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

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Last Call for Books and Exciting News in Our Build a Library Book by Book Project…

May 16th, 2017 · 4 Comments

We are drawing to the end of our Build a Library Book by Book project for this year and we have such exciting news that I could just about pop. All along I have been wondering where we would put the books… there is no spare classroom space and how would the books be accessible to all the children. Well the school has managed to build a library. How brilliant is that. I am so excited about it, you have no idea. Honestly, it is hard to imagine a school with out books and even harder to imagine a childhood without books.

We need your help to fill this library with books.

Meanwhile, our task just became real… we need to fill this little library with inspiring books. The books need to be books that these children can’t help wanting to spend time delving into, books that will encourage them to try new things, dream big dreams… books they can learn from and books they can imagine a whole new world to the world they live in. These children do not have a culture of books, they do not have books at home.

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

Literacy levels in their community are low, their parents may never have read a book themselves, let alone read their favourite books to their children. These children are the start of a whole new thing and our library has to spark that excitement inside of them, to work hard and learn to read, so that they will have favourite childhood stories to read their children. This is a dream that we can turn into reality… book by book.

Se7en Builds a Library Book by Book

Just as they have been building away… to construct a library we have been collecting books and it is time folks to fill it up… if you have great condition books that your children have out grown or you have books that you would like to give to our library project now really is the time.


If you live in South Africa then this is the weekend to do a quick run through of your book cases, if you live abroad you can shop online locally and have it delivered… we really do need your help. A book or two will make a difference… every book counts now that we are in the home straight… These kids need our help, there is no chance of “other funding” helping them to create their library. The task is ours, so lets do it really well!!!


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.


Thank You, Superb SuperNova Magazine

Otherwise, the fabulous SuperNova Magazine have sent us a big fat package full of great comics for these kids to read. 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 next week or two.

Previous Post in this Series

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 · Thoughtful Thursdays

A Zero Waste Evening at the Two Oceans Aquarium…

May 15th, 2017 · 4 Comments

When the aquarium announced that they were having a Zero Waste Evening I just knew I had to be there. On the journey that is Green Living, the more you hear the more you learn and the more you can implement. After traveling to Zambia a while back we reduced our garbage to a small bag a week, but there is so much more we can do and I am always looking for tips and tweaks that we can use in our home to improve our carbon footprint.

Photocredit Two Oceans Aquarium

One of the most important steps to reducing our waste and our contribution to the landfill was to find out where our garbage goes… that was enough motivation for us to get into gear and to stop throwing out anything that needed to be tossed. The aquarium had an excellent line up of speakers… and this post is all about what they had to say…

Photocredit Two Oceans Aquarium

Jade Khoury: Low Impact Living

I first heard Jade speak at the Greenpop Family Festival a couple of weeks back and I was interested to hear more. She started her journey by wanting to reconnect with nature, and she has come full circle to where green living is for everyone, it is not just a wealthy person’s lifestyle choice. As a single mom, trying to make ends meet, she walks the talk. She began her journey by reading No Impact Man, the book where Colin Beavan decides to spend a year having Zero Environmental Impact… his family live in Manhattan. I popped that on my to read list, and have to be glad for her goal of Low, rather than Zero, impact living. Jade runs workshops on green living for teenage girls, helping them to make greener choices, like making their own cosmetics; and for domestic workers teaching them to create green cleaning projects. She also runs wilderness camps for kids… always focusing on getting closer to nature.

Photocredit Two Oceans Aquarium

Samantha Annandale: CEO of Cape Verde Hotel

Africa’s Greenest Hotel, the hotel with the goal to be a Zero Waste Hotel. I can understand the hotel management and staff wanting to be green, but how do you keep track of your visitors. I really wanted to hear this talk. Having a hotel in Cape Town does have its challenges, first there was load shedding and no electricity, and now there is a drastic water crisis… but the hotel must go on. They have found ways to run their hotel for all their visitors, despite the conditions… they have found ways to save enough electricity to power 215 mid income houses for a year, imagine if every hotel did this. The language of sustainability is about neutralising your impact… you can’t just do this for the money, you have to have a good reason and you have to do the right thing. Waste is not measured, so it is a lack of awareness problem… as soon as you start to measure it, people realise it is a business. Every single employee gets to sort waste four days a year, everyone… there is no escaping it. That way every one sorts it properly, no one wants to be the one who gets landed with grotty waste to sort. Visitors are rewarded financially for sorting their waste into split bins… it is a way of thinking. 96% of their garbage is diverted away from the landfill… they have valid certification to prove that they are the greenest hotel in Africa. Sustainable living is on thing, thrivability is another… I know if I was choosing a hotel, I would want to stay in the certified greener one. Even the gym has energy generating equipment… you have to take a look!!! Somehow I had never translated our personal green living in our home to the much larger scale of a hotel. and when she said, “What if all hotels did this… ” I know, one step at a time, one change at a time… but sometimes its okay to dream big.

