se7en

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

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Se7en’s Winter Break Fun in the Great Outdoors…

May 31st, 2018 · 1 Comment

The season has definitely changed and the mornings are dark… very dark!!! But even the greys days are glorious in Cape Town over the Winter months. Last year we spent the Winter break in the City of Cape Town and we had an absolute blast. There is a lot to do in the city over the winter months and there are a lot of specials on ticket prices, especially for kids.

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This winter we fully intend to spend a lot of time in the great outdoors and I thought I would share a couple of winter holiday events that we have noticed advertised lately…

Changing Lives through Nature

Earlier this year, we celebrated World Wetlands Day with Changing Lives Through Nature and we had an absolute blast, follow the link to read about the fun we had. They are having another Nature Club day on 14 June, especially for Homeschoolers… and I know it is going to be absolutely fantastic.

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Save Our Seas Shark Education Centre


If you love following along our Beach Clean Ups at Surfer’s Corner and all the amazing sea life on our instagram feed… then this is the outing for your kids. They will learn about life in the False Bay rocky shores and be astonished by the most amazing sea-life along our coast… a visit to the Shark Centre is a fantastic outing.

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Treehouse Family includes Cape Town Rangers and Hoerikwagga Kids Club


For the first time there is going to be a holiday club, with hikes in Silvermine and visits to Cape Point and Boulders Beach… fun ways to get your kids outdoors and immersed in nature.

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GreenPop’s Eden Festival of Action


And if you are looking for a week long, complete immersion and totally family friendly event… learning about green living, planting trees and being the change. We blogged about this event recently, if you are even slightly interested, then take a look a peak at it.

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→ 1 CommentTags: Green Living · Hiking · Visit Cape Town

We Celebrated World Turtle Day with the Turtle Rehab Team at the Two Ocean’s Aquarium…

May 28th, 2018 · No Comments

Last week was World Turtle Day and we were lucky enough to celebrate with the Two Oceans Aquarium and their Turtle Rehab Team… and of course get to meet the stars of the show…

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Gotta say when you are invited to a celebration on the roof the the Aquarium, drop everything and go…
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First we got to meet the team…
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And all the fun aquarists and volunteers…
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Photo Booths…
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And turtle Juice…
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Turtle Cake


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A magnificent rainbow cake… layers of fresh veg, held together with gelatine… red peppers, yellow peppers, green peppers, peas and cauliflower, and cabbage… turtle heaven!!!
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Feeding the Turtles


Each turtle has their own flag… and when the turtles see them they swim to the feeding platform.
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On this special day they were rewarded with a feast of fabulous turtle cake…
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These are very affectionate and loveable creatures, and a long with nutrition, a lot of cuddling takes place!!!
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Getting to know the Turtles


And this was totally our favourite part of the day…
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New Turtle Display


Otherwise, did you know that there is a whole new turtle display at the aquarium…
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fun of fabulous hands on facts and turtle information to glean…
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There is so much to learn about these incredible creatures… and so much we still don’t know…
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Gotta love the Aquarium


A visit to the aquarium on a rainy day is just about the best outing that Cape Town has to offer…
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Always check at the entrance to see what time they will be feeding the inhabitants of the aquarium, you really want to be their to see all the action…
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And I was thrilled to get a close up look at my absolute favourite…
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And the Photo Gallery

Click on the image below to see the photos from the event…

World Turtle Day 2018

→ No CommentsTags: Green Living

What We Have Been Reading Lately from Penguin Random House…

May 26th, 2018 · No Comments

It suddenly occurred to me that I haven’t been posting a lot about books lately… even though we have been reading away as usual. So over the next week or two, you can look forward to a couple of bookish posts from us. I have literally got piles of books waiting for their reviews to be published. So lets dive right in, there really is something for everyone…

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In this post I am letting you know about a couple of the latest and greatest kids reads from Penguin Random House South Africa and Struik Nature, and if you are looking for something to escape into this weekend for yourself, then scroll on down for a historical saga and a time-hopping mystery.

