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

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How to Keep Your House Tidy With Se7en+1 Kids…

May 28th, 2015 · No Comments

Recently someone asked me how we keep our home tidy with se7en+1 kids… and the secret is where ten folk (and that’s all of us) are gathered together in a two bed roomed home then there is only one way to keep it tidy and that is to go on a very long vacation… which is never going to happen. Really never going to happen. So we have to come up with another plan, because we actually live in our home.


Before we dive in I need to say that our house is not naturally tidy or that messy… we have a level of tidiness and it isn’t insane either way. I guess there comes a time when you know your tidiness comfort zone. And we mostly keep it there. Of course there are times when it goes crazy and there are other times it appears under control. There are certain areas that we like to have tidy and other areas, which are not mine to control, that we can only ever dream of having tidy!!!

Se7en + 1 Tips to Having a Perfectly Tidy Home.

  1. Sustaining Perfection:
  2. A couple of years ago our house was on the market… we had estate agents dropping in before breakfast, at dinner time, and during bath time. The house had to be perfect every moment of every day. We quickly learnt the difference between “show house tidy” and tidy enough. Show house tidy requires a level of depth of tidiness that goes way beyond stuffing everything in a drawer when the doorbell rings. Turns out potential buyers open drawers, peek in closets. We lived at an unnatural level of tidiness for a very long time. We quickly learnt you just have to get rid of the stuff.


  3. Lose the Stuff:
  4. The easiest way to keep a house tidy is to lose the stuff… really get rid of all the extra stuff. And I really mean get rid of everything… If you are keeping stuff for a rainy day then use it or lose it, if you are saving things for “just in case” get rid of that too. If you have kitchen cupboards filled with goodies that you never use then give them away. If you have shelves stuffed with potential projects, then box them up and give them to a friend. There is no thing too big or small that can’t be gotten rid of. Just lose the extra stuff. I know I might be a little extreme and we have nothing extra in our house… but the inconvenience of occasionally not having an extra towel, for example, is worth it. The point is that the things we love and think are absolutley essential to life right now are not quite the same even six months from now – so there is always stuff to get rid of. Make it a habit to get rid of stuff… a bag a week, an item a day… ten items a day. Whatever… get rid of stuff. Of course if there is something that you love then keep it and collect it. Our kids are of an age to enjoy board games… we have dozens on one shelf in one room. As they outgrow them we filter them out… but they love them and we keep them. It isn’t always easy to get rid of stuff… to part with things you thought were loved or you even once loved yourself. Save up those grumpy days, and we all have them, and instead of wasting your energy on snarling at everyone… grab a bag and discard stuff. Never waste a bad mood by feeling sorry for yourself, grab a bag and get rid of stuff. The feeling of satisfaction at cleared space afterwards will blow that mood away.


  5. Everything Has a Place:
  6. With the things you have left make sure that everything has a place. We keep like things together… all shoes in one spot, all toys in one spot, all gear in one spot, all the games in one spot, all stationary in one spot… you get the idea. We really have zones where folk do things… we read in the lounge, there are books on the lounge table. We do not play in the lounge and you will not find toys in there. Similarly we don’t read in the kitchen… so we don’t have books there. So we have zones for everything… LEGO belongs in the bedroom, toys on the stoop, library books in the library zone. Also, it isn’t enough to store like things together… you need like things together where you use them. It is no good having a drawer filled with gardening things in the kitchen, if you always need them out the front door… figure out where you use things and then see of you can store them right there.


  7. If it isn’t Loved it is Gone:
  8. If you ave ever seen a child treasure something, they love it and they nurture it and they care for it. If they don’t love it then you will find it jammed at the back of the closet or just left abandoned. It is quite easy to spot the things that you and your kids don’t love – you simply can’t be bothered to put them away – and that is a “Yay, more stuff to get rid of” situation. Make sure you are selective about the things that you want your children to love – before you bring them into the house. We don’t buy “multi-millions of pieces type toys,” we hate tidying them up. In fact we don’t buy any toys, which don’t match
    the types of toys we already have…
    in fact, to be honest, we don’t buy any toys at all, our kids have quite enough.


  9. If they Can Pack Out, they can Pack Back:
  10. If your family are big enough to unpack things then they are big enough to pack them back. If your kids are big enough to be creating crafty projects, then they are also quite big enough to keep their crafty things in a special place for crafty things. I think it all comes down to treasuring things… nothing like new markers to know that you want all the lids on and in the right spot in the packet… and then those dried out fuzzy markers, well there is very little love and it is nearly impossible to put them away. the secret is really if there is no love just lose it. We have a little kids cooking spot in the corner of our kitchen… it is an all time enduring favourite. For teeny tiny people the joy of a toy like this is unpacking… when we had teeny tiny little folk we would put many of the bits and pieces away and just keep a handful of things to unpack and put back. Once they had mastered the putting back-ness of a few things then we would progress to more.


