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

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Family Fitness and Joining Your Local Parkrun…

June 23rd, 2017 · 2 Comments

It is the middle of winter… and it is so cold, the only way I know how to get warm in this weather is to actually just get up and get moving. I have been blogging recently about Se7en Ways to Get Your Kids Moving… and Realistic Sleep, Screen time and Exercise Expectations for our Kids. So one thing that has really worked for our family’s exercise this year has been Parkruns. We actually started them because Hood 4 loves to run, and I love free activities for my kids.

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So way back at the beginning of the year we went, with trepidation for some of us, to our first Park Run, and we have been going every Saturday that we have been able to ever since. I love that you don’t have to go, if we are free we go, but there is no pressure. I love that it starts at eight and we don’t have to get all our kids up in the freezing and the dark… just the freezing right now. And love that it isn’t a competition, you go at your own pace and if that is walking the whole way then that is absolutely fine. The thing is we all started by walking the whole way, but we are slowly but surely getting fitter. And while hood 4 sprints away with glee each week, some of us have gone from walking all the way to walk/running and there are dreams of running the whole way. Otherwise every week, everyone eagerly awaits their email to say if they have managed a PB or not… and oh the rejoicing if someone has improved!!!

Click on the link to find your nearest Parkrun…

Parkrun is great, you can find one near you or you can visit one further from home, because they are all over the world; it is at the same time each week so nothing new to remember; it is 5km long, which means you can just walk it and finish in about an hour; it is run entirely by volunteers and it is free; and it is timed… so you can watch your slow and steady improvement as the weeks go by. It has had another knock on effect… the gang quickly realised that running once a week wasn’t going to do the trick and that they had to add in a few extra days of actual walking/running to improve their times. So my kids have started the couch to 5km program and they are very excited about it. Sticking to the schedule like clockwork.

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Now a little while back I attended a workshop at the Sport Science Institute of South Africa… on endurance running for women. I know, how did I get from a 5 km walk/run Parkrun to Endurance Running. Well to be honest, the athlete inside of me cannot sit and watch the Two Oceans go by without thinking “Could I do that one day?” Ridiculous I know, but I could possibly run an entire 5km… and at the beginning of the year I could never have dreamt of running 100m, so it isn’t beyond comprehension that one day I could possibly run a 10 km or a half marathon. Anyway I attended the workshop with an open mind and eager to learn… and I am so glad I did, I was so inspired. The ultimate cool thing about this gym is that everybody is an athlete… and one look at the audience and I knew I wasn’t the only dreamer!!!

The workshop was split into a number of sessions…

Running Tips by Andy Bosch

  1. Increase your Distance Gradually: If you are running 50 km or 150km a week you still cannot increase your mileage by more than 10% a week, simply to avoid injury. Decide if you are running for time or distance… slower runners need to train for time and elite runners for distance, simply because elite runners can go so much further over the same time, without injury.
  2. You Need a Long Run: Take your time to build your mileage up and don’t count stoppage time. If you run for an hour, and stop for two ten minute water breaks and a chatter, then that was only a 40 minute run. This run needs to be faster than a snail to count… a little faster than chattering along with a friend pace.
  3. Mix up the Speed of Your Runs: Not all runs have to be fast, there is a time and a place for slow recovery runs. Then again, some long runs need to be at pace.
  4. Speedwork and Hill Sessions: Build these workouts up each week, they will improve your running. Speedwork and hills have been proven to make you stronger and work at improving your running time and time again.
  5. Plyometrics: (I had to look this up!) Plyometrics are short, sharp explosive exercises. And to be sure I don’t do any of those that I know of!!!
  6. Taper for Races: Don’t just take off a couple of days beforehand, because you will feel sluggish. Rather start by cutting out non-essential runs and keep the fast runs.
  7. Rest: You need cycles of hard training followed by a week of easy training. Rest is an essential part of building up your running slowly and progressively. You can’t do everything at once… give yourself a year to make changes and adjustments to your running.
  8. Running Exercises by Chloe Newlands of the Strong 2 Run Programme

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    Everyone should do strength training… you don’t have to go to a gym to do it, most of these exercises can be done at home quite easily. And in order to run better you need stronger glutes… you know the place you normally sit upon. Strong glutes will improve your co-ordination, your efficiency and your performance, they will also help you to prevent injuries. Do your strength training as part go your warm up before a run, because afterwards you will always be too tired and not have time for it.

    And the strengthening exercises she most recommends:

    1. Hamstring Curls
    2. The Squat
    3. Crab Walk
    4. Glute Bridge
    5. Plank/Side Plank

    And if you do no other strength exercise… then the one strength exercise to do has to be: The Walking Lunge. That’s it, nuff said.

    Learning How to Eat by Sarah Chantler, from the SSISA dietician team.

