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

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Se7en Visits Admiral’s Waterfall… The Shortest Hike Ever…

November 17th, 2017 · No Comments

That Friday feeling and a little little hike… you know you really want to get out there into the wild and your kids are ready for a short adventure… but really you want a cup of coffee. Then this is the perfect hike. Firstly, it is just above picturesque Simonstown, and therefore dozens of coffee shops abound. Secondly, and more important… it is a really easy, really short hike. Fifteen minutes in, we had about an hour of play at the waterfall and fifteen minutes out. That’s it… Simonstown does have longer and more difficult hikes… but sometimes a micro adventure is actually what you are looking for.

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So when you have a bundle of friends visiting from out of the country and you are looking for a little adventure, but not a three hour hike… then this is indeed the one. There is so much to see and do in Simonstown and everybody heads down south for a peak at the penguins and all that is cute at Boulder’s Beach, and they forget about the surrounding mountains. It turns out that Simonstown has hidden depths and you could easily be busy there for a couple of days.

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Admiral’s Waterfall

Getting there: I have seen online that you can walk up from the main road to the start of the hike, but really its steep, it’s urban and not that exciting. If you do have a car, then look on a map for Barnard Street and drive up as far as it will go. There is shady parking at the start and for us it was well worth missing the slog up the hill.

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The walk takes you along a flat and easy pathway…

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There is a drop to the one side of you but if your kids are on strict “hiking instructions” to never leave the path, they will be absolutely fine.

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And peeping down over the edge, they should be able to spot dassies down below, enjoying the sunshine.

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The crisp clear water looks so refreshing… and the steepest part of the hike is this flight of stairs, which is oh about ten rocky stairs up.

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And the view of Simonstown is unprecedented…

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Around the corner…

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And there you are…

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Lots of place to play in the water… and clamber around…

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And on a hot summery day, could there be anything better…

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I had to clamber up myself…

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Because everyone should definitely have a chance in their lifetime to take a photograph of a waterfall looking straight down…

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Gallery

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And always time for a coffee…

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→ No CommentsTags: Cape Town · Outings

Ships and Shipping and the Clipper Race…

November 14th, 2017 · No Comments

So recently the Clipper Round the World Race was in town and we are big fans of all round the world ships and shipping. We can’t help ourselves. If you can plot it on a map… well we would rather be on it!!! On museum night, our first stop was a visit to the Clipper Ships and I realised immediately…

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Because the Clippers ships are so magnificent…
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It would just not enough to just look at them before the sun went down…
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I knew my gang would have to go down again…
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Walk around the quay and pick up the vibe…
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Chat to the crew…
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And step on board…
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Take a look around…
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Get inspired…
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So much to learn…
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And gear to check out…
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And dreams to dream…
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This race is huge…
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And my gang are watching them every step of the way…
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Follow them… plot their journey and read their stories… it really is an adventure to embrace…
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Imagine our surprise when we went for a morning walk and spotted the wreck…
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A Clipper ship gone down… a tragedy.
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Have to say, we prefer our Clipper ships floating on the big blue…
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→ No CommentsTags: Cape Town · Outings · Saturday Spot

Rememberance Day and Our Book of the Week…

November 12th, 2017 · No Comments

It has turned out to be a week of books on our blog and today is Remembrance Day, so highly relevant that we share this book with you:

The Great War


The Great War, illustrated by Jim Kay:

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A collection of short stories brought to you by eleven great storytellers of our time: Michael Morporgo, David Almond, John Boyne to name a few…
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There is even a chance to meet all the authors in the Contributors Section…
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A collection of objects, artefacts in fact, from the war have been gathered into this book and timeless stories about each of the objects have been written, bringing the war to life for children over a hundred years later. At the back of the book they show you details of each of the items, all things that you may find in your great grandparent’s home. And a little bit about each item… and how they were relevant to the war.
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This book is beautifully created and the illustrations bring each story to life, they are poignant and thought provoking, in fact the design of the entire book is exceptional.
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It is appealing in a way that would make one want to dip in and read a quick short story or just read it all the way through without pause.
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This is a book is a fantastic read aloud and we have been reading it together as a family. What better way to teach children about real life in times of war, about ordinary people doing exceptional things… real people, that may not have wanted to be part of the war effort, but they did it anyway. The stories provide a peek into the lives of everyday men and women during a time when nothing was normal and “difficult times” was simply an understatement.

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Thank you to PanMacmillan South Africa for supplying this fabulous collection of books for review purposes. This is not a sponsored post and all the reviews are as usual my own.