  11. Stop the Madness:
  12. One or two of my kids are superb “players” they live in the world of play… for them packing up is actually just an extension of the never-ending game. The day begins with a clean slate, they unpack one or two things… then one or two more… they may start with a few mini-figures and you blink and the whole world is unpacked and an integral part of the game. One summer in a moment of extreme mothering frustration, I declared a zero toys week. We gathered our toys up and put them in the garage. I made a discovery that we all believe, but just follow through on… the fewer the toys the more they play. At the end of the week nobody was missing anything or asked for anything and so they remained in the garage the entire summer. I know it sounds extreme… but our kids were really perfectly happy to play with things that they had made from the recycling box. Now we have a toy zone, the toys belong all together in the toy spot, they are played with there and packed away there. By limiting the number of toys they can’t get into the cycle of mad unpacking… they rather use the toys they have more intentionally.


  13. A Time and a Place for Tidying:
  14. There are times every given day when our house is a complete and utter disaster… when we are busy with school we unpack and unpack and unpack… but before we start the next meal, which is generally lunch, everything gets tidied away. After lunch everyone heads for a piece of the couch and reads… before they dash off and play they get to put their books away. And again before dinner, surfaces are cleared, books put back on the shelves and well things are tidied. Fresh laundry is packed away on shelves as part of the folding process and dirty laundry is popped into the washer… even the smallest child is quite able to pop laundry into the washer. This really only takes a minute or two – we are not spending all our free time locked in a cycle of tidiness… but consistency seems to be key. If we leave it for a meal or two, or a day or two then it is almost impossible to get it back together again…

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    And the se7en + 1th thing…

  15. I am not Chief Finder of All Things Missing:
  16. Just because I am the mother person in our home doesn’t mean that I am the chief tidy upper or that it is by any means my responsibility to know where everything is. I do see it as my responsibility to get rid of things that are not loved. And so if things are left lying around or are not returned to their zone then I will see it as an object unloved and therefore we don’t need it. I will take all things that have been left lying around and put them on the kitchen table for a while, but if they are not claimed or rescued before the next meal – we can’t possibly eat with stuff on the table, then those things will be gone forever. Certain things like hair accessories… might linger for longer, but I just stopped buying them ever… turns out they have their favourite few and the ones that are lying around are really not loved. I know somethings you have paid for, somethings they have asked for… but if they no longer like something well enough to put it away then somebody else could be putting it to good use. And… if you think my theory is slightly insane… I will just say that LEGO is never ever left lying around. Clearly it is well loved and they keep it where it belongs. The horrors of the consequences that a min-figure might feel unloved or abandoned is just unimaginable.

In a nutshell, get rid of everything that isn’t loved and have a routine of tidying away… pick a trigger in your day (ours is meal times) and tidy up for a couple of minutes then. The rest of the time we play as hard as we can and live as much as we can in our space. I have to add that tidiness is not cleanliness. Cleanliness in a house that is filled with beach lovers and hikers… that is a whole ‘nother blog post all together. Just to say it is impossible to tidy and clean at the same time. We have a massive clean once a week… and the rest of the time, apart from cleaning the bathroom and the kitchen, we pretty much just work on keeping it all tidy enough.

→ No CommentsTags: Organizing Se7en · Thoughtful Thursdays

Se7en + 1 Hike the Silvermine River, From the Source to the Sea…

May 27th, 2015 · 3 Comments

One of the projects that we did last year for school was to follow a river from the source to the sea. It was a big project and ended in a hike that we meant to blog about and then somehow got caught up in all the other posts that one must post… so here it is… looking back.

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From the Source to the Sea

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From our home we can see the mountain top where the river starts… we can also see the mouth of the river across the bay. It’s quite a journey but we had a goal and wanted to see if we could make it all the way.

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We got as close to the bubbling source as we could…

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And then followed it down.

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A stop to look at the foam…

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And take a rest.

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The Middle Course of the River

After a rest and a break we started our hike again,

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Heading down the gentle gradient of the middle course.

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The river was just gently bubbling along beside us.

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The path took us up the sides to the valley…

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The Surprise

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What we didn’t expect between the middle reaches of the river and the lower course was the most amazing natural playground…

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And this is why you need to add margin time to your hikes… because we stopped here to play for about two hours – as one does!!!