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Petto Myburgh: Operations Manager for Cleaning, Waste and Landscape at the V&A Waterfront

From a low impact mom, to a green hotel, to waste management at the Waterfront... fascinating and now we are talking on a grand scale. With 19000 people working there, 1500 living on site and 180000 visitors a day, and that is not during the peak season, waste management at the Waterfront is like looking after a small city. 70% of their waste comes from tenants and primarily the Food and Beverage industry… 560 tons of garbage a month of which 45% they can divert from the landfill… I know just crazy numbers. That equates to about 260 grams of waste per visitor, per day, that is 17 soda cans. That is a lot of garbage. Obviously the goal would be zero to the landfill. They have found that which costs, gets done and reward those tenants who recycle, by offering free recycling. They can only salvage so much recycling, if the recycling is contaminated then it has to go to the landfill. All their garden waste is now composted and returned to the gardens. They have an organic waste plan with uses flies to break down the waste, and with an 11 day life cycle… the maggots are turned into protein rich animal feed. They have tried to reduce and will continue to work harder, hand dryers replaced wasteful paper towels in all the bathrooms, for instance. Their waste plans have to become part of the design… and I think this is true for all of us. Garbage needs to be separated, composting takes up space, all these factors need to become part of the design and front and central in our minds… not some back little corner. The problem of 720 tonnes of garbage a month has to be solved. I was surprised to discover the green efforts the Waterfront have made and their openness to looking for more solutions to their waste problem. This is a case of an effective management system that works on a grand scale, that could very well translate into waste management on an individual scale… meantime, those of us who frequent the V and A Waterfront definitely need to adopt a zero waste mind set.

Photocredit Two Oceans Aquarium

Bea Johnson and the Zero Waste Home

A family of four that produces about half a mason jar of waste every year. They have been on a journey to reduce their waste since 2008. They realised when they moved to the inner city for a year that they didn’t need as much stuff as they had and then she slowly but surely began making greener choices for her family. Something worked really well… like canning their own tomatoes and somethings didn’t work, like using stinging nettles as a lip plumper. Somethings a lot of people use like the NO-Poo solution for a green shampoo, her husband really got tired of his wife smelling like a vinaigrette and she had to find another solution. After many trials and errors she has simplified her journey down to their mason jar of waste.

Five rules of a Zero Waste Home:

Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot

  1. Refuse what we do not need: Just say no to packaging, no to freebies, no to junk mail, no to business cards… if you don’t need it, then don’t take it home. Marketers tell us we need stuff, if we take it home then we are telling them that they are correct.
  2. Reduce what we do need: Loose all the duplicates, if we only use twenty percent of our closets then get rid of the other 80%, get rid of all the WHAT IFS.
  3. Reuse swopping anything disposable for reusable, and only buy second hand: Stop all the disposables, use glass jars to store food, use cloth bags when you shop. Shop second hand… look for unconditional lifetime guarantees.
  4. Recycle only what we cannot refuse, reduce or reuse: Recycling is not the solution to our massive waste problem, look for clever ways to recycle… for instance nike has a program to collect sneakers that they recycle to make basketball courts.
  5. Rot or compost the rest: You shouldn’t be left with much and what you are left with you can compost. The only food packaging they buy is butter wrappings, that can be composted. Floor sweepings can be composted… we should have been doing this already.

She had nothing good to say about plastic… if you can taste the plastic it has leached… ugh. And if it is recyclable, because not all plastic is recyclable. (Take a closer look at your Woolworths plastic on a lot of their salad and vegetable products… their lettuces for example… it is not recyclable and their is no excuse. Buy your lettuce elsewhere). And if the plastic you are using is recyclable then it is only recyclable once or twice before it ends up in the land fill… plastic is essentially created to fill up your landfill and we have to find alternatives.