→ No CommentsTags: Brilliant Books

What We Are Reading Right Now, The PanMacmillan Children’s Edition…

November 10th, 2017 · 2 Comments

It is book season over here, we have just had a spate of unprecedented reading over here and we are conquering our shelf of review books… so here is a collection of fabulous reads and the books my kids and I have been enjoying lately.

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Mira Bartók


Wonderling by Mira Bartók: This is a new book on the block and there is a lot of hype about it… all worthy praise. 400+ pages of magic. It is beautiful book with a lovely cover and lots of little design details that add to the legend status. There are wonderful illustrations throughout the book and every detail is part of the story, and there are classic twirls and swirls on every page, it feels like you are diving into an old fashioned book. The story is about an 11 year old fox/boy groundling, and he is rather special. He only has one ear and with that ear he has exceptional hearing. This fox who doesn’t have a name, only a number, and it is 13, is part of a collection of very sorry little orphans that live in an hideous orphanage called the Home of Wayward and Misbegotten Creatures run by the very mean and nasty Miss Carbuncle. Think the richness of Oliver Twist, combined with the cleverness of a Series of Unfortunate Events and you will have a good feel for this book. 13 sets off on a quest with his only friend Trinket… and they have to part ways and he is left alone in a deep dark city. He needs to find his way out and save the orphans who remained behind, not to mention save all the songs of the world. In the background, gently threading its way through the story, is 13’s own personal mystery. This feels like a fairy tale, 13 is a sweet and bright light in a somewhat dark world. The lightness of the character somehow overcomes the world he lives in, which is a lonely and despairing one. Will he be able to understand his personal yearning? Will he be able to find the source of that elusive memory that is just out of reach? Will he find what his heart is looking for, even though he does not know what that is? So many questions. There is a mystery within his quest, and he is so very likeable that you feel he must achieve… so you read on and on and all to soon it is over. A Lovely read, if your child enjoys fairytales, then they will enjoy this. A Magical read that is going to take this book straight to the top of the book charts.

Janine Beacham


Rose Ravensthorpe Investigates Black Cats and Butlers by Janine Beacham: I loved this book, it gets five stars from me, and I am thrilled that is the first in a series, because that means there are more like it to read. I read a lot of Middle Grade Readers and this one just had a unique feel to it right from the start. It is a murder mystery for middle graders, yes gasp… it is the real thing. Your chapter book reader is going to love this. Rose loves and adores her butler, Argyle… who is as close as she has to a genuine parent, in the heart of Victorian England, where children were seen and not heard. Argyle, has shown her the ways of the city of Yorke, she knows the ancient tales and superstitions that people live by. She walks the city and knows the Cats of Yorke… I was intrigued… there really are Cats of Yorke, this is the kind of book that would inspire a visit. An ancient prophetic poem about vanishing cats appears to be coming true, when the cat statues that protect the city, start to vanish from local landmarks… and then the butlers begin to be murdered one by one at the same time. Is it really old superstitions coming to life or is there some criminal intent behind the murders. Of course there is, and Rose Ravensthorpe is the one to figure out the mystery and protect her newly acquired friends in the secret society and sub-culture of butlers of Yorke. This book has no fancy illustrations to carry the reader along, it is words that paint the pictures… swirling mist, town graveyards after dark, secret tunnels and forgotten mazes and carriages speeding out of sight. This book is pure fun, a mystery that unravels to the point of no return and a feisty gal that doesn’t let anyone distract her from getting to the bottom of it. A Victorian Nancy Drew with a slightly gothic flavour, look out for Rose Ravensthorpe, I am hoping she is going to be solving a lot of mysteries in the future.

Kim Slater


928 Miles from Home by Kim Slater: Kim Slater writes real stories about real kids with real troubles… and I enjoy them. Her previous book A Seven Letter Word was a hit in our house. She manages to pack a lot of life lessons into her books without being preachy. Let’s talk about bullying, and how all the systems in place to protect and prevent kids from it don’t help at the grass roots level. This book is all about all the players in a bullying situation: the victims, the onlookers, the bullys and the well-intentioned. The story is set in the UK, Calum… is an onlooker in a bullying world, he daren’t breathe because the situation he is in means that he could easily slip into the victim roll… he has to put on a brave face and display all the bravado to maintain his place on the bottom level of the bullying crowd. Callum’s father travels a lot and he is left home alone, with nothing to eat, no company and boredom to occupy him, it is a recipe for a downward spiral. Calum is far far from perfect and when he finds his father’s new girlfriend coming to stay, along with her son Sergei, he finds himself in a very awkward situation. Sergei is the local victim and while Calum has always been the onlooker he finds himself living alongside the victim, and he has a lot to answer for. Turns out that there is more to Sergei than Calum expected. When Calum is in a serious accident and has a long summer ahead of him, Sergei is going to be the one to stand by him, Calum realises that there are many facets to friendship. This book epitomises “there are two sides to every story” and possibly the only book I have read that covers Brexit,… 938 miles is the distance from Warsaw to Calum’s home in the UK, after all. All the complications of middle school hierarchy and the overriding theme of enduring friendship. This is a great read. A great read, for kids who find them self in hard situations and for kids that like reading about real life.