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Beautiful Picture Book

The Amazing African Animal Alphabet written and illustrated by Kristina Jones: Oh my heart, what a delightful book, a very fun twist on an age-old theme. Collage illustrations, from lovely to look at Shweshwe fabrics. Each letter of the alphabet has an animal and a couple of little letter features on each page… oranges on the O-page and zippers on the Z-page.

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The animals are wonderfully engaging and relatable beasts and each one has their own, very typically South African name. There is Fikile the Flamingo, Gugu the Giraffe and of course Zandile the Zebra. This book is extremely giftable and makes the perfect gift to send overseas.

Fun Facts and Activities For Kids

Roald Dahl’s James’s Giant Bug Book: This book is just brilliant, in the true team spirit of Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake, this book is just the best fun and of course ties in with one of the favourite of all Roald Dahl’s books: James and the Giant Peach. Twenty insects are examined in detail, from ants to stick insects, snails to lady bugs. Each double page spread of facts is followed by a double page activity page… for the project loving kid, this is a piece of heaven: how to make a bug hotel, a worm farm, a butterfly feeder and so many many more.

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It is fantastic… there is even a page of little fact cards to fill in, for a bug safari and a journal page for field notes. The book is richly sprinkled with plenty of facts, of the very curious variety… just the type of facts for lively folk who like to start every conversation with, “Did you know?”
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Did you know, for instance that Queen Ants can live up to thirty years? Did you know that woodlice have seven pairs of legs? Did you know that wasps make their nests from paper? They chew up wood and then spit it out as paper. And there are plenty more fun facts in this book, dozens and dozens of them.

The Most Amazing Fact Book

The Amazing Coelacanth by Mike Bruton: A couple of months ago we posted a review of a book about the Coelacanth a wonderful, richly illustrated book, the Annotated Four Legs, the updated story of the coelacanth. This book is aimed at middle school and younger readers, but is it really packed with amazing facts, photographs and illustrations… this book has an interesting science story for science buffs, plenty of of quick environmental facts for fact lovers, and heaps of photographs, reprinted artefacts and illustrations by Bennie Krüger for the ocean lover.

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The story of the coelacanth is an interesting one, they were thought to be extinct and were only known by their fossil record, until one was hauled ashore in a fishing net off the coast of South Africa in 1939. Turns out they are far from extinct and there are distinct colonies of them around the world. They are a research scientists dream, exiting research at the bottom of the ocean… tons of details to discover throughout the 64 pages of this large scale book.
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There are information boxes packed with Coelacanth Secrets throughout this book. In fact this book is a mine of information on many marine themes, not just the Coelacanth. Where do they live? How do they swim? What do they eat? And hundreds of other questions like these are answered in this book. It is a veritable feast of information for folk of all ages, who like to read their facts in small bites. We really enjoyed this book, it comes with a highly recommended badge of honour on it from the my gang.

A Beginner Chapter Book


Treasure Hunters Quest for the Lost City of Gold by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein, illustrated by Juliana Neufield: The first in a new series by the authors of the hugely popular Middle School Series and just as richly illustrated, which means that even though it looks like a big fat book, it is actual fairly easy reading and a great confidence boost for someone who is launching their reading career. This has to be the first epic (364 pages) that my youngest has tried and is the perfect “beginner chapter book” for a wanna be pirate… the fact that it has Treasure in the title and on the cover might have had quite a bit to do with his decision to read it, not to mention one of the first spreads contains a map of the world. The story is about four kids, the Kidds, who live on a vessel with their parents and travel the world looking for lost treasures. Well that is until their mother is kidnapped and their father falls overboard during a storm. The hunt is on to find their missing parents… The book has loads of adventures, wild animals and baddies… tons of baddies, in fact. The children have to trick their way through hurdles of one kind or another, confound their enemies and basically and have to work a number of dangerous situations. I would recommend this book for middle graders, and especially middle grade reluctant readers. I would say slightly older than Hood 8, who was simply fulfilling his pirateering heart, some of the feisty attitude and so on went way over his head. But he enjoyed it and is proud to say that he has read it!!!

