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

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A Trip to Zambia: Life in the Green GreenPop Camp Site…

July 30th, 2015 · 2 Comments

I said I would be bringing you a week of blog posts about my trip to Zambia with GreenPop… and the post are just going to have to keep on rolling out, there are a few posts still to come and for once I am hoping that the week will somehow extend itself by a few days. The series began with the rationale behind the trip, followed by the question Can You Travel Southern Africa by Bus? and a priorety for most folk considering a trip into the wilds, a post on Just What is for Dinner from an Eco-Friendly Kitchen?

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If you have a yearning for the great outdoors then this could be the spot…

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Life in the GreenPop Campsite begins with the most friendliest welcome you could ever imagine…

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Each new person get’s to announce their arrival on the drum… I think I could work on my drumming skills somewhat. Then again, this is a place where skills aren’t nearly as important as enthusiasm and being eager to learn ranks high on everyone’s agenda.

A Tour of the Green Village

The very first thing was a quick tour of the surroundings…

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Welcome to the campsite… who wouldn’t want to camp out on the African plains. Just the basics… where you sleep, where you eat, the bathrooms and the fab outdoor showers… While we didn’t have to cook at all, we did have to know where to wash our dishes…

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Naturally there were piles of important looking tools… buckets and spades being somewhat critical to the week ahead.

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Then there was the nursery where baby trees were kept for planting…

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And the recycling centre because this is a zero-waste campsite and all the stuff that you could possibly toss out… went somewhere extremely useful.

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While the campsite was dark at night – there were fairy lights to lead the way, everywhere…

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Of course Zambia is Africa and like all of us prone to load shedding… and when fairly lights didn’t do the trick there were the stars. Oh the magnificent stars…

A Day in the Life

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Just before dawn the drum would heave its first call to us, and then again 45 minutes later at breakfast time. This gave me 45 minutes to read and I got through quite a few books while I was there. Dawn and breakfast was closely followed by circle time… something that my children have being trying to avoid at all costs since I got home…

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At circle time folk were assigned their project for the day and there were a lot of projects to choose from. GreenPop’s idea to plant trees within local communities involves a fair amount of education and inspiration alongside it, and morning projects involved tree planting, mural painting, and workshops. As soon as we were allocated our group we bussed out to local schools or villages or a community farm… to meet folk and work alongside them.

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Most of the morning was spent planting and learning with local folk… school children, farmers and villagers… I wish there had been more time. I really enjoyed meeting the friendly folk who lived there and learning about their lives and their experiences.

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GreenPop is so much more than planting trees, there is a real vibey interaction with the local folk and projects going on the entire time you are there, enabling to choose to relax or join in, rest or learn more.


Photo Credit: Marike Herselman

There is a real sense that you are there to find your own rhythm and folk always welcoming you to join them on a project, but you can choose what you would like to join in. There is a chance to dive in and try everything… and there was still plenty of time to catch your breath.

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Then home for late lunch and a rest…

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I took a shower in the middle of the day – cold showers in the great outdoors… and it is really quite hot in the day and more than warm enough to enjoy them. Followed by a nap and some journaling… this is the view from my tent as the sun sinks at the end of the day.

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There is plenty to do at the end of the day, but that’s in the next post, before the sun goes down on another glorious sunset:

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And after dinner there was always a campfire to stay close to – the nights are really really cold. When they say bring warm gear for the nights they were not even slightly kidding.

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After an evening around the campfire folk were fairly eager to dive into bed… I borrowed a sleeping bag and a blanket and rolled up like a pancake every night and slept until dawn.

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→ 2 CommentsTags: Green Living · Outings · Zambia

A Trip to Zambia: Feasting in an Eco-Friendly Kitchen with GreenPop…

July 28th, 2015 · 5 Comments

I am bringing you blog posts about Zambia. It is a series in progress on my recent trip to Zambia with GreenPop. I have to say I am so excited about it and I have dozens of posts up my sleeve… I am trying to limit myself to the ones that will most interest our readers. Firstly, I wrote the se7en stories behind a trip to Zambia, followed by just how to get there. And today I am bringing you something that I think is pretty much a top priority for readers all over the world. Food… and the feasting in Zambia.


Photo Credit: Marike Herselman

Meet Amanda the talent behind providing fabulous meal after fabulous meal in a eco-friendly kitchen, amidst a sea of environmentalists. The challenges are enormous, the task unending and she did it with joy. I asked her a couple of questions about the eco-conscious kitchen and just how hard it was to achieve with at least a hundred folk present and hungry for meals three times a day, everyday, for a couple of weeks. I tell you it makes my making 30 meals a day, everyday, look just a little lame. She did have a brilliant team, of ever friendly faces helping her… but still the task was enormous and she was great. You can catch up with her at her Boutique Deli, Saucisse, at the Biscuit Mill in Woodstock.