After going into their Five Rules of Zero Waste, she took us on a virtual tour of her home, room by room. She explains her way through each room, their closets with just enough clothes to fit into a carry on bag, the cleaning products she creates, the cosmetics she makes and a detailed wander through her kitchen and what they keep in their fridge. At first her husband was alarmed at the expense of a zero waste lifestyle, but they compared budgets to before and after and realised that they were saving 40% of their budget… really we are paying 15% more for our produce, just because of packaging. They realise that their life is a lot simpler, they have a life based on experiences rather than on stuff. A lot of folk want to know how her kids cope with this alternative lifestyle, but as she says, this is their home and they know no other way. The only regret they have about their Zero Waste Lifestyle is that they didn’t start sooner.

For myself, I didn’t find anything she said extreme at all, not even her fifteen piece wardrobe. I think my takeaway from this is to stop waiting for folk to catch on to the idea and just get started. In the last two or three years we have reduced our garbage significantly and we have been turning our non-recyclables into eco-bricks. But we could still do a lot to reduce our consumption of packaging, we are going to have to get a lot cleverer and inventive at reducing our garbage as we aim to reduce ourcarbon footprint.

You can follow Bea Johnson on her Zero Waste Home Website here… and she has a page of fabulous and really useful tips.

She has a book that I have to check out…

And if you want to see her presentation, you can find a lot of it in her Ted Talk here:

Huge thank you to The Two Oceans Aquarium for their Zero Waste Home Evening, packed with inspiring talks and wonderful presentations. I attended the evening as a media guest of the Aquarium and all opinions expressed were as usual my own.

→ 4 CommentsTags: Green Living · Thoughtful Thursdays

What We Really Want for Mother’s Day…

May 14th, 2017 · 6 Comments

It Was the Best of Times and it Was the Worst of Times… yes, I have just read The Tale of Two Cities. And that has to be the opening line for Mother’s Day all over the world. This is one of those days when the whole world goes quite crazy with ridiculous expectations. In fact, fraught with expectations. The media tells us to expect to be rewarded for all the mothering we do… We should expect breakfast in bed, and if your kids are not old enough then our husbands should have organised breakfast out… we are told what to expect and that we deserve it and then even more that we need to have a glorious day laden with special gifts and full of surprises… because we are worth it. And yet we know that “needs” and “wants” are not quite the same thing… but marketers would prefer you not to know that.


The truth is we have all loved and lost, and marketers don’t touch on this either. But this is a difficult day for potential moms and friends who wish with all their hearts to be moms, it is a terribly difficult day for moms who have lost babies no matter how old they are, not to mention all those folk without moms. And it is a horrible day for mom’s who wish with all their hearts that they were in a better position to look after their kids. While marketers are all about what I need for Mother’s Day… there are moms around the world who would love to be giving their kids just one meal today and they won’t be. It’s not all beautiful picnics and pretty potted plants, it is not all floral gift wrap and shiny packages. In fact, all things considered, Mother’s Day is a bit of an awkward day to get through.


My kids are not going to make me breakfast in bed… heaven forbid, I can’t stand the crumbs. They are going to squabble in the car about who gets to sit where, they are going to get to church and be reminded that it is Mother’s Day, and then we will pop past their grannies because it is Sunday. And we will wish them happy Mother’s Day… because as I get older and I realise Mother’s Day belongs to them and I am in awe of them for getting their kids to be grown ups, we will dash home for a Sunday after noon nap and then I will stay home and make supper, while the older kids head for church. It is just an ordinary Sunday… just the way I like it. Except this Sunday when we stop by our grannies we will most likely have a chocolate with us… because whatever the marketers say… they do deserve it.

mothers day002

Honestly, I want my kids to appreciate me, I do… I want their hugs, but I also just want them to be the best little people they can be… despite what the local store says they have to buy me… and to all the moms out there, whose day isn’t a marketers dream… I want to say hang in there, it does get easier. Enjoy the good moments, move on from the awful ones… and let your children love you and appreciate you everyday. Don’t be distraught when you don’t get an entire years worth of loving on one day, don’t be distraught when they don’t even remember. And if you have something in mind that will make your Mother’s Day special… make it happen. If you want a special afternoon tea… your kids would love to make and bake with you, if you want an afternoon nap… tell them that an afternoon nap will make this day special for you… even if it is “five point three” seconds before they prize open your eyes to check if you are in there.