Siobhan Curham



Tell it to the Moon by Siobhan Curham: This is the sequel to The Moonlight Dreamers. I really like these books they are the story of four very different girls who come together in the first book, to form a club called the #MoonlightDreamers. These are funky girls that could well be in your kids’ class at school. They each have battles to face, four girls and so many issues packed into one book. Each of the issues are issues that your typical teens are dealing with: bullying, stress, difficult family situations, ill parents, difficult parents, discovering their own identity, challenging their beliefs. What draws these girls together is that they each have a dream and their friendship is all about encouraging each other and believing that they can not just reach for their dreams but actually achieve them. Brave girls, courageous girls who support and encourage each other all the way: Maali’s dad is ill and where does her faith in her gods is floundering under the pressure; Amber has two dads and discovers that her surrogate mother doesn’t want to know her; Rose “comes out” while her famous parents are floundering around in a publicity furore; and Sky finds herself in high school after a lifetime of homeschooling… and it isn’t a whole lot of fun. The book is filled with Oscar Wild quotes, poetry and even a recipe. This is a fun read and covers a lot of ground about issues our teen gals are facing amongst their friends. I love how the girls support and encourage one another… they are great role models. These books read like hot chocolate on a chilly day, they are comfort books and leave you feeling good… friendship is a good thing and reaching for your dreams with their help is even better.

Elizabeth Laird


Kiss the Dust by Elizabeth Laird: I have to say that if I see an Elizabeth Laird novel I grab it with confidence, she brings the plight of refugee stories to light in a way that is accessible to children. She tells their side of the story with compassion and understanding. These are great reads for kids who are interested in real life stories and are looking for books that are relevant to the world they might see flashing past on the News. In Kiss the Dust, Tara and her Kurdish family are forced to flee Iraq. Tara is a regular kid, and we are taken into her world as it is turned upside, we follow along on her families journey as Tara has to come to terms with the extreme dangers and struggle for survival of a fleeing refugee, her mother’s illness forces her to become the “grown up” in a wild and crazy situation. When they finally reach a very unwelcoming Western World, they don’t speak the language, they don’t understand the world around them. Her father has a job that he hates and the family somehow struggles through. This book is harrowing and eyeopening, not to mention a great empathy builder. We are all the same, we have hopes and dreams and our world can be shattered and changed forever in a moment. This book is about coming of age and while you read it, you will have to face your very comfortable life and grow up a little but too.

Tanya Landman



Hell and High Water by Tanya Landman:
Sigh, the slow slow start, but you have to push on because there is a twist in the tail that you won’t believe. Caleb and his dad are traveling minstrels in the 1750’s in England. Caleb is mixed race and it is assumed that he is his dad’s slave. The whole book in fact has more than an undercurrent of racial tension and the injustice of class, prejudice is rife in eighteenth century England. His dad gets arrested when a pick pocket tosses his bag into his arms, and Caleb’s dad is wrongly accused of theft. He is shipped of to the Colonies, and Caleb has to stay with his aunt and cousin who he has never met before. Turns out his dad was set up, and whoever was responsible is now after Caleb and his aunt is really not who he thought she was. This is a mystery crime novel… and an excellent read, for middle schoolers.


Beyond the Wall by Tanya Landman: Set in Roman Britain, Cassia is an escaped slave on the run. She is literally being hunted down, because she has managed to escape from her master, when she refused to be his mistress. There are going to be dire consequences if she is caught. She must escape. And her only escape is to the north and across Hadrian’s Wall. She is fleeing for her life and will encounter many perils on her journey. This is gripping historical fiction… but I have to say some of the themes would make me put this into the young adult section rather than a teen or middle school reads.