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    First things first, everyone is different and everyone has to eat what works for them. And otherwise, elite athletes don’t eat what the rest of us eat. You have to learn to eat for your own success and keep it the same for race day. Have a plan for your races and then execute it. Now I know this is not essential for folk like me who are trying to run a 5K, but it was fascinating. In fact, if you are running a half marathon in two hours… then you don’t need to snack at all. If your running goal is part of a weight loss programme then don’t worry to snack, but if you are aiming for a PB, have a little bit of coke towards the end, it will make you feel so much better. Any race over two hours and you have to eat something, and you have to consider the taste and the texture.

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    Landie Greyling, Tanith Maxwell, Sarah Chantler

    Now part of why I wanted to attend this event so badly is that Landie Greyling would be there and I am a fan of hers on instagram, she just makes running look so fun. And I got to follow Tanith Maxwell, another one of Cape Town’s elite athletes. They asked them a couple of questions about how they eat on the run…

    When did you realise that you need to eat during a race?

    L: In my first marathon hit the wall from lack of actual food, so I walked last ten km.
    T: I don’t get hungry when I run, I have to train that way. I eat in the first hour so, to sustain myself.

    What do you eat on race days?

    L: Easily digestible food, nothing dry. Something salty at the start, like a marmite sandwich in early stages and later watermelon or an orange for hydration. And finally gels.
    T: Fluid one hundred percent, I have a glucose polymer drink that I drink specific amounts at specific intervals throughout the race.

    Anything unusual or last tips?

    L: If you are running a hundred km race you have to have your bars and gels. Once in a long race there was salty vegetable soup at an aid station and that was the best ever!!! Fruit salad with custard was a disaster, lesson learnt was to keep it simple. Teach your body to eat what you can access in the race place. You should eat every forty five minutes, you won’t to at the start, but you have to. What you eat at the start determines your race outcome. And if you have run 100km then you have totally earned all the Coke your heart desires in the last 5km.
    T: Don’t vary things, find what works and stick with it. Drinks planned for every 5km. If you gets bored with the taste of polymers… then Coke wins. Check the aid stations, if you have special requirements don’t ever leave it to chance.

    What is your favourite cheat meal?
    L: Chocolate milkshake
    T: Pizza

    The Taste Test

    If you normally enjoy real food then real food can work but you have to go forth and try new things… some things you can tolerate while you are running and somethings you can’t. At 35 km your mouth will be fairly dehydrated, so eat at a water station. Also bland food is best, because the further you go the sweeter it gets. We were offered a taste test:

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    Dried fruit,tasty but really very chewy, easy to suck… so sweeties like sparkles and jelly babies would work too. The little protein ball had nuts in it and I immediately handed it to the lady next to me… clearly she didn’t have a nut allergy. And the exercise bar was super chewy and tasted really really bland… maybe if I had run 35 km I would have enjoyed it, maybe not!!!

    Huge thanks to The Sport Science Institute of South Africa for the invitation to attend the event. This is not a sponsored post, I was not paid to write it and opinions expressed are as usual my own.

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Se7en Learns About Tracking With Struik Nature…

June 21st, 2017 · No Comments

We recently attended the launch of Struik Nature’s new book, The Tracker Manuel by Alex van den Heever, Renias Mhlongo and Karel Benadie…

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A lot of our hikes take us down the coast to Cape Point and one thing you need to know about hiking at Cape Point is that it is very easy to quickly get off the beaten track and walk along pristine beaches… where tracks and tracking are crystal clear and easy to spot.

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Wide open beaches are filled with treasures: all the bird life, even the biggest birds like ostriches are there, and then buck, small mammals and reptiles. The tracks that stay undisturbed for even longer are on the actual dunes. These photographs tell a much bigger story than, “A few animals were passing by.”

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Recently on a hike we decided to make a plaster cast of a hoof print… plaster casts are in almost every nature study book and they look so easy. But we have never made them before… turns out it really is a fun and easy project to intrigue hikers of all ages!!!

How to Create a Plaster Cast


I just added a packet of plaster of paris to my pack, that I got from a local chemist shop, and remembered to take a cup from the recycling, to mix the plaster in, in my pack. When we found a suitable print we stopped for a snack. Before we snacked we mixed the plaster of paris in the cup…

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And carefully poured it into the print…

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And left the plaster of paris to set while we ate our snack and had a bit of a break…

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Once the plaster was set we lifted the print out of the ground…

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A quick dusting off of the excess sand and you are left with a fabulous print to store on the nature shelf.

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The Launch of the Tracker Manual

The book is the accumulation of years of data, and the collective knowledge of three of South Africa’s foremost trackers. The idea of the book was to gather together a comprehensive guide for tracking students at The Tracker Academy, and a chance to document a guide to the ancient art of tracking. What an incredible book… before reading this book we thought tracking was all about tracks… footprints left by animals in the wild. That is not the case. Tracking is all about every mark and trace that the animal leaves in its day to day life. Being a tracker means being able to recognise the signs around them, but also to follow and trace an animal.

