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

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Se7en Meets Up with Renowned Author, Lesley Pearse…

July 20th, 2017 · No Comments

I confess, we had a holiday and we had no internet… and I have been reading up a storm. Instead of piles of books waiting to be read, we have piles of books waiting to be reviewed… it’s nice place to be in!!! I thought I would begin with an author interview…


An Evening with Lesley Pearse…

Lesley Pearse was in Cape Town recently and I was lucky enough to attend an interview with her at Exclusive Books Cavendish Square, thanks to Penguin Random House South Africa. What can I say, there is nothing like meeting an author in real life and there is so much more to an author than their website… and I have to say Lesley Pearse has a great website… full of background regarding her childhood and she had a rather extraordinary one. If you are a fan of her books then rush over to her website and read her story. Local author, Gail Gilbride Bohle interviewed her for us, and I have a selection of her questions and answers for you. Each question was answered with a quirky anecdote, you can see why Lesley Pearse is an author, she is a natural storyteller.


  1. How do you create your characters? I have twisted thing inside of me that I have to put my heroine through. In Dead to Me, Archie is terrifyingly real… out of my imagination. I know no one like him. My library is full of mass murderers. I didn’t intend for him to be that bad.
  2. Is there a message in your books? Friendship is my family and I really believe that love makes the world go round.
  3. Tell us about your recurring themes: Love, friendship and betrayal. I could never forgive my best friend who had a relationship with my husband. I stopped by to visit one day and punched her in the nose, the satisfaction of the blood and her shattered nose…
  4. How much research do you do? For the Crimea and Alaska themed books I did a lot of long winded research. I don’t have the energy for a new country, and the moral threads that make up South Africa are just too complicated. So I don’t think there will be a South African book.
  5. You love the British landscape? I love the English country side it is very cosy and comfy. I am English through and through and could never live anywhere else. England has such spectacular flowers and I love gardening.
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  7. Is it therapeutic to write? Yes, initially I wrote very close to my heart. It’s a good idea to write about things. It does you good.
  8. What inspired your writing? The Thorn Birds made me want to write a bestseller. I sat up all night reading without even noticing my own discomfort. And then she wrote and wrote. She told her children, “You will go to bed at 6:30 because mummy must write.” Otherwise, Charles Dickens inspired her, she was born in Rochester and we went to visit his house and all the Dickensian stuff. Her step-mother was an absolute dragon but we saw the same things in the books. She made me read and read… and that laid a foundation that was tucked away. Enid Blyton was the best… I read her under the covers.
  9. Any top tips?: Persistence. Don’t let anyone stop you. I call myself Persistent Pearse, it took 7 years to publish my first. I wanted to write, I didn’t write for the money. Don’t give it to friends, send it to agents and persist to the end!!!
  10. When did you start writing? When I was about 35 and now I am 72
  11. Is your writing from real life, have you done it all? I have a good imagination, I have never done quite a few things that I have written about. But I have a done a lot of them. For instance, I was once at a party and while I was in the bathroom the police raided the venue, and I ended up escaping along a garden wall with a friend. It was mid-February, it was Kensington and it was freezing… Shaking with laughter remembering it!!! Of course, my sister believes every thing I write about is part of my life.

Dead to Me by Lesley Pearse

Dead to Me by Lesley Pearse: I have to say that I haven’t read a Lesley Pearse in ages, so I was pleased to get a copy of Dead to Me, as she writes great holiday reads. In Dead to Me, two gals meet by chance on Hampstead Heath one morning in 1937. The one, Verity, appears to have it all and is looking for a bit of adventure in her otherwise dull life. And Ruby, definitely hasn’t got it all, she is desperately trying to survive, to the point of stealing for food, while not homeless, her home life is so truly awful that when she does find herself on the wrong side of the law and is sent to Devon to a loving foster home, you almost breathe a sigh of relief for her.