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A Family Saga…

The Last Son’s Secret by Rafel Nadal Farreras: If you like a grand saga set between the World Wars… then look no further. Set amongst the olive groves of the small town of Puglia in Southern Italy, at the end of World War I. I know, “What kind of saga begins at the end of a war?” This one does and there is a good reason for that. The town has been battered by the war with tragedy after tragedy striking the men folk but there is hope in the two youngsters, Vitantonio and Giovanna, whose father’s were best friends and their mother’s through the trial of grief are left to raise them. The thing is Vitantonio is the last son in the Palmisano family to survive, and it is believed that there is a curse on the family, to avoid the curse of his family, his mother goes to extreme measures to keep him alive. Under the shadow of war, and a grieving town, Vitantonio and Giovanna have a dreamy and idillic childhood… it really is the story of two young children growing up carefree in a world overshadowed by adult trials and secrets that all families must face… but the burden of the tragedy of war continues to be almost too much to bear. Promises made to be broken and love to be lost at almost every turn. But the love of family that endures and cannot be broken despite everything, and that is what keeps this book alive.

Best Weekend Read

The Vanishing of Audrey Wilde by Eve Chase: Sisters, secrets and a summer in the English Countryside, it all sounds kid of dreamy. This is a story set in two time zones: The one is narrated by present day Jessie and her struggles as a new step mom, hoping to pull their family together with a move to the country. And the other, 15 year old Margot and her collection of sisters battling to come to terms with the disappearance of their cousin from the family mansion in the 1950’s. It is of course Applecote Manor that holds all the secrets and that keeps us reading on and on, we have to know what happened to Audrey and why the family fell apart. While the Wilde sisters appear to be having a carefree coming of age summer, there is this shadow, a tangible presence of Audrey lingering on… Audrey’s mother, aunt Sylvia does some extremely strange things, and seems more than a little broken by the disappearance of her daughter, understandably so. Meanwhile, on moving into the manor, Jessie’s stepdaughter, Bella, who is still mourning the loss of her own mother, also appears to have fallen under the shadow of Audrey. The theme that weaves the two stories together is Applecote Manor and of course the mystery, “What happened to Audrey?” I found this book very hard to get into, I liked each story but it took a while for them to blend together… and then I became compelled, I had to read on… I also had to know what really happened to Audrey. It is well worth pushing through the first couple of chapters to discover a book that you just can’t put down, and to pursue the mystery that is The Vanishing of Audrey Wilde. You can meet the author on her website here.

Books to Look Forward To…

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All these books were given to us for review purposes by Penguin Random House South Africa and Struik Nature. This is not a sponsored post and opinions expressed are entirely our own.

→ No CommentsTags: Brilliant Books

Three Green Living Questions We Asked A Marine Biologist…

May 20th, 2018 · No Comments

Did you know that this week is World Turtle Week, so in our series of Three Green Living Questions it would be entirely appropriate to interview a Marine Biologist, especially one who loves and adores turtles…

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Introducing Talitha, a Marine Biologist


My name is Talitha Noble, I am the conservation coordinator at the Two Oceans Aquarium. I run the Turtle Rescue Rehab Release programme we have and am further developing and expanding the conservation work we do.

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Image courtesy of the Two Oceans Aquarium

Three Green Living Questions

  1. What one thing do you do in your home that you feel makes a difference to the environment?
  2. I work on reducing my waste. I do this by:
    Saying no to single use plastic wherever possible-don’t use plastic bags and avoid plastic packaging wherever I can. Recycle, everything is recyclable, and compost all organic waste.

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    Image courtesy of the Two Oceans Aquarium

  3. If you could tell your community one thing to change what would it be?
  4. To pick your battle and stick with it. Decide on one thing to change, for example: stop using plastic bags or straws. Commit to that one thing and go from there.

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  5. If you had an opportunity to speak to world leaders what policy would you ask them to implement?
  6. Weekly national cleanup days (like Rwanda has), where everyone has to clean up a local space (from president to pauper). When we see our rubbish, we should hopefully want to reduce it.