Gift your kids with the chance to try. You have poured hours and hours of your heart and soul into your kids, and you are going to be doing a lot more of that. If they have forgotten Mother’s Day, gently remind them. There is really nothing worse than at the end of the day telling your kids, “I wish you had made me a card.” I know I have had years of no expectations and years when I needed some sort of acknowledgement. Tell them what you actually need, and it probably is just a hug and “I love you mom.” Don’t fall into the trap of waiting all day for them to surprise you and then at the end of the day being devastated that they didn’t. If your day is filled with all sorts of unavoidable commitments… let your kids know in a quiet moment that you love them with all your heart… because it is Mother’s Day and it would totally make your day that your kids know that. In fact, what we really want for Mother’s Day is for our kids to know that we love each of them fiercely with all our hearts… everything else is just fluff.

Previous Mother’s Day Posts

A fun Poem for Mother’s Day by Hood 1 when he was quite a bit younger!!!

Mother’s Day for Real Mothers

→ 6 CommentsTags: Home Truths · Thoughtful Thursdays

Se7en’s Fabulous Fun Post #353…

May 11th, 2017 · No Comments

Hay folks, we seem to have landed in the busy season it is all good, if not a little crazy over here right now. We are doing school, we are doing fun, we are slowly but surely but surely building our 2017 library and for some reason I have decided that this is the season to up my “Getting Things Done Year” game and I am clearing out stuff faster than even I can believe.


I am blogging over at Harassed Mom today…

She is posting a series on motherhood… and my motherhood story is over there!!!


Se7en Builds a Library Book by Book

Our library project is slowly but surely growing book by book… and a package is arriving everyday now. Huge thank you to SuperNova magazine for their fabulous contribution. If you would like to help us to build a library of books for a school in desperate need then look no further than this post here.

Lovely Links from This Week

  1. This book… 9 Months… I am absolutely dying to share it with my kids… all the real facts in a child friendly place, there will be lots to talk about… and I a that mother who likes to talk about everything with my kids!!!
  2. Can you beat Seth Golden Ever: The Self-Healing Letter of Complaint… You know for next time you really want to complain about something!!!
  3. Four Awesome Wonderbag Recipes… from Yuppie Chef of course. Comfort Food!!!
  4. If you are an audiobook fan then this on Modern Mrs Darcy is gold… go grab some free books.
  5. I am sure we all have a teacher we would never forget… Se7en Authors that Celebrate the Teachers They’ll Never Forget.
  6. The scientist in me loves this: Walter Munk’s Centennial Year. In the olden days when I was a student I worked under Walter Munk on sound prpoergation… looking back it is totally cool!!!
  7. Would you just look at these incredible libraries from around the world… on Starts at Eight.

A Blast From the Past:

This Week’s Highlights


I am Looking Forward to: A good weekend read and meeting Lesley Pearce next week.

Listening: This is my year for conquering the classics and so far I have managed to get a few under my belt, I just finished The Tale of Two Cities… what a tragedy, how did I not know the story before and what rich characters. Took a while to get into it but the beautiful wordage kept me engaged in the story and I had to know how it ended.

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Reading with the Kids: Who knew that Peter Slingsby of fabulous map fame, had also written a couple of books for kids. always looking for rich South African content to read and we have been enjoying these historical fiction stories… packed with richness that only the local landscape can provide.

Watching with the Kids: My kids are watching Makoccino on youtube right now… her boredom busters are fab!!!


Making rusks… because it is the season!!!

And Looking Forward to: The Penguin Waddle this weekend. Here’s the Waddle so far…

Day One: Gansbaai to Stanford

Day Two: Stanford to Hermanus

Day Three: Hermanus to Kleinmond

GiveAway Winners

It is time to bring you the Landy GiveAway Series Winner…


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

And our winner is: Lopke Apr 27, 2017 at 9:25 pm Oooh lovely! We’d definitely take a trip out to the mountains!

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


→ No CommentsTags: Fabulous Friday Fun · GiveAways and Swaps

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 · 1 Comment

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…

→ 1 CommentTags: 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!!!

se7en-01-May-17-May 2017001-1.jpg

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.

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  • → 3 CommentsTags: Celebrity Calendar