The book has a wide variety of animal species in it: carnivores, large mammals, antelopes, small mammals, primates, hares and rodents, amphibians and reptiles, birds and insects. Each animal is described in detail, their habits are explained, what they feed on, their droppings, their behaviour, male and female tracks, foreleg and handle tracks, what animals they are similar to, the list goes on. There are loads of photographs and where photographs won’t do, there are illustrations by Simon Bannister. The depth of information on each and every animal in the book is unprecedented… this is a book for animal lovers, especially those that would like to know more about a variety of animals… from lions to ants there is a heap of information on all of them. This book is an incredible read, the ultimate wildlife handbook and one well worth having in your back pack when you are heading out on an adventure.

Let’s Meet the Authors

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Years and years of accumulated experience, teamed up to create this book…

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Alex van den Heever: Founder of the tracker academy, who began this book as a manual for his students and it turned into a detailed labour of love. His passion for his subject, his love of his students and his attention to detail makes this a book one of the best ever wildlife books.

Renias Mhlongo: Born and grew up in the Kruger National Park, and can this man tell wonderful tales of his adventures out in the veld. He told a story of a lion that visited his village and how one of the locals dashed out to protect his cows in his gumboots, while the whole village stood laughing from a safe distance.

Karel Benadie: Was born on a day when it snowed in the Karoo. He is one of South Africa’s 21 icons… and you should watch his interesting story here:

The Tracker Academy

All the royalties from the book go towards the Tracker Academy, where the authors are from. The Tracker Academy was founded in 2010 and is a school to learn the art of tracking, located in the heart of South African Wildlife.

Every year, from 300 applications, 16 rural students are given a year of intensive wildlife training… how to interpret what they see and how to guide visitors through the veld, medicinal plants and as well. All of the students are placed in jobs once they graduate, jobs in research, tourism, anti-poaching and such like. Modern conservation efforts require the ancient art of trackers and so by training these young students in tracking skills not only are they preserving this ancient art but they are aiding research and environmental efforts.

We would like to thank the publishers Struik Nature and Penguin Random House South Africa who supplied us with a copy of the book to review. We were not paid for the review and the opinions expressed in it are as usual, entirely our own.

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Happy Brilliant Birthday Hood 4…

June 20th, 2017 · 6 Comments

Happy Brilliant Birthday to Hood #4…

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I have no idea how this lad grew so very much in just one year and how very quickly fourteen arrived…

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The lad who was born to run…

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Really never stops running…

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Just the best big brother…

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Always good for a chat…

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Running or working…

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This guys loves a project…

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And construction…

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And jumping…

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Yes… jumping…

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And a wild outdoor kind of cooking…

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And jumping…

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And climbing the highest trees…

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Gotta love this guy…

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Always working…

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And working…

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And working…

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To the boy who can’t ever get enough of mountain tops…

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And smooth dressing!!!

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To the chap who is always doing some sort of work out…

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Or hiking…

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Happy Brilliant Birthday

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Our champion feather collector… well anything collector…

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Our smartest dresser…

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Our master of disguise…

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Feet never ever on the ground…

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To our lover of style…

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And always a ready smile…

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Always ready with a good story…

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And the biggest brown eyes…

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A Blast From the Past…

2016: Hood #4 Turns 12…

2015: Hood #4 Turns 12…

2014: Hood #4 Turns 11…

2013: Hood #4 Turns 10…

2012: Hood #4 Turns 9…

2011: H00d #4 Turns 8…

2010: Hood #4 Turns 7…

2009: Hood #4 Turns 6…

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Se7en + 1 Really Easy Walks for Families in Cape Town…

June 17th, 2017 · 4 Comments

A question that I have been asked a couple times lately is, “Where can I go for a weekend walk with the kids, in Cape Town?” And this weekend is a long weekend for us, so it seems fitting to put this post out, for all those folk who would like a lazy amble or a small adventure… some outdoor time without being too taxing or anything even slightly resembling Kilimanjaro. The perfect walk requires fresh air a sense of wild adventure for little people and relaxation for the grownups. I have tried to include walks from the extremely easy to the mildly adventurous… something for all ages and stages. We have blogged about almost every single walk in this post and if you just click on the title of the walk, you will be taken to a more in depth description.

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What to Pack: The lighter the better, really… no-one wants to be lugging anything anywhere, but there are some things you should take. Always take a sweater, there is nothing worse than a walk spoilt because someone is cold. A simple snack and a water bottle are nice even on short walks. There is something about eating outdoors that adds to the adventure for little people, and provides encouragement to accompanying adults. If it’s cold a beanie really helps to keep warm and if it’s sunny then a hat is essential. Otherwise, no special gear is required… just a little bit of enthusiasm and a spirit of adventure!!!

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Safety: All these walks are within the city of Cape Town, even if you feel like you are out in the wild, you are actually in a city and need to take the usual precautions: don’t walk alone, don’t walk after dark, don’t display your valuables. These are obvious precautions that we can easily forget because we feel so far from urbanisation. If there is a signboard with emergency numbers then take a snapshot of it with your phone, that way if you do run into a problem, you will be able to call for help.

