se7en

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

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It is Birthday Season… Hood #1 had a Birthday…

September 24th, 2017 · 6 Comments

And just like that we only have three teenagers in the house, because Hood #1 has crossed the rubicon and turned twenty last week. His siblings are somewhat in awe and frankly, I can’t believe it. But it is what it is…

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How on earth do I have a child out of the teens, it really is crazy.

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So Hood 1 is in College, and has a job that takes up lots of weekends… and we don’t nearly as much of him as we used to. This is good thing, he is ready to fly… and we cherish the time we do have with him so much more. The interesting thing about having grown up kids is that we do appreciate spending any time we do get with them so much more.

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It does seem like time has flown…

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Living with this complete nutter has made for the best times ever…

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He has been the best big brother and has plenty of hidden skills, for instance he is a master sand castle builder and lego champion…

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All those years spent reading and reading and reading means that he has a built in library of stories to tell anytime, anyplace…

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Still a dreamer of big dreams…

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This little chap has grown up in a flash… and it has been great being alongside him for the crazy ride…

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Previous Birthday Posts

→ 6 CommentsTags: Home Truths

Se7en+1 Visit the V and A Waterfront For a Full Day of Family Fun Exploring…

September 23rd, 2017 · 1 Comment

So we have slowly but surely been blogging our holiday in the centre of Cape Town, when we took a winter holiday and became tourists in our own town for a while. We spent one day doing the free City Sightseeing Walks all over the heart of the city and then we spent one full day at the V and A Waterfront. I know we have been there so often, and we have blogged about it a lot, but we have never actually been there for a full day, as tourists. So off we went to spend a day, with the intention to explore and show our readers new sights, all over the Waterfront… literally from dawn to dusk.

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Our intention was very specifically to find family friendly things to do, and in the centre of the tourism district, we were also looking for affordable fun. When you have eight kids, trust me budget holidays are a priority. We did our own exploring for most of the day, we took a free walking tour to get some local information and finally we also took a boat trip, we were at the Waterfront after all.

Se7en Hoods Out on Patrol

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We began first thing in the morning… heading for Granger Bay and then the Helicopter pad… where a pilot dashed out to ask us if we were there for a ride.

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“No, we were just watching, thank you very much.”

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We continued our tour using Suzie Joubert’s Waterfront Walkabout, published by Art Publishers, as our guide.

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It is a fantastic book geared towards kids, packed with information that their accompanying adults would find interesting too. The book takes you on a walking tour from one side of the Waterfront to the other, and each double spread features and key spot to stop and look at in more detail and then very specific directions to move on to the next stop. This book is packed with fun details and snippets, lovely photographs and all presented in a beautiful way. While it is a great guide it would make the perfect moment as well. The book says a 2-3 hour walk but we literally took all day, because we made plenty of stops and had mini-adventures along the way.

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Places that we wouldn’t normally explore, we stopped to take a look at more closely… for instance this golden seal we must have walked past millions of times before is called Oscar.

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And then we came to the most interesting discovery of the day…
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Did you know that on Jetty 1 there is a free museum for Robben Island, that tells the story of the island and life on the island for political prisoners. We haven’t yet been to Robben Island, much as we would love to it is a fairly pricy outing, so it was a lovely surprise to discover this museum packed with facts and information and true life stories. It is presented really well and we spent a good while reading letters to and from home with their family.

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You can walk into a “prison cell” and listen to recordings of folk from the island telling their stories. It is a great little museum and we spent forty five minutes there without even noticing the time fly by. If you are interested in South African history and life in South Africa during the Apartheid era, then this is a must visit.

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From the museum we walked over to the time ball and the Breakwater Prison… we got there just in time to join the CitySightseeing Free Walking Tours, that launch every day from the Citysightseeing office outside the Two Oceans Aquarium.

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The City Sightseeing Tour

We took a break from our own exploring when we got to the Citysightseeing office, we checked online for the times of their free walking tours and joined a group to go on an intriguing tour of the Waterfront. These tours are free, and are run strictly on tips. These walks are great it is a ninety minute amble, going at the slowest pace and stopping all the way to tell you about the history and local landmarks. It is a great tour and very family friendly… we had folk from all ages and stages, tots to grandparents, on the tour and they all enjoyed it thoroughly.

