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

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Author Interview with Melissa Delport: Announcing the Legacy Trilogy…

July 22nd, 2014 · 1 Comment

A while back I received an email asking me if I would like to review a book or do an author interview by a very exciting new South African author. I am all for author interviews and I know our readers enjoy them, but it wasn’t exactly my genre of book and I wasn’t sure if it was the best fit. It could have gone either way at this stage… you know how I want to bring “the best of the rest” to our readers. In fact, I kind of put off reading the book – but to be fair I thought I would at least read the first couple of chapters and then say I had tried to read it and failed. Well, I started on a cold Saturday morning, under the duvet and thought I would set a time limit, the length of a load of laundry, and go… the kids made their own lunch. I surfaced at dinner time and suggested that the father person make that meal. Let’s just say, I did not put it down. I totally escaped for an entire day… the consequences of mountains of dishes and soggy laundry were well worth it!!! If you are looking for a day off or a weekend away and there isn’t one on the cards for you right now…then here is a great escape.


Meet the Author: Melissa Delport

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Se7en+1 Interview Questions

  1. Tell us a bit about yourself: Describe your perfect day.
  2. I love to laugh, and I love spending time with my family. My husband works long hours, so Sunday’s are my most favourite day of the week because we are all together and generally do something fun with the children. Obviously the perfect day is one in which there are no tears and no grumbles from the little ones, which is very rare!

  3. What was your biggest influence in becoming a writer? When did you know that you had a book inside you?
  4. I wrote children’s books in primary school and I started a few novels in my early twenties which will thankfully never see the light of day! I always knew I would write a book ‘one day’, but only when I reached my thirties did I feel that my writing had matured enough to be taken seriously. The funny thing is after the first book was completed, it was as if a floodgate had opened…now I have so many book ideas it’s hard to keep up!

  5. What are your favourite reads? Do you have an all time favourite book?
  6. I have to admit I am a big Twilight fan and I adored Harry Potter. I read so much, though, that I couldn’t narrow it down to just one book. I do love to share ‘book love’ and if I find a read that I really enjoy, I will shout it out to all of my reading friends.

  7. Tell us about your work process. How do you find the time to put pen to paper? Are you compelled to write, extremely disciplined or do you squeeze a moment here and there.
  8. I am not disciplined, but I am compelled to write. When you love to do something, it isn’t hard to sit down and do it. I try to get as much done in the mornings as possible and treat it like a “job” with set hours, but inevitably I find myself squeezing in a moment here and there whenever I can.

  9. How do you keep track of your story and ideas:  Are you a pen and paper kind of writer or a “as long as I have my keyboard” kind of writer?  A notebook, a whiteboard, copious post-it-notes… in your head?
  10. I’m definitely a “as long as I have my laptop” kind of writer. I plot my ideas and then type above, deleting as I flesh out the story and cover that particular part of the plot. I do keep a separate document to record my characters – what they look like, their personality traits, etc – because it is easier for referencing.

  11. Your books read like an action packed, suspense filled adrenaline rush of a movie…give us a little background, did something spark this book or was it flying about your head for years?
  12. With The Legacy I was reading a lot of dystopian fiction beforehand and I was a bit disappointed that it is always the most unexceptional, ordinary people who survived. I wanted The Legacy to break that mould and so I gave my characters the skills and the training to not only survive, but excel, in the direst of circumstances. My writing style is fast-paced, and I struggle with “filler” so the plot does tend to move along fairly quickly. I like that it keeps the reader gripped and wanting to read more.

    And the se7en+1th question:

  13. Is there something encouraging you would like to say to all those folk out there that think they might have a book within them?
  14. Yes: Write it. Don’t think any further than that, it will overwhelm you. If you have a book inside you, it will burn a hole in your head until you put it down on paper. Write it, for yourself, first and foremost and then share it with the world.