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Se7en Questions and Answers About Feasting in an Eco-Friendly Kitchen, And A Bonus Recipe

  1. Tell Us About Sourcing Local Ingredients:
  2. Due to the over priced expense of dry pantry ingredients in Livingston we had to begin our food journey from Cape Town. I was able to source the best quality pulses and grains for the best prices from local businesses in the area. We had to travel with 340kgs of dry pantry ingredients up to Zambia. Once we arrived in Livingston our focus shifted to trying to stock our pantry with only local, seasonal, and eco-friendly produce. I have managed to build a relationship with a few local farmers surrounding the Livingston guest farm who we purchased from on a daily basis, keeping the veg as fresh as possible at all times as we only had a very small domestic fridge. During the month of July the vegetables in season are, Rape, Chinese cabbage, Cabbage, eggplant, green beans, carrots, white onions and very little pumpkin. Our Kitchen took on this challenge with great enthusiasm, and produced delicious versatile meals daily.

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  3. How Did You Minimise the Use of Power in Your Kitchen?
  4. The most important task of keeping a sustainable kitchen is trying to leave as little footprint as possible and try to use the resources that have as little impact on our surroundings. The cause for Livingston’s huge deforestation problem starts in the kitchen. Electricity is so expensive that the cheapest way to cook food is on charcoal burning cookers. During our stay in Zambia our kitchen did not use 1 piece of charcoal. Our cooking methods included solar cooking, Wonderbags, gas, and a very small amount of electricity. Each week we only used 7 hours of electricity in our kitchen. That is for 3 meals per day cooking for 120 people each meal. The main uses of electricity was to toast the bread in the morning and to bake bread in the evenings. Solar cooking is slightly trickier than the use of Wonderbags or gas as you have to follow and maintain the suns power during the day. They are extremely efficient in the correct environment. Cooking for a family or medium sized group works perfectly but cooking in such mass like at the festival of action the loss of a fallen pot is not taken too lightly. Because the solar cooker is very light weight, windy conditions can cause the cooker to fall over due to such heavy pots leaning in the front. If the cooker is used correctly you are able to boil a large kettle of water within 20 min with no problem. We are able to support the use of solar cooking by utilising our Wonderbags. Wonderbags are like large cushions that insulate your warm pots and continue cooking for up to 6 hours after removing the pots from direct heat like gas or solar. Obviously the thought process into your meals is far greater and a conscious effort to cook slow food rather than quick fix fuel guzzler meals is the way forward. Solar cooking would begin by 10am in the morning and then placed in the Wonderbags to finish the cooking thought the day. Chicken stew only used a maximum of 30 min on gas then the rest of the day in Wonderbags. The meat literally will be falling off the bones by the evening. Rice, Chickpeas, lentils and even soup ingredients are perfect for Wonderbag use. My gang fully intend to build a solar oven for our courtyard and a Wonderbag is top of my list for next things to invest in).

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  5. In a Zero Waste Campsite, How Did The Kitchen Cope?
  6. Another challenge that our kitchen took on during the festival was to create a zero waste policy. All our Plastic, Glass, Tin, and paper/ cardboard was stored separately and fully recycled or turned into *Ecobricks. The Zero waste policy also includes our food. We try to upcycle all leftover food into new delicious healthy creative meals for the next day where possible. Extra breakfast oats would be turned into our date balls used as snacks during planting days, as well as deep fried doughnuts for desserts. Left over salads from lunch can be used to fill a soup or add to a stew. This is always my favourite challenge of them all as it really pushes the creative juices. Restaurants around the globe are well known for their careless waste of perfectly good food. Once you have gotten to know the farmers and realise how long it takes them to grow such beautiful eco conscious fruit and veg the last place I would want to see it is in the bin. All our organic waste is also placed into composting holes where many varieties of veggies started to grow after last year’s festival. This can also be used as mulch for planting. Being able to buy our dry pantry products in bulk helped eliminate many of the packaging issues we suffered the year before. For example Instead of each kg of oats coming in its own box we were able to buy large 25kg bags. *I am going to blog about Eco-Bricks, but basically they are plastic bottles filled with non-recyclable waste and then used as bricks.

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  7. Just How Did You Feed A Hungry Crowd of Tree Planting Volunteers?
  8. Our menu had to be sustainable, ethical, and not expensive as all monies coming into the festival should be used on the trees and ongoing projects in Livingston. However using our creative minds we were able to achieve this with no problem. We cooked mostly vegan meals with the inclusion of dairy into a few meals, as well as having 2 chicken nights a week and 2 egg mornings a week. Even though charcoal burning is a major cause of deforestation, meat production sits at the top of the list. As we did not want to push people too far out of their comfort zones these extra protein packed meals where included for the Non Vegans. We were able to purchase our chickens and eggs from free range farms in Livingston. Going about it in the most ethical way possible. All meals included very healthy grains and starches as well as the mixture of vegetables available from the surrounding farms. Keeping our planters filled with energy out on the farms. Homemade muesli, oats, porridge and fresh fruit for breakfast, followed by a choice of 3 types of salads for lunch finished with delicious stews, curries and soups with homemade bread for dinners. This year we also included a tradition meal to choose from in the evenings that usually included Nshima (Pap), a vegetable relish with ground nuts or beans. This was prepared b y our local kitchen guys each day. Giving the volunteers a chance to not only eat our western style cuisine.