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And downnnnnn……

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Up up up….

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And down….

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Up again….

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And down…

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We discovered a river of sand…

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It really doesn’t get better than this…

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Fun times…

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But it was time to move along…

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The Slow Flowing Lower Course:

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At this stage the river was really ambling to and fro across the floodplain.

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We stopped to take count of the tadpoles and say hello to this fellow…

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And surprised this one…

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The Wetlands

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At this stage the river opens up…

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And tumbles into to wetlands… so much to look at…

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And we were nearly done…

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The River Mouth

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Past the fields of flowers…

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Under the bridge…

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And out into the sea…

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The Gallery

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And that’s it… yes we do have a project for this school year and it involves lots and lots of hiking… we will let you know about it soonest.


→ 3 CommentsTags: Cape Town · Outdoors · Saturday Spot

Sunday Snippet: You Rule Over the Surging Sea.

May 26th, 2015 · No Comments

Our Bible Verse of the Week…

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Psalm 89:9

You rule over the surging sea;

When it’s waves mount up,

You still them.

Week by Week

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→ No CommentsTags: Sunday Snippet

Se7en’s Fabulous Friday Fun #276

May 24th, 2015 · 6 Comments

The week that simply flew by… when you start a new school year and schedules re-adjust and you live in the land of load shedding, and every time you sit down to write a blog post the power goes off… then a blogging mum has to give herself a bit of a break and say “c’es la vie.”

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So I have a new rule if there is no electricity when I sit down to write at the end of the day then I just get some sleep instead of staying up and waiting for the power to come back on. I have a heap of posts in my drafts box and I am hoping that in our busy weekend that I find a little quiet time to finish them all and line them up for you… in the meantime there is always time for a Fabulous Fun Post full of links and goodies for you all to enjoy…


Lovely Links from This Week

  1. Looking for lists of lovely books to read then look no further than Jump into a Book: Great Book Lists That Are Just in Time for Summer.
  2. You know how we love kids cooking, well the Gourmet Girlfriend has a Kool Kids in the Kitchen Challenge… and it is world wide!!!
  3. And Mommikin had a cool collection of all things space…
  4. 10 Unforgettable Lessons of Fatherhood
  5. These books, reviewed on Playing by the Book: Revisiting the Kingdom of Silk, look like a wonderful way to deal with all sorts of difficult issues that are usually left to adults to cope with… but lets face it children have to deal with these issues all the time too and isn’t wonderful to find books that can support them through that.
  6. Alisa Burke has heaps of new summer classes out… you may want to treat yourself and take a peek!!! She makes making stepping stones look so very easy… and if you are looking for a weekend project, then look no further!!!
  7. Need any help to read To Kill A Mocking Bird Again… going the whole world with the schedule right here. Here is post #1… and #2…
  8. And the se7en + 1th link:

  9. A Blast From the Past:

Book of the Week

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Stories Gogo Told Me by Lisa Grainger published by Penguin Random House South Africa: We are always on the hunt for good locally grown stories to tell our children in order to pass on the baton of cultural literacy… Well we have the book. This book only landed in our house a couple of days ago and already it is a firm favourite. I believe that cultural literacy is a big deal and locally grown stories are fundamental in providing that for our children. For the longest time the choice of good story books of the locally grown variety were very few and far between… but look no further, this is a fabulous book, packed with dozens of stories from our region. The author spent several months journeying from village to village, all over southern Africa. She was looking for the village storyteller and asking them to tell her their stories in their own language in their own way. Someone who has taken the time to stop and listen, with intention to the oral history that belongs to our children and future generation. The result is this book packed with fables and folktales, legends, myths and well, magical stories. Many of the stories are much larger than life, many display the all too human, and often terribly foolish, characteristics in the world of animals. Something of the stories display a gentleness and others a life lesson that is best learnt from a story. Many of the stories answer questions that we have all wondered about, for instance, do you know: Why lightening strikes; Why the frog cannot sing… these and other questions are answered in the pages of this book. The stories are illustrated by Celia von Poncet, and she is clearly very talented at drawing African wildlife. I love that the words in this book are not “dumbed down” for the younger reader, keeping the stories interesting and engaging. This a great book for a chapter book reader, or for family reading at bedtime. The stories are short, about three to four pages each and just enough to peak a young listener’s curiosity before a satisfying finish.