Se7en Types of Easy Ambles for Families in Cape Town

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  1. Good Places to Just Sit in the Great Outdoors…

  2. You know when you should go out for a walk, but you actually just feel like a coffee and a chat with a friend while the kids play…

    • Chart Farm: This is the ultimate sit and have a coffee on a bench while the children wander in and out of the rows of roses. They even have a tea-room, where you can have an assortment of loveliness… perfect for taking grannies out, while the children run free… you can even go for a really easy wander and pick your own roses. Lovely!!!
    • Bel Ombre Meadow in Constantia: If you need to just get away into the great outdoors really quickly. If you head down Rathfielder Avenue, off Brommesvlei Road, there is a lovely big kink in the road that encloses a green area of forest and field and prettiness. Perfect place to stop and let your kids run up and down the hill while you find a bench to have your take-out coffee on.

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  3. Urban Ambles Around the City of Cape Town…

    There is a time and a place for urban ambles, especially if there is a chance to stop for a coffee or a treat along the way…

    • The V and A Waterfront: The information desk has a map for their running routes and their history trail, an easy walk to do and if your little people are like mine then there is a lot of joy in figuring out where everything is on the map. Not to mention there are plenty of places to stop and rest and watch the world go by and plenty of opportunities for treats.
    • The Company Gardens: In the heart of the city, is always good for an amble… plenty of people watching and and if it should rain, you can dash into the Natural History Museum, or the Art Gallery or the Cultural History Museum. If you haven’t been there for years… try it, it is lovely and lots Capetonians don’t even know about it.
    • Kalk Bay: Is always good for an amble and some window shopping, and the best book shop in town, just saying. Stop at the Ice Cafe for a cone, The Olympia bakery for a treat or take a stroll through the harbour and stop for Fish and Chips at Kalkys.
    • Simonstown: Another good place to take a walk through town, lots of places to look at and explore along your way.
    • City Sight Seeing: Yes, that’s the Red City Bus Tours and they have free walking tours of the city of Cape Town, you can choose from the Historic Tour, The Bo-Kaap Tour, the District Six Walk, and the V and A Waterfront… these are top of our list to try over the next few weeks.
    • City Walk: Also provides free walking tours in the city centre, and every third Saturday of the month there is City Walk Saturdays, where the streets are opened up for buskers, performers, drummers and so on.

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  4. Walks in Parks, Cape Town has Some Spectacular Parks…

  5. These walks tend to be really easy, they are mostly stroller friendly, there is plenty of parking and often a chance of fine coffee really close by.

    • GreenPoint Park: follow the loop and people watch all the way… there are lots of hidden twists and turns to explore if you need just a little bit of wildness. There is a biodiversity garden to explore, a maze to wander through… there is a lot more to this wonderful park than endless lawns and a wonderful playground. Not to mention it is free.
    • Intaka Island: If you want to walk and learn then here is a fabulous place, completely wild, right behind N1 city. There is a really small entrance fee and frankly, this gem is one of Cape Town’s very best kept secrets.
    • Kirstenbosch: Of course this is one of our favourite places to go for walks… walks can be gentle or easy, all on paved paths or off-road… it is a great place for families with large age differences, because there is literally something for everybody there. My kids all love waking the Braille Trail and you can look out for guided walks, especially family focused tours of the gardens. Tons of different routes and trails to take and wander off… even on the busiest days there are secret spots to discover and explore. There is an entrance fee, but it is usually free during the June/July school holidays.
    • Silvermine: A walk around the dams is an easy walk and they are lovely picnic spots to stop and play and explore. This is a really easy walk far from the land of cell-phone reception and you feel like you have been on long holiday once you have been there. (There is a small entrance fee).
    • Groot Constantia: While technically not a park, it is a well cultivated wine farm, with beautiful places to visit… pristine gardens to wander through under the oak trees or for a little wilder a wander through the vineyards.
    • Rondevlei Bird Sanctuary: Another one of Cape Town’s best kept secrets. for a small fee you will find yourself completely surrounded by nature in the middle of the urban sprawl of Cape Town. Lots to look at for animal lovers and a great place for an easy walk.

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  6. Slightly Off Road But Still Easy Enough to Call an Amble…

  7. If you are ready for a bit of adventure… but not quite ready for soldiering your way through mangrove swamps or crawling along cliff edges…