W. Bruce Cameron

A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron: A Dog’s Story is the heartwarming story of a dog (!), narrated by the dog himself. It all begins with him as a puppy and his awakening in the world and early days with his small squeaking siblings. This book just brings you the world from a puppies perspective and I think the author put a lot work into trying to figure out the world from a puppy and then a dog’s perspective… and there is a sweetness in this dog that will make you so much more empathetic to animals, wherever you encounter them. You might find yourself pausing and thinking, “What would my dog be thinking right here, right now?” This is really four short stories and each one is complete in their own right, they are really quick and easy reading… though some of the topics are a little above my kids that read at this reading level. In the first story, Toby a feral dog is collected by a woman and her family, who absolutely love dogs. They have a large kennel out back, where they keep and feed a lot of dogs… eventually towards the end of this first episode the home for dogs is closed down by authorities and some of the dogs have to be put down. It is sad. My younger kids would not handle this well at all. Toby is one of the dogs to be put down, but he wakes up in the next chapter as a puppy, and so begins Baily’s story. Baily’s story starts off about a dog that finds his way into the life of a young boy Ethan. Baily grows up alongside Ethan, making all the mistakes that puppies make and you will learn about the confused and mixed messages that puppy owners send to their dogs… there is however a neighbour who is a little bit strange and when Ethan gets to college, there is a certain amount of rivalry between Ethan and the disturbing neighbour Todd. This doesn’t end well for Todd. The final story is about a dog called called Ellie. Ellie is somewhat of a hero right from the start.
This book has been produced as four individual books one for each of the dogs in the book. I felt they were better presented this way, dog lovers will really enjoy books written from the dog’s perspective. They will definitely never look at their dogs in the same light again, now that they had an idea about what their dogs are thinking. I found it awkward in the four-in-one book that the dogs were “born again” in each story, it wasn’t necessary. If I was going to buy this book for my animal loving kid then I would head straight for Ellie’s Story pop it onto your must reads list.

For Younger Readers


Kingfisher Readers: Bears Level 1 Beginning to Read: It is so good for a beginner reader to find a book about a topic that they love, animals for instance, and then as they browse through it they discover that they can read it themselves. This little book is full of facts all about different types of bears from all over world. Lots of “did you know facts?” This is a great read for little readers.


Kingfisher Readers: Robots (Level 3: Reading Alone with Some Help) This book is from the same series as the book before this one, but unlike the book on bears this is a book on Robots. I have to say that there is a fairly high jump between level 1 and level 3 readers. I have to say that my beginner reader needed a fair amount of help with this one, but because it is a topic he is interested in he was prepared to persevere.

Beautiful Creatures


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UnderWater Zoo by Alan Glass and Ed Jordan and illustrated by Sandy Lightly: My kids are big fans of Alan Glass… So were very pleased to receive this sweet underwater picture book for little people. You will find all sorts of wild animals in the Underwater Zoo, like the Elephant Seal, Lion Fish, Puffer Dog Fish and many more… This is a winding rhyming story about the wonderful creatures that you find under the sea. Each animal gets their own page and there is an information bubble, because we all know that little children love all the facts. This book would make a great addition to a little ocean lover’s library.




Huge thank you to PanMacmillan South Africa for supplying this fabulous collection of books for review purposes. This is not a sponsored post and all the reviews are as usual my own.

→ 2 CommentsTags: Brilliant Books

What We Are Reading Right Now… the Struik Nature Edition…

November 8th, 2017 · No Comments

It is time to bring you our latest and greatest reads from Struik Nature, it is a collection of great giftable books… for kids and their grown ups. We have been working towards creating a biodiversity haven in our garden for a while so the first book, Garden Birds in Southern Africa is a winner for us. Understanding Elephants has just become our go to gift for nature loving and environmentally conscious friends, it is a quick and fascinating read packed with elephant facts and information in spending time with them. Otherwise natural factual colouring books for the win!!!

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Garden Birds in Southern Africa


Garden Birds in Southern Africa by Duncan Butchart: This is just the book we need, we might be living through a drought, and our garden is at its lowest ebb ever, but our birdlife is out of this world. Almost every day someone says, “What bird is that?” it really is time we learnt more about our local birds… and this is the book that is going to teach us. It is fantastic… The book begins with an introduction to bird friendly gardening and how to create habitats that birds will enjoy. There is a lot of information on bird habits and how to feed them sustainably.

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The main section of the book contains a 101 birds found in Gardens around Southern Africa. Each bird gets a full page: A location map and size, beautiful full colour photographs, a detailed description, and a description of its habits, feeding, breeding, lifespan, and garden needs. We were most interested to read how we could attract different birds to our garden. There is also a chapter on which plants birds love, fifty local plants that are great bird magnets. This chapter contains trees would be good additions to your garden and what sort of birds are attracted to specific shrubs and creepers. This book is a great addition to our nature library and is perfect for those of us who want to get to know the birds in our gardens better and those of us who want to create a bird haven in our garden.