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The tour covered the Breakwater Prison and history of the Waterfront so well… the kids were completely caught up in it…

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And intrigued to learn about the punishments of the day. This was the dreaded treadmill, used simply for punishment. It served no other purpose but to have prisoners run on it around the clock, for punishment.

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And we must have walked passed this wall so many times in our lives before and never noticed the history in it…

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If you look closely… wherever there are white arrows painted on the wall…

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You can look for carvings on the wall, where prisoners told their stories… where they were from and the work they did…

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This was just amazing to us… and we could have stopped and read the wall for hours…

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But on we went, learning and chatting along the way…

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This is the famous plaque commemorating where Queen Victoria’s son, prince Alfred, tipped a pile of rubble into the bay to begin the breakwater in Table Bay. And hence the name, The Victoria and Alfred Waterfront… The idea was to build some protection fro ships visiting the Cape at the time. The plan was to build the breakwater using freely available rocks and prison labour from the Breakwater Lodge… cutting costs, so to speak.

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After all the exploring and learning new things…

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We arrived at a very strategic spot, just in time to watch the Noon Day Gun go off…

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And a stop on Noble Square…

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To say Hello to Madiba of course…

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The key to eating out affordably for ten of you on a full day outing is not to eat at the fast food restaurants, but head for wherever the locals grab their lunch, and that would be the Supermarket. Grab a picnic and find a shady spot to sit and enjoy.

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The CitySightseeing Harbour Cruise

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Just like other Red City Bus Sightseeing Tours their Waterfront Harbour Cruises are fantastic.

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Children twelve and under wear life jackets through out and always safety first.

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Otherwise these cruises run every twenty minutes throughout the day so really you buy your tickets an won’t have to weight very long before the next cruise boat arrives.

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Otherwise, if you shop online their ticket prices are slightly reduced, and because we went during the winter school holidays and made full use of their winter special of buy one adult tick and get two kids free special. This special runs from 1 May – 8 October 2017 and our kids ranked this as the best event of their holiday. Just saying that if you need something special and actually affordable to do next week over the spring break then this is it. Check out their website for details.
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Just like on the red City Bus tours there are headphones for everyone, so that you can listen to the tour in your own language. And for the little people, not only do they have the tour in their own language, but there is a story for them to follow along and the story “takes” them on tour.

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The cruise takes you around the main basins of the Waterfront and all the while explains land marks that you are floating past. The tour is packed with fascinating facts and interesting insights… even having lived in Cape Town my entire life there was tons to learn, all in a fun and engaging way…

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If you don’t have the time for a full day outing with the Red City Bus Tours, we highly recommend that you take a break from all your sightseeing and sit on the tour boats for half an hour and listen to the story of the Waterfront.

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On with the Book Tour

After spending the early part of the morning doing the tour associated with the Waterfront Walkabout Tour Book for kids, we took a break to do the Free Walking Tour and then the Harbour Cruise, we were ready to get back to exploring on our own with the help of the tour book.

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Starting at the Bascule Bridge…
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And a look at the Rat Catcher’s House…
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The is really the artistic corner of the Waterfront, with lots of creative art to look at and experience.

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And I am excited about the opening of the Zeitz MOCAA Museum of Contemporary art… Just dying to explore it in fact…
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It sure has come along way in the last few years of building..

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Other museums in this area include the Chavonness Battery Museum…

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And not a museum, but the greenest building in Africa apparently, The Allan Grey Building is filled with interesting Green tweaks and designed with sustainable principles in mind, like using the surrounding sea water to provide the building with a more natural cooling system.

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And Other Waterfront Fun

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There are other places that we like to stop and visit for fun, when we do venture out to visit the Waterfront…

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And a visit to the magical world of Hamley’s, which my children think is a toy museum…

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And we would never visit the Waterfront without visiting the Two Oceans Aquarium… there is always something fantastic happening there and something new and interesting to see.

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And that’s it… a full day out at the V and A Waterfront… it is a fun place for the whole family and there are a ton of cultural and historical sites to see. the fact that it is a working harbour means that there is always dome sort of action going on… it is the best place to be for people watching.

Waterfront with Citysightseeing

This is not a sponsored post in anyway, and all opinions expressed were entirely our own.