    • Clovelly Wetlands: As you drive into Fish Hoek from Kalk Bay, there are stop lights where you can turn into Clovelly. Turn up the road to Clovelly and immediately on your left is a parking lot and a boardwalk/gravel path that zig zags to and fro across the Silvermine River Wetlands… perfect for bird and frog spotting.
    • Rondebsoch Common: In the heart of Rondebsoch, between Red Cross Children’s Hospital and Rustenberg High School. There is a Park Run here on Saturday mornings, but if you are looking for a nice 2 km loop… Park at the Campground Circle, there is a path beside the trees, on the common, towards Park Road, halfway along Park Road there is a path and an amble across the middle of the common, through a lovely wild patch, and beautiful views of the mountain, avoiding the traffic on the edges.
    • The Alphen Trail: Take a wander through beautiful Constantia and you walk all the way from close to the top of Southern Cross Drive right down to the Alphen hotel… if you are looking for shorter options with smaller people, you can do a walk through a shorter section of this trail. Starting on Southern Cross Drive head for Le Sueur Avenue, which loops off Brommesvlei Road… there is a lovely green field to play on and you can join the Alphen Trail for a wander either way. Or just head straight to the Alphen Hotel, you will spot the lower entrance to the Alphen Trail close by, and you can take a wander into the Alphen Trail as far as your legs want to go and then wander out again.
    • The Sillery Trail: As you drive on Constantia Main Road from Ladie Mile, towards Groot Constantia, there is an open field with some tall trees on the right hand side, you can park there and wander into a lovely lush area, cool and relaxing on the hottest summer days and good for Autumn leaves too, actually any season is a good season to go exploring there.
    • Noordhoek Common: This is a lovely place to go for a walk with a real country feel to it. There are oak trees, green grass and horses… often the very best spot when the rest of the Peninsula is too windy to go for a walk. Not to mention just over the road is the Noordhoek farm village, the home of great coffee and Kristen’s Kick Ass ice-cream.
    • Tokai Forest Plantation: On Orpen Road in Tokai… there is a lovely big loop right around the forest and a couple of paths zig zag across the area, if you need a short cut. There is gravel, board walks, wide open space and forest… a bit of everything and most of all… its flat.

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  8. Easy Seaside Walks That Won’t Get You covered in Sand…

  9. When you are taking small children for a walk, along the sand is often not the best place to be. Cape Town has plenty of great walks alongside the beach and the reward of a play on the beach at the end of it always inspires little people to join in…

    • Muizenberg to St James: From Surfer’s Corner to St. James Beach is lovely seaside amble, especially exciting during Whale season… and for little train lovers, you are in the perfect spot for a bit of trainspotting.
    • Boulders to Seaforth: This is an absolutely stunning walk, beautiful beyond belief and you will see penguins and daisies and maybe even a mongoose. It’s free, though if you want to you can pay to enter Sanparks at either end of the boardwalk for a closer look at the penguins.
    • Jager’s Walk on Fish Hoek Beach: This is a lovely paved amble, from Fish Hoek to Sunny Cove, and then back again. Lots of benches to sit on as the world goes by as, sea life to watch and of course, Train Spotting. A reward for your efforts is a soft serve cone at the beach side restaurant.
    • Slangkop Light House in Kommetjie: Head for the lighthouse to park and then wander back along the beach path towards Kommetjie, a lovely amble whatever the weather and perfect for Atlantic sunsets.
    • The Sea Point Promenade: Lots of little stops to play and look at things along the way… a nice easy flat walk for families that enjoy people watching and running free. The little blue train is a great and affordable treat, and so are the Putt Putt courses, between Green Point Light House and Three Anchor Bay.

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  10. For the more Adventurous…

  11. When your kids are a little older and you are looking for a little easy adventuring… then Cape Town has a lot of perfect walks in this category…

    • The Kakapo Shipwreck: Take a walk along Long Beach starting in Noordhoek… towards Kommetjie and you will come to the shipwreck of the SS Kakapo. If you are into long sandy walks along the ocean, then this is a great one. A bit like crossing the Sahara… alongside the ocean… great for potential pirates and Bear Grylls wannabees.
    • Newlands Forest: You will definitely encounter hills here, and during winter mud. It is gloriously shady and lovely, there is a network of paths criss-crossing each other and a place to sooth your spirits far from the madding crowd. This is a great place to stop off for a walk… because you can choose any number of little routes… three hours or thirty minutes, the choice is yours. For nature spotting, and beautiful scenery this forest is beautiful.
    • De Hel in Constantia: As you drive down Constantia Main road, from Constantia Nek, just short of a km from the top on the left is a gate and a sign post to an area known as De Hel. Clear footpaths, little footbridges and forest… it is the great outdoors in a place that you least expect it.

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  12. Really Easy Hikes in the Cape Peninsula…

  13. When Most people think of hikes in Cape Town they immediately think of Table Mountain, and the next thought is, “Table Mountain is a little difficult for us,” and they head for Lion’s Head. While both Table Mountain and Lion’s Head can be hiked by families with small children, but we found it useful to wait until our kids were fairly used to hiking before we tackled those fairly hard hikes for little legs and tired parents. For those folks who are desperate to hike there are actually places to get away and walk, and feel like you have hiked on the open trail, without traversing enormous mountains, and actually just enjoying a pleasant walk. None of these walks are completely flat, we would say undulating, though perfectly doable for energetic little people and their parents… we know we have tried them. They are not suitable for strollers… they are actual hikes with gravely paths, or patches of sand… lots of variety and lots of fun.

