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

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The Se7en Hoods Hike the People’s Trail on Table Mountain…

May 9th, 2017 · 4 Comments

It is our tradition to climb up Table Mountain every year… it all began a number of years ago when one of the hoods declared a dream to climb to the very top. And so began our hiking career. Towards the end of last year our gang worked really hard on a nature observation project, and won a guided overnight hike on Table Mountain, thanks to our homeschooling group at Cape Point Nature Reserve.

It was fantastic, the King Protea put on a show for us

So this year’s annual hike up Table Mountain was way beyond any of our wildest dreams as we headed out with a couple of friends on the People’s Trail, under the watchful eye of Justin Hawthorne of Table Mountain Treks.

Setting off… most of us just carried our normal day pack, plenty of water, food and snacks, a warm top, and then a sleeping bag as well

The People’s Trail

The People’s Trail on Table Mountain is an overnight hike, that was developed as a trail to bring the mountain to the people of Cape Town. School groups and local hiking groups from previously disadvantaged areas that would not have had access to Table Mountain and have been invited to have a Table Mountain experience. The route of the hike follows part of the popular Hoerikwaggo Trail. This hike can only be done by booking a permit with SanParks and with a dedicated ranger to guide you through it. The purpose of the ranger is not only to keep you safe and on the route at all times, but to teach you and educate you about the environment that you are walking through. The route begins at Constantia Nek, takes you through Orange Kloof, up Disa Gorge to the Woodhead Dam, where you overnight at the People’s Hut. On the second and final day of the Trail, you head to the highest point of Table Mountain, Maclear’s Beacon at 1084.6m, and then across the mountain top towards the Cable Car Station and down Platteklip Gorge to the Finish.

The kids and all their friends after conquering Day 1

Hiking with a Guide

We have hiked with Justin before and he is my kids absolute hero… his knowledge of the local environment is unprecedented… he can provide endless snippets of information on plant life, animal life, geology and the local history. He is a font of information and doesn’t tire of questions… and there were a lot of them. Otherwise he keeps on plodding onwards and upwards. He hiked our kids up the mountain, not his typical hike at all… our kids and their friends went on a grand tour and when the night owl teenagers stayed up playing cards and were slow to rise the following morning he just adapted the plans to suite the group. Our ranger made all the difference to our hiking experience…

Waterfalls for the win

He knew the good places to take a break, where to find a trickle of water in the middle of a drought, he knew so much about the route… when to take it easy and when to keep moving. Apart from his obvious knowledge of the surrounding area he was happy to get all our kids from start to finish safely, while the father person and I were trailing after the galloping enthusiasm that is youth. A lot of folk underestimate Table Mountain, because it is surrounded by a city and millions of visitors head up it each year… the fact it is a wild wilderness area, the weather is changeable, the routes not always clear. Having a guide with you takes away all the “safety” stress. You know you are on the right route, you can ask, “Are we there yet?” and get a realistic answer, which is great.

We met quite a few little friends along the way

There were also one or two folk on the mountain top that I would have been wary of had I been hiking on my own, but with the ranger there to encourage folk, who were intending to illegally overnight in Rendezvous Cave, to move along we felt completely safe. The huge advantage of hiking with a guide is the font of information they carry with them… they may take you on a little walk off the track and show you a feature that you never imagined was there.


This is a butter spoon tree, look for the little spoon!

We know things about the plants and traces of wildlife that we saw along the way that we could never have gleaned for ourselves. And the local history, which we happened upon as we hiked was fascinating.

The People’s Trail Route

No permit, no entry… you have to get a permit from SanParks to enter this protected area


Starting on day one… we headed from Constantia Nek through Orange Kloof, which is a protected area and you may only hike through that area with a permit and an accompanying ranger. This is the only area of Table Mountain that is restricted and there is a fairly stiff fine for those folk who venture in without one. This is a large basin like area of indigenous afro-montaine forest, with access to the back of Table Mountain. the forest is absolutely beautiful and even in the heart of summer it was a pleasant shady walk.

The goal is to get up through the forest and then just past that “still” shady ridge, head up Disa Kloof towards the dams.

The path begins on a jeep track, and winds its way above the forest… it is quite unreal to hike through an area where you know you are not going to meet another person and as far as the eye can see there is just natural landscape. After about 45 minutes we turned off the jeep track and headed up a path towards the Woodhead Tunnel and Disa Gorge. Orange Kloof remains a bit of illusive mystery to so many folk, who have asked us about hiking there and more than a handful of optimistic hikers on the day that were turned back at the start and at the finish, because they didn’t have a permit.

The start of the tunnel that goes right through the mountain… who knew!

Woodhead Tunnel

The path that leads up to the Disa Gorge, takes a sharp turn to get up to the Woodhead dam and from there we took a small side path, down to the famous Wood Head Tunnel itself. To get to the Woodhead Tunnel we had to cross over or walk over a really rickety bridge… I had already decided before we left home that I was going to do absolutely everything that the hike through at me… so over I went.