→ 1 CommentTags: Cape Town · Outings

The Story of The Incredible Journey of a Shark, Named Nicole…

September 18th, 2017 · No Comments

It’s Monday evening over here, which means that it is time for a book post and just recently I attended the launch of Nicole, the true and incredible story of a Great White Shark’s Journey into history, by shark conservationist Richard Peirce, at our local bookshop Kalk Bay Books.

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This book is written for shark lovers, ocean lovers and conservationists… it is based on the 11000km journey that an adult female shark took from the coast of South Africa, across the Indian ocean, to the coast of Australia… and back again. Incredible… this shark opened the door for shark research and conservation throughout the oceans of the world. A groundbreaking study… and a fascinating read.


Se7en Snippets from the Book Launch

  1. The Incredible Journey: This book is about the incredible journey that a shark, called Nicole after the fiery actress Nicole Kidman, traveled while she was tagged with a satellite tracker. The kind of tracker that was used was one that popped up when she got to the far side… the tracker then connected with the satellite and data was transferred back to the scientists. It was not a real time tracker, so the author had to use a little creative license when describing Nicole’s journey. What they have learned about Great White Sharks is that they start breeding when they are far older than they originally thought and they only have 3/4 pups in a litter… which means they have a really small reproduction rate… and threatened as they are, this really works against them.
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    Photograph used with permission of Struik Nature

  3. Nicole inspired protection of Great White Sharks all over the world: South Africa was the first country to embrace protection of the Great White shark, but since the discovery of Nicole’s epic journey right across the Indian Ocean, and back again, it was realised that protecting these incredible animals in local waters just wasn’t enough. This animal inspired Cites protection and legalised the protection of all Great White Sharks throughout the world’s oceans. While the law is there to protect the sharks, it doesn’t help them much in practice.
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  5. Nicole Was Part of a Bigger Project: Before Nicole was fitted with a tracking device she was part of a bigger photography project. Not only did Nicole have her own distinctive personality but all sharks have a unique fin pattern, and Nicole’s was particularly distinctive. The photographer on this project felt a strong emotional attachment to Nicole because he had encountered again and again. She was the shark that kept coming back and interacting.
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    Photo Credit: Nick Fallows, used with permission from Struik Nature Publishing

  7. Nicole inspired a further research into the habits of Great White Sharks: So much mystery surrounds these beautiful creatures, scientists assume that sharks travel the world for breeding purposes, perhaps Nicole was looking for an super-shark. The journey is a mystery that needs to be explored.
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  9. Meet the Author, Richard Peirce: His father was in the army in Kuwait and he remembers as a small boy, spending a summer watching the shoreline for sharks. Over the last 30 years he has traveled the world ticking off sharks on his spotter’s list. There are over five hundred species of shark and he has seen 68. He never expects to see deep water sharks ever. He did start out in the music industry… it wasn’t a great chapter in his life, he turned down a number of number one artists!!! His other claim to fame is that he sold a carpet to Yasser Arafat, he was invited to negotiate the sale, and the deal was done.
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    Photograph used with permission of Struik Nature

  11. Meeting a Great White Shark: When you meet an apex predator there is a visceral response. Nothing prepares you for your first encounter with a great white shark – there is no fear, just awe and wonder. We aren’t the shark’s prey, sharks are unfairly judged. When he met with lions, the situation was very different. The rangers told him that they had told the lions that he was coming… the lion tracked him and they watched each other for an hour and a half before the fear receded.
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    Photograph used with permission of Struik Nature

  13. Regarding Conservation: It is difficult to be optimistic, but we have to be. We need a global awakening. People need to start voting for survival not for change. Everyone is concerned about their mortgage and their school fees… they need to start worrying about conservation. Communicators are failing, there is an element of “topic fatigue,” but take for example Attenborough did a documentary on wild dogs and mentioned only once in the entire hour, that these dogs are threatened. We need to find ways to alarm people into action and this is why he uses real animals in his books… he needs to tell their story and he hopes that the response will be, “That’s not fair.” And then they will be inspired to do something about it.

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I received a copy of this book from Struik Nature/Penguin Random House South Africa in exchange for an honest review. It is not a sponsored post, and all opinions expressed are entirely my own. I must add that proceeds from sales of this book go to the Shark Spotter Organisation, who we have blogged about before over here.

