Walvis Bay.

There were some seagulls floating out at sea as we neared to Walvis Bay.

Entering Walvis Harbor

Heading into Walvis Bay.

Hubby finishing his coffee.

Awesome hubby finishing up his cup of Joe before we head to shore.

In the rental car heading into town.

In the rental car heading into town. The small palm trees lining the wide roads were a pleasant surprise.

Desert meets the ocean

The desert meeting the ocean. Having grown up around greenery and mountains the flat desert landscape was quite surreal to me.

Golden sand and steely ocean

I love the contrast of the beige desert (though beach is likely more appropriate) meeting the steel-coloured ocean.

A sign in town

A bar sign in Swakopmund – so cute! It was quite a German town, but I could make out what most of the signs said, thanks to being fluent in Afrikaans. 🙂

Cafe Anton

Darryn’s mom used to come here often when she lived in Namibia, so we decided to stop in for some coffee and brunch.

George and mom.

George, moms boyfriend, and mom.

On the way to Dune 7

Almost at Dune 7!

The ever-shifting Dune 7 in it's full majesty.

The ever-shifting Dune 7 in it’s full majesty. It’s enormous!

 Me, posing in front of Dune 7.

Posing in front of dune 7 – I was quite surprised at the sudden pops of green in the landscape after only seeing miles of sand.

Some brave souls attempting to ascend Dune 7.

Some brave souls attempting to ascend Dune 7. I did attempt it, but was foolish enough to only bring sandles. Three steps in and the boiling sand caused me to quickly re-think my original gung-ho approach. If you ever head here, bring takkies (aka sneakers for those of you who are international).

Walvis Bay hospital.

Walvis Bay hospital, where my hubby was born. Below, he’s posing in front of it.

Where Darryns childhood home used to be.

Where the house was that Di lived while in Walvis, and the home that Darryn grew up in. Sadly, it was bulldozed several years ago to build seaside residences and holiday cottages.

Mollusks on the rocks.

Mollusks of some sort I assume on the nearby rocks. We then visited the local M.O.T.H.S club (Military Order of  The tin Hats) as mom and George are both members of the Southern Suburbs one in Cape town. We had a drink, a quick tour of the facilities, and then headed back to the ship. Below is a photograph from our MOTHS club tour. On board, after all the walking we’d done, I grabbed a quick shower before heading off to get a massage!

Moths club painting.

Later that night, we attended the captains dinner, which was a very grande affair. I have a few professional photographs from that night I must try and upload here at some point. I wore my new black and cream cocktail dress, and Darryn looked very dapper in his suit. We drank a welcome cocktail, ate a lovely supper, and caught a show (image shown below). After the show we sat on deck under the stars for several hours talking and recounting the last few days adventures. It was early (or late) morning when we finally headed indoors. We snuck into the empty theatre up the hall from our cabin, sang my husband a ballad on the empty stage (I’m an amateur actress, so how on earth could I pass up that opportunity).

MSC Melody show

The next morning we awoke and caught the last serving of breakfast (phew) before heading up to the deck. Table mountain was a brief blur over the horizon, and I was both happy and sad that we were almost home.

Heading towards Cape Town.

I had already packed, so hubby headed back to the cabin to finish up on his, I headed to one of my favourite spots on the ship. The below photograph doesn’t do it justice, but I fell in love with this little nook as soon as I discovered it. It reminded me so much of the one on board Tau’s ship the Solaris (from the Mysterious Cities of Gold, my favourite childhood show). Despite it being a throughfare from deck to deck, there were never too may people and with my iPod playing soft lounge music in my ears, I spent several hours alone thinking. While here over the course of two days, I spotted six seals throughout our voyage, watched seagulls diving into the ocean depths, and just stared out at the endless horizon on display pondering all kinds of things.

My favourite nook on board the MSC Melody

I headed back to try and get some photos of Cape Town, though my camera was on it’s last bar, it pulled through and I got a few nice shots. I won’t include them all here, but I’ll end of with a few last pictures. Also, a seal popped up to say hi, but I only caught him as he dived … ah well, practice makes perfect 🙂

Table Mountain and signal hill with yacht. You can see the flat top of table Mountain, the CBD, and the yacht is closer to us

Signal hill looming over Greenpoint Stadium

Breakers along the harbour

The friendly seal I almost captured looking up at us

Wind swept well wishes to all! :)

Ja ne till next time.

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