Let’s Meet the Books

This book is set in a very bleak post-nuclear North America, World War III has been and gone and you find yourself in a dystopian United States in the not too distant future. And that sounds so like a book that wouldn’t catch my attention… beware. This book literally raises your pulse… It is the characters that grip you, you wish you could meet them… you have to know what happens next. The main character is Rebecca, and she gives up everything that she loves to be the presidents wife. She is one fiery gal with inner strength and fortitude, she is single-minded and tenacious. You feel her pain, and you are on her quest with her, somehow you want more for her. Of course there is a love story kindling away, the childhood sweetheart, and the strong interloper… it is really a side-plot off the main story and not the focus at all. In fact if you are looking for romance you are unlikely to find it here. This book is all about action and lots of it. The author has cleverly told the story from every side, you find yourself sympathising with almost everyone. Of course it is a fight against good and bad, but typically post-modern – the good are also bad and the bad are also good and you find yourself changing allegiance more than a few times. But there can really only be one ultimate winner, or that’s what we are led to believe. As I said at the start of this post… unputdownable… and worse, it ends as an absolute cliff hanger… no nicely resolved happy endings here… you have to read on.

The good news is that book 2 in the trilogy is readily available… and there is more of Rebecca, the ultimate weapon… she is still fighting for all that is good… only there is a new enemy. I decided to be a little more disciplined when reading this one and only started reading after the kids were in bed… let’s just say the kids woke up to a pile of dirty dishes and a mother who had conquered an all-nighter. If you are looking for a nice relaxing bed-time read, you are in quite the wrong place. Dare I say, more gripping than the first, the dramatic ins and outs and the surprising twists and turns, will keep even the most sleep deprived mothers amongst us wide awake. These books are a total escape and a fabulous read. You can read more about the books over here at their website.

Thank you so much to Tracey at Tracey McDonald Publishers and i love books for providing the e-books for review and connecting us for the author interview. And a huge thank you to Melissa Delport for the exciting reads and answering our interview questions. I would like to declare that we were provided with the books for review purposes and we were not paid for the review and all opinions expressed in the review were, as usual, entirely our own.

→ 1 CommentTags: What We Are Reading

There is a Huge LEGO Debate Going on Over Here…

July 22nd, 2014 · 4 Comments

I can categorically say that in our house, by far the most popular toy, across all ages, is LEGO. And in the last week with heaps of visitors stopping by, it was indeed the hot topic at our table. Everybody had something to say and everyone wanted to make sure they were heard. They were of course responding to the LEGO/Shell/Greenpeace video that was up on You Tube and then down and then up on Vimeo and then down… the point is up or down, most LEGO fans the world over will have seen the video: “Everything is not Awesome.”

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The question is not whether LEGO, as a lot of folk thought, is a plastic toy. The world over uses plastic and we all need to be more responsible in our use of plastic. The point is more that LEGO has aligned themselves with a company that openly has non-green practices. Consider a similar scenario: An environmental book publishing company publishing books on paper produced by a paper company that doesn’t use recycled paper or paper from a sustainable source. They might produce fabulous books, but the practices of the paper producing firm makes one question the integrity of the publishing firm.

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If you take a look at the LEGO homepage, they claim to be environmentally conscious… with words like: sustainable and social responsibility, not to mention environment all over their “Responsibility at LEGO Group Page.”In fact, in their side bar the LEGO Group aligns themselves with the WWF and claims that they focus on suppliers that focus on reducing climate impact. LEGO themselves have a lot of in-company practices that demonstrate their goal to be green, using dramatically less packaging than they used too, for instance.

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We understand the historicity of the relationship and that they have been allies for nearly fifty years. It is a bit obscure though, that a company that claims to be pursuing all things green supports a company with a tendency towards anything but green practices. More concerning is the LEGO statement “That this is a matter between Shell and GreenPeace,” and that it has nothing to do with them. Unfortunately, the old expression, you can choose your friends but but not your family leaps to mind. It is true that we are known by the friends that we keep, guilty by association and all that. We expect our children to show discernment when choosing their friends, and we expect the same discernment from our toy companies.

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In this triangular relationship between LEGO, Shell and Greenpeace: LEGO isn’t looking good by association, Shell isn’t looking good by their practices and Greenpeace for that matter, is not looking good either. Greenpeace are using the less than honourable practice of marketing to children to incite their parents, not to stop buying LEGO mind you, but to object against LEGO and their relationship with Shell.