Understanding Elephants


Understanding Elephants by The Elephant Specialist Advisory Group: This book is a must read for anyone visiting a Game Park or like us, wishing they were visiting a Game Park. It is a small book that you can toss in your rucksack and read on your journey to your destination and it is absolutely packed with information about elephants. At a glance you will be able to tell how old the elephants you are viewing are, and you will have an idea about how to cope when you are in an area with elephants. Nine chapters: Elephant facts; Family groups and female behaviour; Male behaviour; Ecology and the environment; Communication; Neurology, Intelligence and the effects of trauma; Signals to look out for; Warning signs and signals of aggression; and How to conduct yourself around elephants. This book will provide you with a deeper understanding of elephant behaviour, from the nature of their relationships between each other, to the ways in which they react with people. It is a fascinating read, absolutely packed with facts… how they care for their babies, how they find their food… quite a bit about their favourite plants. Elephant lover’s and environmentalists alike will absolutely love this book and if like us you have never seen elephants in the wild then this book will make you want to get out there more than ever. The authors’ website www.esag.co.za has a lot of information as well as downloadable brochures for elephant viewing.

African Seashores


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African Seashores by Sally Maclarty: The perfect book for sea shore loving kids, who want to know more about the rock pools that they are exploring. From Abalone to Zoanthids, and almost everything in-between… chitons and crabs, oysters and sea cucumbers. Beautiful colouring pages, with a short paragraph including an interesting fact for each animal. The facts are wild and wonderful and will elicit lots of “Did you know?” For example: “Sea Urchins: The urchin’s shell is round and covered with long spines, which help with defence. It’s mouth is underneath and it uses its extra-strong teeth to tear algae off rocks.” The centre pages have thumbnails of every page so that for those that want a guide to the seashore colours, but really the world of rock pools is magical and any colours will do. This book is part of a series of nature colouring books for kids with African insects, mammals, birds, frogs and reptiles available as well.

African Wildlife



African Wildlife to Read, Keep and Colour by Chalres Gotthard and verses by Amanda de Wet: This is a fun colouring book for kids who are passionate about animals and discovering the world, particularly animals in Africa. Each animal is presented on a double page spread, one side of the page is the animal to colour and the other is a poem filled with facts about the animals. This book would make the perfect gift for little friends overseas… and children with an adventurous spirit, who would like to explore wildlife in Africa.


I received these books from Struik Nature for review purposes. It is not a sponsored post, and all opinions expressed are entirely my own.

→ No CommentsTags: Brilliant Books

Another Museum Night at the V&A Waterfront…

November 6th, 2017 · No Comments

Cape Town and particularly the V&A Waterfront is full of good surprises and one of them is museum night. We went to the first one, and it was fantastic, even in cold wintry weather citizens of Cape Town poured out into the Waterfront to visit their museums for free and a lot of Cape Town’s most pricey landmarks for half price. We were absolutely hooked on the idea of Museum Night right from the start… On the night the Waterfront, has a fabulous vibe, it is full of interested and curious locals that wouldn’t typically visit. Free museums is an excellent draw card, making features of Cape Town available to locals that are normally priced for tourists only is a fantastic initiative. When we discovered that there was another Museum night looming it went straight onto the calendar, this post is full of our highlights…

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Museums Open For Events and Performances

  1. Cape Medical Museum
  2. Two Oceans Aquarium 1/2 Price
  3. Watershed
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  5. Nobel Square
  6. Alfred Mall
  7. Iziko Maritime Centre
  8. Springbok Experience Rugby Museum
  9. CIRCA Gallery
  10. Amphithetre
  11. Robben Island Jetty 1
  12. Nelson Mandela Gateway
  13. Art@Clocktower
  14. Arup Open Office
  15. Zeitz MOCAA

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The Cape Medical Museum


Is situated slightly outside of the main Waterfront area, but we took a wander out to see it, it is one of the Iziko Museums that we have been meaning to visit and just never seem to get to.
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This is a museum full of historical curiosities… there is a doctor’s room to look at, as well as a dentist room, an operating theatre and a hospital ward. There is a room packed with all sorts of information on diseases that have plagued the Cape.
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This feels very much like an olden time museum, filled with artefacts from medical procedures that have thank goodness been somewhat modernised.
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If you have a family member intrigued by history and medicine then this is the one stop place to visit for them.
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We have a few squeamish members on our team… some folk loved it and some were kind of glad for the gasp of fresh air as we stepped outside.
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To be fair, we could have spent a lot longer there than we did, possibly because there is a lot to look at, but not a lot to touch…
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There was however a very friendly storyteller on the upper level, who provided anecdotes and could speak about literally everything on display and kept everyone fairly intrigued!!!

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The Springbok Experience Rugby Museum


Can I just say, and I somewhat hang my head in shame, but my kids know very little about rugby… we aren’t a rugby family… but We are definilty a Rugby Museum family. My kids absolutely loved it, there is tons to do, and see, and interact with.

