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

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The Latest And Greatest Reads from Penguin Kids South Africa…

March 8th, 2018 · 2 Comments

Hopefully you are gearing up for a weekend of reading… because I am going to be posting about books, books and more books. We have been reading up a storm and it is time to post a pile of reviews… but more than that I have been to a couple of bookshops lately… and they have been fantastic… let’s begin at the beginning… Penguin Random House Kids Presentation of new and upcoming books for the first half of 2018…

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The team from Penguin books always go to the greatest length to display their books beautifully and they are piles of books that we are really looking forward to reading…

Peter Rabbit coming to a Movie Theatre Near You…

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You have to love this display… the whole delightful series…

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And the Little Hero of the Day…

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And as for this cute little garden all ready to plant in the goody bag…

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And Other Favourites…

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James and the most fantastic looking Bug Book that is coming out…

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Marvels is a real thing…

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And so are Princessess…

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Would you look at those Women in Space… I have to read that… and then the Series of Unfortunate Events…

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Not to mention The Girl Who Saw Lions, and The Truth and Lies About Ella Black.

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The local books look fantastic…

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We are looking forward to The Amazing Coelacanth book and the African Wild Flowers colouring book from Struik Nature…

The Venue: The Colour Box Studio

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A stunning and creative space, that I had never been to before…

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Prettiness and pallet furniture abounded… I loved it!!!

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Creative corners…

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And pockets of green…

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And can I say puppy…

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The Goody Bag

This goody bag was fabulous… full of the most amazing little treats…

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Zoom, zoom…

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Bookmark heaven… and my personal favourite: Rebel Girls!!!

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Stickers…

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And postcards…

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And books of course!!! Magnus Chase and the Ship of the Dead, that we reviewed here. As well as, The Amazing Talent Show that we have also reviewed before.

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All contained in this lovely Peter Rabbit Bag…

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Everything to love, thank you Penguin Random Kids, South Africa…

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→ 2 CommentsTags: Brilliant Books

It’s Turtle Season And Here’s a Tour of the Turtle Road Trip with the Two Oceans Aquarium…

March 7th, 2018 · No Comments

Last week we joined the Turtle Road Trip Team, from the Two Oceans Aquarium… to learn more about turtles. We are heading into turtle season, when young turtles wash up on the beaches along the Southern Cape Coast. It is important to know what exactly to do if you do find a turtle washed up on the beach and this post will tell you all about it…

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Meet Zoku the mascot turtle, ready for his road tripping adventure…
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Meet Talitha, the Two Ocean’s dedicated turtle rehab facility co-ordinator and all round fun ocean ambassador…
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Why Do Turtles Wash Up On Our Beaches

Turtles nest on the north eastern shores of Southern Africa, and when they hatch they head out into the Indian Ocean, where their first oceanic encounter is with the very fast flowing Agulhas Current that rushes down the coast until it reaches the tip of Africa, whereupon it turns back towards the Indian Ocean and flows towards Australia.

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As the current takes a sharp turn towards the East, so a number of turtle hatchlings will find themselves battered by the ocean and the uncompromising coast, and they get washed up and stranded on our shores. These turtles are usually in very delicate health when they arrive on the shore, often injured, malnourished and exhausted. In fact they may even look as if they are no longer living, but incredibly they are still alive. The most critical thing when finding a hatchling is not to return it to the water as they are too weak to cope with the stress of survival… pop your turtle onto a piece of towel in a well ventilated shoebox or ice-cream box (cut holes in it)… and get it to the nearest collection point.
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The Turtle Road Trip

The Turtle Road Trip is really a series of talks at strategic points along our coastline (centres where turtles can be dropped for rehab), so that when folks find little turtles stranded on the beach they know what to do with them and how to take care of them. The meeting we attended at Primi Piatti in Muizenberg had three speakers.

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Sarah from Sharkspotters, told us about their collection point at Surfer’s Corner in Muizenburg. In fact any turtle in the South Peninsula, should be taken there and they will get your frail little turtle to the Two Oceans Rehab Centre.