And from family read aloud to another great read…

Phoenix by S.F. Said published by Penguin Random House South Africa: This is a book for someone who is dying to launch out of easy chapter books into the real thing. It’s fat and feels like an achievement but it is fairly easy and gripping reading. It is also packed with wondrous illustrations by Dave McKean that makes it a fairly rapid page turner. This is a space type story about a boy called Lucky, who leaves his home planet of Phoenix to find his father all in the midst of an intergalactic war. Lucky of course has special qualities that he only begins to realise well into the story. Lucky is on a quest to master his powers in order to save the galaxy. This is a beautiful and inspiring book and would make a great gift. We will definitely be looking for more books by this author. You can read more about the book on the author’s website.

That’s us… Hope your weekend has been a fabulous one and we are so looking forward to another week of blogging with you all… not to mention a GiveAway or Two…

This is not a sponsored post the books we reviewed were given to us by Penguin Random House South Africa for review purposes and we were not paid for the reviews. The opinions expressed were as usual our very own.

→ 6 CommentsTags: Fabulous Friday Fun

Author Interview: Chris Bradford – Meet the Man Behind the Samurai Sword…

May 22nd, 2015 · 4 Comments

Once a year the Franschoek Literary Festival brings heap of authors, local and international, not to mention all their fans to sunny South Africa. This year one of the authors to spend a week in Franschoek was the renowned and very popular in our household, Chris Bradford. Chris Bradford is the author of the very well read and loved Young Samurai Series, as well as The Bodyguard Series. We have met Chris Bradford before when he was here in 2013… and we were exited to be offered an interview with him.


So we are bringing you a scoop, an interview with the man behind the Samurai sword…

se7en + 1 Questions With Chris Bradford

  1. Do you have a typical working day? Are you a disciplined writer that works to a strict schedule or do you write furiously when the inspiration grabs you?
  2. Being a professional author means having to write whether the inspiration grabs you or not. So my typical writing day starts at 8am and finishes at 6pm. In that time my goal is to write one chapter – about 1000-1500 words. It begins with a lot of thought about where the chapter is heading, what it has to do to progress the book and how to end it on a cliffhanger. This might lead to research on a location or particular martial arts technique or a new character. Then it is a mental battle with myself to write the words and produce a decent chapter at the end of the day! Sometimes it flows, sometimes it doesn’t, but whatever I have to have a chapter written.

  3. As a child where you a big reader or did someone consistently read to you? Do you have a favourite childhood book?
  4. I was a voracious reader as a child (and still am!). I loved the Willard Price books like Safari Adventure and Lion Adventure, as well as the Fighting Fantasy series by Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson. But my favourite has to be The Twits by Roald Dahl.

  5. What sort of books do you enjoy reading as an adult? What book are you reading right now?
  6. I am a massive fan of Stephen King. I’m currently reading his Shining sequel, Doctor Sleep. When I first decided to write fiction, I devoured his book ‘On Writing’ – it’s a masterclass in the art of fiction writing and I recommend it to any aspiring author.

  7. When you were a child what did you want to do when you grew up? Did you always know you would be a writer or did that idea grow with you?
  8. The truth be told, I wanted to be a rock star! And for thirteen years of my life I pursued that dream – once even performing for the Queen of England. However, through my music career I got a chance to write a book on songwriting (Heart & Soul: The Craft of Songwriting) and that launched my career as an author. Following that, my passions for martial arts led me to write children’s fiction when I came up with the idea for Young Samurai.

  9. Tell us something about how you prepare to write a book? We know you like to climb into your characters… what does that involve?
  10. I practise something I term ‘Method Writing’. I really immerse myself in the life and skills of my characters. So for my Young Samurai series I trained in samurai swordsmanship and the art of the ninja. And for my Bodyguard series, I trained and qualified as a professional bodyguard. This enables me to write very authentic and action packed novels. Furthermore, it allows me to create very dynamic and involving events around my books where I can demonstrate martial arts techniques and teach readers crucial bodyguard skills – just like the heroes and heroines of my books.

  11. Your books are always part of a gripping series. When you begin writing do you have the big picture of the whole series in your head or does the story begin and you get carried along by the characters?
  12. I know I have a good idea for a book when I can picture the entire series in my head. For Young Samurai, I knew the ending of the third book and the eighth. And for my Bodyguard series, the idea was spawned by a single line on the radio: “The best bodyguard is the one nobody notices.” In that moment, I could see the plot arc for the six books and began writing down the basic premises of each in that first hour of creativity.

  13. You have traveled the world researching your books, what is your favourite food from anywhere in the world?
  14. I love all food. In England I love steak and chips. In Japan, sushi is my favourite. And in South Africa, I love springbok!

    And the Se7en + 1th Question…

  15. What would you advise your young readers, who might want to write exciting books of their own one day.
    • Read everyday
    • Write everyday
    • Write the book you would want to read yourself
    • And always start with an exciting scene. Go straight into the action like my books always do!