→ No CommentsTags: Brilliant Books

Se7en’s Fabulous Fun Post #354

September 18th, 2017 · 2 Comments

Spring is definitely starting to spring over here… and we are spending every possible moment in the great outdoors…

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I have a fabulous tip for you this week… It is SANParks free week as part of Heritage month. This means that SANParks nature reserves are free for South African Citizens this week. Head for Cape Point or head for the West Coast Wild flowers… Take along your I.D. Book and Just Get Outdoors already!!!

Lovely Links from This Week

  1. Looking for some weekend fun: 6 Easy Ways to Marble Paper on the Artful Parent.
  2. If there is a Family Festival that I would like to attend, then it is this the Just So Festival, read this review of the Magic on Nuture Store…
  3. For our homeschooling friends who need some encouragement: The Unexpected Benefits of Homeschooling – From Someone Who Was Homeschooled.
  4. And while you are thinking about homeschooling… I have to say Sonlight has been posting a lot of fabulous blog posts lately, and just this week they posted a number of links to great homeschool bloggers that also use Sonlight, and check out their instagrammers!!! Thanks Sonlight for the feature!!!
  5. Beach Cleaning is a way of life for our kids, if we go to the beach… and remember we live there, then we pick up… and what we pick up is plastic: Folks the time has come to just stop using plastic. Commit to one thing, then another and another… 8 Bits of Plastic you can Quit Right Now.
  6. If you are new to homeschooling or feel like you are new to homeschooling… because let’s be honest in each new season we are new to homeschooling… there is a fabulous podcast, that I just discovered, Homeschooling in the North Woods.
  7. This post from Kari Patterson spoke to me and is for all my friends who have loved and lost: “In this world you will have sorrow, but take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 From What Would Have Been…
  8. Handmade Charlotte’s Doll series is just delightful: Parisian Doll Making Tutorial…

A Blast From the Past:

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That’s us… hope you have the most fabulous week!!!

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→ 2 CommentsTags: Fabulous Friday Fun

Se7en Visits The HomeMaker’s Expo…

September 14th, 2017 · 8 Comments

When you win tickets to the Homemaker’s Expo, huge thanks to Studio Melissa Louise, then you drop whatever you have going on that weekend and head out for a mother-daughter date with your sixteen year old… fun times!!! Welcome to a post with all sorts of eye candy… yes there were tons of appliances, and kitchen saving tools… and dozens of gadgets and things that “should be essential to your home” and then there was also tons of loveliness and that’s where we focused our attention, of course!!!

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In a show that is so vast you need to have a strategy. There is so much to see and do that you have to be very systematic in working your way up and down the aisles. First tip… grab a goodie bag on your way in and keep it to drop business cards and pamphlets in as you wander along. Also, check out the program… there was an entire page of GiveAways and another page of show specials… these are things you have to have a quick scan of before you start walking the floor so that you know which stands to specially look out for. Forewarned is forearmed and all that.

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Design Features

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Tremendous Textures

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Crate love… there are not enough stunning crates in the world. Wishing my boys would start churning these out… from all the wood they have lying about.

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Perfect Papers…

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Mia Mélange

Beautiful buckets… I am in love… I think I might need buckets everywhere… everywhere!!!

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Love, love, love…

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And lots and lots of wood love… even wooden flowers…

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And these are fun…

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And I need to make a memory tree…

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And I may have taken a tip from Marcia at the Organising Queen and bought myself a birthday present… weeks in advance, because these crates!!!

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Recycabilia

And would you look at these fish!!!

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Otherwise, lots of green… Would you look at this wall garden… All the love!!!

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Living Green Walls

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Shirley’s Rustic Frames

And Magical Mirror fun…

Fabulous Fabric

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Don’t you love these fish… and oh I love this blue so very much as well!!!

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Threads That Bind Us

And this is bed linen to die for…

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The T-shirt Bed Co.