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  9. How Did You Keep The Breakfasts So Interesting?
  10. The next big challenge is keeping our meals exciting. Serving oats and porridge each day calls for some exciting flavours. Rooibos and cinnamon, Raison and toasted coconut, Apricot and rooibos, Chocolate, Strawberry, Banana and cinnamon and our very favourite coffee… where among the many we made.

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  11. So Many Beautiful Salads for Lunch:
  12. Our pre ordering in Cape Town made our salad selections possible. The use of pearl barley, Buckwheat, rice noodles and seeds helped keep our creativity at a high. Incorporating them with seasonal produce and power packed flavours kept everyone going long into the afternoon. Some favourites where our Asian noodle salads, mushroom risotto style barley with fresh leaves and fresh Moroccan style buckwheat salads.

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  13. So Many Delicious Dinners:
  14. Dinner every night helps if you can make a one pot wonder with yummy sides. Being able to start prep in the morning and allow to keep cooking in the Wonderbags during the day saved time to be able to produce such fresh healthy salads for lunch. The use of chick peas and lentils where very present in many meals as they are a very high source of protein. Being able to upcycle many of the lunch leftovers into dinner also created a unique style of cooking for us. Many of our dinner favourites where All day wonderbaged veggie soup topped with braised cabbage and herbed bread, chicken and carrot stew, Lentil and chick pea sloppy Joes with homemade slaw and spiced green bean and rape dhal served with toasted masala chick peas.

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And a Brilliant Bonus Bread Recipe, Thanks to Amanda.

Let’s Meet the Players:

  • 1 kg flour
  • 10g sugar
  • 10g salt
  • 10g yeast
  • Water

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Let’s Play the Game in Se7en Steps:

  1. Place your flour in a large bowl, make a well in the centre and add your sugar and yeast in the well. Add 100ml warm water into the centre and mix the yeast and the sugar. Leave for 10 min for the yeast to activate.
  2. Place your salt around the edges of the bowl far from the yeast and sugar as the salt will stop the yeast from activating.
  3. Once you have activated the yeast you can start incorporating more warm water and mixing the whole time until you form a very soft almost wet dough.
  4. Leave the dough in the same bowl for an hour or so until it is light and fluffy. Try place it in a warm spot to help with the proving of the dough.
  5. Once the dough has proved, place into the tray you would like to bake in.
  6. Allow to proof for a second time till light and fluffy and back in a hot oven 200 Degrees Celsius for 12 to 20 min till golden brown.
  7. You are able to add any flavours you like to the dough. Add after the yeast has activated.

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Huge Thank You to Amanda of Saucisse Boutique Deli, for a week of fabulous feasting and for this blog post.

→ 5 CommentsTags: Celebration Bread · Green Living · Monday Munchies · Zambia

A Trip to Zambia: Can You Travel Southern Africa by Bus?

July 27th, 2015 · 2 Comments

So Zambia is a fair way away from Cape Town and if you know me, traveling by sea is always the first choice… Hmmm, Zambia is land locked. So plane, bus, or road tripping, take your pick. One chap did ride all the way from Cape Town on his motorbike! Honestly I was thrilled to be gifted with bus tickets. When folk heard I was traveling by bus there would be stunned silence, followed by a pause and then “Shame…” I have to say, ever the optimist, I was looking forward to it. I haven’t traveled far and wide in Africa and I would love to see what’s out there. Of course a bus trip is not a road trip in the road tripping sense of the word – so you don’t get to stop and linger at places of interest. You have to go where the bus goes. Well… mostly. Connections are typically a couple of hours apart. If your bus is late you don’t really have time to linger and explore and typically bus depot’s are not in the best part of town anyway. Anyway, I was so keen and set off with enthusiasm…

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Cape Town to Windhoek

Armed with a slew of tickets I headed for the bus depot at the crack of dawn on the day of departure. I have never caught anything other than a neighbourhood bus before and I haven’t travelled with more than hand luggage either. If you follow along you will know that I naturally travel light. But in the spirit of taking some care of myself for a change, I had a bag of luggage with my sleeping bag, and a couple of cables, including my Nikon battery charger… and new jeans and a couple of T’s and gifts from my sweet family. Gardening gloves, a sun hat, a camping towel… and heaps of hiking socks. Anyhow, I was worried my luggage would weigh too much – um… no!!! Folks had huge bags packed with stuff, all shapes and sizes… it appeared that what ever you have gets popped on the trailer and you are good to go. Everyone arrives at the last minute and I have no idea how the bus leaves on time, but they do. Then we were off… very pleasant – a sleep liner is a fairly fancy thing… double story, plenty of leg room, and a couple of hours into the trip it broke down. We sat for four hours on the side of the road – it was extremely pleasant. As Shrek says, better out than in – a fellow two seats down had been eating pickled fish sandwiches, you cannot begin to imagine the delicate aroma. Definitely a case of better out (the bus) than in.