Chris Bradford’s Latest Book

Bodyguard: Ambush by Chris Bradford and published by Penguin Random House South Africa. Have to say my guys love a gripping book set in Africa, and the third in the Bodyguard Series is as exciting as ever. The hero of the series, Connor, needs a break from the hectic events in his life, so he is assigned to a family heading for an African Safari vacation. Little does he know that they are walking into a civil war and suddenly in the middle of a military coup and somewhat of a crisis. This book raises a couple of interesting issues: boy soldiers, so prevalent in Africa, a wheel chair bound bodyguard, not so prevalent anywhere. Of course there is more to Africa than civil war and while Connor is protecting the kids of the family he was trying to protect, he has to cope with the wilds of the African plains. There are a couple of survival tips thrown in for good measure. If you are ever hungry for a couple bugs then you will be well equipped. The book is a fast paced, action packed, racing onwards, despite all the odds and above all trust nobody kind of a book. This book also has some cool fact-type pages at the back – how to survive in the wilds, how to survive an attack from a wild predator – like a crocodile or a hippo attack… Fundamentally useful facts to store away in your mind should you ever require them. A great read, just what you would expect from Chris Bradford.

You can look for reviews of the previous books in the series at these links: Book 1: Hostage and Book 2: Ransom.

Thank-you so much to Chris Bradford for your fantastic interview, and thank you to Penguin Random House South Africa for organising it for us. We received a copy of Bodyguard Ambushed for review purposes, and opinions are as always our own.

→ 4 CommentsTags: Brilliant Books

Se7en + 1 Hike Through Dragon Rocks…

May 20th, 2015 · 9 Comments

I know we are hiking a lot, we are hanging on to the fine weather before it becomes “Lego season” and enjoying the great outdoors as much as we can, while the good weather lasts. Though if you take a peek at the photographs you will see that the entire gang is wearing sweaters… unheard of but true.

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This past Friday we went on one of our favourite hikes, when you follow the route on the map it takes you through interesting landmarks called: The Maze, Dragon Rocks, Aloe Gully, Two Tree Gully and Shelter Rock… there is also lighthouse view, but there was a cold and misty situation. Before our hike we headed down to Olifant’s Bos to spend time with our ranger and learn about food webs.

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Olifant’s Bos and the Food Chain

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Yes it was cold, and the wind was crazy…

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Someone was telling us all about producers and consumers… herbivores, carnivores and omnivores…

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And then everyone got busy building their food chains…

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Beginning with the sun, then kelp producers, and primary consumers… and onwards and upwards…

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And what about grass and then bontebok skat…

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And an entire food web.

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And a Beach Clean-Up

Turns out nobody wants to visit a beach in the Nature Reserve without doing a beach clean up anymore… what looks like pristine beach from far always turns up heaps of plastic and miles of fishing line.

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So much trash washes up onto the beach…

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Off to Dragon Rocks for a picnic Lunch.

It is a short hike up the hill to the place we were after for lunch…

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A lot of through the rocks…

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When you have done a hike before and your gang may know what is up ahead… definitely worth running for…

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When you get to the rocks that look like the have ancient writing on them… you know you are close…

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Just follow the yellow poles…

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Really, between the rocks…

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Could this be the dragon…

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Just incredible rocks…

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Stopped for a clamber and lunch…

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Great rocks for clambering on…

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On top of the World

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We met some rangers on the way, which was a lovely surprise… we don’t normally meet anyone on our hikes in Cape Point.

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From the start of the hike you would never know that there was an amazing playground/picnic spot between the rocks. In fact only when you look down can you see this green oasis. From the start of the hike it looks like one long scramble through white rocks on open exposed ground – looks can be deceiving, especially in the great outdoors.

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Onwards and upwards to the top of the world…

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And wow, the proteas are all popping up through the area that was burnt last, last year.

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Through the Dell

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This part isn’t labeled on the map, but it could be called my favourite spot in the world…

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Last little bit and we were done, it was all over far too soon.
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Just a little bit of rain…

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Other SAN PARKS Hiking Posts

Hiking in the Cape Peninsula

Cape Point and Outings with SAN Parks



→ 9 CommentsTags: Hiking · Outings · Saturday Spot

Sunday Snippet: Clothe Yourselves in Compassion…

May 17th, 2015 · 2 Comments

Our Bible Verse of the Week…


Colossians 3:12

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved,

Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

Week by Week

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Related Posts with Thumbnails

→ 2 CommentsTags: Sunday Snippet