se7en

The life and times of a home schooling mom of se7en + 1.

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The Story of The Incredible Journey of a Shark, Named Nicole…

September 18th, 2017 · No Comments

It’s Monday evening over here, which means that it is time for a book post and just recently I attended the launch of Nicole, the true and incredible story of a Great White Shark’s Journey into history, by shark conservationist Richard Peirce, at our local bookshop Kalk Bay Books.

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This book is written for shark lovers, ocean lovers and conservationists… it is based on the 11000km journey that an adult female shark took from the coast of South Africa, across the Indian ocean, to the coast of Australia… and back again. Incredible… this shark opened the door for shark research and conservation throughout the oceans of the world. A groundbreaking study… and a fascinating read.


Se7en Snippets from the Book Launch

  1. The Incredible Journey: This book is about the incredible journey that a shark, called Nicole after the fiery actress Nicole Kidman, traveled while she was tagged with a satellite tracker. The kind of tracker that was used was one that popped up when she got to the far side… the tracker then connected with the satellite and data was transferred back to the scientists. It was not a real time tracker, so the author had to use a little creative license when describing Nicole’s journey. What they have learned about Great White Sharks is that they start breeding when they are far older than they originally thought and they only have 3/4 pups in a litter… which means they have a really small reproduction rate… and threatened as they are, this really works against them.
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    Photograph used with permission of Struik Nature

  3. Nicole inspired protection of Great White Sharks all over the world: South Africa was the first country to embrace protection of the Great White shark, but since the discovery of Nicole’s epic journey right across the Indian Ocean, and back again, it was realised that protecting these incredible animals in local waters just wasn’t enough. This animal inspired Cites protection and legalised the protection of all Great White Sharks throughout the world’s oceans. While the law is there to protect the sharks, it doesn’t help them much in practice.
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  5. Nicole Was Part of a Bigger Project: Before Nicole was fitted with a tracking device she was part of a bigger photography project. Not only did Nicole have her own distinctive personality but all sharks have a unique fin pattern, and Nicole’s was particularly distinctive. The photographer on this project felt a strong emotional attachment to Nicole because he had encountered again and again. She was the shark that kept coming back and interacting.
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    Photo Credit: Nick Fallows, used with permission from Struik Nature Publishing

  7. Nicole inspired a further research into the habits of Great White Sharks: So much mystery surrounds these beautiful creatures, scientists assume that sharks travel the world for breeding purposes, perhaps Nicole was looking for an super-shark. The journey is a mystery that needs to be explored.
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  9. Meet the Author, Richard Peirce: His father was in the army in Kuwait and he remembers as a small boy, spending a summer watching the shoreline for sharks. Over the last 30 years he has traveled the world ticking off sharks on his spotter’s list. There are over five hundred species of shark and he has seen 68. He never expects to see deep water sharks ever. He did start out in the music industry… it wasn’t a great chapter in his life, he turned down a number of number one artists!!! His other claim to fame is that he sold a carpet to Yasser Arafat, he was invited to negotiate the sale, and the deal was done.
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    Photograph used with permission of Struik Nature

  11. Meeting a Great White Shark: When you meet an apex predator there is a visceral response. Nothing prepares you for your first encounter with a great white shark – there is no fear, just awe and wonder. We aren’t the shark’s prey, sharks are unfairly judged. When he met with lions, the situation was very different. The rangers told him that they had told the lions that he was coming… the lion tracked him and they watched each other for an hour and a half before the fear receded.
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    Photograph used with permission of Struik Nature

  13. Regarding Conservation: It is difficult to be optimistic, but we have to be. We need a global awakening. People need to start voting for survival not for change. Everyone is concerned about their mortgage and their school fees… they need to start worrying about conservation. Communicators are failing, there is an element of “topic fatigue,” but take for example Attenborough did a documentary on wild dogs and mentioned only once in the entire hour, that these dogs are threatened. We need to find ways to alarm people into action and this is why he uses real animals in his books… he needs to tell their story and he hopes that the response will be, “That’s not fair.” And then they will be inspired to do something about it.

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I received a copy of this book from Struik Nature/Penguin Random House South Africa in exchange for an honest review. It is not a sponsored post, and all opinions expressed are entirely my own. I must add that proceeds from sales of this book go to the Shark Spotter Organisation, who we have blogged about before over here.