    Previous Posts in This Green Living Series…

    Watch this spot, same time same place next week… for another Green Living Interview…

→ No CommentsTags: Green Living

Introducing GreenPop’s Eden Festival of Action…

May 20th, 2018 · No Comments

Last week was the launch of Greenpop’s Eden Festival of Action… exciting times. For many years, Greenpop has held a Festival of Action in Livingston, Zambia. In fact, I was able to attend the Festival of Action in Zambia a couple of years back and it was life changing. I had this idea that I was off to plant trees and change the world… and actually I learnt so much, while I planted trees, that it changed my world. As a family, it escalated our Green Living journey, and we started embracing opportunities to be greener wherever we could.

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This year the Festival of Action won’t be in Zambia, they are relocating to the Southern Coast of South Africa, and will be planting trees and changing lives along the Garden Route of South Africa. The Garden Route is aptly named as one of the most green, lush and forested regions in South Africa, but they were devastated by brutal fires last winter. Greenpop, are using their Festival of Action to bring hundreds of green living volunteers into the region, to help reforest, regreen and regroup for those folk who are starting their lives over from scratch.

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The Garden Route

I visited the Garden Route last September… and the small towns in the region were still reeling from the shock… and just a glance at the surroundings…

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Where once was green forest… was now barren…
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And the beautiful Featherbed Nature Reserve…
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To the right of the Knysna Heads totally burnt out.

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Introducing the Eden Festival of Action

So last week at Cape Union Mart, Canal Walk, Greenpop launched their new Festival of Action with an evening of information and talks… of course… Bos Ice Tea was there…

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And so was Cape Union Mart with a number of spot prizes…
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Why You Want to Join the Festival of Action

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When Georgina joined GreenPop a while back, she discovered that changing the world with Greenpop is a lot of fun. And she loved being part of the gathering of minds that defines Greenpop Festivals of Action. After the ecological disaster of the devastating fires of 2017, not only does the area need a replant, but the problem of the resulting surge in alien vegetation needs to be tackled now as well. The Southern Cape forests, the Afromountain forests, need a helping hand and GreenPop fully intend to bring all the hands they can.

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Greenpop will be focusing on carefully researched projects in the region, specifically in Rheenendal, Plettenberg Bay and Knysna. They plan a massive tree planting in the Featherbed Nature Reserve, as well as a the clearing of aliens throughout the area. A clearing of aliens in the Goukamma Reserve, as well as helping Heartland Permaculture to become more sustainable and adding indigenous trees to their surroundings. Otherwise, there will be permaculture workshops, greening underprivileged schools and engaging children with the environment. Not to mention eco-bricking, and construction projects, modular furniture and even buildings. They will be creating conservation corners in the region, painting murals and using art to build bridges between players in the region. The Festival Action will be a retreat of a very different kind, there will be plenty of work… and plenty of play. It will be the very opposite of all talk and no action.

Pippin Director of Environmental and Geographical Science at UCT.

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If you get a chance to hear Pippin speak, grab it with both hands, she is an urban ecologist and firmly believes that we need to enjoy the nature we have, where we are. More than half the world lives in cities and the nature within our cities is it. New leaders are growing up in cities, and cities drive change. We need nature for our health, for our physical well being and psychological well being, not to mention the infrastructure of the city… well maintained sand dunes, and vegetated rivers prevent flooding for example. We live in a significant biodiversity hot spot in the Western Cape, lots of biodiversity for our relatively small area.
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We have a very divided city… there are those who have access to a wealth of nature and those that have not a lot, the implication is that poorer don’t care for nature… this is not the truth lack of access does not mean uncaring. The poor people of Cape Town do not have access to nature and yet 200 tons and of firewood and medicinal plants are collected within our city each year. Far from the unwelcoming sidewalks of the wealthier areas in the city Cape Town needs more welcoming spaces like GreenPoint Park a park that people are prepared to travel far to enjoy. Nature in our surrounds is essential to our health, it is also a privilege and we need to find ways to share it. Create more green areas, immerse children in nature, and provide engaging and informed adults to share our natural legacy.