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No one complained, we were out in the country, the view was spectacular, and the weather balmy… and the air fresh!!!

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Eventually another bus arrived and our driver decided to try out the bus we had been sitting beside – it turned on, we got on, and we went on. On until nightfall… and on into the night. The buses stop every couple of hours and there were two fairly yackety gals in the seats alongside me keeping me entertained.

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I wasn’t expecting quite such a hectic border crossing – but then something about border crossings is always a little stressful. The South African side was a quick stamp… The Namibian was a lot more formal and a search of our luggage, ourselves, our pockets. And then it was pretty much straight on until Windhoek, past a glorious sunrise and on into the following morning.

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Naturally because of the breakdown, my couple of hours waiting between buses was… minimal. My vision of Windhoek was a glance at the station…

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And 4X4’s and taxis everywhere. Carrying my luggage, almost from one bus to the next without pause.

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Windhoek to Livingstone

Back on the Bus at lunchtime and heading to the very north of Namibia… I have never even heard the names of some of these places before… just to say folk “onned and offed” the bus continuously. In fact throughout the night the bus stopped and started. The one guy next to me was a ranger who “worked with leopards and stuff in the wild” and he was going home to his girl for the weekend. A man of few words, he went straight to sleep and got off some time during the night. Yet again the aromas of weird and maybe not so wonderful sandwiches filled the air… and it appears that the whole of Northern Namibia has places to be, other than where they are, on a Friday night.

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Next morning the landscape had changed dramatically from desert to scrubby woodland and we arrived uneventfully at the border post. I literally walked into Zambia, they appeared pleased to see me. Literally a quick look down my throat, that was the Ebola check, and a stamp in my passport. Other folk took hours, for once there was an advantage to having a South African passport in hand (all those hours at Home Affairs paid off). The folk from further afield definitely had a slightly harder time getting into Zambia and there was a lot of last minute trying to find dollars to pay for Visas going on. The one big advantage to traveling by bus, rather than on your own, is that the bus driver somehow knows everyone who works at the border posts and keeps everyone rolling through. It took at least three hours of driving through potholes and avoiding goats before we reached our destination of . And I was fairly excited that the bus took us through a game park… ever the optimist hoping to see actual wildlife – not domesticated goats mind you, something a little more wild. Needless to say there was nothing wild and I got to Livingstone unscathed. There were some delightful Greenpop folk there to meet me and alas… no luggage of mine appeared to be on the bus.

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This, folks, is exactly why I normally only travel with hand luggage. I can say that at all the stops the bus company opened up the luggage compartments, and folks took their bags, and there was not a lot of checking bags against baggage numbers at all. In fact the only time they checked my baggage number on the entire trip was when I claimed my bag wasn’t there. At which stage I had to prove I had put my bag on the bus. I can say that the driver said he would look into it and then gave us his phone number. Only it wasn’t his phone number (like seriously the oldest trick in the book). So there I was in the middle of a busy Saturday morning market, crazy hectic stuff going on all around me, after forty eight hours on a bus. Frankly it is just stuff, but it was stuff that friends had treated me with – not to mention I can no longer charge my camera, unless I spend a heap of cash on a new battery charger (blogging is going to be slow without a camera folks!!!). Honestly, my personal campaign to take a little extra care of myself was being thwarted right at the start. It took everything in me not to think “that’s what happens when you take care of yourself…” I was determined to stay on track and fill up my bucket… even though that niggling voice was saying, “don’t bother.” I put the voice to rest, and I did fill my bucket with sleep and good food and hard work and making friends. I can tell you that it is possible to survive ten days of tree planting and camping, in exactly one pair of jeans and one t-shirt, we won’t mention socks and undies. Just saying… it can be done, but you may not want to sit next to that person on the way home afterwards.

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Insert a Week of Treemendous Fun

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Livingstone – Bullawayo

After a week of the best fun ever I had to wake up on my day of departure at 04:45… I will not mention what time we got to bed the previous night on account of the Earth Fest Event… but I was very glad that I would have a bus trip to recover on… and on… and on. I didn’t take the same route home, I love that. I am a firm believer in seeing as much as I possibly can. My next bus trip was actually departing from over the border in Zimbabwe, yes, a number of countries meet at the magnificent Victoria Falls. So about a 45 minute drive from camp, with the heater on max, I cannot express how cold the nights are, took me to the border, and this time I was traveling a lot lighter. If I haven’t mentioned before, then now is the time… Zambia is the friendliest country I have ever been in. And when the cab driver saw that the border post wasn’t open yet he waited with me until everything was up and functioning. I am eternally grateful. Over the border took literally a moment. And another taxi, across the famous bridge… to the Zambian border, I was well pleased that I had hung on to a couple of Kwatcha (Zambian money), because I hadn’t taken that little ride into account… but in the pitch dark and loads of trucks all around, I wasn’t about to walk it. Needless to say passing the Victoria Falls in the dark of the night and just seeing this wall of white emerge and retreat is one of my best life “gasping” experiences ever.