→ No CommentsTags: Brilliant Books

Se7en’s Fabulous Fun Post #354

September 18th, 2017 · 2 Comments

Spring is definitely starting to spring over here… and we are spending every possible moment in the great outdoors…

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I have a fabulous tip for you this week… It is SANParks free week as part of Heritage month. This means that SANParks nature reserves are free for South African Citizens this week. Head for Cape Point or head for the West Coast Wild flowers… Take along your I.D. Book and Just Get Outdoors already!!!

Lovely Links from This Week

  1. Looking for some weekend fun: 6 Easy Ways to Marble Paper on the Artful Parent.
  2. If there is a Family Festival that I would like to attend, then it is this the Just So Festival, read this review of the Magic on Nuture Store…
  3. For our homeschooling friends who need some encouragement: The Unexpected Benefits of Homeschooling – From Someone Who Was Homeschooled.
  4. And while you are thinking about homeschooling… I have to say Sonlight has been posting a lot of fabulous blog posts lately, and just this week they posted a number of links to great homeschool bloggers that also use Sonlight, and check out their instagrammers!!! Thanks Sonlight for the feature!!!
  5. Beach Cleaning is a way of life for our kids, if we go to the beach… and remember we live there, then we pick up… and what we pick up is plastic: Folks the time has come to just stop using plastic. Commit to one thing, then another and another… 8 Bits of Plastic you can Quit Right Now.
  6. If you are new to homeschooling or feel like you are new to homeschooling… because let’s be honest in each new season we are new to homeschooling… there is a fabulous podcast, that I just discovered, Homeschooling in the North Woods.
  7. This post from Kari Patterson spoke to me and is for all my friends who have loved and lost: “In this world you will have sorrow, but take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 From What Would Have Been…
  8. Handmade Charlotte’s Doll series is just delightful: Parisian Doll Making Tutorial…

A Blast From the Past:

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That’s us… hope you have the most fabulous week!!!

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→ 2 CommentsTags: Fabulous Friday Fun

Se7en Visits The HomeMaker’s Expo…

September 14th, 2017 · 8 Comments

When you win tickets to the Homemaker’s Expo, huge thanks to Studio Melissa Louise, then you drop whatever you have going on that weekend and head out for a mother-daughter date with your sixteen year old… fun times!!! Welcome to a post with all sorts of eye candy… yes there were tons of appliances, and kitchen saving tools… and dozens of gadgets and things that “should be essential to your home” and then there was also tons of loveliness and that’s where we focused our attention, of course!!!

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In a show that is so vast you need to have a strategy. There is so much to see and do that you have to be very systematic in working your way up and down the aisles. First tip… grab a goodie bag on your way in and keep it to drop business cards and pamphlets in as you wander along. Also, check out the program… there was an entire page of GiveAways and another page of show specials… these are things you have to have a quick scan of before you start walking the floor so that you know which stands to specially look out for. Forewarned is forearmed and all that.

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Design Features

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Tremendous Textures

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Crate love… there are not enough stunning crates in the world. Wishing my boys would start churning these out… from all the wood they have lying about.

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Perfect Papers…

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Mia Mélange

Beautiful buckets… I am in love… I think I might need buckets everywhere… everywhere!!!

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Love, love, love…

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And lots and lots of wood love… even wooden flowers…

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And these are fun…

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And I need to make a memory tree…

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And I may have taken a tip from Marcia at the Organising Queen and bought myself a birthday present… weeks in advance, because these crates!!!

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Recycabilia

And would you look at these fish!!!

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Otherwise, lots of green… Would you look at this wall garden… All the love!!!

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Living Green Walls

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Shirley’s Rustic Frames

And Magical Mirror fun…

Fabulous Fabric

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Don’t you love these fish… and oh I love this blue so very much as well!!!

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Threads That Bind Us

And this is bed linen to die for…

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The T-shirt Bed Co.