The girls very quickly become best of friends each wanting a little of what the other has. It is only when Ruby is sent away that Verity realises how fortunate she is, but you are only a short way into the book at this stage and the tide quickly turns. Time will only reveal what horrific conditions Verity is living under. While Ruby’s mother was totally neglectful, Verity’s dysfunctional family has you wanting to cry out for help. Verity’s mother is incapacitated by her abusive husband… and all is not what it seems when you look beneath the classy exterior. The girl’s lives rise and fall on waves of good fortune and bad… and as the one’s life changes for the better, so the other falters. When Verity rushes to Ruby’s aid in a crisis that results in a harrowing night at her bedside, she is forced to tell Ruby’s foster mother the truth. Ruby declares this unforgivable and the friends part ways.

Meanwhile, Verity’s father keeps turning up at the worst of times, and there is always a “convincing reason” why he need not be reported to the police. He is a hardened criminal with a trail of grief strung out behind him and nobody strong enough to stand up to him, could he possibly stop the friends from ever getting back together again? And so you keep reading, you have to know that these two young gals turn out okay, if they find the love that they have always been looking for, if they even survive the war and all that is thrown at them in their journey through life.

Her new book, The Woman in the Wood has just been released, and to be sure it is on my reading pile.

A copy of Dead to Me and The Woman in the Wood were given to us for review purposes by Penguin Random House South Africa. This is not a sponsored post and opinions expressed are entirely our own.

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The Many Weeks That Were Post…

July 19th, 2017 · 5 Comments

We unexpectedly went away, and even more unexpectedly didn’t have internet… I know, horrors, but after the initial shock, it was lovely. Meanwhile, we didn’t go far, just a mini break. We did a house swap with friends in the city and absolutely loved it. We had such fun exploring our city… we literally walked it flat… but before I dive in and blog a series of posts about how great the City of Cape Town is I thought I would do a little bit of a catch up… with where we are and what we are at.


For those of you that are new to our blog we used to publish a weekly post called “The Week That Was… ” and do a little catch up… times change and weeks can become months… but the weather tree remains the same… a leaf for every day of the year. Green leaves represent sunny days and blue leaves represent days with rain. You have to know that we are in the heart of a drought and some of those 19 blue leaves represent days with less than one mm of rain… just the heady excitement of the slightest precipitation means that a leaf gets coloured in blue.


While we were away I realised that our blogaversary had quietly passed us by, nine years of blogging and no pomp and ceremony to celebrate it all… it just sneaked past! And talking of blogaversarys… last year for our deeply significant “se7en+1″th celebration I actually took a photograph but never got round to posting it… you know one of those clever re-enactment photographs.


Can I hear a collective… my how they have grown, sigh!!! Because they have grown… we all have. In fact Hood #8 wasn’t even in the first photograph that we ever posted on our blog, it was before his time.

Otherwise, this was my year of getting things done… and I got off to such good start, a project a week and we were rolling along… until I started gym… I knew it was the “Year of Getting Things Done…” I was just thinking you know a massive house sort and you know, maintenance projects of one kind or another… little did I know that I would be getting a whole lot done… and I was the maintenance project. So not blogging so much, and even less is happening around the house… because well, I am a homeschool mom with eight kids, when on earth would I find the time to blog. And then I added getting up and out the door at 5:30 for gym everyday, into the mix and suddenly … I couldn’t blog all night as I had done before… So it is the year of big changes around here, as I find my feet… literally (in the gym) and well time wise… as I rearrange our days to try and fit blogging into it.

Clearly my love of all things to do with blogging hasn’t waned at all… but neither has my love of spending time with my kids. I have to say I absolutely love getting to gym, because it helps me to do more of the things that I love doing… like hiking in the great outdoors and going on adventures, so much better than I ever could before. I am not going to even say how life changing it has been to get that rascal, SLEEP, under some sort of control. I am a whole new person, not because I stopped coffee (mostly), or because I work out 6 days a week, or because I lost some kilos… but because I sleep. All night, every night. May I suggest that you try it… it is life changing.