    • SirkelsVlei Hike at Cape Point: This is the most wonderful Fynbos walk through Cape Point… you can either start on the Olifantsbos Road and walk straight to Sirkelsvlei and back again, or you can start at Olifantsbos and walk up the short steep slop onto the plateau and across to Sirkelsvlei… there is lots to look at and a good chance of seeing some wonderful Cape Wildlife. This is a lovely walk and really suitable for all ages and abilities.
    • Along the False Bay Coast in Cape Point: This is our favourite family hike, to take family friends on, it is easy enough for the shortest of legs, it is beautiful and the chances of seeing wildlife are extremely high. Start close to the Whale Watch Viewpoint near Rooikrans, there is a clear path and a wonderful wander along the coast towards Buffels Bay or a little further to Bordjiesdrift. This has to be one of our all time favourite hikes, we have blogged about it again and again!!!
    • An Easy Flat Beach Walk in Cape Point: This hike starts at the Gifkommetkjie lookout, head down the fairly steep 200/300m descent on the southern side of the lookout and then it is a flat walk all the way along the beach to Platboom, it is pleasant two and a half hour walk down the beach… with plenty of time to play along the way.
    • Maclear’s Beacon from the Cable Car: For a really adventurous day out head up Table Mountain on a beautiful day, in the Cable Car… from the Cable car station there is a really easy 5km walk across the top of the mountain. It isn’t completely flat, there is an elevation of 19m between the Cable Car Station and the highest point on Table Mountain, Maclean’s Beacon at 1086m. Nice thing is you can claim to have been to the top of Table Mountain… which is quite an achievement!!!

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This is the kind of post that grows as you write it… I kept thinking of more ideas of walks we had been on and walks we have tried. I am sure I will be adding to this post, because we do live in quite the most beautiful city in the world filled with tons of family walks all over the show… hidden gems. This post provides something for every level of adventure… time to get off the couch and go for an amble!!!

→ 4 CommentsTags: Cape Town · Outings

Happy Brilliant Birthday to Hood 2…

June 14th, 2017 · 8 Comments

So birthday season has begun and Hood #2 turned eighteen over the weekend… with a chocolate feast…

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I have no idea how it happened that I have such grown up children…

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Always ready for a laugh…

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Always ready to try something new…

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Always reading a book…

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Always ready to play along…

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Always curious…

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The nuttiest big brother…

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Always ready to help…

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Our techie in training…

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Always gotta try a balancing act…

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Cutest little face…

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Serious, with a good dose of wit!!! Happy Brilliant Birthday!!!

Previous Birthday Posts


Hood #2 is 17…

Hood #2 is 16…

Hood #2 is 15…

Hood #2 is 14…

Hood #2 is 13…

Hood #2 is 12…

Hood #2 is 11…

Hood #2 is 10… An interview with an inventor.

→ 8 CommentsTags: Our Events

It’s Been a Wonderful Week of GreenPop Events…

June 12th, 2017 · No Comments

Last week was a week spent with GreenPop, one of our favourite kinds of weeks. As the Greenpop team gear up for their annual trip to Zambia so there commitment to planting and greening Cape Town has been going on, business as usual.

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Urban Greening at the GeenPop Nursery


We started on Saturday with some urban greening… which is our favourite kind of time spent with the Greenpop team, it was especially fun because it was a garden that we have been part of since the beginning.
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And I can’t believe how these Eco-Warriors have grown in two years!!!
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The Canopy Club


The day of gardening was to celebrate the opening of The Canopy Club, a new Greenpop initiative, to bring environmental education and urban greening to the citizens of Cape Town. Three speakers were invited to share at the event…
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Paddy Chapple – Why Small Things Matter: For the past twenty years they have carried out a butterfly count in their area and twenty years ago there were fifty-seven species in their count, and now they are down to only six species. Take for example the Table Mountain Copper, which lays its eggs in seeds that the local Pugnacious ants take into their nests. The butterfly seeds were protected in the nest and they hatched along with the ants. Later Argentinian ants were introduced to the Cape, these ants eat the seeds above the ground and the butterfly sides are not protected. Small seeds do matter and you can make a difference.

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Dr. Pippin Anderson – You have to have Nature in Cities to Raise Eco-Warriors : We live in the age of rapid urbanisation. In 2013, 50% of the world’s population live in cities. By 2050, 70% of the world’s population will live in cities. Africa is the continent with the fastest urbanisation and Lilongwe in Malawi is the city with the fastest growing urbanisation. In Cape Town we have a love hate relationship with nature. We love the mountain, we have had to reclaim the sea to fit the city, we loved the wooded slopes until we ran out of wood. We have a cycle, when the environment supports the city, until there is a crisis and then we rethink and begin again. Right now we are at a crisis, when we don’t have enough water to supply our city, it is time to write a new story. Nature feeds our souls, we need to experience it in our urban context. We need to design green into our infrastructure. Even within our own city, we all have different access to green spaces and we need to be aware of diversity within our own city. Some folk will be heading for a green space to relax and others will be seeking relief from home. It is time to accept the different experiences of the same nature and incorporate green living into our basic design.

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Lauren O’ Donnel, GreenPop founder and MD: Lauren spoke about the history of GreenPop and their initial plan to plant 1000 trees. The kept trees in a garage and would make sandwiches for volunteers and off they would go. They later moved their trees to another spot, where a leaking pipe alerted them to the fact that they were keeping their trees on land that wasn’t actually available to them. They started to look for a new place to keep their trees, an empty space, beside the highway seemed like the perfect spot. And then they found their current position in the heart of Woodstock. They wanted to create an inspirational space, where learning is tangible. A biodiversity showcase, creating a corridor of green in the urban environment. Community projects and support are the vision and the dynamic to moving forward.