Those planks are a very rickety bride, most folk opted to just go through the dry river

There is a lovely little area at the start of the Wood Head Tunnel absolutely perfect for a cool shady picnic on a hot day. All the while our Ranger, Justin, was telling us the history of the area and how in the late 1800’s Cape Town was in dire need of a fresh water supply and so they decided to pipe the water from the top of Table Mountain, that was flowing into Disa River of Hout Bay, and divert it through the mountain to Kloof Nek, where it is piped on to Molteno Dam in the city.

A very welcome lunch break

The tunnel was completed in 1891, and travels approximately 700 m through the mountain. Once the tunnel was built they realised that they would need a reservoir to protect their water supply over the summer months and work on the Woodhead Reservoir began. They soon realised that one reservoir wouldn’t be enough and work on the Hely-Hutchinson Reservoir began.

It was a case of walking from one shady tree to the next

Disa Kloof

From the tunnel we headed on up towards Woodhead dam. Following a trail of old communication poles… you can spot them all the way up the gorge and since at this stage we were walking in the heat of the day we were in fact counting down the poles until we reached the dam…

The entrance to the Apostle’s Tunnel

Part of the way up the Gorge we took another little detour to take a look at a second tunnel through the mountains, The Apostle’s Tunnel, that was constructed in about 1960, when problems with the infrastructure of the Woodhead Tunnel, which had collapsed in places, started to interfere with the water flow. This tunnel was completed in 1966.

It’s a long way, and the wind whistles through it

We did this hike at the beginning of my gym journey and would say it is a moderate hike. I think for familys with small children you may want to wait a while… it is totally doable there is nothing technical or difficult about it, but it is fairly long and uphill.

Looking back the way we had walked

As for routes up Table Mountain, it is possibly the easiest and the nicest one that we have done. That being said, we took it really slowly… in fact we took most of the day… with plenty of stops and rests… and it really helped to have a qualified ranger and tour guide to tell us amazing and fascinating facts and keep everyone together and in good spirits all the way up.

Our ranger pointed out possibly the last disa flowers of the season

The Woodhead Dam Wall

It was welcome relief to get to the base of the Woodhead Dam wall and know that we were almost at the end of our hike for the day.

Just what we needed… a stair workout

Only to discover a long and tiresome flight of at least three hundred stone stairs to get to the top… argh!!! Worth it, I think so…

The reservoir at last

Finally made it to the Woodhead dam and our overnight was a few hundred meters away from it.

Our home for the night

The People’s Hut

At the end of our hike for Day 1, we headed straight for our overnight hut, The People’s Hut and settled in and rested for an hour or two… before heading out for an evening walk. The people’s hut is a well equipped hut, spacious, clean and full of all sorts of things that we would have completely forgotten to pack. Basically we took up sleeping bags, and food for two days… but the rest of it is all supplied.


The kitchen is well equipped with pots and pans… all great catering sizes that totally worked for our family that had expanded somewhat with the kids bringing along friends. Otherwise there are bathrooms, there was no water in the hut while we were there, but there was a tank of water so we could flush the loos, and replenish our water bottles.

Spotted these Klipspringer from our deck

There is a large open deck for watching wildlife and the stars and the incredible view, an enclosed stoep for when the weather isn’t great and inside the hut a large open lounge area to relax in. The hut has bedrooms, with bunk beds and comfy mattresses as well as sleeping bags available. We took our own sleeping bags but these would have been handy had the weather changed. They also supply toilet paper and washing up liquid, and wood for your fire.

Essential hot chocolate at the start of Day 2

There is also an enclosed braai, perfect for summer nights as well as a fresh pile of braaiwood. And a gas stovetop for quickly boiling water… for essentials like bedtime hot chocolate and morning coffee.

Bunk beds and plenty of room for an over night hike

I have to say there is limited wifi on the tippy top of Table Mountain, and our teens found that the only way to connect was to stand on tip toes on the top of a rocky outcrop about 500m from the hut we were staying in. Otherwise the top of Table Mountain was surprisingly busy, not crowded mind you… but there were plenty of folk around. Apart from the hut we were in there is a Mountain Club of South Africa hut, as well as a Scout Hut and because we hiked over a public holiday all the huts were full.

Everyone watching the sunset

Rendezvous Cave

Towards evening we had recovered enough to take another walk across the top of Table Mountain to watch the sunset over Bakoven and Camps Bay from the top of Kasteelspoort. Is there anything more beautiful than a hike across the top of Table Mountain at sunset. On the way to our sunset lookout we took a detour and a little scramble… I would just like to publicly announce that I went through a cave… Just saying, let the record reflect… that I went through a cave.

Even I can’t believe that I went through there, but once you are in there is no going back

I will admit that it was fairly large, no crawling (just no)… but there was crouching down in the pitch dark and a couple of moments when one couldn’t see either end of the tunnelling cave. It was an achievement, and I was fairly thrilled to see the light of day on the far side.