And these fun cushions…

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Demonstrations And GiveAways

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The only store we found that knew how their GiveAway worked… Kudos to the WaterShed…

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Radical Rainbows…

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Bokke and Blomme

Even the kitchen sink… in every possible colour…

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Dashing Desks…

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And the Most Beautiful Aroma…

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Organico Oils

Millions of Mobiles…

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Heart at Work

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And calabash lamps…

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Dismoi Calabash Lights

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All the love…

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Homemaker's Expo

→ 8 CommentsTags: Cape Town · Outings

Se7en Interviews the Author of Good Me Bad Me, Ali Land…

September 12th, 2017 · 2 Comments

I recently read Good Me Bad Me, by Ali Land, an unputdownable debut novel. Ali Land is touring South Africa right now as a guest of the Open Book Festival and I was lucky enough to meet up with her in Kalk Bay Books last week. Ali was a mental health professional for youngsters until she gave it all up for writing. She had a story to tell… and Good Me Bad Me is that story. Highlighting the plight of troubled teens in a culture where, when a problem erupts, the children are removed from the situation and placed in a completely unfamiliar environment and they are expected to not just survive, but to come through it all. In cases of extreme family crimes the children are removed, placed in high security institutions and released into the world at eighteen. Just as a passing thought, this cannot have a good result for the children involved, they are forced into a situation that can not choose and then they are forced to survive… by any means available to them.

About the Book: Good Me Bad Me

Good Me Bad Me is a book that is classified as a psycho thriller… and if I had known that before hand I may have been a little nervous to read it. That being said, before I read it I knew that it was the story of a very troubled teenager and I wanted to know more about her. This is an astonishingly good book, an important book, that highlights the emotional roller coaster of troubled adolescents. It is about Milly, or rather her emotional journey, as she exposes her serial killer mother to the police and processes her childhood in a very different kind of home to any of her peers, while she sits out the wait until the trial, in a foster family. The foster family that looks so perfect on the surface, a complete private school experience with all the advantages that money can buy, turns out to be as one expects a lot of foster homes to be, far far from ideal. Just as Milly is gulping for air and for help, she is plunged into a dysfunctional family and forced to sink or swim, all the while her psychologist foster father is oblivious, or in denial, about what is going on around him. Milly is removed from all that she knows and is given a new home and a new school and a new name… and while she is trying to prepare for the impending court case, she is perpetually falling pray to her malicious and devious foster sister’s wily ways. Not to mention that throughout the book we are seeped in the dread of Milly finally meeting up with her mum again at the trial. Despite all her troubles she seems to hold her own, keep herself together under very trying circumstances and plunge on towards the trial. Or does she?

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Conversation with John Maytham at Kalk Bay Books

There is a tragic twist in the tale, that I did not expect at all, though looking back could have been avoided. This is a book that leaves you with more questions than answers, as it should. We should be thinking about kids like Milly, what will happen to her, will she ever be able to fit into society or will she always be able to stand outside the group looking in, orbiting around her community, so to speak. The question is, “Will children of deeply troubled parents become deeply troubled adults themselves?” “Is it genetics?” or, “Is it environment?” The age old debate rages on. What could Milly have done differently under such overbearing pressure? Nothing really, since she is placed in the system there is little she can do, she cannot control the wave of misfortune that she has been placed into. This book is an eyeopener into what teens are going through and talking about. It places bullying into a whole new light… I would certainly give this book to my older teens to read… it is a great discussion opener. It isn’t a pleasant read and it isn’t going to leave you with a happy feeling afterwards… the opposite in fact. But you will be a lot more aware of teen mental health and how as parents, even when we think our teens are talking to us, there world’s can be spiralling in a completely different realm to ours. It looks like everything is under control, but upon closer inspection all the adults in Milly’s life could have found the little cracks in her armour and places to help her, had they been a little less self absorbed. This book is a conversation starter on bullying, on who is in control, on what secrets are ok and which are definitely not okay. The book contains no gratuitous gory details and the focus in fixed entirely on the players rather than the crime. This is a compelling read, way out of my comfort zone and somewhat shocking, totally different to anything else on the bestseller list. This book is going to stay top of the charts for a long while, while folk try to process it.