Adventure Talks With Cape Union Mart

And then during the week we went to Cape Union Mart, Canal Walk, for an evening of adventure talks. Yes, there is everything to love about Cape Union Mart… it is a camping, adventurers dream store and the perfect platform to talk about green adventures. And adventuring with a purpose. First we listened to Bailey talk about essential kit for traveling cross-country and joining the GreenPop team in Zambia.

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And one of the hoods was very excited to win a water bottle…
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And they had fun immersing themselves in the world of Google Cardboard…
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And an evening of talks with our friends form GreenPop…

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Sam Chevalier and What Role Might Technology Play in Social Media?

Sam will be traveling with the GreenPop team to Zambia in a couple of weeks… in order to bring the three dimensional experience to those of us who can’t be there… from my personal experience in Zambia, it is a magical and life changing experience… one not to be missed. He is all about the environment, technology and education. If you can’t take the schools to Antarctica, can you bring Antartica to the schools? It is an interesting question. He has worked around the world on environmental projects but the urgency of our need to protect the earth’s biodiversity hit him when he was working as a journalist in the Amazon river and personally experienced the biodiversity loss brought on by the logging industry. He firmly believes that we need a deep and direct experience in order raise our awareness and our need to protect our biodiversity. A child cannot experience an elephant, in the sense that they cannot hear, smell, feel or see an elephant in the classroom, for instance… Can elephants be bought into the classroom, using technology, for children to gain that deep experience.

He recently completed a project: Trekking the seven Biomes of South Africa, and plans to use his experience to bring these biomes to kids. You have to take a look at the Youtube channel for #TrekSouthAfrica just incredible.

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Misha Teasdale, GreenPop Founder and Tree EO.

Misha’s life of Active Citizenship has taken him on a journey around the world, through Africa and globally, creating value and business around projects can make things happen, but the significance lies in the personal relationships that arise. As a young graduate his job took him across 36 000km of flight and he decided that he wanted to pay back the earth. He love a challenge and decided to plant 1000 trees. He had never planted a tree before and didn’t own a spade. He realised that he would need help with this project and immediately started looking for creative ways to get the challenge rolling. Together with less than a handful of friends, GreenPop was begun. Engaging with volunteers forced him to step our of his comfort zone.

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Their first idea to raise funds for trees was to open a miniature park at the top of Long Street in the city centre. They had musicians, and a festive atmosphere and somehow they managed to sell seventy-nine trees. People had connected, they were off to a small start and the treevolution had begun. There next idea, to raise awareness for their project was to don Super Hero cloaks and on any form of transport they could find: skateboards, bmx’s, rollerblades… they dashed through rush hour traffic encouraging folk to help them plant trees. This got everyone’s attention… talk about uplifting a dreary rush hour!!!

Their first tree plant, they planted five trees… and then they got better at it, much better at it. They involved corporates, they had sustainability talks, green days, and plants days. They quickly realised that they were social responsibility to planting the trees that they had folk had paid for… and trees were planted. In fact, 1000 trees were planted. But GreenPop was here to stay and with their online campaign they had raised an extra 800 trees. A chance mount top meeting with Richard from Bos iced tea, created their first tree pledge and once they knew how many trees were coming in it was so much easier to organise planting.

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It isn’t about the trees… the trees get planted, but it is about all the uplifting that goes on around the tree planting. It is the broken window effect, where you plant trees and create a beautiful environment people want to be. In Bogota, Columbia, they managed to reduce the crime rate significantly by creating celebrated spaces… green places that people can be proud of. South Africa has 27 000 schools and of those, 25 000 look like penitentiaries it is time to start conversations about change.

Currently GreenPop has tree planting days through out the year, but there is something quite magical their annual festivals to Platbos, where they are with the help of eager volunteers, they are reforesting the are with indigenous trees. When a chicken farmer from Zambia got hold of them to say they they had a lot of trees and needed help to plant them, the GreenPop team jumped at the challenge. Tree planting has become a much bigger challenge. They now have the Zambia Festival of Action, which brings people together from all over the world… this year there will be 170 people from 18 countries. These are all people with a heart for environmental change… it is a pot of ideas gathered in one space… yes, trees are planted, but more important relationships are forged and ideas are exchanged and built upon.

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To date GreenPop has planted about 80 000 trees. What is more important than the trees are the hands that plant them, it is the sense of adventure… adventure with a purpose. This is a project that our family have loved being part of, my kids have planted trees locally, I have been to the Fabulous Family Festival Weekend. I have been lucky enough to go to the Zambia Festival of Action… and I would go again in a flash. It is honestly just the price of a plane ticket that is holding me back. Though I must say, folk travel by plane, by us, by truck, by motorbike, by bike… it’s one of those get there if you can events.