And these fun cushions…

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Demonstrations And GiveAways

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The only store we found that knew how their GiveAway worked… Kudos to the WaterShed…

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Radical Rainbows…

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Bokke and Blomme

Even the kitchen sink… in every possible colour…

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Dashing Desks…

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And the Most Beautiful Aroma…

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Organico Oils

Millions of Mobiles…

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Heart at Work

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And calabash lamps…

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Dismoi Calabash Lights

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All the love…

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Homemaker's Expo

→ 8 CommentsTags: Cape Town · Outings

Se7en Interviews the Author of Good Me Bad Me, Ali Land…

September 12th, 2017 · 2 Comments

I recently read Good Me Bad Me, by Ali Land, an unputdownable debut novel. Ali Land is touring South Africa right now as a guest of the Open Book Festival and I was lucky enough to meet up with her in Kalk Bay Books last week. Ali was a mental health professional for youngsters until she gave it all up for writing. She had a story to tell… and Good Me Bad Me is that story. Highlighting the plight of troubled teens in a culture where, when a problem erupts, the children are removed from the situation and placed in a completely unfamiliar environment and they are expected to not just survive, but to come through it all. In cases of extreme family crimes the children are removed, placed in high security institutions and released into the world at eighteen. Just as a passing thought, this cannot have a good result for the children involved, they are forced into a situation that can not choose and then they are forced to survive… by any means available to them.

About the Book: Good Me Bad Me

Good Me Bad Me is a book that is classified as a psycho thriller… and if I had known that before hand I may have been a little nervous to read it. That being said, before I read it I knew that it was the story of a very troubled teenager and I wanted to know more about her. This is an astonishingly good book, an important book, that highlights the emotional roller coaster of troubled adolescents. It is about Milly, or rather her emotional journey, as she exposes her serial killer mother to the police and processes her childhood in a very different kind of home to any of her peers, while she sits out the wait until the trial, in a foster family. The foster family that looks so perfect on the surface, a complete private school experience with all the advantages that money can buy, turns out to be as one expects a lot of foster homes to be, far far from ideal. Just as Milly is gulping for air and for help, she is plunged into a dysfunctional family and forced to sink or swim, all the while her psychologist foster father is oblivious, or in denial, about what is going on around him. Milly is removed from all that she knows and is given a new home and a new school and a new name… and while she is trying to prepare for the impending court case, she is perpetually falling pray to her malicious and devious foster sister’s wily ways. Not to mention that throughout the book we are seeped in the dread of Milly finally meeting up with her mum again at the trial. Despite all her troubles she seems to hold her own, keep herself together under very trying circumstances and plunge on towards the trial. Or does she?

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Conversation with John Maytham at Kalk Bay Books

There is a tragic twist in the tale, that I did not expect at all, though looking back could have been avoided. This is a book that leaves you with more questions than answers, as it should. We should be thinking about kids like Milly, what will happen to her, will she ever be able to fit into society or will she always be able to stand outside the group looking in, orbiting around her community, so to speak. The question is, “Will children of deeply troubled parents become deeply troubled adults themselves?” “Is it genetics?” or, “Is it environment?” The age old debate rages on. What could Milly have done differently under such overbearing pressure? Nothing really, since she is placed in the system there is little she can do, she cannot control the wave of misfortune that she has been placed into. This book is an eyeopener into what teens are going through and talking about. It places bullying into a whole new light… I would certainly give this book to my older teens to read… it is a great discussion opener. It isn’t a pleasant read and it isn’t going to leave you with a happy feeling afterwards… the opposite in fact. But you will be a lot more aware of teen mental health and how as parents, even when we think our teens are talking to us, there world’s can be spiralling in a completely different realm to ours. It looks like everything is under control, but upon closer inspection all the adults in Milly’s life could have found the little cracks in her armour and places to help her, had they been a little less self absorbed. This book is a conversation starter on bullying, on who is in control, on what secrets are ok and which are definitely not okay. The book contains no gratuitous gory details and the focus in fixed entirely on the players rather than the crime. This is a compelling read, way out of my comfort zone and somewhat shocking, totally different to anything else on the bestseller list. This book is going to stay top of the charts for a long while, while folk try to process it.