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Se7en + 1 Interview Questions for Ali Land

  1. Let’s Begin with an Introduction. Tell us how you transformed from a Child and Adolescent Mental Health Nurse to a Full Time Writer:
  2. With a massive leap of faith! I hadn’t written since University, some twelve years before, but I’d always been a voracious reader and had, for the whole of my life, heard voices and seen images playing out in my mind. It wasn’t until I got older and the voices became louder and the images sharper that I was hit with an urgency to explore my creativity. I gave up nursing, took a less demanding job as a private PA/Nanny while doing an evening class in creative writing and the absolute joy was that, although writing the book was the most challenging and emotionally turbulent journey I’ve ever been on, I enjoyed it. I discovered I’d been a writer all along, it just took me longer than most to get the words onto the page.

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  3. Could you describe your perfect work day:
  4. I currently live in London but very much view Sydney, Australia as home so let’s go there for my perfect work day. I’d wake early as the sun is coming up over the beach and do the staggeringly beautiful coastal walk from Bondi to Bronte and back again. An ocean swim followed by a matcha latte and an acai bowl. Both are magical for the mind. My perfect working day would mean I only have my novel to think about, no emails, no tweets, no interviews, nothing! I’d work at my desk in my apartment which overlooks the water. All of the words would be beautiful and effortless and require no editing. The bones in my wrist wouldn’t ache or click and there’d be no self-doubt to battle. Sigh. After that I’d go to either Gertrude and Alice or Ampersand, my two favourite bookshop/cafes. I’d read a book, not for research or because I have to for work, but purely for pleasure. More than likely I’d drink a large glass of wine while doing this. Later in the day I’d meet up with another writer, or someone who understands the creative solitude, and we would drink more (too much) wine and go and see a documentary at an arthouse cinema or a spoken word night leaving us feeling inspired and reinvigorated about our own work.

  5. Do you have a favourite book? And what are you reading right now?
  6. We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson is my favourite book. Jackson writes with perfect restraint, slowly lifting the curtain on the bizarre daily routine Merricat, her sister Constance and their uncle share. The narrative is peppered with magical thinking and superstitions which gives the overriding sense they’re content in this strange existence and because of this, the insanity drip, drip, drips off the pages. I’m currently reading Riders by Jilly Cooper because I fancied something fun and outrageous.

  7. Tell us about your writing style: Are you compelled to write when inspired, or extremely disciplined, or do you just squeeze writing in whenever you possibly can?
  8. I ‘business’ write most days as in interviews/articles but I don’t work on my novel every day. It does however fill pretty much every second thought, it becomes a delicious obsession. I spend weeks thinking and mulling over ideas and ‘what ifs’ until I feel all the canons line up and then I’ll spend weeks working intensively, night and day, barely coming up for air until the draft is finished. I have to write A LOT to get to the heart of my story and unlock the characters, it’s because I’m a ‘by the seat of my pants’ kind of writer. It’s a messy and at times draining process but it’s mine and I roll with it. In the recovery period, as in when my work is with my editor, I read and read and read.

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  9. Tell us about your writing process and where you write best: On the couch or at a desk in an office? 
  10. I write most freely when I’m handwriting so during the research period I can often be found scribbling in notebooks on sofas in cafes or the library. But when I’m typing it up and really going deep into a writing session, I need to be at my desk in the privacy of my own home. I move around a lot when I’m fully engaged in the creative process, stand up, pace, talk out loud to my characters, and I always have a candle burning, the sort of behaviour that I’m sure would see me politely asked to leave the library!

  11. Good Me Bad Me is quite a story, with very well defined characters, it is hard to believe you haven’t really met them. Where did you find the inspiration for your characters, are they created from scratch or an aggregation of people you have encountered?  
    Sylvia Plath said ‘Every story, every incident, every bit of conversation is raw material for me.’ And she’s right. Writers are like sponges and even when we don’t realise it, the life that’s going on around us will inevitably bleed into our work. There’s inspiration for characters everywhere. I created the characters in the book that would allow me to explore every facet of Milly’s mind. For example, Phoebe the jealous foster sister, how would Milly react to her? And then the opposite with Morgan, a vulnerable girl who shows Milly unconditional love. I write to explore and to go as deep as possible into my main character’s psyche, the people you surround them with are the keys to unlocking that.