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If you want to know more about the Eden Festival of Action taking place in June/July 2018… then dash over to the Greenpop website for all the details…

This is not a sponsored post, I was not paid to write it, though I would like to thank Greenpop for the invitation to their media event.

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Women’s Wellness Workshops at Sport Science and Finding Balance…

May 16th, 2018 · No Comments

This year the Sport Science Institute is presenting a series of Women’s Wellness Workshops and I wanted to blog about them and tell you what they are about… and bring value from the workshops to our readers wherever you are. These workshops are packed with women, and they are not all super athletes by any means. Just regular folk who want to know more about being healthy, and you don’t have to be a member of the gym to attend… just head over to their website and you can find all the details there.

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The event was sponsored by Future Life and we were gifted with a box of cereal… we are not a cereal family by any means… because when ten of you sit down to breakfast… well a box of cereal wouldn’t go very far at all. That being said, I love their energy bars and toss one in my backpack whenever we go hiking and I don’t have to think about any other food for myself. The other sponsor was Granny Goose bedding and they had a grand prize of a cosy duvet and linen…

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Photograph used with permission of the Sport Science Institute

Workshop #1: Getting the Balance Right

The first workshop was in April… and there were two speakers: Clinton Gahwiler, a sport psychologist and Dr. Dale Rae a sleep scientist. The workshop was aimed women, from all walks of life, who would like to figure out time for work, rest, family and all the other responsibilities… and still have a little time left over to play. It was a great evening, I learnt a ton of practical tips… and I am going to share some of tips I learnt down below…

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Clinton Gahwiler, Sport Psychologist

I first met Clinton when I started the Healthy Weight Program last year and he really helped me get started and break down some of the road blocks in the way of my fitness journey, I was eager to hear what he had to say. He opened by giving us a musician’s metaphor: “Life is a mixing desk, and we need to get the balance right. Each song is totally unique.” And immediately went on to say that sleep is the poor relation when it comes to finding balance in our lives and the first thing we let go of when we run out of margin. We need to consider our season of life and what matters to us now. We only have a 24 hour day, we tend to lower our standards and respond to the loudest shout when it comes to getting things done… this is way too random and we need to be much more strategic when we are moving towards balance. There is a wide gap between our ideal list of things to do and our non-negotiable minimum, which is really the very least we can get away with doing. We need to be brutal in minimising the gap… and compromising on sleep is not the way to go!!! When we look at the gap between or ideal to-do list and our non-negotiable minimum, there are many obstacles to closing the gap… perfectionism, people pleasing, low energy, lack of planning, to name a few. The best way to close the gap he suggested were: leave open spaces, manage your boundaries better, and be reasonable.

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Dr Dale Rae, Sleep Scientist

The first time I met Dale Rae was on World Sleep Day, where she expressed that our problem with a lack of sleep was a far bigger problem than we ever acknowledged. She began her presentation with some excellent quotable quotes to encourage you to sleep.

Sleep is my hobby. Maria Sharapova


Sleep is extremely important to me – I need to rest and recover in order for training I do to be absorbed by my body. Usain Bolt


It’s not just the quantity of sleep that matters, but the quality. Michael Phelps


If I don’t sleep 11-12h a day, it’s not just right. Roger Federer

She went on to say that if you are concerned about the amount of sleep you are getting, then you need to pay attention to that… stealing time from your sleep is not finding the balance. She didn’t get too far in her presentation before the questions started flying, quite simply… everybody wants to know about sleep.

She did an outline of the architecture of sleep… slow wave sleep is important for physical repair and recovery. REM is for mental alertness and psychological recovery. We are so dependent on REM sleep that our body will grab it the next night if we don’t get enough, and quite simply, without REM we will die. The consequences of disturbed sleep are really dire, take a look at new moms for instance, they are folk with very disturbed sleep (by definition), develop insulin resistance and experience often extreme weight gain.

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An alarming slide from the presentation.