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From the Zimbabwe border crossing to the Livingstone Hotel you will need another taxi ride… these are all 2km-ish rides and perfectly walkable in the day. The cab drivers here want US dollars, they will ask for 20 but the going rate is 10. It is perfectly acceptable to discuss a price before you get going. I can say that absolutely nothing was happening at the Livingstone Hotel at the break of dawn, not even coffee. But a bus arrived and a couple of travellers got on… followed by a spectacular drive through Northern Zimbabwe… a really beautiful part of the world and I would definitely head back there for more than a “visit-in-transit.”

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Bulawayo – Johannesburg

The bus arrived on the streets of Bulawayo at lunch time and in typical Zambian and Zimbabwean style a fruit cart provided lunch. I traveled beside an elderly gentlemen from Livingstone to Bulawayo… easy chatting, and it is quite good to have a friendly face that ensures you are back on the bus before they take off from a stop. Otherwise, every time the bus stopped in Zimbabwe seemed to be at a “Fried Chicken TakeAways!!!”

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I had bottled water and biscuits to keep me happy, I just couldn’t face fried chicken… and on through the really beautiful country side of Zimbabwe. I have no idea why, I never expected Zimbabwe to be so colourful and vibrant and beautiful. I sat next to a really nice guy from Bulawayo all the way to Gauteng, we chatted and dozed, and I was very glad to have someone who knew what was going on at the border with me. The bus stopped at about 5 in the afternoon for a last pit-stop before the border crossing, by then it is dark, the lights were out and the entire bus went to sleep… we needed too. The border crossing from Zimbabwe into South Africa was something to behold. We got there at eight in the evening and only passed through border control at about 01:30 in the morning. Let’s just say, these guys make Home Affairs look helpful. It was absolute chaos, thousands of people literally mobbing the counters with their passports and I made full use of my grey hair, and “elderly status” to clear a path to the counter. There are so many folk passing through the border that they literally don’t even have a chance to glance at passports before stamping them. Then you wait out in the freezing cold for your luggage to pass through the one and only screen. No wonder it takes hours. Back on the bus and we were off… well except for a burst tyre things were uneventful before arriving in Johannesburg in the morning traffic.

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Johannesburg – Cape Town

I had a couple of hours in Johannesburg. I was feeling particularly grubby after more than a day on the bus already, not to mention wearing the same pair of jeans the entire week I was in Zambia… because ahem, no luggage. I thought I would freshen up in the bathroom before meeting my marvellous friend Marcia, in the station. Let me just say one of the worst bathroom experiences I have ever experienced. EVER. Filthy dirty, I get no loo paper, I kind of expect that… but doors on the cubicles would be nice. Actually, I am just going to say grim. And if you find yourself needing a bathroom at Johannesburg station… go elsewhere. Even smelly as I was, it was so good to meet up with a friend, oh my, I was now in the home straight, and longing for home…

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I am guessing that only in Johannesberg can a taxi that looks like this drive past you, while you are on a bus. Seriously. Otherwise the view from the bus was pretty much rooftops… I have to say that this was the only part of the journey that I didn’t feel particularly safe… in fact I slept on top of my bag, because I didn’t think it would be there when I woke up otherwise. The truth is you can’t always be surrounded by well wishing travellers.

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Until we hit the endless open road of the Free State.

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And another glorious African sunset.

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The Question Is, Can You Travel Through Southern Africa by Bus?

The answer is a galactic yes, it was fun, it was leisurely, I got to see so much more than I would ever have seen on a plane. I also got to meet some really lovely folk from all over Southern Africa and I loved that. I did lose my luggage and it doesn’t look like the bus company will do anything about it… other than tell me I should have a police report. That’s a whole ‘nother story, but I did spend my last morning in Zambia trying to get a police report. The fact is you can have your luggage stolen on any form of transport. If I was traveling by plane, then the automatic travel insurance would have covered me when I bought the ticket, I didn’t by the bus ticket myself and it appears that bus companies don’t have the same policy. So no camera charger, no sleeping bag, not to mention my ZANA bag that I won last year. Lesson learnt, I will never travel with more than hand luggage again. But I would definitely travel by bus again, in fact I would definitely take all my kids and their hand luggage, on a bus trip across Southern Africa. Fact is, this confirmed my belief that one doesn’t actually need a car. If you are keen to go on a great African Safari… just hop on a bus and enjoy the ride!!!

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→ 2 CommentsTags: Outings · Zambia

Se7en’s Fabulous Fun Post #282 and a Katie Fforde GiveAway…

July 27th, 2015 · 21 Comments

And just like that it is time to get back into blogging and time to bring our faithful readers something to read. I took a two week break, that turned into three, from the internet – I didn’t miss it for a second. In fact I have found it quite hard to get back into it, dare I say. The only thing I missed was interacting with online friends. I have been reading books getting to bed timeously… more importantly getting up with a lot of enthusiasm as our gang started their new school year with vigour. And for some reason with all eight doing school they are bursting at the seams with enthusiasm and loving it – I am all for that. So from a crispy cold Cape Town… here’s something to read:

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A Katie Fforde GiveAway

It has been months since a GiveAway and it is time for a treat. For all the moms reading our blog, who would love a break and just a good old girly read. Something far from the madding crowd of life, nothing you should or shouldn’t be doing… just a book to read and enjoy. If you are that mom, then leave a comment at the end of this post, because this one could just be for you.