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  12. I am guessing after writing Good Me Bad Me you were fairly emotionally stretched. Do you have more books in the pipeline? Will they be similar to Good Me Bad Me, or are they going to be totally different? 
  13. I’ve just delivered eighty-three thousand words of creative chaos to my agent and editor aka my next book. It’s a massive mountain to climb especially when there are so many wonderful things happening with my current book, but climb I must and we’ll be making an announcement about it on social media quite soon. All I’m allowed to tell you at this point is, it’s another psychological drama this time set on a scarcely inhabited Scottish island with a man named Jack at its heart.

  14. Who do you think had the biggest impact on you becoming a writer? How did they inspire you and how would you inspire others to write the stories that they carry within them?
  15.  
    Had I not been a Child and Adolescent mental health nurse I never would have written about Milly, so the children I looked after have had the biggest impact on me becoming a writer. They inspired me to listen, to watch, to care and to search for the why because understanding often leads to compassion. What I’d say to others who are carrying stories inside of them is, set them free if they want to. Write from your heart and your gut but do so sensitively. I don’t believe boundaries should exist in what we explore in the safe space of fiction but it must be done carefully and with regard to the person or people it’s perhaps inspired by.

    You can find Ali Land


    On Twitter and on Instagram.

    Otherwise, you can meet up with Ali Land at Exclusive Books Cavendish Square on 14 September 6 for 6:30pm.

    Thanks so much to Ali Land for the interview, and Penguin Random House for setting it up. I did receive a copy of Good Me Bad Me from Penguin Random House South Africa for review purposes, and otherwise this is not a sponsored post… all opinions expressed are entirely my own.

→ 2 CommentsTags: Brilliant Books

Se7en Join Free Walking Tours with City SightSeeing in the Center of Cape Town….

September 8th, 2017 · 4 Comments

On our recent vacation, when we decided to take being tourists in our own town to heart and to embrace all that the City of Cape Town has to offer, we decided to spend a day exploring the City with the free City Sightseeing Walking Tours. It was a great decision… we had glorious weather in the middle of winter and a fantastic day out learning all sorts of facts and tweaks of history that we could never have learnt about anywhere else. The tours are fabulous.

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Each tour last ninety minutes, they are ambles at the pace of the slowest walker, so kids are quite easily able to keep up and you don’t actually walk too far. Just around the city centre, looking at landmarks and places of interest and hearing all the back stories, and visiting places we haven’t ever heard of. You can find all the details on the City Sightseeing Website here. Also, while the tours are free, the tour guides are paid via your tips, its only fair.

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We arrived early in the morning, well early by Cape Town standards, we wanted to be able to do all three tours in a day. this is totally possibly there is an hour or two break between tours, so you can have a break or a snack… or just chillax and people watch. And said we would like to join the walking tours for the day… we were advised to take the History Tour, the Slavery Tour and finally the Bo-Kaap Tour. I am so glad we went in that order… firstly we needed a general history overview to start with and you definitely need to do the colourful Bo-Kaap tour at the end of the day, to capture all the spectacular colours during the golden hour.

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The Historic City Walk

The historical tour takes you on a journey through the city of Cape Town’s main landmarks. Your guide will share with you a little about life before the settlers. This is followed by the story of how the Dutch came to settle in the Cape and then how the English came to settle here as well. Not to mention how we ended up with not one, not two, but three capital cities: Cape town – Legislature, Pretoria – Administrative, and Bloemfontein – Judicial.

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Lots of interesting snippets were added as we wandered along. After looking at the Parade and the City Hall, a quick walk past Cape Town’s Castle, which was built in 1666, is the oldest building in South Africa. Onto this interesting monument outside the Social History Centre. Way back then when slavery was illegal in Holland, 80% of the Cape population were slaves, working for the Dutch East India Company. On it are lists of slaves at the Cape and their names… If your name mentions a day of the week or a month of the year, then that would have been your arrival day and month, if your name has “van” in it, then it means “from.” Today people with slaves in their ancestry have a proud cultural heritage and it if you suspect that you are a descendent of slaves then you can visit the Social History Centre and they will help you to trace your roots.

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The City Hall was built by the British, in 1806 and around this time the Dutch travelled north in ox-wagon. This migration was called the Great Trek and was the start of the Afrikaner nation. Then gold was discovered and that of course led to fighting and the Boer War was fought over a number of years, finally ending in 1810, when a new country, the Union of South Africa, was born.