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For all that LEGO have committed to presenting their green image and as a massive global company they are in a unique position, not only to perform green practices within their company but to put pressure on their partners to quite literally clean up their act. And more specifically, perhaps it is time for LEGO to build a solution and to use some of their own leverage, to influence Shell.

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I am just guessing that with all the LEGO fans out there, some of you must have had to debate this one with your kids as well… it is a video that gets you thinking about a topic that we need to consider in our own practices, it is not just LEGO at fault here. I am all for things that get us to think and get us debating. Online it has become a simmer about, who or what has rights to the video, the lyrics etc… but wouldn’t it be good if one of the three players stepped up to the mark and said, we have a role to play here and lets just work on doing on better.

→ 4 CommentsTags: Blog Events · Thoughtful Thursdays

Se7en’s Fabulous Fun Post #230

July 20th, 2014 · 6 Comments

Well Happy Weekending to all of you… Possibly the busiest week of all time, with so many friends stopping by. Gasp, there wasn’t even the tiniest space on the calendar for one more thing, and we are all looking forward to our day of rest. The Start of the week was sunny, and I may have been a little enthusiastic and about half a bazillion projects have been begun. Then the rain set in and we are back under blankets with books…

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Plenty of cold wintry walks in the evenings… it is getting dark a little later… but the cold remains!!!

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Book of the Week

There was something about this book that I felt I had to read it, for the longest time… really it intrigued me. I am now deep in the heart of the book, if it has one, and it is a bit of a strange read. I am enjoying it, it is not quite the book I expected. The flow of the book took a while for me to get used to, it is some how jerky and full of pauses where one could get totally distracted. However, after you get used to the rhythm of the book, you can understand the message of the book and I find myself lingering somewhat in the pauses… enjoying it and not wanting the book to end too soon. This is a beautiful book, but not at all pretty…heart wrenching. It is the story of a young girl, Liesl during World War II and living in Germany. She is in foster care and the only book that she has at the start of the book is the Gravedigger’s notebook… This is an astonishing read and I can see why it is on many folk’s “must read” list… I find myself surprised over and over again as the book unfolds… Is it on my list of best reads ever… I am not sure, it could go either way. Definitely one of those profound books that you either savour or can’t get past the first ten minutes. I am savouring and winding my way through it.

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Lovely Links This Week

  1. I think it might be time for a little bedroom upgrading around here… these books on Kidstylefile look so inspiring.
  2. Really enjoyed Under the Sycamore’s Hiking with Kids non-professional tips!!!
  3. You are going to love us for this link: printable LEGO gift boxes… on linesacross.
  4. Here’s something crafty that my girls could totally get into right now, on Art Projects for Kids: How to make a rounded braid.
  5. This is one of my dream destinations… on Imagine Childhood, really I collect islands.
  6. Just totally loved this on: The Crafty Crow, 14 Inspiring And Easy Nature Crafts and Activities Your Kids Will Love.
  7. In the spirit of doing stuff… Apartment Therapy had some lovely DIY’s just to take a peak at!!!
  8. Do you feel like a creative challenge? Tinkerlab has one right now, and so does Family Fun…

    And the se7en + 1th link:

  9. A Blast From the Past: And here are a couple of links to posts, this week, from previous years:

That’s us… Hope your weekend is a fabulous one and we are so looking forward to another week of blogging with you all…

→ 6 CommentsTags: Fabulous Friday Fun

It is Mandela Day and Just 67 Minutes Can Make a Difference…

July 18th, 2014 · 2 Comments

The 18th of July is Mandela Day, in South Africa we celebrate his birthday by giving 67 minutes of time to volunteering and community service. Do something, just one small thing to make a difference…

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The 18th of July is a good day to do the right thing and serve, serve, serve… So many projects have flashed past me this week and I wanted to highlight a couple of them for you. There is literally a project for everyone, from books to food kitchens, clean-ups and gardening:


Se7en + 1 Opportunities to Volunteer

  1. Art with Artjamming at the V and A Waterfront: Every 67 minutes they will be painting canvases to decorate the walls of the Somerset Hospital, read about it here and their Madiba Project for the month of July.
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  3. Clean C: Community, Coastline, Cape Town, Country: This team of energetic folk organise beach clean-ups ALL THE TIME; And other totally cool projects that you can join like the POLAR SWIM, which isn’t quite as insane as it sounds; or what about BEACH4BOOKS. These guys look like they have so much fun and they are a great place to look for family friendly community projects.
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  5. GreenPop – Join the TreeVolution: We blogged about GreenPop recently, they have an active and energetic community packed with volunteer projects to join in… head straight for their Project Page and at least sign up for their newsletter… can you think of anything better than a day planting trees.
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    Photograph courtesy of GreenPop

  7. Soil For Life: Helping folk of all walks of life to grow their own vegetables… all about sustainable food and educating… and they welcome volunteers, not just on the 18 July… head for their Volunteer page and Donate some of your time and energy…
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  9. Biblionef has a 1 million Books Campaign: Biblionef have helped us with our blog’s annual build a library campaign. The goal of this organisation is to donate story books to South African children in their own language, written and illustrated by south Africans… I love this!!! Wherever you are in the world you can donate a book today… and it will probably take about 67 seconds…
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  11. Habitat for Humanity: They have been building 67 houses this past week… they are always looking for all sorts of volunteers… and there are plenty of opportunities to serve here.
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  13. From Food to Fork on LeadSA: Is a whole list of places to get involved up and down the local food chain… take a peak at teaching folk to “Grow their own,” get involved in local urban farms and so on… if food security is your thing then you will find a useful link in this list…
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    And the Se7en + 1th:

  15. Things my Kids Want to Do for Madiba Day: We wrote this post on a previous Mandela Day: 67-Minute Things That We Can Easily Do Today… and nothing’s changed… it is pretty much our go to list of things to do on Mandela Day.

If you are looking for more ideas or opportunities to serve then follow the hashtag: #mandeladay on twitter… If you have some fab ideas of your own then let us know in the comments, we would love to hear from you. And most important, have a fun day serving…

→ 2 CommentsTags: Blog News

Se7en + 1 Conquer Yuppie Chef’s Cooking Course: Mastering Meat #1

July 17th, 2014 · No Comments

I am all for kids in the kitchen… you have to know that the one skill that I hope my kids will be leaving home with will be the art of cooking… feeding themselves is fundamental to life, feeding friends and family at the same time will hopefully take them far. Too this end we are slowly but surely wandering our way through Yuppie Chef’s online cooking courses.

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Firstly let’s talk a little bit about the course… It is divided into six lessons, and each lesson has: A video, featuring Chef Peter Goffe-Wood of Masterchef fame; Printable notes and tips; At least two recipes and the recipes include the side dishes to go with the main meal as well; And finally a quiz to test your skills. It takes us about six weeks to get through a course of six lessons, it could take us much longer… we watch the lesson early in the week and then consider the recipes. Plan a shopping list, and prepare one of the meals later on in the week and the other one for the weekend. Meal preparation takes a fair while longer when everyone is working together and learning new skills… it is a lot of fun and a great way for families to spend time together.

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The first course in the cooking school, The Baking Course, is free so that eager students can try it and see if they liked the format. Thereafter you do have to pay for your courses… but to be honest, for far less than the price of dinner out for us, we can equip your kids with skills to prepare many delicious meals from scratch and they can build up their own personal recipe book as they go along.