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While my kids don’t know the rules and have never actually been to a match… they quickly got the hang of it and loved all the fitness tests on the ground floor, where they have a collection of virtual games… kicking, passing, fitness and their favourite: reaction times.
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Up stairs there is a timeline of rugby history… from the earliest days to the present time.

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Not all of us are quite ready to fill the hands of a Springbok Rugby Captain.

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The displays are fully interactive… lots to touch and explore. And quiz questions and puzzles to figure things out along the way.

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We spent a lot of time exploring here and it was quite a relief to sit down and watch a quick movie at the end of it all… that covered everything from development rugby to Springbok rugby… Not to mention, in case you haven’t heard this before. For sports mad South Africans this is a must visit museum, and for visitors who want to gain some insight into South African Culture… then this museum would be an excellent place to visit.

Otherwise… Budget Friendly Tip…


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Here’s my tip for budget travellers, when you visit an area of any city, especially an area that is very obviously geared towards tourists, have a look around for where the folk that work in that neighbourhood get their lunch before you spend money on an expensive restaurant or take-outs. There is nothing wrong with that, if you are planning to eat out, but we always look for the local supermarket and buy a picnic there. There are plenty of tables outside for folk to settle down and enjoy their supper.
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A visit to the sweetie store turns an exciting evening into an exciting event for our kids… well worth it!!!
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The Clipper Race

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We are huge fans of the Clipper Race and we stopped by to check them out before it got too dark. Of course that wasn’t nearly enough time well spent so we had to go back for that again… and that’s a whole ‘nother post.

Meanwhile…

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There are few things more exciting than wandering about at night, while it is as busy as mid-day. There is lots to look at and tons to see.

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Zeitz MOCAA

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We did hope to see the Museum of Contemporary African Art, we are all dying to visit there… but when we saw that the queue was ninety minutes long and it was already fairly late in the evening… we headed for our favourite place…

The Two Oceans Aquarium

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To wander around and enjoy all the sea life…

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Because everyone needs some underwater neon…
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Look out for the next museum night… they are great fun and a fantastic way for families to have a mid week adventure…

Museum Night at the Waterfront

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Se7en’s Collection of Marvellous Middle Grade Reads for #MGBooktober

November 3rd, 2017 · 2 Comments

I discovered the #MGBooktober hashtag on instagram quite by accident… it was a running tagline for the month of October to seek out and find the best of the rest in Middle Grade Reads. Middle Grade Reads include dozens of our favourites but by the time I was ready to join in I realised that it make a fabulous blog post too. Everyone loves a list of fab books, right? So here it is… Our collection of reads for #MGBooktober Bazillions of Books and we hope you love them all.

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#1 The Book You Are Reading Now



Wonderling by Mira Bartók: This book I have been dying to read, since I first saw the cover… I am 100 out of 400 pages in and it is a very satisfying read. It is fat, it is fantastical and just what I expected so far, but I have a feeling this book has hidden depths and I can’t wait to see it through to the end.

#2 The Book You Love the Most



The Dark is Rising Series by Susan Cooper: These books have been my favourites forever… I have loved them since childhood and I have read them again and again and again…

#3 Your Favourite MG Adventure



The Guild Specialists by Joshua Mowll. These books… beautifully created, packed with amazing and detailed artefacts: newspaper cuttings, old photographs, plans and diagrams… and a gripping adventure. Part historical novel, part spy, part intrigue… gripping adventure from start to finish. Everything to love.

#4 Best SciFi MG


I can’t really scifi… not my best genre. Actually, I can’t even…

#5 Which MG Character is Most Like You



The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place by E.L. Konigsburg: I haven’t read this book… but my kids have and loved it. And, look at the author!!! When I asked them for a MG character most like me, this book was their response, and here is why: Margaret Rose Kane’s response to every activity on summer camp is “I prefer not to.” That is so me… me me me!!! So Margaret gets to spend the summer with her uncles, who are the bane of the neighbourhood… because they have spent forty five years constructing towers in their back yard from recycled finds: grocery, scrap metal and suchlike. The neighbourhood wants the “artwork” gone… and Margaret Rose is going to stand up for her uncles’ rights, no matter what. I am now going to have to read this book myself… to see who my kids think I am!!!

#6 Best Book of 2017 So Far



The Wizards of Once by Cressida Cowell: I totally loved it and I totally looked forward to reading it ALL year… worth the wait. Creepy. Exciting. A crazy adventure, but actually all about valiant friendship… the two lead players are such great characters, full of failings, but ultimately endearing heroes. Get it. Read it. It is Fantastic.