Otherwise, we have a new about page… it was high time… and if you want to scroll down through the years of cuteness… then here is the link. I am also working on a new media page, in fact a whole new look… but everything takes so much longer to put together than I thought it would. I am learning patience… you know when you want everything done now and then it all takes time… meanwhile since the last Week That Was Post we have been…


Arting as usual…


Exploring as usual…


Feasting as usual…


Wondering at nature…


We stood united…


Playing, as one does…


Pets… on cold wintry mornings…


School has been happening…


And book reports…


In fact the weather has been so fine that for weeks school was outside under an African sky…


Haven’t seen any whales this whale season yet… we are watching away…


Some wild storms…


Whatever the weather… birthdays rolled around and ice cream continues to be the answer to all celebrations…

Otherwise… Lego and laundry as usual…

Se7en’s Book of the Week

Creaturepedia by Adrienne Barmen: This book we discovered while we were wandering through the library… and it is absolutely stunning, any fact lover anywhere will absolutely love it!!! It is the best animal almanac ever. Illustrated throughout with brilliant and funny captions. this is a thought provoking book that will be loved by everyone who is young at heart. It is not a scientific book about animals, but rather a thought provoking and funny look at the world of animals. Sometimes grouping unusual animals together, sometimes sharing the funniest facts… this book demands a slightly wacky sense of humour, we have all enjoyed it thoroughly!!!

Se7en’s Artwork of the Week


We painted a school for Madiba Day… it was such a fun project and it will have to get a post of its own.

Se7en’s Game of the Week

We picked this game up on holiday and it has instantly become a family favourite… we all totally love it and play it continuously!!! This is a game, that firstly looks beautiful and secondly has easy enough rules for anyone to understand. The game requires you to stack the wooden marbles and last person to stack the top marble the a winner. Really anyone can play it, it is a came of logic and just a little cunning, often the youngest players have these skills!!!

The Gallery








→ 5 CommentsTags: The Week that Was

Se7en Visits The Fantastic Grifizzi Brother’s Circus….

July 11th, 2017 · No Comments

So we haven’t been on holiday for the longest time, in fact I can’t think when last… when friends who live in the city centre asked us if we wanted to do a house swap we were all for it!!! What could be better, apart from the alarmingly slow internet… we are having a fabulous time and I have lots of lovely blog posts to post when we get back home.


The Fantastic Grifizzi Brother’s Circus is in Town

There is one post that needs to go up immediately and that is the post about our visit to The Fantastic Grifizzi Brother’s Circus last weekend. If you have an ounce of circus blood in you then you have to go… find a way. Not to mention, they may have been right there in our town, but they will be touring South Africa and you need to watch their site for updates on where they are… this post has to go up timeously because they will only be in our town for the month of July, before they move on… you have to check their website for performance times.

The Circus Atmosphere

You do need to get there a little earlier than the start time, to absorb the circus atmosphere… not to mention grab some candy floss before the the event. There are also lots of delicious eateries available… food trucks filled with delights abound.




The Story

This circus has a story, which pulls all the parts of the performance together, as the players in the circus try to help a forlorn little moon back to its happy place in the sky… its sweet and turns the collection of individual performances into a cohesive story…


The Circus Animals

This circus prides itself in having no animals to mention… this is a great perk for us and why our kids have never been to a circus before… they do however have two delightful animals… one fun of tricks and the other full of skills.

The trickster kickster Zebra

And the flexible frog

The Clown…

Would you look at that face!!!


And the Strongman…




The Drama…


The Trapeze…



The Wonder…


The All-Join In After Party…



Honestly we loved it, in a word… “Delightful.” If your kids haven’t been to the circus before then this could be the one… the circus is small, the storyline sweet, the performances fantastic and best of all there are absolutely no animals in the cast.


Huge thank you to The Fantastic Grifizzi Brothers for the circus tickets for our kids in exchange for an honest review. opinions expressed are as usual our own.
And we will see you on the other side of our holiday…

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Se7en Heads to the Museum Night at the V & A Waterfront…

July 8th, 2017 · No Comments

Last week we headed out in the middle of the week to Museum Night V & A Waterfront, it was such fun and we loved it… I thought I would blog about it and tell you to look out for the next event… on the 25 October…


Museum Night Details

Museum Night is an occasional night where the Waterfront museums stay open late and museum entry is mostly free. Who knew there were so many museums there. Also on display, are cultural, activities and artist performances throughout the Waterfront. Museums are open from 5 till 10pm. Though I should say that the Food Market closed at their usual time, 8pm, which was something that we didn’t plan for, but sure will next time. Top Tip: Grab a map, for the evening from any number of open venues… look out for folk carrying large maps around with them… then you can plot and plan your route for the evening. We chose three venues and spent about hour and a half in each of them.