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Talitha, sharing how they rescue and rehab their little turtles and then return them to the sea. Upon arrival, the turtles are measured and cleaned, and any injuries are immediately addressed and they certainly go the extra mile for these babies. If they need surgery or x-rays to check them out, or even physio, there is a medical team on hand for them. They are then put into holding tanks, for a period, and they are put on a healthy diet to get their strength back. They are stimulated as turtles in the wild would be, and they are fed exciting (to turtles) meals… on a feeding rock… basically setting them up to return to the ocean once they reach their full strength again.

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And Hayley from Rethink the Bag and the Environmental Campaigner at the Aquarium, was there to tell us how we can each care for turtles, even if we don’t find them on the beach. By caring for the ocean we can make a huge difference to the survival of these incredible creatures. This photo shows a jar of trawled water taken from the turtle’s environment in the Indian Ocean. The water is full of small plastic bits as well as nurdles. You can make a difference just by ditching plastic bags… South Africa alone uses 8 billion plastic shopping bags a year… that is a horrific number and we really can address that.

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The great thing about Hayley and all her presentations is that she is full of ideas for things that you can action in your life today… you don’t have to wait, you can start making a difference today…
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And now that the Turtle Road Trip is drawing to an end, we are more excited than ever to learn more about turtles and what we can do to care for them.

→ No CommentsTags: Green Living

Se7en’s March and Your Free Printable Calendar…

March 1st, 2018 · No Comments

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March is here!!! Really!!! And as promised here is your March printable calendar. You are welcome to print it out, use the landscape option, it works better!!! Click on the image and it will open in a new tab. Print it out and write the days you would like to celebrate on it then pop it onto the fridge as a reminder…

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Dates to Remember

→ No CommentsTags: Activity Calendar

Se7en’s Fabulous Fun Post… The Special Events Edition…

February 27th, 2018 · No Comments

Firstly welcome to all the visitors we have received, who popped over from the Start Homeschooling Summit. I spent almost the whole of last week watching and learning and getting inspired… my goodness… there are so many fabulous homeschooling folk out there. I got a real sense of “I can totally do this,” which is a feeling most homeschool moms don’t actually carry in their backpockets!!! The free access is now closed, as the summit is over, but if you would like to know more then just follow the link.

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Otherwise, through all that… we are suddenly back into school… we kind of fell into it… and that means that our days are pretty much full of hiking, getting to the beach and reading… it appears to be working. We are all learning, especially myself, and all the while filling our buckets with plenty of time outdoors.

Lovely Links from This Week

  1. Let’s start our links with … the Best Children’s Books on Bugs… on Imagination Soup!!!
  2. For all those moms, especially homeschoolers who don’t think they do enough… Brave writer’s Podcast… 55 Things I Did Not Do As a Homeschooler…
  3. I love Design Mom, she always tells it like it is, and here she says, “Tell Her First.” It’s a conversation to have with your daughters..
  4. We Are That Family… Writes straight to the heart, and Two Questions Every Christian Must Ask Themselves, is a post that everyone should read.
  5. If you don’t know Nuture Store… then dash over there and take a look at her lovely daffodil study!!!
  6. Alisa Burke’s Creating with a Kid series is the best!!! And her latest post… Working Large is just fantastic!!!
  7. My absolute fave foodie – real food, real fun for real families – on the internet is Simple Bites… well she posted How to make a Chocolate Icebox Number Cake… Just a helpful public announcement!!
  8. And if you need a little natural craftiness… Mollie Makes and Hashtags for Nature Inspired Crafting is your friend…

It appears to be event season… so I am packing this post with upcoming events…

Five for Fynbos Fundraiser


Towards the endow last year a raging fire swept through mountains of the south Peninsula, including the nursery of our friends at Cape Point. While fire is essential to our natural flora, fynbos… fire damage is very hard to come back from. They, and a couple of friends are hosting a fun event… and I know it will be fantastic… you might want to check it out.
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Join us on this three tiered experiential event celebrating the cycles of fire and fynbos. The three themes of Flames, Dormancy and Regrowth will be represented by three different bartenders creating three different gin based cocktails for your drinking pleasure. There will also be fire talks, flower crowns, light snacks, and an interactive wild flavor creation station. This event – partnered by Theonista and The Botanist Gin – is in aid of the Cape Point fires that took place last year in November with all proceeds going towards restoring the fynbos around the Good Hope Gardens Nursery.