Se7en + 1 Things to Love About this Course

  1. Basic Skills: When it comes to basic skills in the kitchen, I really want my children to be well-equipped… you cannot expect to make more than a jam sandwich if you don’t have more than basic skills. The thought of my kids headed off to college with only “jam-sandwhich-making-skills” is quite enough to keep me motivated to encourage cooking skills. Everyone really enjoyed the knife skills… when it comes to onions they are not that keen, goggles come out, and eyes stream… but I can categorically say that carrots will never be safe in our house again.
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  3. It’s Not Just About Steak: When I told my guys that they would be working through a meat course, they all said: “Oooh, steak!!!” Turns out, while there are a whole lot of meaty skills going on: Grilling, Frying, Roasting… there is so much more… The side dishes to go alongside the main meals are fantastic: red onion and rocket salad, grilled aubergine, potato rosti, charred tomato sauce, straw potatoes.
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  5. Peter-Goffe Wood is a Fine Teacher: If you have seen him on Master-Chef, then you will know that he doesn’t ever leave an up-and-coming chef without a tip or some encouragement, his video course is just the same. Lots of tips are packed into the videos, it looks like he is just popping a chicken into the oven for a roast, but actually he is teaching so much more.
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  7. New Flavours: My kids have no problem trying new flavours when they are in the kitchen… this course helped them prepare things that they hadn’t tried before… grilled aubergine was something totally new, I know where have I been, and they loved it. I always find new flavours are so much easier for them to try if they prepare them themselves.
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  9. Good Cooking Can Happen Anywhere: There was a whole lesson on grilling… that works for my kids. They love being able to prepare meals in the great outdoors that look just fabulous!!!
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  11. There Are Flavourful Sauces: Honestly, a fine sauce can take a meal to the next level… and having the skills to make a fine sauce then you are pretty much set for life in the kitchen. The course has quite a few sauces amidst all the recipes… a fine stock, a mustard sauce and quite a few more.
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  13. Recipe Book: We print as we go, each lessons tips and recipes get added to the “Cooking School File” and we are filling up a file with dozens of practical recipes that have all been tried and tested… and some are definitely family favourites.
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    And the se7en + 1th…

  15. It’s a Team Sport: A love that my kids will have a collection of recipes that they all know how to prepare together… can you imagine family get togethers years from now and they say, “Let’s make the Grilled Lamb Kebabs from the file,”or “I’ll bring the red wine butter.” Yes, I am thinking of family dinners twenty years from now… there is nothing like a meal to bring friends and family together.

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And all good things come to an end, just like The Baking Course, the Mastering Meat I course has come to an end… there was a bit of disappointment that the end came so soon. And they were thrilled to discover that there is a Mastering Meat II course… to follow. Click on the image to take you to a sneak peak into the Mastering Meat II course.

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If you follow our blog you will know that we absolutely love and adore all things Yuppie Chef… I was not paid to write anything about their courses, though they have given us free entry to their meat courses for us to try and tell you about. The opinions expressed in this post are as usual totally our own.

→ No CommentsTags: Cook Book Reviews · Monday Munchies

Se7en + 1 Meet Up With the Cape Leopard Trust and Head out for more Hiking in Cape Point Nature Reserve…

July 16th, 2014 · 5 Comments

It’s been about a year since we began our monthly outings to explore Cape Point, and I have to say after hiking and exploring the highways and byways, it is all starting to fit together. On Friday we hiked one of the trickiest hikes in the park… some of us conquered it and one of us survived… but I have to say we have definitely got a lot better at it and I am well pleased that this wasn’t one of the first hikes that we tackled…

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Before our hike we caught up with friends…

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Climbed an incredible tree…

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Then we headed in doors for class… and don’t you love beautiful old windows…

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Cape Leopard Trust

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We spent the morning learning about the Cape Leopard Trust and what a great time we had… so much to learn and we would love to find out more about their work. Se7en + 1 things about the Cape Leopard Trust…

  1. The Leopard Trust is a conservation group that aims to find solutions to the human-wildlife conflict, with research. A lot of their time and energy is spent on environmental education… and we were lucky enough to be listen to one of their presentations.
  2. First they told us all about how to identify Cape Leopards… their shape and size, their markings, their foot prints, their behaviour… and now that we can identify one we will most likely never see one…
  3. Leopards live alone and are very shy, they also prefer to live in rocky wilderness areas. A leopard has a territory of about 1000 square km, so even if you are in the mountains you are unlikely to encounter one. The Cape Leopard Trust have set up infrared cameras to keep a look out for them…
  4. They capture dozens of amazing animals in their cameras… all sorts of animal behaviour can be observed. Animals such as aardvarks and aardwolfs; porcupines and klipspringer; Cape Fox and Honey Badger, not to mention plenty of baboons and of course, people.
  5. Leopards are very few and far between, they have very low densities and a limited environment… The main threat to the Cape Leopard is habitat loss…
  6. Leopards are predators and eat smaller animals: klipspringer and dassies and even porcupines.
  7. You can take a look at their work and the Cape Leopards in a video in the bottom left corner of their website.
  8. And the se7en + 1th…

  9. If you ever get a chance to meet them and learn more about their work… drop everything and grab it with both hands. You will be fascinated…

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Hiking KanonKop

Straight after class we went hiking, I knew it was going to be a long one and we wanted to get started as soon as we could. It was really two very distinct hikes put back to back.