In between venues, it is fun to walk around the Waterfront at night, a safe outing for families… busy and bustling in the best kind of way… expect to take a while to get in and out of the parking… stay for the duration… it really is a fun night out. My younger kids loved the adventure… and my teens loved it all. Well what’s not to love about the Waterfront. Just a great night out for everyone.


Fifteen Museums and Performance spots…

  1. Cape Medical Museum – History of Medicine at the Cape…
  2. Two Oceans Aquarium
  3. The Watershed
  4. Nobel Square
  5. Portswood Tunnel
  6. Springbok Experience Rugby Museum
  7. The Cape Wheel
  8. Iziko Maritime Weekend
  9. Robben Island Jetty 1
  10. The Alfred Mall
  11. WALL Gallery
  12. The Clock Tower
  13. Chavonnes Battery Museum
  14. Arup Ocean Office
  15. Zeitz MOCAA


Chavonnes Battery Museum

The Chavoness Battery Museum has been on our list to visit for ages, and a lot of our friends haven’t even heard of it… it is a really interesting museum to visit, a fascinating step back in time. The Battery is an old fort, built to protect the Cape, and later a fish factory was built on top of it. Only to be rediscovered and unearthed much later when it was rediscovered during the upgrade of the Waterfront.


We weren’t disappointed, it was totally worth waiting for the free night when we were treated to the Philharmonic String Quartet in the museum… that was lovely and discovering the layout and the history of the Battery brilliant. This museum is a filled with miniature displays of the real thing… lots of explanations on exactly how every thing works… you can feel the walls of the original battery and see exactly where the guns were positioned and how they protected the Cape in olden times.


Maritime Museum


The Maritime Museum has also been on our list of places to visit for a long time and so we were thrilled that it was on list of free museums for the night… this is the sort of place that you can linger for hours… Miniature ships and their stories, miniature worlds and their epics… and so many interesting artefacts.









Sea glass…


And a life raft that I would rather I never had to get into…

Two Oceans Aquarium

Our favourite spot in the Waterfront… the Two Oceans Aquarium had half price tickets on Museum Night. It was buzzing with activity and people, lots happening and lots of fun…


Thrilled to meet some of the new sharks…


And their smaller friends…








And then new fossil exhibit…

That’s it… Look out for Museum Night, its a great event…


Museum Night at the Waterfront

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And Hood 6 Turns Eleven…

July 5th, 2017 · 5 Comments

Another day and another birthday, and Hood #6 turned eleven last week…


Amidst all the craziness that is life… a grand celebration was had in her honour!!!



Discovered reading, reading, reading…


Never a dull moment…


Always ready for an adventure… and some ocean time!!!



Not to mention almost always up a tree…


It’s all about the trees!!!



And the beach…


And always dressing up!!!


Our resident artist…

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Our creator of incredible things…


Always making and creating…


And inventing…



Best sister…


Best middle sister ever!!!


The dreamer of dreams… And maker of wishes…


And always full of fun…
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Previous Brilliant Birthdays:

Happy Birthday to Hood #6, 10 in 2016

Happy Birthday to Hood #6, 9 in 2015

Happy Birthday to Hood #6, 8 in 2014

Happy Birthday to Hood #6, 7 in 2013

Happy Birthday to Hood #6, 6 in 2012

Happy Birthday to Hood #6, 5 in 2011

Happy Birthday to Hood #6, 4 in 2010

Happy Birthday to Hood #6, 3 in 2009

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Se7en’s Readers Have Done it Again and Built a Library Book by Book…

July 4th, 2017 · 7 Comments

Our readers have done it again and we can’t thank you all enough for your help and support with our Building a Library Book by Book Project… Huge thank you to all of you who helped and sent in the piles and piles of parcels that just kept on arriving!!! On Tuesday last week we packed all the books into the car, and then called a friend for another car… and then Hood 1 quickly passed his driver’s license, because we needed another car… and then we headed out to our school of the year… Oklahoma Street Primary in Macassar.