Sea-Change Experience Immersion Course


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I mentioned recently that I had had my first underwater experience, crazy I know… after an entire lifetime of ocean loving I had never really looked under the surface. When people say there is a whole new world under there, what I was expecting was a whole NEW MAGICAL WORLD. I loved it, not that I am going scuba diving anytime soon… I really just used a mask and couldn’t even face a snorkel. Anyway it was Lisa Beasley, if you love the ocean and you are not following her on instagram… then get there already, who took us diving and showed us around. She and fellow members of the Sea-Change Team are having an Immersion Weekend… it looks incredible: intertidal walks, snorkelling, kayaking, cold water adaption and so much more are on the menu. If the ocean is your thing then you might want to take a peek at this Sea Change Weekend Experience in False Bay.

Turtle Road Trip


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The Two Ocean’s Aquarium Turtle Road Trip starts this week and we are so excited about this… not to mention, you can be a part of it too… all the details are in the image below… if you are in the Southern Cape, then the Turtle Road Trip will be passing through a centre near you and everyone is welcome to stop by and visit with the Turtle Team and learn more about turtles…
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Meanwhile we are heading into turtle season here and if you do discover a stranded turtle on the beach… this infographic is designed to help you remember what to do with it…
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GreenPop’s Reforest Fest


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So many folk have asked us to remind them about the Greenpop Family Fest of Tree Planting… if you are looking for a family friendly comfortable camping weekend away… with a whole lot of tree planting thrown in for excellent good measure then look no rather than Greenpop’s family fest in March… and if you are looking for something a little vibey… then the Friend Fest the following weekend is for you. This is an excellent weekend for learning how to green your life and for encouraging your kids to become eco warriors. Take a look at my Forest Fest Adventure from last year…

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Book Giving Day


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Our Book Giving Day Project is coming together and I will be sharing all the details with you as soon as I can… In the meantime we have already started gathering books together… watch out for our impending library project. If you want to take a peak at the previous Libraries we have created with our readers then take a peak at last year’s library… and previous year’s as well.

GiveAway Winner…


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And we have a GiveAway Winner… I am Just no Good at Rhyming from PanMacmillan Kids South Africa…
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Nikki… you are a winner!!!
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→ No CommentsTags: Fabulous Fun

Se7en Celebrates World Wetlands Day With Changing Lives Through Nature…

February 26th, 2018 · No Comments

Changing Lives through Nature is an organisation that believes in enriching our lives by engaging children from all walks of life with knowledge of the environment… immersion in nature has proven again and again to be the way to teach people of all ages to love the environment and so care for it. They provide outings and excursions and day programmes filled with hands on nature activities for children from all over the greater Cape Town area. Their work is incredible, and if you are into the great outdoors, even slightly, then you should definitely be following them, and looking out for days like these.

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Recently, I noticed a flyer on their instagram feed, which I reposted over here… inviting homeschoolers to join them for a day of fun… to celebrate World Wetland Day. We were really excited to join them… we have been following them for a while and their adventures look so exciting… And, it was one of our best days ever…
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They treated us to the most amazing day of learning about the great outdoors… it is going to be a day that we remember for the longest time…
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Our day began with some ice-breakers… and after that we quickly settled into a day of active learning…

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What is a Wetland?


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Wetlands are important water features that provide a home to a number of plants and animals, they also store water and filter water and so provide a good resource for their inhabitants to make use of. Wetlands are found on aquifer’s and behave as sponges. In the area we visited there are two wetlands, a seasonal wetland called Rondevlei, and a permanent wetland called Zeekoevlei. Wetlands are natural water purifiers, dirty water flows into them and the reeds filter out the dirt and capture debris, so that clean water flows out of the system. Wetlands are areas of high biodiversity and are under threat because of over development, over harvesting and pollution, not to mention invader plant species that can totally cover the surface… blocking sunlight from reaching below the surface. If the sunlight can’t reach below the surface then photosynthesis doesn’t occur, without light there is no food and without food their is no life. The life in your wetland will die when a invasive plant species settles in.