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The first half of our hike was fairly easy and if you have fairly active and fit kids they would manage it well and have a lot of fun… there is a lot to see and take a look at on this hike and for most families this would be quite enough to go home with that nice “we have been out in the wilderness” feeling. The second part of our hike, I describe it further down, was harder and incredibly beautiful… well worth the effort but I wouldn’t recommend to beginner hikers, rather something to work towards.

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We met this fellow waiting to show us exactly where the hike began… and here is a very enthusiastic gang waving good bye to our friend, who dropped us at the start. You can begin this hike at the information centre or like us, look on a map for the lime kiln and the start…

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Immediately there is a steep, but manageable, climb as you head into the vynbos you can hear water running close by and frogs singing.

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After twenty minutes we stopped on the path…

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Had a stretch and munched our way through a bag of oranges – as one does…

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Nearer the top we realised that suddenly we could see both sides of the Peninsula…

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False Bay and the Atlantic…

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Those huge crosses the Diaz and Da Gama crosses were named after early explorers to the Cape and they are strategically placed for warning ships in False Bay. The crosses line up with a large rock, Whittle Rock, in the middle of False Bay.

We stopped again… (we are good at that…) Somebody found a dinosaur footprint… not really, but it looked like one…Typically lots of energy for leaping around on the rocks…

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And then upwards and onwards…

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Last stretch…

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And there is always that moment when you are on top of the world…

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And Cape Point looked like a miniature world…

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And the reason for the name: “Kanonkop”…

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And a pair of crows came out to play….

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The views from the canon… spectacular!!!

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Now if you are just doing the Kanonkop hike then the path takes a turn and you return to the Visitor’s Centre, it is well signposted.

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But if you are just doing the Kanonkop hike then we recommend that you go a little further along the route towards the Main Gate…

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There is a rocky outcrop and a lovely little cave – well worth stopping for a picnic and some shade, before heading back or onwards.


The Scenic Cliff Walk

The next part of our hike was a lot more difficult and I would only recommend it for fit and able hikers. It isn’t a difficult walk, there is a well-defined path all the way and it is really just a walk. The ups and downs are really up and down though and pretty relentless. Where we anticipated the hike to amble along a contour path on top of the cliffs and overlooking False Bay… the hike actually follows the ups and downs of the coastline. The kids managed it well, but they have had a fair amount of practice. The views however are spectacular and during the whale season this must be one of those life experience that really are worth going the extra mile and pursuing…

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Upppp….

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Down…

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Luckily around this one…

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And up…

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Did I mention upppppp….

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And dowwwwwnnnnn

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Definitely the path less traveled…

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Glorious views… Across the plains…

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The lake we saw on a previous hike…

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Looking down on one of the best rock pooling spots ever… that’s a whole ‘nother post!!!

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Stunning views way down into the ocean…

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Incredible flowers…

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And just like that the clouds rolled in…

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The mist swirled around us… we were very thankful for warm sweaters and some chocolate!!!

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Cape Point was lost in the haze…

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And just as suddenly it cleared…

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Got our first ever look at the pretty village of Smitzwinkel…

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And the sun was setting as we raced across the last plain to finish before nightfall…

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The moon was already out…

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And there were some very elated finishers…

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There may even have been a bit of a victory dance…

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Will we do this one again, for sure… one of the gang was away on a course and we will have to show him what he missed.