A Vintage Wedding by Katie Fforde and published by Penguin Random House South Africa: I confess that I have just discovered Katie Fforde, and I have been reading A Vintage Wedding, whenever I get a chance to take a little break. In summer I can sneak away to a quiet spot in the garden, in winter it is a little harder for a mother to get away and look busy. Anyway, A Vintage Wedding has been a great escape. The story takes place in a Cotswold Village, you somehow feel that you should visit there. Three gals: Beth, Lindy and Rachel… are thrown together at a social evening and then become firm friends as they start a “Vintage Wedding Company” together. Where one of them is a talented seamstress, and another can’t help herself for planning and finally one of the team is a book keeper and keeps things on track. Together they plot and plan delightful and affordable weddings, one of a kind to suit the wedding couple. The thing is they are all at places in their life where they are ready for a change or new beginning, and who would have thought that life in a country village would bring all that to the foreground. Well it does. They are all on a journey and ready for a change… we get to go on the journey with them. The entire style of writing suggests a good cup of tea and a happy ending. This book is perfect for a much needed break.

We have a copy of this fabulous book with a matching book bag to GiveAway to a lucky reader. This GiveAway works in the usual way, leave a comment before the end of Sunday, 2 August 2015, and we will draw and publish the winner after that. I won’t respond to your comments as I do on our other posts because I don’t want to be included in our own giveaway. This GiveAway is open worldwide. If you have won a GiveAway before never fear – enter away.

We want to thank Penguin Random House South Africa for providing us with a copy of the book to review and another copy to GiveAway to our readers. We were not paid to write this post and the opinions expressed are as usual entirely our own.

Lovely Links from This Week

  1. And because t-parties are so special, this weeks on HandMade Charlotte everything you need about t-parties!!!
  2. This looks like the “Make it Book of Dreams from Super Make it!!!”
  3. As for Chronicle Books: Beach House Craftiness for Kids… Hello somebody send us some summer!!!
  4. The 20 Best Podcasts for Creative Bloggers on Blogtacular.
  5. Anorak Magazine is showing us heaps of things to do in London over their summer holidays. There is a theme here….
  6. On wild Camping on Dartmoor… when needs must!!! I am sensing our family is in need of a trip… anywhere.
  7. And while I was away… My friend at Playing by the Book had a fabulous scoop: An interview with the incredibly talented children’s author/illustrator Michael Foreman…
  8. And the se7en + 1th link:

  9. Hung Up Magazine posted an article on HomeSchooling in South Africa, by none other than me.

A Blast From the Past:

This year we have been posting our Bible Verse of the Week as our Sunday Snippet, but I thought it was time to revive a few Sunday Snippet Posts, happy reading:

  1. 2008: Sunday Snippet: The Bible in 50 Words
  2. 2009: Sunday Snippet: Remember the Sabbath Day…
  3. 2010: Sunday Snippet: Se7en Life Skills Lurking in the Internet.
  4. 2011: Sunday Snippet: Our No is God’s Yes.
  5. 2012: Sunday Snippet: Many a True Word Can Be Said in Prayer.
  6. 2013: Sunday Snippets: The Little Idols We Just Cannot Let Go Of…
  7. 2014: Sunday Snippet: Let Your Tears Flow Like a River…

Book of the Week

My South African ABC, illustrated by Sandy Lightly and Published by Penguin Random House South Africa. This is a lovely ABC book for the young South African Reader or friends on the far side of the world who would like to get more familiar with all things South African. It is full of beautiful bright illustrations… The theme is very South African and the pages feature South African animals, birds, plants and destinations. For example the N-page” has: naartjie, Nguni cattle and Namaqualand. Each page also has a quiz question on it, with answers at the back. And for folk that aren’t sure of their South Africanisms… there is a glossary at the end of the book as well as a list of the places mentioned in the book and relevant contact numbers.
We want to thank Penguin Random House South Africa for providing us with a copy of the book to review. We were not paid to write this post and the opinions expressed are as usual entirely our own.

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… Don’t forget our Fabulous Fun GiveAway… Leave a comment to win a copy of Katie Fforde’s “A Vintage Wedding” and a Book Bag.

→ 21 CommentsTags: Fabulous Friday Fun · GiveAways and Swaps

A Trip to Zambia: Se7en Stories to Begin With…

July 24th, 2015 · 12 Comments

So I climbed on a bus and travelled for forty eight hours through Southern Africa, spent a week volunteering on the African plains and then spent forty eight hours on another bus traveling home to my family. Something that I never ever dreamt I could do. I lived to tell the tale. More than that, I totally loved it.