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Se7en + 1 Interview Questions for Ali Land

  1. Let’s Begin with an Introduction. Tell us how you transformed from a Child and Adolescent Mental Health Nurse to a Full Time Writer:
  2. With a massive leap of faith! I hadn’t written since University, some twelve years before, but I’d always been a voracious reader and had, for the whole of my life, heard voices and seen images playing out in my mind. It wasn’t until I got older and the voices became louder and the images sharper that I was hit with an urgency to explore my creativity. I gave up nursing, took a less demanding job as a private PA/Nanny while doing an evening class in creative writing and the absolute joy was that, although writing the book was the most challenging and emotionally turbulent journey I’ve ever been on, I enjoyed it. I discovered I’d been a writer all along, it just took me longer than most to get the words onto the page.

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  3. Could you describe your perfect work day:
  4. I currently live in London but very much view Sydney, Australia as home so let’s go there for my perfect work day. I’d wake early as the sun is coming up over the beach and do the staggeringly beautiful coastal walk from Bondi to Bronte and back again. An ocean swim followed by a matcha latte and an acai bowl. Both are magical for the mind. My perfect working day would mean I only have my novel to think about, no emails, no tweets, no interviews, nothing! I’d work at my desk in my apartment which overlooks the water. All of the words would be beautiful and effortless and require no editing. The bones in my wrist wouldn’t ache or click and there’d be no self-doubt to battle. Sigh. After that I’d go to either Gertrude and Alice or Ampersand, my two favourite bookshop/cafes. I’d read a book, not for research or because I have to for work, but purely for pleasure. More than likely I’d drink a large glass of wine while doing this. Later in the day I’d meet up with another writer, or someone who understands the creative solitude, and we would drink more (too much) wine and go and see a documentary at an arthouse cinema or a spoken word night leaving us feeling inspired and reinvigorated about our own work.

  5. Do you have a favourite book? And what are you reading right now?
  6. We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson is my favourite book. Jackson writes with perfect restraint, slowly lifting the curtain on the bizarre daily routine Merricat, her sister Constance and their uncle share. The narrative is peppered with magical thinking and superstitions which gives the overriding sense they’re content in this strange existence and because of this, the insanity drip, drip, drips off the pages. I’m currently reading Riders by Jilly Cooper because I fancied something fun and outrageous.

  7. Tell us about your writing style: Are you compelled to write when inspired, or extremely disciplined, or do you just squeeze writing in whenever you possibly can?
  8. I ‘business’ write most days as in interviews/articles but I don’t work on my novel every day. It does however fill pretty much every second thought, it becomes a delicious obsession. I spend weeks thinking and mulling over ideas and ‘what ifs’ until I feel all the canons line up and then I’ll spend weeks working intensively, night and day, barely coming up for air until the draft is finished. I have to write A LOT to get to the heart of my story and unlock the characters, it’s because I’m a ‘by the seat of my pants’ kind of writer. It’s a messy and at times draining process but it’s mine and I roll with it. In the recovery period, as in when my work is with my editor, I read and read and read.

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  9. Tell us about your writing process and where you write best: On the couch or at a desk in an office? 
  10. I write most freely when I’m handwriting so during the research period I can often be found scribbling in notebooks on sofas in cafes or the library. But when I’m typing it up and really going deep into a writing session, I need to be at my desk in the privacy of my own home. I move around a lot when I’m fully engaged in the creative process, stand up, pace, talk out loud to my characters, and I always have a candle burning, the sort of behaviour that I’m sure would see me politely asked to leave the library!

  11. Good Me Bad Me is quite a story, with very well defined characters, it is hard to believe you haven’t really met them. Where did you find the inspiration for your characters, are they created from scratch or an aggregation of people you have encountered?  
    Sylvia Plath said ‘Every story, every incident, every bit of conversation is raw material for me.’ And she’s right. Writers are like sponges and even when we don’t realise it, the life that’s going on around us will inevitably bleed into our work. There’s inspiration for characters everywhere. I created the characters in the book that would allow me to explore every facet of Milly’s mind. For example, Phoebe the jealous foster sister, how would Milly react to her? And then the opposite with Morgan, a vulnerable girl who shows Milly unconditional love. I write to explore and to go as deep as possible into my main character’s psyche, the people you surround them with are the keys to unlocking that.