She emphasised that medication was not the way to go when you are trying to improve your sleep quota, sleep medication suppresses REM sleep and provides poor sleep quality. Exactly what you are trying to correct. Otherwise, while athletes nap for recovery, we nap because our night time sleep requirements are not being met… we are chronically under slept. If we nap for a short time we might feel energised, but if we nap for too long we may well wake up in the middle of a deep sleep cycle and feel dreadful.

Basically, improve your sleep health and improve your life… the reason we don’t feel well the first night that we try to improve our sleep is that our body goes into recovery mode, we are literally detoxing our body of “lack of sleep”… we feel dreadful and tell ourselves that more sleep feels awful and continue to build up our bank of sleep debt.

Sleep hygiene is all about having good sleep habits: Responding to our natural day/night cycles; Avoiding blue light, which is designed to make us more alert, at night… so no phones, and no screens; Choose a paperback rather than an e-reader for deeper sleep; And be realistic about how much sleep you actually need, determine your sleep sweet spot. Basically, there are lots of little things we can do to improve our sleep… we need to just reprioritise our sleep.

Workshop #2: Women’s Running Matters: Healing, Hormones and Health

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Photograph used with permission of the Sport Science Institute

The next Women’s Wellness Workshop on Running Matters is the evening, on running and I will definitely be blogging about this in the near future. In the meantime, if you want to grab a ticket and attend the details are over here….

My Fitness Journey From the Start

This is not a sponsored post. I have been working out at The Sport Science Institute of South Africa for the last year and a bit, and I know that a lot of you have been following my journey back to fitness. Over this time I have become the Brand Ambassador for the Healthy Weight Programme. It sounds alarmingly important… but it just means that I have been given full access of all the facilities and resources, available to a typical member of the Healthy Weight Programme, for free. I am not paid to write for them, but I think my journey back to fitness, is one that will interest our readers, and so I have been documenting my story as I go along.

→ No CommentsTags: Healthy Living

Three Green Living Questions that We Asked An Environmentalist…

May 15th, 2018 · 2 Comments

A while back we introduced a series of Three Green Living Questions that we asked a number of folk who are working on environmental projects. Towards the end of last year on a damp and dreary day we were thrilled to get up and head out into the field with an environmentalist, whose job it is to do the field work for researchers who remain in their lab.

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We had the most amazing walk through the veld learning all about local plants. Part of her project was to collect certain markers in the field, each with their own specific GPS location… only trouble is weathering and animals and people in the area, meant that some of the little flags were no longer visible.
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All the markers were part of a project to determine the effect of fire on areas where alien clearing had occurred and where there hadn’t been in any alien clearing. Meanwhile our environmentalist friend turned out to be an absolute font of information and she knew so much about every single plant… we had a fascinating morning and got home inspired to learn more about our local plants.
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A gift for Latin names… Roella Ciliata

Introducing Suzaan an Environmentalist


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Let’s introduce our environmentalist, Suzaan… whose official title is Chief Technical Officer, nature conservation and science support for the center of invasion biology.
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Three Green Living Questions

  1. What one thing do you do in your home that you feel makes a difference to the environment?
  2. I have a beautiful Indigenous fynbos garden that requires no watering and no maintenance. The plants are hardy not weedy. Otherwise we practice recycling and keep a compost heap.

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    We had a burst of rain, and decided that some tea would be a great idea

  3. If you could tell your community one thing to change what would it be?
  4. Save water… Every one has to do their best. Don’t worry what other people are doing just do your best. It is a lifestyle of using less.

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    We fell wildly in love with her beautiful dog.

  5. If you had an opportunity to speak to world leaders what policy would you ask them to implement?
  6. World leaders should take responsibility for environmental issues. You can’t just manage education and industry and think everything else will fall into place. When you manage a game farm you have to manage everything, right now they are managing the whole world wrong. Alien clearing and climate change are not enough they need to consider the whole environment.

    The Photo Gallery


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    Previous Posts in This Green Living Series…

    Watch this spot, same time same place next week… for another Green Living Interview…

    Related Posts with Thumbnails

→ 2 CommentsTags: Green Living