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The thing is, I had so much fun and so many photographs that it is going to be more than a few blog posts. This is really just an introduction to the whole adventure, and a series of blogging about life in Zambia will follow…

Se7en + 1 Stories Introducing The Zambian Festival of Action

1. The GreenPop Story

I have blogged about GreenPop many times, their story is such a good one. I will be blogging about it again and again. GreenPop, are a group of Cape Town based environmentalists that plant trees both in Cape Town and in Zambia… They are a great way for families to get volunteering together and to get environmentally aware all at the same time. As fast as the world is cutting down trees, folk need to be planting trees. In South Africa, where the divide between those that have trees and those that don’t is so wide, it seems even more vital to be planting trees. We need to create a culture that is continually planting trees, every tree planted has to make a difference, even the smallest difference to the deficit.

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2. The Zambia Story

Green pop have been planting trees in Zambia since 2012. Zambia happens to be one of the most deforested countries in the world. Power shortages throughout the country mean that folk rely on charcoal as a source of energy in their homes. Charcoal is made by slow burning trees… and not exactly slowly but surely, their resources or trees are literally dwindling away. In an effort to put something back… GreenPop have been planting trees there and trying to create awareness and sustainable solutions for their energy problem. There is so much more to this story than planting trees. They have spent years building relationships with schools and communities in the Livingstone area and returning to farms year after year to plant trees with the people. They have an excellent team of educators, that enable communities and volunteers to learn together, so that they can do something sustainable and of immense value to everyone everywhere, and not just those who are planting trees.


Photo Credit: Marike Herselman

2. The Volunteer Story

I fully believe that volunteers can make serious and practical difference, just being there because they have chosen to be there, being their as an enthusiastic game player can significantly change and uplift. And this is the surprising thing about volunteering, the change and upliftment tends to happen in the heart of the volunteer, just as much as in the project they are working on.

The very dynamic GreenPop team have a the ability to motivate volunteers as their workforce. Frankly, I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t want to plant a tree alongside the World Heritage Site of Victoria Falls. Who wouldn’t love to plant trees with local school children and see their world open up as they take on ownership of their beautiful fruit trees. Editors from the United States, ecologists from Australia, students from Germany, travel guides from Sweden and heaps of folk from all walks of life, joined the volunteer team. But it isn’t just about trees and it isn’t just about ultra-green folk, or even eco-tourism. It is about ordinary people, who may or may not recycle, they may or may not choose to be vegan, they may even have never ever planted a tree before. But there is something magical and significant about planting a tree with someone on the far side of the world. And knowing that five years or ten years from now… the rows and rows of little trees will be orchards, providing food and shade, not to mention oxygen.

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3. The Sustainable Story

The one thing that happened continuously throughout the week was that we didn’t stop learning, for even a moment. As a life long learner, this totally appealed to me. This is a story that is so not just about trees. There is so much to learn about so many different environmental issues… Yes, I learned how to plant a tree properly, but I also learnt all about sustainable farming, permaculture, zero garbage – it is a real and doable thing. Recycling, up-cycling and tree identification, the list just goes on. The GreenPop team had a continuous flow of micro-projects for volunteers to get involved in. Each member the GreenPop team seemed to have an incredible and amazing passion for sharing their knowledge, projects for folk to join them in and exciting ways for all of us to learn new skills.

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4. The Local Story

The thing about Zambia is that I have never met such friendly folk, ever in my whole life… just fun loving loveliness. A walk down the street took about forever, folk came out of their houses to greet us. There is no such thing as just catching a bus or a taxi, without having a long conversation with everyone involved. The students were so eager to learn and the the local folk that we planted trees with were a curious and engaging crowd, they wanted to learn more and they wanted to share their knowledge too. The kids we met and connected with were such a collection of joy, it goes beyond words how much we learnt from them. These kids have a lot of problems in their environment and they are looking for innovative and creative solutions. A thirteen year old that together with his best friend, has invented an electro magnetic hover craft, because lets face it a skateboard just won’t work in a dusty township. There was a young guy who has invented a new low energy oven… and he just keeps working on it and will keep on reinventing until he is happy with it. It isn’t about what they are going to do when they grow up, it is all about what problem they are going to solve when they are older.

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5. The Camp Story

The GreenPop Camp was the friendliest place I have been, the leaders went out of their way to make us feel tremendously welcome all the time. They provided a continuous flow of feasts and campfire entertainment, hard work when we needed to work and rest and recovery when we needed a break. The volunteers were folk from all over the world… really far and wide. A friendly bunch, each with their own unique story… I spent my time just meeting folk and hearing their stories. It was really the most incredible experience.