The books kept pouring in and our garage was loaded with books… it took a day of sorting and boxing just to get ready and good to go…


First we delivered the books…





What an Exciting Day…


And because the packages arrive slowly and book by book we never really notice how many there are until delivery day…


Then the grown-ups chatted…


And we learnt about the school…


And the kids got to know each other better…


The School Tour…









And those book corner shelves are about to get a boost…


And everyone is saving water!!!


And a proud Headmaster showing us his Hall of Fame…


The Library…

We got to see their brand new library… in our last library post I showed you how they had built a library for the school… and they just need some books to fill it up!!!


And they are going to be needing some more shelves… because we sure did bring enough books to fill this library…



And the Books…




Thank you to our Readers…


Wonderful, beautiful and carefully chosen books just kept on arriving…


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Thank you to our Corporate Donors…

Thank you Struik Nature for the fabulous books and the beautiful posters.

Thank you Penguin Random House for the lovely collection of books.

Thank you SanParks Hoerikwagga Group

Thank you to the Cape Explorer Home School Group, Hotel Verde and The Book People

After a lesson at the Hotel Verde, and I blogged about the hotel’s fabulous green-ness recently, the homeschool group was given a gift of an overnight stay… they held a raffle for one lucky winner and with the funds we headed straight for the Book People and bought tons of new books. These guys are great for book sets, fiction and nonfiction, at really reasonable prices. When the Book People heard about our library project they gave us a large discount on the books, just fantastic!!!

And a huge thank you to Supernova Magazine, who supported this project from the start.

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Se7en's Build a Library Book by Book Project for 2017

And that’s us… until next year, when I am sure we will be asking you for books all over again…

→ 7 CommentsTags: Brilliant Books · Caring and Sharing · Our Events

Se7en + 1 Things to Do at the Into the Jungle Play Zone at Cape Gate…

July 3rd, 2017 · No Comments

And so begins the winter holiday season for school children in Cape Town… and we are going to be blogging about things to see and places to go. While we aren’t taking a break from school right now I always see the school holidays as a good time to take full advantage of all the fun activities for kids, that pop up around town. The first day of the holidays was decidedly wet and rainy and so we headed for the Cape Gate shopping centre to see the Into the Jungle Play Zone for kids…


Let’s start with the facts: From 10h00 till 18h00 each day, R60 per child (age 3-10) per day. There are a couple of activities to play along with… my kids tried everything, and there is something for everyone… arty, energetic, fact finder, or pure play.

Se7en + 1 Things to do at

Cape Gate’s Into the Jungle Play Zone


  1. For the Explorer at Heart: Each little visitor is supplied with an information sheet to fill in… and there are animals scattered throughout the area, with facts about them… when they return with their completed form they are rewarded with a sticker. Plenty of wildlife facts about Panda Bears, Tigers, Rhinoceros and Gorillas…
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  3. Colouring Corner, a Lego Table and Tablets: Some kids just want home away from home and they have been catered for… there is LEGO, and colouring and a quiet spot for your children to warm up to their surroundings before they get going on their conservation adventure. There are also a couple of tablets available for kids to play with, filled with wild life counting, spelling, reading games.
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  5. There is 3D-Art: Glue gun Magic that turns into 3-D art to take home… and my kids loved this. It wasn’t as easy as it looks and took a little while for them to figure out how to “drive” the pens, but once they got it there was no looking back… they loved this!!!


  6. VR Goggles: That’s virtual reality for those who don’t know. An Explorer’s Dream Experience. These goggles can transport you straight into a wildlife experience, look around and find your self in the middle of a three dimensional experience. Take a wander through the dessert, the grasslands, the jungle and the tundra.


  7. A Photo Wall: Dressing up available… because some kids, yes that’s mine, love dressing up. And all the animal masks you might need for a wildlife photo opportunity.
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  9. Friendly Wild Beasts: Because everybody needs to hug a wild beast from time to time.
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  11. And a Snack Bar: With fruit juice, crisps and sweeties available.
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  13. And of Course a Jumping Castle of Grand Proportions: When it is cold and rainy outside this is hands down my kids favourite way to warm and burn off their energy… quite happy to jump and play for hours on end.

Scroll Through The Photos Below to See All the Fun

Cape Gate

Thank you to Cape Gate Centre for providing us with tickets for the event, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are as usual entirely our own.

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