After watching the light change from bright, to glorious pink then purple… we were witness to the most spectacular lightening storm over the ocean.

I need to learn how to photograph lightening… just saying!!!

This is the top of Kasteelspoort looking down into Camps Bay


During the time of the construction of the Woodhead Dam and pipelines that learnt about on the first day of our hike… a number of workers lived on the top of Table Mountain, they carried all their equipment and gear up the Kasteelspoort ravine. In fact, they constructed a small cable car to help them carry their heavy equipment up the mountain and traces of their cable car system can still be seen today, they then used a small locomotive to transport their equipment across the top of the mountain, to their small settlement and to the worksite for the reservoirs. Finally in the early 1900s the City of Cape Town realised that they could not keep up with the city’s water needs, and they had to look for an alternative water supply… and they focused their attention on the Steenbras dam, where water is piped in from over 80 km away.

Descending on Day 2

You can learn more about the history of the construction of the dams and Cape Town’s water supply at the WaterWorks Museum on top pf Table Mountain… really there is a museum there, with a locomotive, some interesting artefacts and old photographs to look at. It is a welcome shady rest spot on a hot day of hiking.

No water, just a few sludgy puddles with Cape River Frogs

The People’s Hike is designed to take you across the top of Table Mountain and down Platteklip Gorge… a very popular hike, but not an easy one as it is a long long long flight of stairs down the front of Table Mountain and very hot weather was predicted for the day. So we opted for the shadier route of Kasteel’s Poort, which we were familiar with because we hiked up there two years ago on our annual Table Mountain Pilgrimage. We took a bit of a wander on the top of Table Mountain, in the cool of the morning and then headed down Kasteel’s Poort. It was pleasant and lovely and I cannot imagine how we got up it in the past, but we did.

Stopped here for lunch, the very end of the shade

We made it to this lovely outcrop in the shade, at which stage we met the Mid-day sun and as the weather predicted it was extremely hot, close to 40 degrees Celsius, and the quick walk down to the jeep track and on to the finish took us about two hours of staggering from one patch of shade to another.

So near and yet so very far

Surprisingly we were passed by a number of visitors to Cape Town heading up the mountain, with little to no water… and it was a relief to see that they nearly all turned back a little way after passing our bedraggled party and headed down again. Some days are just not meant for exertion.

This little fellow was really tame and happy to join us for lunch

We looked forward to this hike for so long, with great anticipation and we were all sorry it was over so soon. Would we do it again, in a flash. I have to say that the first time you do a particular hike is the hardest, it helps to know your way around a route and what to expect. And now that I am so much fitter I know that I would handle this hike so much better myself. This hike does require a fair amount of fitness… but as for overnight hikes. It was our first and the first time that we had to toss a sleeping bag into our packs… and it just made it so much better than our usual day hikes. I would encourage you, if you have some day hiking skills with your family and kids, then take the leap and tackle an overnight hike. Really all we had to do was add sleeping bags to our packs and we were ready to go and it totally upped the adventure aspect of getting outdoors to new heights for all of us!!!

The People's Trail on Table Mountain

You can take a look at all our photographs here by clicking on this image

All the information the you need for the People’s Trail is available on the SanParks Website here. and of course a huge thank you to our volunteer ranger, Justin Hawthorne from Table Mountain Treks and Tours who we cannot recommend highly enough.

→ 4 CommentsTags: Hiking · Outdoors · Outings

Se7en Ways to Get Your Kids Moving…

May 3rd, 2017 · No Comments

It is Global Move for Health Week… and I have been blogging quite a lot about gym and my exercise journey recently, but but what about the kids? I have rearranged my life in a major way… sleeping well, eating better and well the obvious one… exercise!!! And I have to say my kids love it… they have been champion supporters the whole way and it has been fantastic.


Last year I attended a talk at the Sport Science Institute of South Africa, about getting kids moving… Recently, Cathy Draper, head of their Kidz on the Move Programme asked me if our blog followers would have any great tips for families, to help kids get moving. My immediate reaction was of course you all would be full of ideas. But I had a little pause and I thought that before I asked for your ideas I would do a quick assessment around our home… who was exercising and who wasn’t. I’ll tell you why, often what we think we are doing is not quite what we are actually doing.


The Reality Check

The eye opener for me to see that I needed to radically up my personal game was when I kept a sleep/food/exercise diary at the start of my exercise journey. I immediately realised that I didn’t get nearly enough sleep and that while I ate healthfully enough that I could do a lot better, not to mention the exercise I was doing was not even slightly enough. We created a chart, starting this past week, we have been plotting how much exercise my kids are getting, how much sleep they are getting and how much screen time they are getting… because we all know that screen time is the ultimate movement stopper for kids… and while our kids really don’t get a lot of screen time I wanted my kids to become aware of the time they spend on screens.