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We Learned How to Make a Mini-Wetland


Our first experiment of the day was to create our own wetland…
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We gathered some grasses and wetland plant matter, and we added some pollution as well…

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Then we poured some dirty water through our mini wetland, and added some sponges into the mix, as the bottom layer of a wetland is spongey…
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And the water came out clean… surprisingly clean… proof that wetlands really do clean our water.

Dragon Boating


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Our next adventure took us out onto the water, to explore the vlei. First we had to learn a few paddling skills, but we were quickly ready to go. And we all loved this!!!
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From Dragon Boating to SASS Testing


We did a mini SASS test of the Zeekoeivlei wetland. Each teeny tiny animal in a sample of water gets a score, and when the scores are added up and popped into a formula, the result can be used as an indicator of how clean or how dirty the water is. A little learning and a little discovering exactly how everything works and we were ready to dive in… this is hands on learning at its best!!!
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After taking samples and adding up our data on the identification chart we were able to determine that the water this vlei is in good condition.
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We Stopped by the Gantauw Project

On the way we stopped to take a quick look at the Gantouw Project… this is a fascinating project where Eland have been reintroduced onto the Cape Flats and they are used as a natural vegetation control. These large buck were removed from the region through habitat loss and have been reintroduced in the natural areas as a way to control the natural vegetation and encourage the natural biodiversity in such a small and rich region. Because we were there in the heat of the day we didn’t get to see the eland, but we chatted with a handler and learnt a few interesting eland facts… and tried their feed… we follow these guys, the Gantouw Project on instagram, it is a fascinating project and we would love to learn more about it.

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A Bird Walk Through Rondevlei


After a shady lunch, and a visit to the eland project we were up and ready to go on a Bird Walk through the Rondevlei Bird Sanctuary…
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We had a wander through their information centre…
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And a visit to the classroom to learn about the birds we would most likely encounter in our walk…
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And we learnt about hippos… and their skat…
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And my kids kept saying they hoped they would see a hippo, and I (the wise mother person said they didn’t really have hippos)… turns out they have at least nine… who knew? and there is evidence of them everywhere…
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We also learnt a lot about local plants…
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What is delicious and what is an acquired taste!!!
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And we learnt about insects… how is this ant’s nest!!!
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Into the bird hide…
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And up onto the viewing deck…
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And very far away, and particularly poor photography skills but just past those reeds we saw hippo!!! Actual live hippo… you are going to have to believe us!!!
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Down, down, down…
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And look at this little fellow!!!
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One last Experiment


Create your own mini wetland… a refresher on all that we had learned… layers of grass and reeds and sand and stones. Dirty water in… and clean water out…
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Don’t Scroll Further Down if You Don’t Love Snakes


As a special reward for a fantastic day out they showed us their snakes… And can I just say, not all, but some… of my kids love snakes…
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And that was it… a perfect day that ended far too soon. Look out for the Changing Lives through Nature Team, they are an inspiration to children and their parents… they are literally changing lives through nature.

Thank you so much to the Changing Lives Through Nature Team for a wonderful day out, we loved every second of it. This is not a sponsored blogpost, but we did experience the day as a gift for an honest review and blog post.

Changing Lives Through Nature

→ No CommentsTags: Outings · Science

Hiking Trails of Southern Africa… A Review…

February 25th, 2018 · No Comments

Weekend reading at it’s very best… as our kids dream and wish to hike further and further afield, this book makes for a very good read.

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Hiking with kids is a bit of an art and we dipped in and out of hiking for years before finally saying it is now or never a couple of years back and we took the plunge, so to speak. We never looked back, once we got past the initial, “we can/we can’t/we should/we must” we just got up and got going. The great thing about hiking with kids is you don’t need any special equipment and there are plenty of places to hike and plenty of family friendly hikes available in our neighbourhood. Initially we were somewhat limited by short legs and lack of fitness, but over time and I mean a long time, we got better and better at it.