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And then there is Tuinhuis, with the Company Gardens alongside, which were eight times bigger than the original Castle Gardens. This is a mixture of Cape Dutch and later the British added a banqueting hall and a ballroom. Interestingly enough… the first company logo ever, for the Dutch East India Company, is higher on the building than King William of Orange. It was indeed all about the Company, in fact we took a wander through the Company Gardens, not the King’s Gardens… which is a place that is very pleasant and lovely to explore to this day. It is the centre of Museums in Cape Town, the Natural History Museum, the Planetarium, the Holocaust Museum and the Art Gallery among others.

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OF course we had to stop by the oldest known “domestic” tree… The Saffron Pear Tree planted at the time of the first settlers, so between 300 and 360 years old, and it still bears fruit every single year.

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This was followed by a short wander past St. Georges Cathedral, to learn about Jazz in the Crypt… Live Jazz in the centre of town, in a place where Jazz is taken seriously… Not a spot to talk and eat… you are there for the Jazz apparently…

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And down through the city,

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Back to the start of the tour at Green Market Square.
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We took a mini-break, shopping for a picnic in the city… firmly believe in eat where the locals eat, this is a budget day out and anytime you look like a tourist you are going to pay tourist prices.

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The District Six Walk

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Refreshed and back to the City Sightseeing Office on Shortmarket Street in time for the next sight seeing tour of the day. At their offices there is heaps of information about every possible tourism activity in the Cape Town and beyond, you can buy refreshments and most important of all there are charging stations galore.

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The next tour we took is called the District Six Walk, that focuses on the Apartheid error. It begins on Green Market Square and begins with the Purple Rain Protest, that I remember vividly from the olden days (1989), ten years before my kids were born. This was an anti-apartheid protest that took place on the steps of the Old Town Hall. The picture our guide painted was a vivid one… and it was the first time that my children realised how protest against apartheid was real movement within South Africa. They have heard about it and learnt about it, but because apartheid was the law, it always feels as if nothing could be done about it. It was good for my kids to become part of that protest, if only while they were on tour.

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We moved on to the High Court…

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While inequality existed throughout history, it was apartheid that made it law. And it was in this court where it was decided what race you were and therefore where you could and couldn’t live. People were forcibly moved out of their neighbourhoods and into homelands or townships. For a white person to sit on a non-white bench meant disagreement with the government and immediate arrest. If you wanted to travel from area to area and i.d. document was required. So many years after apartheid has ended and things are changing, but very slowly. There is not enough available money for a quick fix, and South Africans have had to do repairs one slow step at a time.

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And a walk past the District Six Museum, which if you haven’t visited and you want your children to learn about South African history… that would be a great place to stop by.

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In fact, if you want to teach your children about the Apartheid era, then this is the tour to go on. It is enlightening, level headed… opinions from both sides of the law and a fascinating look at the behind the scenes story.

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At this stage we took another breather and stopped and bought a snack from wherever the locals shop…

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The Bo-Kaap Walk

Our final tour of the day was our favourite… a wander through the colourful Bo-Kaap… at the end of the day it was great to wander up and out of the city centre and enjoy the colours and view of Table Mountain at dusk.

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This area of the city, was originally on the outskirts of the city and was where the slave community was housed. It was also called the Malay quarter with slaves from Madagascar, Mozambique, Malaysia and Indonesia. While the slaves were from very diverse cultures and into the same close knit area, but they had one common enemy and that was the free people.

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This tour doesn’t just tell you about history, it also tells you about where to get the best Bobotie in town, which is our national dish. They also sell koeksisters of both varieties… round with a covering of coconut, or the plaited variety dipped in syrup.

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And that only once a slave had learned Afrikaans he was entitled to wear a hat…

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About six thousand people live in this small community, that gets smaller each day. When slaves were freed they were given their houses and with the advent of the New South Africa, so dawned the age of the Rainbow Nation, not to mention the vibrant and colourful Bo-Kaap. Folk that live their now can’t afford to move out, their property is worth so much, so much so that they first born usually moves into the top floor, to keep the home in the family.

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All in all it was a great day out and a fabulous way to get an overview of South African history in the City of Cape Town. As usual the City SightSeeing Staff were fabulous and made our day out an unforgettable day for us.

City Sightseeing Walking Tours

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