Family Friendly Exercise Goals

The question remains, how do you get your kids moving and enjoying it? My concern for my kids has always been that while I was really sporty at school most of my friends had stopped organised sport by the time we were studying at University… and certainly by the time that I was finished at varsity almost all my friends had stopped sport and regular exercise altogether. By the time I had kids most of my friends were battling to be consistent with going to gym and it certainly wasn’t a lifestyle of exercise. Because of this I became quite intentional about how I created a lifestyle of exercise in my kids.

My kids are regular energetic kids… and in the olden days when we had less than a handful of small children I thought like most parents that my kids would try out a number of sports as they grew up and they would have a passion for one or two of them and stick with them… so they tried out a couple of sports and I quickly realised that what I was after was not so much an hour or two once a week and then nothing all week in between. I actually wanted my kids to have a lifestyle of exercise, real exercise every single day… the most obvious way to increase your kids exercise is to just get them outdoors. Somehow being outdoors gets kids moving… and we have always played outdoors a lot, every day. But we started including daily ambles and a lot of playing outdoors into our days. The idea, at least when they were all small, was that at the end of the day they would be thoroughly tired and that they would sleep well. Trust me as a parent of older kids… this is still the idea… at the end of the day I would like them to be thoroughly tired and to sleep well.


Se7en Family Friendly Exercises

  1. Play Outdoors Everyday, Whatever the Weather: Some how being outdoors makes kids move… I can’t say the same for myself, very often I will read a book while they play… but that’s why I go to gym.
  2. Beach Play at Least Every Other Day: We live at the beach so this one is obvious for us, but if we didn’t have a beach then we would find a local park and do the same sort of thing. My kids have a rule that they have to run to the lighthouse and back before they settle in on the beach to swim and play… that way even the child that just wants to make an elaborate castle gets some exercise as well.
  3. Walk Everywhere: My kids have come to expect a daily walk, keep them short and keep them fun and they will walk. What was a couple of times a week when they were tiny, has become an excuse to go anywhere for a walk everyday: to the beach, to the library, to all their extra-murals, to the store for me… and so on. If they want to be somewhere in our small town then they have to walk there.
  4. Park Run: We started these at the beginning of the year and haven’t looked back… they are fun, they are all over the place… you don’t have to run the same one each time. Go and look for them on Facebook, find a local one and join them. A 5km walk/run at your very own pace… a really pleasant family outing.
  5. The Se7en Minute WorkOut: One of my kids gifted their athletic brother with a se7en minute workout kit a while back and since then he has done the famous workout almost every single day… but recently we have been using an app, seven – 7 Minute Workout Training Challenge (there are dozens of similar apps, find one that you like) to put the gang through their paces.
  6. Hiking: We are a family of hikers so this works well for us… looking for new hikes and trails to explore… not all hikes have to be up a mountain (nice as that is), you can just as easily find a picturesque place to visit and do a photo walk with your kids. They are moving, they are playing with technology and they are happy.
  7. Challenges: My kids absolutely cannot resist a challenge… Who can do the most push-ups? Race you to the mail box… anything. It has to be quick, it has to be easy and it has to be right then.

Over to You

Firstly, make yourself a chart, with everybody on it, including the parents!!! Also, keep your chart really simple, because otherwise you will give up on it. Fill it in for a week. After a few days I have already had quite a few surprises as to who is doing the most exercise and who isn’t. Otherwise, leave a comment and tell us any family friendly fun ways to get your kids, in fact your entire family moving… I am talking from tots to teens… any ideas to make these guys move is a great idea… leave a comment, we would really love to hear from you…

I’ll get back to you at the end of next week with a report back on how we did…

→ No CommentsTags: Organizing Se7en

Se7en’s May and Your Free Printable Calendar…

May 1st, 2017 · 3 Comments


A Couple of our readers have asked us how we use our calendar posts for school. These posts began, and have grown, simply because it was interesting to see what events were occurring on a particular day. We don’t celebrate everyday – but we could!!! At the beginning of each month we print out a new calendar (click on the image and print it landscape, works better that way). Then we read through the blog post and pick the days that we would like to celebrate. We write those days out onto our calendar and pop the calendar onto the fridge. On the particular date we visit the website and have a look at the links or create some fun to post on our blog, like our recent Shakespeare post on his birthday.

se7en's May

If you would like to now more about how we use our calendar for school as a fabulous resource of famous people and events then do pop over to the Almanac page for an explanation… Meanwhile, we hope you have a marvellous May!!!

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Dozens of Days to Celebrate

1 May: Save the Rhino Day.

2 May 1844: Elijah McCoy Inventor (1844 – 1929).

4 May 1971: GreenPeace launched.

4 May National Weather Observer’s Day.

4 May: International Firefighter’s Day.

4 May: World Asthma Day.

5 May: Cinco De Mayo

5 May: Children’s Day (Japan).

7 May 1937: Hindenburg Disaster

7 May 1840: Tchaikovsky’s Birthday (1840 – 1893).

7 May 2014: Space Day.

8 May 1884: Harry Truman’s Birthday (1884 – 1972).

8 May 1945: VE Day.

10 May: Clean Up Your Room Day

  • 11 May: Salvador Dali’s Birthday (1909 – 1989).