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  12. I am guessing after writing Good Me Bad Me you were fairly emotionally stretched. Do you have more books in the pipeline? Will they be similar to Good Me Bad Me, or are they going to be totally different? 
  13. I’ve just delivered eighty-three thousand words of creative chaos to my agent and editor aka my next book. It’s a massive mountain to climb especially when there are so many wonderful things happening with my current book, but climb I must and we’ll be making an announcement about it on social media quite soon. All I’m allowed to tell you at this point is, it’s another psychological drama this time set on a scarcely inhabited Scottish island with a man named Jack at its heart.

  14. Who do you think had the biggest impact on you becoming a writer? How did they inspire you and how would you inspire others to write the stories that they carry within them?
  15.  
    Had I not been a Child and Adolescent mental health nurse I never would have written about Milly, so the children I looked after have had the biggest impact on me becoming a writer. They inspired me to listen, to watch, to care and to search for the why because understanding often leads to compassion. What I’d say to others who are carrying stories inside of them is, set them free if they want to. Write from your heart and your gut but do so sensitively. I don’t believe boundaries should exist in what we explore in the safe space of fiction but it must be done carefully and with regard to the person or people it’s perhaps inspired by.

    You can find Ali Land


    On Twitter and on Instagram.

    Otherwise, you can meet up with Ali Land at Exclusive Books Cavendish Square on 14 September 6 for 6:30pm.

    Thanks so much to Ali Land for the interview, and Penguin Random House for setting it up. I did receive a copy of Good Me Bad Me from Penguin Random House South Africa for review purposes, and otherwise this is not a sponsored post… all opinions expressed are entirely my own.

→ 2 CommentsTags: Brilliant Books

Se7en Join Free Walking Tours with City SightSeeing in the Center of Cape Town….

September 8th, 2017 · 4 Comments

On our recent vacation, when we decided to take being tourists in our own town to heart and to embrace all that the City of Cape Town has to offer, we decided to spend a day exploring the City with the free City Sightseeing Walking Tours. It was a great decision… we had glorious weather in the middle of winter and a fantastic day out learning all sorts of facts and tweaks of history that we could never have learnt about anywhere else. The tours are fabulous.

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Each tour last ninety minutes, they are ambles at the pace of the slowest walker, so kids are quite easily able to keep up and you don’t actually walk too far. Just around the city centre, looking at landmarks and places of interest and hearing all the back stories, and visiting places we haven’t ever heard of. You can find all the details on the City Sightseeing Website here. Also, while the tours are free, the tour guides are paid via your tips, its only fair.

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We arrived early in the morning, well early by Cape Town standards, we wanted to be able to do all three tours in a day. this is totally possibly there is an hour or two break between tours, so you can have a break or a snack… or just chillax and people watch. And said we would like to join the walking tours for the day… we were advised to take the History Tour, the Slavery Tour and finally the Bo-Kaap Tour. I am so glad we went in that order… firstly we needed a general history overview to start with and you definitely need to do the colourful Bo-Kaap tour at the end of the day, to capture all the spectacular colours during the golden hour.

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The Historic City Walk

The historical tour takes you on a journey through the city of Cape Town’s main landmarks. Your guide will share with you a little about life before the settlers. This is followed by the story of how the Dutch came to settle in the Cape and then how the English came to settle here as well. Not to mention how we ended up with not one, not two, but three capital cities: Cape town – Legislature, Pretoria – Administrative, and Bloemfontein – Judicial.

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Lots of interesting snippets were added as we wandered along. After looking at the Parade and the City Hall, a quick walk past Cape Town’s Castle, which was built in 1666, is the oldest building in South Africa. Onto this interesting monument outside the Social History Centre. Way back then when slavery was illegal in Holland, 80% of the Cape population were slaves, working for the Dutch East India Company. On it are lists of slaves at the Cape and their names… If your name mentions a day of the week or a month of the year, then that would have been your arrival day and month, if your name has “van” in it, then it means “from.” Today people with slaves in their ancestry have a proud cultural heritage and it if you suspect that you are a descendent of slaves then you can visit the Social History Centre and they will help you to trace your roots.