All our Cape Point Adventures in one Spot…

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What We Are Reading Right Now #26

July 13th, 2014 · 7 Comments

It’s been a wintry weekend and we pretty much spent it immersed in books… totally and utterly and literally immersed. Last weekend I decided to do a little bit of a book shuffle, and now we have piles of books almost everywhere. And because of the chaos on, or rather off, the shelves we dived into our book review basket and everybody tackled a book… and here, after filtering out the best from the rest, are our latest and greatest reviews…

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The Mother Person: I was so curious about this book that I had to read it and it was fabulous. It is not your typical teen book at all, rather a real life book about real life people, doing real life things and it takes normal-old-life to a new level of funny. Honestly, how many books do you know where the lonely hero is an injured 81 year old, who has been run over by the milk float… and this is the tale of his recovery, as Kelly Christmas his carer and a breathe of fresh air, enters his life. This book is laugh out loud funny in places and really sad in others… it is the story of life, nothing elaborate, or extra-ordinary. He takes a turn from the grey world of slippers and the odd trip to the Charity Shop and starts to see the world in a new light. This book is an optimistic look at life in general – there are always new things to try and dreams to chase. It is an emotional book and a breathe of fresh air, definitely not one of your fast-paced-action packed, dystopian novels that are so trendy. This is an important read that provides insight into the “not so dreary after all” world of the elderly. I would suggest this is a must read, there is the very occasional flowery word, but I would highly recommend this book to any teen, a little less examining of oneself and lot of looking at how others see the world, particularly those who are older than average. There is a reason why many cultures admire and respect their older folk, and there is a lot to learn, in a very humorous way, about old age, in this book. I read it and laughed out-loud, shed the odd tear and insisted on being served tea… until it was finished. Highly, highly recommend this. This book was given to us for review purposes by PamMacmillan South Africa.


The Hoods Are Reading…

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Hood #1: This year marks 100 years since the start of World War I, so I was interested to read this book myself. Turns out it is a brilliant collection of true stories, all sorts of snippets carefully crafted together to create a collection of real stories from “The Great War.” Pages of fascinating facts, photographs, maps, letters, trench songs, even a recipe. There are graphic descriptions on their fight with fleas, lice and flies… This book will give you a feel for life during World War I like no other… life in the trenches, Gallipoli, bombing raids. This book is one of those books that can really be read by any age, some of the details are, as the war was, pretty grim. This is history presented in an unputdownable way. It reads like a true-to-life-story, but the snippets and really interesting documentation placed throughout will keep you turning the pages, looking for more. Grab this book if you see it… it will bring life to your ideas on “World War 1″ like few other books can, it is a quick read… simply because it is fascinating, you will want to read on and know more. This book was given to us for review purposes by PamMacmillan South Africa.

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Hood #2: So the Young Sherlock Holmes have been re-covered and they are out in full force ready to be read again and again. Hood #2 has loved this series from the start and we have reviewed a number of them as they came out in the past. They are, of course the story of a young Sherlock Holmes… before he grows up and his rise to fame as the most famous detective of all time. He was a brilliant fourteen year old, filled with all the stress of teenage life and an insatiable curiosity for anything out of the ordinary. This series will take you far and wide, they are set all over the world. And more importantly, they are fantastic mystery reads, just packed with villains and puzzles, codes and ciphers, not to mention heaps of gadgets and hi-tec solutions. These are the sort of books you rush through to get to solve the mystery and are quite disappointed that the wild ride is over… never fear it is a six-part series, you can happily keep on reading. This book was given to us for review purposes by PamMacmillan South Africa.

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Hood #3: Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures. This book arrives, hot of the press, with a heap of medals and acclaim, not least it begins its life as a Newberry Medal winner. I had to read it myself to see what all the clamour was about… it is a sweet story as you would expect from one of our favourite authors, Kate Di Camillo. The story of Flora, a comic book addicted young gal, whose life somehow becomes entwined with an exceptional squirrel named Ulysses. Flora is a darling heroine, she is funny, slightly eccentric in a “Harriet the Spy sense” and her commentary on life and those around her is amusing. The squirrel is exceptional after an unexpected incident with a vacuum cleaner. The book is endearing, you will want to climb inside it and you will want to be friends with Flora… tons of superb illustrations by K.G. Campbell to keep the young reader turning the pages. Many comic book-esque sections and jumping around as you readers have come to anticipate in a book, however the leaping from comic strip to text and back again really works in this one and it is loveliness through and through. I loved the word power in this book… not your typical collection of simple words for simple readers… words like capacious and malfeasance leap seamlessly from the page. Don’t expect an incredible life-lesson to be lurking in this book… it is a book for kids, about kids, from their perspective. Anyone above easy-readers would enjoy this… and in fact the squirrel illustrations are so adorable that my easy-reader lever reader has tried to jump in and power her way through this. This book was given to us for review purposes by PamMacmillan South Africa.