    11 May: Edward Lear’s Birthday (1812 – 1888).

    12 May: Kite Day.

    12 May 1820: Florence Nightingale’s birthday (1820 – 1910).

    14 May 1847 : Webster’s Dictionary First Published.

    14 May 1804: Lewis and Clarke Began their expedition (1804).

    14 May 1727: Thomas Gainsborough (artist) born, 1727

    15 May 1856: L.F. Baum’s Birthday (1856 – 1919).

    16 May: National Chocolate Chip Day.

    18 May: International Museum Day.

    18 May 1980: Mt. St. Helens Erupted.

    19 May: Circus Day.

    20 May 1927: Amelia Earheart’s TransAtlantic Flight.

    21 May 1844: Henri Rousseau’s Birthday (1844 – 1910).

    21 May 1927: Lindbergh Flight Day.

    21 May 1799: Mary Anning’s Birthday (1799 – 1847).

    22 May: International Jazz Day

    22 May 1570: First Atlas Published.

    22 May 1844: Mary Cassatt’s Birthday (1844 – 1926).

    23 May: World Turtle Day.

    24 May: The Brooklyn Bridge Opened in 1883.

    24 May 1844: First Morse Code Message Sent.

    25 May: Missing Children’s Day.

  • 26 May: Blueberry Cheesecake Day.

    26 May 1951: Sally Ride’s Birthday (1951 – ).

    27 May 1907: Rachel Carson’s Birthday (1907 – 1964).

    27 May: Masking Tape patented.

    28 May 1959: MonkeyNauts Able and Baker in Space.

  • 28 May 1859: Big Ben arrives in Westminster.

    29 May 1953: Hillary and Tenzing conquer Everest.

    29 May 1917: John F. Kennedy’s Birthday.

  • → 3 CommentsTags: Celebrity Calendar

    What We Are Reading Right Now… The Penguin Random House Edition…

    April 29th, 2017 · No Comments

    It is a long weekend, can I hear a hoorah!!! The father person has been on leave and we have taken a break from school… there has been hiking and friends and trips to the beach… and between all that massive progress in the year of Getting Things Done Project. Amidst all the hard work there has been plenty of time for reading and relaxing of course…

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    The Latest Reads for Kids from Penguin Random House

    Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo: The cover says 100 Tales of Extraordinary Women… and this is an extraordinary book. And the thing I love about it the most is that all my kids love and adore it. Each double page spread tells the story of an incredible woman on one page and then there is a stunning artwork of her on the other page. I had the idea that I would read a spread a day for school and my kids would learn about famous women in history… but it turns out that they all took this book off my desk as they went past and they have been pouring over these fascinating women for a week or two and then coming to tell me about them. Each women has her name, her date of birth, her country, a quote, her career and their are dozens of chosen walks of life… from politicians to top models, from scientists to environmentalists, artists, dancers, journalists, poets, tattoo artists and even a boxer. My heroes Sylvia Earle, Wangari Maathai, Maya Angelou and of course Malala are all in there… and my own girls are finding their own heroes between the pages.

    This book is a work of art and has its own unique story all of its own and a website where you can check it out. This book began as a Kick Starter project, it went from strength to strength, and ended up being the most funded original book ever crowdfunded before. The artwork is out of this world, a team of sixty women from every corner of the world created a unique and interesting portrait for all the women featured in the book. This book really is a work of art… a book that will inspire women and girls of all ages… a book that clearly demonstrates that gals of every race, colour or creed can do incredible things when they put their minds to it. And there is even a page left blank for your girl to write her own story. While all my kids have enjoyed this book I can honestly say that my girls have absolutely loved it… this empowering book needs to be on every girls’ shelf everywhere. If you need an extra special gift for a gal of any age… then this is definitely the book of choice.

    George’s Marvellous Experiments: If you haven’t read Georges Marvellous Medicine by Roald Dahl yet, then get to it as fast as you can. Meanwhile this book is enough to inspire all avid scientists… it is not your average book of science experiments for children, it is packed with explosions and dramatic effects. One impressive experiment after another, explosions and magnets, vehicles and mixtures… Directions are clear and it reads like a scientist’s journal, there are snippets to read and factoids to discover. Not to mention a box on every page explaining the science behind the experiments. It has a large format, and masses experiments to try out, and all with goodies that you can find around the house. Of course not only is it packed with experiments, but it is filled with wonderful Quentin blake illustrations and Roald Dahl quote and expressions through out it. Hood #8 is so inspired he already has a tray of “science tools” out, ready for a whole lot of action… I predict bendy bones. powerful potatoes and very wriggly worms, not to mention powerful potatoes in our near future. This book is bright and colourful and pure fun for scientists of all ages.