#7 Most Exciting New Writer



The Hour of Bees by Lindsay Eager: I loved this book, and I wish everyone everywhere would read it. It is the story of twelve year old Carol, who heads for the New Mexico desert over the summer to relocate her Grandpa. The story happens around the relationship that a gal and her grandpa have, that special closeness as she starts to emerge from childhood. She is still sweet and not cynical about the world around her and he hasn’t given up hope on the world around him. Together they are a formidable team that won’t be told what to do by anyone.

#8 A Book That Made You Cry



Dandelion Clocks by Rebecca Wescott: This is on my list of best books ever… like ever. Not a lot of books are written for children about losing a parent… this book documents the time in Liv’s life around the time of her mum’s death. It is touching and sad, in a beautiful way. this huge thing is going on in her life and yet life goes on around her… there is still school and her high need brother and just life. And then there is cancer, thrown into the mix. This is a coming of age book, Liv does grow up through all of this. I think the word for this book would be heartwarming, you will laugh till you cry and you will cry alongside Liv. Just beautiful and the kind of book all kids should read so that they can better understand their friends that are going through similar life-changing events. This book is definitely an empathy builder.

#9 Favorite Food in a MG Book



The Folk of the Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton: One of my childhood favourites, and my kids’ favourites packed with word images of wonderful picnics, feasts and parties. And doesn’t everyone want to eat some of Silky’s Pop Biscuits… just saying.

#10 Most Awesome MG Friendship



The Moonlight Dreamers by Siobhan Curham: I have said it before and I will say it again… these books are like hot chocolate on a wintry afternoon. Perfect reads about friendship. Four girls from very different backgrounds form a club, called the Moonlight Dreamers, where they support each others dreams and encourage each other through the ups and downs of life. These books cover tons of almost every current and not so current issue that your kids might face in school… and they are a great and relaxed way to talk about relationships, from their own crushes, to their parents… one has a very traditional family, one has two dads, one has celebrity parents who consistantly live on social media, and one’s dad is a widow. So very diverse backgrounds, very diverse problems, very divers kids and friendship that unites them and stands by them through thick and thin.

#11 Favourite Animal MG Book



Sam Angus writes our favourite animal stories by miles, they are deep, packed with emotion and always explore topics that you wouldn’t normally explore with your kids. These books will describe emotions and feelings like nothing else you have read before. We read them aloud as a family and hang on every word, not pausing for anything… read on, read on. They are absolutely brilliant and we can’t love them enough… you will laugh and you will cry and cry and cry… indeed there will be lots of tears. They are war stories after all.

#12 Favourite MG Fantasy



The Unicorn Secret Series by Kathleen Duey: This series is definitely not just for girls, and if your kids are into breathtaking suspense, mystery and exciting adventures. An orphan girl, called Heart, is on a quest to discover her roots and on the way discovers unicorns. Your kids have to read these.

#13 A Book That Makes You Joyful



My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrel: This is one of our family favourites… that we have read outloud over and over again. Gerry… the youngest in the family is an animal collector of note and when his very eccentric family gets to spend a year on the island of Corfu… he narrates about the animals he discovers and his older siblings’ lives as though they were one and the same. Just his observations of the world around him. Absolutely genius writing, this has to be our family favourite and just a mention of the name… Joyful!!!

#14 The Classic Everyone Should Read



The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: it is short it is sweet and has to be savoured. You can’t read this book in snippets, it has to be read in chunks, else you lose the flow of the story. A remarkable book that everyone should read… a story that is breathtaking and emotional and well everything. Has to be read.

#15 Favourite MG Illustrator




Chris Riddell, Chris Riddell, Chris Riddell… is our hands down winner of favourite illustrator ever. We actively seek out Chris Riddell’s artwork and books… he is a wonder of illustration and words. Our favourite, favourite.

#16 The Book You Wish You Had Never Read and Why



The Boy in Striped Pajamas by John Boyne: I am so glad that I read this book, but oh the pain. This book is so so heart wrenching… World War II through the eyes of a curious child. His childhood hero is his father, of course and friendships count for everything. Devastating, tragic… excellent read.

#17 The MG Character You Love to Hate the Most



Matilda by Road Dahl: I don’t think you can write a post on Middle Grade Readers without mention the fantastical classical Roald Dahl. They are filled with characters that you love to hate and is there anyone worse than The Trunchbull!!! If your kids won’t read these because they have seen the movies (remember movies are not ever as good as the book) then get the audio collection and go on a road trip… really childhood is too short to miss out on the wonders of all that is Roald Dahl.

#18 A Book With Great Themes



Land of Stories by Chris Colfer: Twins Axel and Conner entire the world of fairy tales for a series of unbelievable adventures… packed with your favourite and not so favourite fairy tale characters these books are a whirl through another world. These books are Hood #6’s best books ever… I never dreamt she would read them, they are great big fat chapter books, but clearly the story is fantastic because she powered her way through all of them… again and again and again!!!