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The City Hall was built by the British, in 1806 and around this time the Dutch travelled north in ox-wagon. This migration was called the Great Trek and was the start of the Afrikaner nation. Then gold was discovered and that of course led to fighting and the Boer War was fought over a number of years, finally ending in 1810, when a new country, the Union of South Africa, was born.

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And then there is Tuinhuis, with the Company Gardens alongside, which were eight times bigger than the original Castle Gardens. This is a mixture of Cape Dutch and later the British added a banqueting hall and a ballroom. Interestingly enough… the first company logo ever, for the Dutch East India Company, is higher on the building than King William of Orange. It was indeed all about the Company, in fact we took a wander through the Company Gardens, not the King’s Gardens… which is a place that is very pleasant and lovely to explore to this day. It is the centre of Museums in Cape Town, the Natural History Museum, the Planetarium, the Holocaust Museum and the Art Gallery among others.

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OF course we had to stop by the oldest known “domestic” tree… The Saffron Pear Tree planted at the time of the first settlers, so between 300 and 360 years old, and it still bears fruit every single year.

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This was followed by a short wander past St. Georges Cathedral, to learn about Jazz in the Crypt… Live Jazz in the centre of town, in a place where Jazz is taken seriously… Not a spot to talk and eat… you are there for the Jazz apparently…

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And down through the city,

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Back to the start of the tour at Green Market Square.
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We took a mini-break, shopping for a picnic in the city… firmly believe in eat where the locals eat, this is a budget day out and anytime you look like a tourist you are going to pay tourist prices.

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The District Six Walk

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Refreshed and back to the City Sightseeing Office on Shortmarket Street in time for the next sight seeing tour of the day. At their offices there is heaps of information about every possible tourism activity in the Cape Town and beyond, you can buy refreshments and most important of all there are charging stations galore.

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The next tour we took is called the District Six Walk, that focuses on the Apartheid error. It begins on Green Market Square and begins with the Purple Rain Protest, that I remember vividly from the olden days (1989), ten years before my kids were born. This was an anti-apartheid protest that took place on the steps of the Old Town Hall. The picture our guide painted was a vivid one… and it was the first time that my children realised how protest against apartheid was real movement within South Africa. They have heard about it and learnt about it, but because apartheid was the law, it always feels as if nothing could be done about it. It was good for my kids to become part of that protest, if only while they were on tour.

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We moved on to the High Court…

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While inequality existed throughout history, it was apartheid that made it law. And it was in this court where it was decided what race you were and therefore where you could and couldn’t live. People were forcibly moved out of their neighbourhoods and into homelands or townships. For a white person to sit on a non-white bench meant disagreement with the government and immediate arrest. If you wanted to travel from area to area and i.d. document was required. So many years after apartheid has ended and things are changing, but very slowly. There is not enough available money for a quick fix, and South Africans have had to do repairs one slow step at a time.

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And a walk past the District Six Museum, which if you haven’t visited and you want your children to learn about South African history… that would be a great place to stop by.

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In fact, if you want to teach your children about the Apartheid era, then this is the tour to go on. It is enlightening, level headed… opinions from both sides of the law and a fascinating look at the behind the scenes story.

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At this stage we took another breather and stopped and bought a snack from wherever the locals shop…

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The Bo-Kaap Walk

Our final tour of the day was our favourite… a wander through the colourful Bo-Kaap… at the end of the day it was great to wander up and out of the city centre and enjoy the colours and view of Table Mountain at dusk.

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This area of the city, was originally on the outskirts of the city and was where the slave community was housed. It was also called the Malay quarter with slaves from Madagascar, Mozambique, Malaysia and Indonesia. While the slaves were from very diverse cultures and into the same close knit area, but they had one common enemy and that was the free people.

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This tour doesn’t just tell you about history, it also tells you about where to get the best Bobotie in town, which is our national dish. They also sell koeksisters of both varieties… round with a covering of coconut, or the plaited variety dipped in syrup.

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And that only once a slave had learned Afrikaans he was entitled to wear a hat…

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About six thousand people live in this small community, that gets smaller each day. When slaves were freed they were given their houses and with the advent of the New South Africa, so dawned the age of the Rainbow Nation, not to mention the vibrant and colourful Bo-Kaap. Folk that live their now can’t afford to move out, their property is worth so much, so much so that they first born usually moves into the top floor, to keep the home in the family.