    The LEGO Batman Movie: Chaos in Gotham City: (Activity Book with Exclusive Batman Minifigure) (LEGO DC Comics) Let me just say LEGO, and it comes with a mini figure… this reads just like an olden day comic. While my kids have never been to the LEGO Batman movie, they all enjoyed reading this comic… because: LEGO. This is a comic that is perfect for beginner readers, not a whole lot of writing to get through, all in little boxes… and there are activities and something to do on almost every single spread. Just good fun, the sort of books that even the most reluctant reader will pick up and read… because folks… LEGO!!! The story is fairly thin to an observing grown up. Your little Batman mini-figure is out to save the city. All my lego loving kids loved this one!!!

    The Amazing Talent Show: Mattie’s Magical Animal Dreamworld These last two books were written by Lynn Bedford Hall and illustrated by Jane Heinrichs. The author is well known in South Africa for her cookbooks. She has written quite a few children’s books as well. The story is about Mattie, a lonely girl living in the African countryside… and at night the animals all become characters in her story and all her loneliness disappears. In the talent show we have a dancing ostrich, an elephant with an orange, a pig on a tight rope and a singing donkey… the talent show didn’t go quite as planned… but Mattie saves the day. A sweet and endearing picture book with lovely illustrations.

    The Animals’ Funny Funfair: Mattie’s Magical Animal Dreamworld In this story, the animals in Matties World spring to life in her dream and she finds herself at the Fun Fair. There is a hoopla stall, dunking apples, and a roll-an-egg race. Not a single event goes quite as planned. But it all turns out well in the end. Good fun and a sweet read for small people who enjoy animal stories. I like the South African touches in the book… like a mention of Rooibos Tea and such like, making it a great read with a slightly South African flavour.

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

    → No CommentsTags: Brilliant Books

    Se7en’s Fabulous Fun Post #352

    April 25th, 2017 · 8 Comments

    Can you believe that it is almost the end of April, how can this be. Cape Town is behaving like summertime and because of all the holidays we have been taking some time off school, and the father person has been on leave. It’s been great: sleeping, reading, hiking and ice-cream… in that order. And we celebrated our 24th wedding anniversary on the 24th… which just feels a little weird, since I don’t feel old enough to be 24… but that’s a whole ‘nother thing!!!


    Se7en Builds a Library Book by Book

    Our library building project is starting to fly… at last… if you are looking for all the details then look no further than this post here. Books are starting roll in.. this is a good thing… keep them coming folks. It is definitely not too late to join in… the more the merrier!!! Just leave me a comment and I will send the shipping details onto you immediately.


    Lovely Links from This Week

    1. My favourite series on Design Mom continues to be Living With Kids… You have to take a look at these slow travellers…
    2. While we are talking about travelling… Since I had all my luggage stolen in Zambia nearly two years ago, I haven’t replaced it because I’m picky and I haven’t seen anything I liked… but that just changed, would you look at these bags to die for on Babyccino kids…
      Essential Packing for a weekend with kids…
    3. If you love travel, then this one is for you… I have been following Andrew Evans on twitter for years, he goes plenty of places and blogs, tweets and writes about his journey as the original digital nomad for National Geographic. Right now he is hiking through Jordan, it is epic, what an adventure… and you can follow his journey over here: Andrew Walks Jordan.
    4. I really enjoyed this post, in a world that is crying out for understanding and diversity, The Need for Cultural Humility… on the Hare Translation Journey, made an excellent read.
    5. My friend Marcia had an excellent post for all of us, on her blog Organising Queen: If It’s Not Serving You, Let It Go…
    6. And because Seth Goldin always has something to think about… Who cut down the last tree?
    7. Right now it doesn’t feel like Autumn at all… but it should and in the spirit of cooler weather and visits to granny to look for natural autumn treasures… I loved these Leaf faces from PickleBums
    8. And in the spirit of the Easter season that just flew past, I pinned this beautiful post from Bellisima Kids…

    A Blast From the Past:

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    This Week’s Highlights

    Book I am Most Anticipating: Journal Sparks by Emily Neuburger, I mean doesn’t this look like something that you just want to dive into. If you don’t follow her already then head over to her site and take a look at her lovely creative ideas for journaling, arting, writing (with kids)… And the (with kids) is in brackets, because as soon as you get there you are going to want to do play with all these creative ideas yourself!!!

    From my Reading Pile: I am still reading my way through this excellent and very readable book on sleep and honestly I am blown away in every chapter… you think you know about sleep and that you should be getting more than you are. And then you read a book like this one and realise that you, and I am speaking for myself here, know nothing at all about sleep… and you absolutely have to get some, your life depends on it.

    Listening: Well I have been Listening to Conn Iggulden’s War of the Roses series… Book 1, Book 2, Book 3… week after week, only to discover that Book 4 is not available here. So I did a look at books that are on our audible pile, looking for something to listen to while I drove to and from gym. I have been meaning to read this book for ages… so I am listening away. Not easy listening, and that is why I am glad I am listening rather than trying to read it… but it is packed with wisdom, and lots of takeaways. I am so glad this is one of our kids’ high school reads… it is a great starting point for thinking seriously about finances.