A family challenge that began as a hike up Table Mountain once a year quickly became a hike or two a month and last year we upped our game and took on the #52HikeChallenge. The #52HikeChallenge is really a challenge to see if you can hike 52 hikes in one year. They have a website you can sign up to and everything… we didn’t really bother with that… we just settled in and got started. Don’t ask me why I thought we could do it… but we did. It is pretty much a hike a week, except we weren’t very consistent and towards the end of the year we did have somewhat of a mad dash… and the last two weeks of the year we pretty much hiked daily to get it done, but we did it.

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This year we are at it again and being a little more intentional about it. Making sure that we hike each week, without fail… whatever the weather we are going to be out there. As with most sports as you get better at it, so you want to know more about it. What begin as a hike up Table Mountain once a year has become an exploration of all the routes around us… and we have done a ton of hikes in the South Peninsula. Last year we did our first overnight hike as a family and everyone is eager to try another one.

Hiking Trails of South Africa by Willie Olivier

Turns out Hiking Trails of South Africa is the perfect book for us to review right now… as we begin to think maybe we could be looking further afield…

Se7en+1 Things We Love About This Book

  1. Over 500 Hikes and Trails: This book covers in detail, all the provinces of South Africa, each section begins with a map of the region and a list of hikes for that region. Once you have selected your region the book takes you through all the hikes you could possibly need to know about… area by area in that region. For instance in our area, there are a number of hikes for Table Mountain and also for the South Peninsula and Cape Point, which is our speciality.
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  3. Lots of Hiking Information and Tips: The book has a fabulous introduction… filled with useful information for instance what to pack, what to wear, first aid advice and so on. Particularly useful was menu ideas for food and snacks to take on hikes longer than your typical day hikes. There are really good tips on gear and equipment, and what you actually will need to perform a particular hike. It also includes a fairly comprehensive First Aid Guide, including how to handle snake and insect bites. The Introduction is packed with lots of really useful snippets and the sort of things to keep aspiring hikers enthralled for weeks on end.
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  5. A Comprehensive Hike: The fact that the book includes all kinds of hikes, from day walks to wilderness trails means that any hike is a good hike and this is a truly comprehensive hiking guide for hikes in South Africa. For the family that wants to start hiking, to the more experienced hiker looking for a trail over a number of days… this book has something for everyone and is the complete guide.
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  7. Detailed Information for Each Hike: Each hike can be found on the regional map and then there is a block of information providing all the essential detail: distance; permits required; Maps available; Facilities; Pertinent information and contact details for booking. This is followed by a more detailed couple of paragraphs on the route and what to expect along the way. Basically a guided overview of the hike, providing enough information for you to decide if this is the kind of hike that you are looking for.
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  9. Inspiration for Around the Country: Within Region of the book has a few pages of full colour photographs, inserted in between the trail descriptions. The photographs are epic, and will inspire you to put on your hiking shoes and get out there. This book is great for arm chair traveling, but so much greater if you actually get out there.
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  11. Journal Pages: At the end of the book there are a number of journal pages where you can fill in your own hiking experiences, routes you have taken and bird, wild and plant life that you may have spotted along your route. As well as space to describe your hike and your gear and possible reminders to yourself about things to remember for next time.
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  13. There are Recommended Resources: Beyond the journal pages is a useful glossary, as well as a working index and a list of recommended books… for instance local field guides.
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  15. It is a Great Resource: This book is somewhat of a memoir, reminding us of so many hikes we have done as a family, but more than that it is somewhat dreamy as it is packed with a lot more hikes that we still want to do… obviously we would want to take our kids on the iconic Otter Trail, as well as the West Coast National Park… but what about further afield to the Drakensberg or the Karoo. This book is a font of information and every hiker’s dream book… just enough information to peak their interest and want to step out of the door into another adventure.

This book is a fantastic guidebook for hikes all over South Africa, packed with practical information for hikers of all abilities… and in all stages of their hiking career…


You can meet the authors on their website: Stuart on Nature. I received this book from Struik Nature for review purposes. It is not a sponsored post, and all opinions expressed are entirely my own.