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Hood #4: While this young man loves adores books, he is a dipper… which is why he simply loves fact books, history books, survival and adventure books, the reading of chapter books has always taken a bit of a back seat… and then he discovered the world of Bear Grylls. Bear Grylls has written an outdoor-adventure series of books, the story is fast and it is filled with survival tips. And we finally found chapter books that he will dive into and read… this is new and life changing, and I am thrilled about it.

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Hood #5: And in other breaking reading news, this young man has discovered Classic Starts and is powering his way through them at a book or two a day – luckily our library is packed with the series… and I think we could have found “his books” that set him on the path to avid reading… my earlier readers would have nothing to do with “stories-retold” and only wanted the original text… and this young man wants the story fast and now, he is catching up for lost time. He is reading real chapter books, he has raised his game and I am thrilled about it.

And Hood 5 has entered the world of Anthony Horowitz, hugely popular over here for the famous Alex Rider Series and the Power of Five. Here is a history book of his, set in Elizabethan England. You can tell that Horowitz is making up for boring history lessons that he once endured, in this one. This is a re-covered and fresh looking version of a book we have read before, but it is out for the 450 years of Shakespeare celebrations. The hero of this book is the mis-treated Tom, there is a mystery surrounding him and a fast paced “cracker of a book,” filled with treachery and pursuit… and of course dry humour. Beware your library had better stock Anthony Horowitz, because once your kids start reading his books they will not stop. This book was given to us for review purposes by PamMacmillan South Africa.

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Hood #6: We absolutely loved this book a year ago when we reviewed it, and it is back… in soft cover. And the perfect book for my “maker of everything child.” this book is filled with beautiful works by famous artists and wonderful associated projects for your young artists to join in and do as well. Each famous painting introduces a famous artist… like Matisse, Calder, Escher and Miro… and each artist has a project – mobile, a collage, a pianting, a craft to engage your young artist and connect them with a great artist. You can take a look at the artists and projects here. We love this book totally and are on the look out for it’s companion Get into Art People. This book was given to us for review purposes by PamMacmillan South Africa.

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Hood #7: Oh have you met Ella Bella? We discovered her in the library and she is just delightful… Another masterful series by James Mayhew, of all the Katie Books fame. Just like Katie finds herself within the works of the great artists so, Ella Bella finds herself inside of the classical ballet stories. She attends Madame Rosa’s ballet school and learns about the classical ballet stories, only every time Madame Rosa plays her magical musical box, Ella is somehow transported right into the story. She finds herself dancing with famous ballerinas and an essential part of the story… these books are loveliness and every little dancers dream, not in a twee way at all. Real stories about real ballets, in a beautiful dreamy setting.

And the se7en + 1th Books:

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Hood #8: Zoe and Beans Pirate Treasure. Because there is absolutely everything to love about Zoe and Beans… everything. In this story the usual gang finds themselves on a quest for treasure. Pirate treasure in fact. Oscar’s little sister discovers a gold coin in the sand and takes them on a digging spree of note, through a rock pool and even into a dark, dark cave… Eventually they do find wonderful treasure, but as is typical of all Zoe and Beans stories, there is a “sweet” little twist and it is not quite the treasure they were expecting!!! This book was given to us for review purposes by PamMacmillan South Africa.

We would really like to thank PanMacmillan Books South Africa for providing us with a number of books to review for this post. We would like to declare that we were not paid to do these reviews, just provided with books. All the opinions are as usual, entirely our own!!!

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