    Listening with the Father Person: To the Reading Writer’s Podcast… A weekly chat with Aaron Armstrong, about books and books that folk are writing… you can take a look at his website here, all the posts that say Live interview are podcasts…

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    Looking Forward to: This Zero Waste Talk at the 2 Oceans Aquarium… As we head towards less and less garbage I am always looking for ways to reduce our impact on the environment.

    GiveAway Winners

    As part of PanMacmillan and The Park by Gail Schimmel’s Blog Tour last week we had a GiveAway…


    Huge thank you to so many of you for entering… the more you enter the more GiveAways we can post…

    And our winner is:


    Congratulations to: Cassey look out for an email from us so that I can get your book to you soonest!!!

    This Week’s GiveAway


    We have this collection of Landy Books to GiveAway… stop by and leave a comment here if you want to enter!!!

    That’s us… Hope you are all having a fabulous week!!!


    → 8 CommentsTags: Fabulous Friday Fun

    Se7en’s Build a Library Book by Book Project And A Call For Books…

    April 24th, 2017 · 4 Comments

    Welcome to World Book Day. Quite possibly the best day of the year. The day of the year that we have to think and talk and dream about books… books we have loved, books we have shared, books we are excited about. And books that we are really looking forward to reading in the future. There are so many books that inspire us to do great things, books that leave us wondering how other folk did great things… books really are windows to the world, we can see things we couldn’t ever have imagined, we experience feelings that we haven’t felt before, we can visit places, we can visit people from the past, from the future… Books literally open the World for us.


    Se7en Builds a Library Book by Book

    Once a year, with the help of our blog followers we try and open up the world for a local community school in desperate need of books. We try and choose a school that has no access to books, and certainly no books that will fire up a child’s imagination. This year the school we have chosen is in a small town, Macassar, on the outskirts of the City of Cape Town. It is an area where unemployment, substance abuse and gang related violence are part of the local environment. The children in this area do not come from a culture of books, many parents would not have finished school and will not have good reading skills themselves. This is a tough neighbourhood to grow up in, without the privilege of bed time stories, well any stories really. The school is a primary school with about 1000 children and no library facilities whatsoever and no local community library at all. It is hard to imagine a school with out books and even harder to imagine a childhood without books.


    We are calling on all our followers to gift us with books that will inspire and excite these youngsters to read more, books that will open up their world and help them to dream bigger dreams. We have done it before and we can do it again, we firmly believe that book by book we can create a library for these children. At the moment their library facility is a book corner with a few “learn to read” type books… but wouldn’t it be brilliant if we could expand that corner, put a real book shelf in it and fill it up with books that would excite and inspire the children and encourage them to dream bigger dreams. Many of these children would never have been further from home than their school… they live one of the most beautiful cities in the world, yet they may never have been to the beach or walked on Table Mountain… lets use books and show these children the whole wide world.

    These kids desperately need a library, and you can help us build it.

    How the Build a Library Book by Book Project Works

    We are looking for new or nearly new books to gift to these children. We would like to gift these children with wonderful books that inspire them to dream big. We will be visiting the school in May and opening up the packages that you sent for the children with them… so we would like you to send us a package with one or two books inside it. Books that you would like to give your children or books that your children would like to give their friends.


    Aramex Can Help You

    If you live in South Africa, things just gotta a whole lot easier for you: Go through your bookshelves and choose a couple of books that your children have read and then: Did you know that anywhere in South Africa… you can head for your nearest Pick ‘n Pay and pop the books into an Aramex Bag… and for R99. they will ship your bag of books to us… whatever you can squeeze into that bag… all from the convenience of your local Pick ‘n Pay store. It doesn’t get easier than that.

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    The Superb SuperNova Magazine

    Otherwise, the fabulous SuperNova Magazine are gifting the school with an entire collection of their magazines, from the beginning to the end!!! And they will match anything our readers buy on their website… and donate that to the school as well… It is a pretty fantastic offer and easy way to send our library fun things to read. If you haven’t seen their funky factual magazine for kids then take a look at this post… If you would like to join Super Nova Magazine and have them match your purchases then follow this link:

    Use the coupon code: ”7+1” (no spaces) in their shop and they will know to match it. You can also leave a note in the notes panel.

    So How Can You Help to Build a Library?

    Step 1: Select a Book or Books

    1. You can search through your books for gently used books that your children have outgrown or no longer love. Remember these books are gifts, we will visit the school when they unpack them. Loved books are great, over-loved books… not so much, and old tattered textbooks from your college days that have been used as door stops… really not at all.
    2. You can buy a book or two with your children and package them up.
    3. You can shop at Amazon and ship directly.
    4. And you can shop on-line, locally at Loot, or Reader’s Warehouse (where a little cash goes a long way) and ship directly as well.