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All in all it was a great day out and a fabulous way to get an overview of South African history in the City of Cape Town. As usual the City SightSeeing Staff were fabulous and made our day out an unforgettable day for us.

City Sightseeing Walking Tours

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Se7en of the Best Series for Emerging Readers…

September 4th, 2017 · 3 Comments

There is a whole genre of book that gets far too little press for the works of art that they are… these are written by illustrator/authors with a heart for showing children a love of books. The joy of paging through works of art cannot be underestimated for readers of all ages. Especially for those readers that feel they were pushed a little too fast and too soon. There is a huge difference between loving books and reading, not to mention the difference between literacy and reading skills. While younger children are mastering their reading skills it is important to provide a literature rich environment for them, fill their time by reading to them and by listening to good audible books with them. A child who is learning to read can easily be put off exploring more if they have to read well enough to fill up their own need for a good story. I would rather my children were filled with good stories, even as they acquire those reading skills, rather than left to struggle on their own and then lose heart.

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I do believe the focus should be on loving books, rather than getting your child onto the next reading level… Children are very discerning and for all the screen time that is available to them, if time is set aside “a just for books time of day” they will discover books they love and revel in them. The more they enjoy books the more they will be led to read. We all worry that our kids will get something too difficult to read and will crumble, or will get something too easy and get stuck there. It is my experience that children do not get stuck in the “easy reader” category for long, in fact they are chomping to move onwards and upwards. They might plateau there for a while, but their love of stories will see them striving onwards once they are confident in their skills. We have had the full range of readers in our house, from one child who could read everything and did, at age four, to another who only tried to read an entire book for the first time at about age 12 and then devoured The Lord of the Rings in less than a week. Your kids will get there… it takes patience and inspirational books in their lives.

Listening to literature rich stories allows your child to hear the language structure, and gives them ways to express their own ideas. this is a good thing. Children that return to the same book over and over and over again are also teaching themselves literature rich language skills. This all good, never fear the child that appears to be stuck in a rut… just naturally strew some good books about and leave them to it. Eventually they will find something that they love to read and move on to the next reading level.

There is that stage between easy readers and complete chapter books, where a child has the skill, but not the confidence and reading is not yet a natural process for them. At this stage they need amazing illustration rich stories, where there are still more pictures than words on a page… but the illustrations tell a lot of the story for them. It is essential (apparently, according to some very knowledgeable hoods) that the books look like their more grownup counterparts, thicker than an easy reader for sure, real chapter breaks and such like. But the actual story needs to depend on the illustrator to carry the novice reader through. These are a few of our favourite books in this category… they are firm favourites for all of us, whether we have been reading for years or not. A good book is a good book, no matter what age the reader is. All of these books are perfectly readable to a younger audience, or good for the “you read this page, and I’ll read the next” audience or for themselves as their very own reader.

Se7en Series of Books That Your Emerging Reader Will Love

Claude by Axel T. Smith


Claude is quite simply the most adorable pup on earth, a delightful little dog belonging to Mr and Mrs Shinyshoes and his best friend is Sir Bobblysock. The stories all begin with the same few paragraphs, giving the sense of familiarity… the stories are sweet through and through and thoroughly entertaining. They are perfect for reading for the child who is launching out of easy readers… picture rich, in fact dozens of pages with more illustration than words. Fabulous confidence boosters, because there is a collection of them. And perfectly entertaining for the parent sitting alongside to help through those first stumbles or to alternate reading pages or paragraphs together. Great books, that we highly recommend again and again and again. You can meet the author at his website over here.

Ottoline by Chris Riddell


These books are very dear to our hearts, we happen to live with Ottoline, right down to the odd shoes. And when we met Chris Riddell he was so struck by our own Ottoline that he was inspired to create a flurry of artwork on the spot and later a book. Our love for all things Chris Riddell is somewhat unprecedented… his ability to tell a story using illustrations as the means of communication is perfect for eager and readers of all ages and stages. His books transport you into a miniature world, where you can get to know his quirky characters and live alongside them.