→ No CommentsTags: Hiking · Outdoors · Outings · Reviews

Se7en + 1 Famiy Friendly Things to do in the City of Cape Town…

February 22nd, 2018 · 8 Comments

Cape Town is a fabulous place to visit for families, with so many activities to choose from. When folk visit Cape Town they tend to go to our major site seeing spots: Cape Point and the Waterfront, Kirstenbosch and up Table Mountain and they are all fabulous places to have on your bucket list. What folk don’t know, and until we had in a staycation in the city centre last year neither did we, there are a lot of family friendly things to do if you find yourself in the centre of Cape Town for a day or even for just a couple of hours.

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The part of the city that we most like to hang about in is called the Fringe and you can find it between the Castle of Good Hope, which is nothing like the castles that you find in Europe, and the Company Gardens, which are also just stunning. The area is packed with lots of foodie delights, there is something for everyone and good places to hang out and relax. It is a great neighbourhood for people watching and street art… very trendy very fun. Theatre, the Fugard… Movies, the Labia and of course cup cakes at Charly’s Bakery.

Best Place to Play: The Big Box Cafe


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This just happens to be one of our favourite spots in the whole wide world, it is a games cafe in the centre of the city. Old familiar games and tons of new ones that you won’t have met before. If you are playing and discover that you absolutely love one of them, then you can buy the game there too. The cafe has fabulous pancakes and is one of our top outings ever, in fact it is a regular treat on our calendar. Here’s a top tip for you… parking is free and widely available in the city on a Saturday Afternoon… just saying!!!
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Not to mention, lots of games in French… so plenty of practice for my French students.
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Best Place to Read: The Book Lounge


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They serve a fine hot chocolate and coffee in the basement… and they have the best children’s book corner in Cape Town. So many of the latest and greatest books and buckets of classics as well. From tots to teens they have you covered. Not to mention lots of trendy and beautiful books for adults. Story time on Saturday mornings at eleven… totally winning at Dreamy Book Store Goals, with couches for deep reading and plenty of space to spread out and browse.
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We have interviewed tons of children’s authors there, it really is the book shop to be… Emily Gravett, Katherine Graham and Andy Griffiths…
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Best Place to People Watch: The Company Gardens


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If you think the city is just wall to wall concrete and places where kids have to sit still and be quiet… then you havent been to the Company Gardens lately. They are beautiful, full of shady spots and lots and lots of interesting features to look at and explore. Not to mention a place where you will literally find nature and wildlife, stepping out alongside you. If you are looking for the vibe feel of Cape Town locals then this is where you will find them.

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Best Place to Learn: The Planetarium


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Surrounding the Company Gardens are a number of Cape Town’s Museums, if you need a respite from the great outdoors then head for the Planetarium.
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Look for ticket specials during the school holidays, often over the school holidays they have half price sales… and head for their website to see the time of particular shows that showing and what you would most like to see. Also, your Planetarium ticket gives you access to the Natural History Museum… so its a win, win.
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Best Place for Fine Coffee: Kamili Coffee


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Apart from their most fabulous coffee and quick treats… and you can buy raw coffee bags there as well… Love them.
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Best Place for Zero Waste Shopping: Nude Foods


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Gotta love Zero Waste Shopping, and if we are in the city, then my kids love a little visit to Nude Foods, where they have lots of ready to eat food, that you would want your kids to eat, and little treats on hand.
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Best Place for a Quick Lunch: New York Bagels


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These guys sell the most fantastic, not to mention beautiful… lunches. Picture perfect works of art every time… not to mention totally delicious!!!
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Best Place for a Family Supper: Chef Pons


If you are visiting Cape Town from overseas, then book your dinner at Gold Restaurant and don’t look back… you will have a complete and wonderful African Experience, not to mention dinner to remember. If, however, you are staying in the city centre and looking for a place for dinner with your kids and like us you can’t face anything that is touted as fast food. Then a friend recently recommended Chef Pons to us… like where have we been, why don’t locals know about this spot. The most delicious Asian food… hot and spicy for those that like it, and cool and calm for those that don’t. A menu full of variety and you can buy dishes for the table, which means we just by different meals from the menu and everyone around the table gets to taste and try different flavours.
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Have a look at their menu… there really is something for everyone, and the price tag isn’t over the top. We really enjoy going there, we never have to book… just show up, either the father person and I, or the whole gang… they are not afraid of serving a large table.
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→ 8 CommentsTags: Outings · Restaurants · Visit Cape Town