    While all the students do learn English, many of the learners have Afrikaans or Xhosa as their first language. English books are very welcome, so are books in Afrikaans and Xhosa. Any books will be great, story books, picture books, craft books, cook books, reference books… really any books. There is a large community being served here. If you are shopping overseas and would like to buy local language books then click on the South African vendor to find books and they will deliver locally for you.


    Step 2: Contact us.

    Leave a comment and tell us that you intend to help or contact us. I will reply to you all as soon as I can with the shipping details, with the address to send the books you have chosen. There is a human person behind each and every email (that would be me) and they take time… please be patient the address will get to you.

    Step 3: Let us Know All About the Books You Chose

    We would love if you could photograph the books you are sending, if you shop on-line then just send us a list of the books that you ordered. If you have a blog and write about it then let us know and we will have a Progress Post almost weekly. I will pop the photo’s you send into the blog post and if you do have a blog there will be a chance for you to link up as well…

    Step 4: There is a Deadline…

    We would like to deliver the books that we personally collect and accumulate during May, so while you can ship anytime… we are hoping to end this campaign in the middle of May.

    Finally, I have sent emails out with the shipping details, to all the folk that I had on our list. If you didn’t receive an email and you have put your name down already… then please forgive me, and leave a comment below, I will email you the details as soon as I hear from you.

    → 4 CommentsTags: Brilliant Books · Caring and Sharing

    New Books in the Landy Collection and it is a GiveAway…

    April 23rd, 2017 · 19 Comments

    A while ago we introduced our readers to the first three books in the Landy series by Veronica Lamond, well you will be very pleased to hear that there are three more Landy books to add to the collection… and we are having a GiveAway!!!


    This books are just delightful… for anyone that is hunkering after life with a Landrover these books are a must. Landy and his friend Fender go on all sorts of real adventures and do things that children everywhere would love to be a part of. The illustrations absolutely make the books, page after page that you literally want to climb into and explore. There are all sorts of animals to point out, places to go and things to see, a little bit of cosy home life and lots of exploring… tools and repairs, baking and outdoor life. Really something for everyone. You can meet the Author, Veronica Lamond, and see her delightful artwork on her website here.

    Let’s Take a Closer Look


    Landy and the Apple Harvest: One evening everyone in the world of Landy is tucked in safely for the night and a wild storm passes through town. The next morning Landy and his owner, Jack, and their dog, Molly, head into town to see if they can help at all with the storm damage. Of course they can, and with a few ups and owns they manage to help an old lady who has had a tree fall on her house. When they are finished helping in town they head home to recover. Back at home they discover that because of the storm, the apple harvest has been blown off the tree and they get to work collecting baskets of apples… and a cosy afternoon of apple baking follows. You should probably have a couple of apples on hand when you read this book… just saying!!!


    Fender and the Cliff Rescue: In this story Fender and his owner Dan are driving along the seaside cliffs doing maintenance on the paths, making sure that the paths are safe for all the folk that use them. While they are working in the path a swimmer needs rescuing on the beach and they watch the lifesavers and the rescue helicopter come to the rescue. After all that excitement, they take a break on the cliffs and they are watching puffins through their binoculars, when they suddenly spot Jack who is waving for help. Dan and Fender dash over to discover that Jack’s sheepdog has fallen on the cliffs and needs some help being rescued. Of course it all turns out well… it was a good day for successful rescues.


    Landy at the Factory – A Special Edition: Landy receives a real live letter, it is so exciting… you can actually see the letter in the book. It is an invitation to the Defender head quarters to celebrate Landy’s 60th birthday. Jack gets to work immediately and they spend a few days getting Landy ship-shape for the cross-country event and they head out across the countryside, on highways and byways towards the celebration. As they eventually arrive at the factory, Jack takes a wrong turn and he and Landy find themselves on quite an adventure as they rollick along the Land Rover testing track… Eventually they make it to the factory and they get to explore the inner workings of factory life as well as meet the first ever Land Rover, Huey. While they were they they realised that Landy had an oil leak… so up onto the ramps for repairs. There was a huge cake to celebrate the birthday, but the story wasn’t over yet. Jack was spared the cross-country drive home, because he and Landy got to go home together on an auto-transporter.

    The GiveAway


    We have a collection of these three books to GiveAway to a lucky reader. This GiveAway works in the usual way, leave a comment before the end of play on 1 May 2017 and tell us where you would like to go on a Land Rover adventure. We will draw and publish the winners in the Fabulous Fun Post 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. Our GiveAways are open to everyone: If you have won a GiveAway before never fear – enter away. If you live on the far side of the world – enter away. Postage takes forever from here but eventually it should get to you! Good luck and happy commenting!!!

    We would like to thank the publishers Struik Nature and Penguin Random House South Africa who supplied us with copies of the books to review and giveaway. We were not paid for the review and the opinions expressed in it are as usual, entirely our own.

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    → 19 CommentsTags: Brilliant Books · GiveAways and Swaps