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These books also begin with the same paragraph: Ottoline lived on the twenty-fourth floor of the Pepperpot Building. She has a friend, Mr Munroe, a small and very hairy being from a bog in Norway. Ottoline is a young girl, whose parents travel the world and she is left somewhat to her own devises to have the most incredible adventures. She is also delightfully quirky, has an Odd Shoe collection, and of course a post card collection with all the postcards sent to her from her parents’ travels. We love Ottoline in our house, she is delightful through and through… adventurous, full of brilliant ideas and just all round feisty.

Goth Girl by Chris Riddell


If you haven’t discovered the Goth Girl then you are in for a treat… these books are each in their own right perfect gifts. For a start they each come with gleaming, glittery spines… and teeny tiny book hidden in the back cover. The goth girl is all the drama within us, popped into the pages of a book. Just lovely, somewhat whimsical and always clever…

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Goth girl is about a little girl called Ada, who clumps about their manor house in outrageously galumphing boots… her father believes children should be heard and not seen, and this could be a problem for her. Everything about Goth Girl is delightful, you feel as if you are reading a nnnnnnn

Timmy Failure by Timmy Pastis


Timmy Failure is the best for the young reader who is overwhelmed… because Timmy Failure is so funny that you have to relax and just roll with all the funnies. From start to finish he is hilarious… and highly recommended if you are in need of cheering up. Timmy runs a somewhat disastrous detective agency, that he is convinced is the ultimate in precision detective work. It is not surprising that the help he gets is always somewhat useless. If you have a doubtful reader, even a slightly resistant reader then try these first. They are great chunky hardback books that feel like you are reading fat chapter books, with really short chapters, but the word to illustration ratio perfect for the child that is put off by millions of words on a page. A cartoon boy in a cartoon world, with hilarious characters playing along side him. Totally fab… through and through.

The 13 Bazillion Story Treehouse Series by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton



Every year or so, another thirteen stories are added to the Treehouse. We met and interviewed the author, Andy Griffiths, last year. And what a chap, filled with wacky ideas and inspired by his young audience who are all over the world.

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Imagine the weirdest most wonderful room you could ever think of, and between the illustrator, Terry Denton and the author Andy Griffiths, they will create it. Really the process is a little magical, because they take all the crazy ideas and manage to create… something so believable and yet insane at the same time… these are pure fun and the series of books that took Hood 5 from reading because he must, to reading for pleasure.

The Diary Series by Richard Platt, illustrated by Chris Riddell and David Parkins


We hope more books in this series come out, really we do… they are pure magic. Transporting you back in time and right into a year in the life of a child’s world of the era they are set in. For the child that loves facts, there are plenty to glean in these stories… but also they are written as a story and so paint a vivid picture of life in those times. The stories take you in and out of the seasons, through the high points and celebrations of a given year and everything in-between. They are great reads and include pages and pages of real live illustrations demonstrating all the details of life in ancient times.

How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell


The idea was that I would read just one of these and my youngest pirate would then be so inspired that he would pick up and follow along where I left off… the truth is they started out a bit rough for me, the viking spirit and all that. But these books totally grew on me and I found myself reading through the entire series… book after book after book. A year of bedtime listening one after the other after the other. We all grew very fond of the hero and his group of friends… they became our friends and our concerns. Honestly our love for the humble, unassuming hero, Hiccup, is immense… these books are pure gold and your newly independent reader will love them, and will love them even more if they can chat about them with someone else who has read them.

If you re still looking for more books to read in this genre, then dash over to What We Are Reading Right Now: The Easy Chapter Book Edition.

Thank you so much to PanMacmillan South Africa, who over time have provided us with these books for review purposes. This is not a sponsored post, we were not paid to create it and the opinions expressed are as usual, our own.

→ 3 CommentsTags: Brilliant Books

Se7en’s September and Your Free Printable Calendar…

September 1st, 2017 · 2 Comments

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Welcome to September…

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Click on the calendar page, it will open in a new tab, print it out and then colour it and fill in the days that you want to celebrate… pop it on the fridge and you are good to go. You can still find all the calendar pages down the right hand side of our website and they are all gathered together in our Almanac page for easy searching… If you have holidays or ideas that you would like to add then please go ahead and comment, I would love to have our calendars packed to the brim!!!

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→ 2 CommentsTags: Celebrity Calendar