The first question folk ask… when you return form a week or a weekend with GreenPop is “How many trees did you plant?” and the answer is really… A forest might be planted, whole hillsides if trees in a morning… and that’s all good. But it is not about the trees it is all about what you learn while you are there and the global friendships that you make. And it wouldn’t be a GreenPop event without a group hug…

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And the number one question, every time I blog tweet or instagram about GreenPop, is folk ask me how they can get involved. The easiest way to hear about GreenPop and all their amazing projects is to sign up to their newsletter. That way you will hear about nursery days, local tree planting days, sustainability talks and Family Festivals and of course the Zambia Festival of Action. If you want to know more then head for the GreenPop website and contact them.

→ No CommentsTags: Caring and Sharing · Green Living · Outings

Se7en’s Fabulous Fun Post #354…

June 8th, 2017 · No Comments

Firstly, Happy World Ocean’s Day, and boy did our ocean let its voice be heard bringing us a crazy storm… after months with no rain we were treated to a deluge. When an entire city shuts down for the day: schools closed, business closed, even the gym closed early… hectic. We stayed warm and safe, though by the end of the day I was ready to toss everyone outdoors for some fresh air… no matter what the weather. We seriously need to look into getting a water tank to catch our rain… but right now my kids have all their pots and pans out collecting every drop.

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Se7en Builds a Library Book by Book

Our garage is starting to explode with books and we are going to be delivering our library short. Just can’t wait to report back to you all…

Lovely Links from This Week

  1. An Excellent Post: World Oceans Day: Everything you need to know plastic in the Ocean from the Two Oceans Aquarium.
  2. Firstly, this is the month to sign up and follow along with 30 Days Wild, never mind that we live on the far side of the world. We commit to heading into the great outdoors everyday and posting a pic on instagram, with the hashtag #30dayswild
  3. Secondly, since we are signing up for things… It is the season for Read the World Summer Book Club. Well it is Winter over here, but a couple of weeks of fun reading is always totally welcome in our house!!!
  4. The Planetarium in Cape Town has re-opened and for some reason I have never taken my kids there… but this post packed with all sorts of Star Gazing and Astronomy on Walking in High Cotton, has me a little inspired.
  5. If you like hiking and green hills then look no further: In King Arthur’s Footsteps: Discover 9 Legendary Places in Wales…
  6. How to Personalise Your Blog Like These 10 Top Bloggers.
  7. It’s been so good to have Chris Riddell as the Children’s Laureate… and I have to say I am excited to see the tenth Laureate!!!
  8. 40+ Drawing Ideas and Activities… from Picklebums… perfect for our wintry weather.

A Blast From the Past:

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This Week’s Highlights


Listening: My Audio skills are on the up and up and I have been listening away… I try to make use of my driving time by listening to audible books and not just listen to fiction but listen to all those books that I mean to read but never get around to. First stop and a great over view of the history of science was the Story of Western Science by Susan Wise Bauer… this I had to read a chapter at a time and then give myself a break. It is fairly dry and includes, as one would expect, and then… and then… and then. It isn’t long, it is an overview and at the end of it you will have a good idea about how all the pieces of science fit together: the how and the why and the when. It is great for sparking ideas of conversation topics with your kids about science and if you are looking for an overview… then grab this one. It includes lists of books with what to read further and it will inspire the curious scientist to dig deeper.

I am winding my way through quite a few Sonlight high school books this year… because at this stage nearly half of our kids are in high school and soon they will all be better read than I am. Total Truth by Nancy Pearcy is one of those books, that I have been meaning to read for ages, but kept putting off because this is definitely not easy reading. The trick I have discovered is to put the book on in the car and drive… I am a hostage and I have to listen. I found this book surprising in many ways… firstly it was not nearly as dry as I had at first perceived and secondly there is a lot of food for thought between the covers. This book is about different World Views and how they affect our Christian thinking, fascinating. As the author marches through time and all the -isms, and how ideas have crossed over into our thinking, not because they are the right ideas but for cultural reasons and because they seem like good ideas. Because our culture so carefully splits our lives into compartments of our public and private lives, our cultural and spiritual lives… we find ourselves dividing the truth depending on which lens we are looking through. Honestly I thought this book would just be pure dry exposition, of different philosophies of life… but actually she winds her own journey of growing up in a Christian home and her doubts of faith and turning away, throughout the book. She demonstrates how she found the truth and how she sought answers and didn’t give up until she had found them. This is a great book for folk, including your teens, who don’t want to believe something “just because someone told them to.” This book is really worth persisting through… it is a valuable resource for tackling big questions.


Reading with the Kids: We are in the heart of our school year, which means reading our way through our Sonlight school shelves and remembering just how stunning these book are to read. The cricket in Times square has to be one of our all time favourites… a boy, a cat, a mouse and a cricket… an unlikely collection of friends. They turn out to be quite a winning team!!!

Watching with the Kids: My kids are watching Red Ted Art’s Wreck this Journal Videos on youtube right now… she is fab, perfect inspiration for all the busy little people that live over here!!!

And news just come in… as we were snug and safe during the storm, friends of ours were braving the fires in Knysna. Please pray for these sweet friends of ours that have lost their home in the terrible fires that are sweeping through the Knysna region.

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