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6. My Story

One peace of advice, from older moms, that I have always ignored is “take care of yourself.” I know this to be true, but I never do. So twelve days away from home was a little chance for me to a lifestyle refresh. My personal goal was to take care of myself and literally fill my “bucket” with plenty of sleep, healthy eating and just connecting with amazing and interesting folk who were a lot taller than my proverbial knee. It all began with a cracker of a headache on the first day of my trip and that was because I left coffee and most sugar behind. After that first day I didn’t even miss it. To be honest I didn’t miss the internet either, it wasn’t available and I just didn’t miss it.

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7. Our Story

So the time has come for my kids to see that I am not just an adventurer in theory, or “in ancient days, before they were born I did adventurous things.” They need to know that I practice what I preach and for all the strange and crazy projects I take them on, I also do a few myself. They had a wild and fun time at home. They spent days hanging out with friends and going on adventures without me… and they lived to tell the tale. The laundry was done and the dishes washed, and they all seemed to thrive with a break from their mother person. It is in my nature to seize an opportunity and this was a great opportunity, so much so that I would love to take my gang to Zambia next year to plant heaps of trees and meet incredible people that live their. A year ago it was an unimaginable dream for me to go Zambia with GreenPop. Each time our kids join GreenPop for planting day I see their hearts itching to explore a little further, I have no doubt that there will be a number of dreamers in our house, plotting and planning ways for them to get to Zambia as well.

→ 12 CommentsTags: Green Living · Saturday Spot · Zambia

Se7en + 1 Join SanParks for Madiba Day…

July 21st, 2015 · 12 Comments

This past Friday we were joining some our friends from SanParks to paint a mural on a school in Tafelsig, as part of the Madiba Day Celebrations. Madiba Day is a big day for most South Africans as folk from all over the country gather together to spend 67 minutes doing something uplifting. Earlier this year we planted trees in this area with Greenpop and we were eager to drive by and see how the trees were getting on. Turns out that Cape Town decided to have winter on Friday… a typical Cape Storm of torrential rain, howling wind and freezing cold temperatures. Our little friends were dressed for the weather…

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It was cold, cold, cold… colder… and did I mention torrential rain. So there was no painting of a mural. But the teams from SanParks were there in full force and together they transformed a little play school, nestled under Cape Town International Airports flight path, into a haven.

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The small scholars were whisked away for an outing… and while they were away a massive transformation took place…

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Classic Cleaning

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The container classroom was thoroughly scrubbed…

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And posters popped up.

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Bookshelves were sorted and toys set up…

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Plenty of Painting

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While we couldn’t paint outdoors we certainly could paint indoors…

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A little preparation…

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Everyone was dying to get involved with this…

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And there was some concentrated effort…

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And a clean up session…

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And the main classroom was ready…

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A Splendid Sand Pit

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Meanwhile, outdoors… in the pouring rain,

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A fabulous huge new sand pit was created…

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Brilliant Boardwalks

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New boardwalks were created for little students to get around their play ground easily…

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Perfect Paving

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And there were lessons in paving…

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Bob the builder has nothing on these guys…

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Amazing, in just a morning…

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Just add some finesse…

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Take some care…

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And before you know it a path emerged…

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Plenty of Planting

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And the part of the project the whole gang was keen to be part of… planting heaps of indigenous plants…

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Heaps of preparation and plenty of planting…

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Even window boxes were filled with plants…

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Basically plant until you can’t plant anymore…

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What can I say… we loved every part of it. We learned heaps from the SanParks Team about paving, planting and painting. And I bet those little ones got a big surprise when they got back to school!!!

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→ 12 CommentsTags: Outings · Saturday Spot

Just Chilling With the Se7en Dwarfs…

July 16th, 2015 · 12 Comments

So I am back from foreign lands… and before I dive into the world of blogging and life on social media I am spending this week chilling with my gang and spending time with my kids. Doing important things like catching up with household chores (ho hum); sharing galactic ice-creams…

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And taking in a show…

Snow White And The Se7en Dwarfs at Canal Walk

It is the last week of school holidays over here and there are heaps of good things going on all over Cape Town for kids… we headed for Canal Walk and our first musical ever. I know don’t ask what I have been doing with my kids all these years – but going to an actual live show hasn’t been done before… I think they might have been a little excited.

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There was a lot of anticipation… and they had no idea what to expect… but they knew it would be good.

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The setting: A wild wild forest, the se7en dwarfs’ cosy cottage and of course, the wicked stepmother’s castle. The cast of characters: A beautiful Snow White, nearly steals the show from the se7en dwarves, and of course the wicked step mother’s plans are thwarted by a dashing prince. There is high drama and suspense, impending disaster and a happy ending. It was short and sweet, about hour long and my gang have decided that there should be much more of this sort of thing in their lives.

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The facts: Snow White and the Se7en Dwarfs will be on in Canal Walk, until the 19 July 2015. Shows are at 11, 12 and 2 pm. And you can follow this link for more of the story and how to book. Proceeds from the show go to the Stop Hunger Now Charity.

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Thank you so much to Hippo Communications and Canal Walk Shopping Centre for the tickets to the show. This is not a sponsored post and the opinions expressed are as usual, entirely our own.

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→ 12 CommentsTags: Cape Town · Outings · Saturday Spot