#19 The Book You Wish You Had Written



Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh: This was my favourite childhood book, and this book turned me into a reader. I loved this book, I was Harriet and I could do anything… including wear blue jeans and sneakers and carry a notebook everywhere.

#20 Which MG Character Would be your BFF



Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren: Pippi… the best friend ever, spontaneous fun… always surprising and always full of adventure… love her!!!

#21 Best Detective MG Story



Detectives in Togas and Mystery of the Roman Ransom by Henry Winterfeld: A Detective story and history… set in ancient Roman Times. A group of children have an strange mystery to solve, and of course not enough time to solve it in. Lots to love, these are great great reads that our kids have loved.. If your kids are ready for chapter reads then they are ready for these.

#22 Which MG World Would You Most Like to Live in



The Children of Noisy village by Astrid Lindgren and illustrated by Ilon Wikland: The Bullerby Children have to be my all time favourite families and I would love to have to grown up in this magical world that celebrated all the seasons of the year and childhood in style. Simple beautiful living, without all the drama and busyness of life in the fast lane. I loved this book and all the other books in the series. They are delightful, packed with people that you would want to be friends with. Happy memories are kept between the pages of this book.

#23 The Book that Made You Laugh the Most



Timmy Failure by Stephan Pastis: Timmy Failure is a slightly off beat character, funny and packed with cleverness… Timmy and his sidekick Polar Bear are together the “best” detective agency in town… they make mistakes, honest blunders

#24 Favourite Book Cover



The Puffin in Bloom Collection: Beautiful Classics in beautiful covers… I absolutely love these… All of these!!!

#25 Best MG Realism



928 Miles from Home and A Seven Letter Word by Kim Slater: Gotta love Kim Slater’s writing, about real live kids with real live problems in a real live world. Love them… kids in these books need help and while they try to find it, they have to figure out their problems and solve them on their own. They are great books about brave kids in a world of bullying, they overcome and ultimately get the break they need. Good books, good problem solving skills and great reads.

#26 Favourite MG Writer



How even do you choose!!! If someone where to ask me to recommend a great MG reader for their kids… then I would immediately answer Michael Morpugo for real life and great emotional reads, Lauren Child for pure fun and enjoyment, Dick King Smith for endless animal stories and Kate Di Carmello for magical fantasy.

#27 The Book You Are Most Excited About on Your TBR Pile



The War that Saved my Life and Brown Girl Dreaming and Mr Limoncello: Can I just say I am dying to read this, don’t actually own them, and haven’t spotted them in the library yet… but I sure am looking out for them!!!

#28 Favourite Grownups in MG



Claude by Axel T. Smith: All the Claude’s… we just love. On the easy reading end of middle grade reads, Claude is a very cultured little pup who wears a red beret and has a best friend called Sir Bobblysock. He goes on wonderful little adventures and is hysterically funny throughout. His grown ups are Mr and Mrs Shinyshoes, that’s all you ever see or know about them. ’nuff said, the best!!!

#29 Which Book Do you Think will be a Future Classic



The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick: This book is beautiful, in fact a work of art, with the most exquisite drawings to illustrate the journey through it… one feels as if you are reading a foreign language, simply because the words have a deep richness to them. Not to mention that it is set in a Paris station… The book is about Hugo, an orphan who is on a quest to understand the message from his deceased father, hidden in his intricate notebooks. His quest is interrupted by an old man who runs a toyshop on the station and a girl who just loves books. Everyone is interconnected, but how… this is a mystery within a mystery within a mystery. Compelling reading… this book is truly a work of art.

#30 Favourite MG Scary Story



Black Cats and Butlers: Book 1 Rose Ravensthorpe Investigates by Janine Beachman: Just read this and absolutely loved this delightfully creepy and intriguing mystery. Not often you get a murder mystery for middle schoolers, and this one is brilliant… for those that love creepy intrigue. When the cats of Yorke start to disappear, and every time a cat vanishes, so a butler dies. There are people in town that believe this is the result of a legend… but Rose knows better and is determined to figure thing out. This is a must read.

#31 Most Scary MG Character



How to Train a Dragon by Cressida Cowell: Hiccup’s Mother, hands down the scariest character ever… my kids sat in bed with eyes like saucers whenever she came on the scene. I kept saying we needn’t read this and they were: “more, more, more.” So we read on!!! They loved it… but hands down the scariest character ever!!!

And that’s us… go and look for #MGBOOKTOBER on Instagram if you are looking for more great reads.

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