Mont-Marie Restaurant

Another wonderful child-friendly spot in Stellenbosch to add to our world-class repertoire. 

Mont-Marie is situated on the Blaauwklippen Road off the R44. A wooden deck overlooks the farm dam and a fenced-in lawn sports three jungle gyms. My daughter could ride her little scooter around the level playing area, and is a separate bicycle track can host older children. There is no sandpit and no trampoline.

The lunch menu includes light meals priced for “locals” and has a kiddie section. Dinners are more fancy and reflect the chef, Pieter Vlok’s, previous experience at Overture and Rust and Vrede. The wine is deliciously light and the mountain-views are spectacular. 

A perfect spot for breakfast with the kids, lunch with the family, wowing foreign visitors, or a romantic sundowner.

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Visit the country more often

Note to self:

Visit the country more often.

Get in the car.

And go.

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Saturday morning and we spontaneously throw a few bits and bobs in the boot, buckle in all the children and hit the road.

To the north lie snow-covered mountains. East, the worlds longest wine route and South, the beach. We’re still undecided.

We stumble upon an open-air ‘living’ museum, which proves to be a big hit. All we need for a perfect morning is a big blue tractor, a couple of ducklings, and the shade of a lovely big karee tree. 

We can’t resist pulling over to click the Nikon a few times along the Route 62, before we meander into an art deco style country hotel.  The country air smells sweet. The deserted streets are safe for toddlers to run amuck, and the locals have smiles on their faces. Ah, The Serenity… except for the over-excited city kids vocally indulging in their new found freedom.

Sipping wine under a starry sky was a moment I sucked in deeply and now still recall fondly. And waking to birdsong was glorious. 

The monotony of the home routine had been broken. The coziness was comforting.  And so, I am reminded that less is more. Hit the road and be spontaneous. Leave all the paraphernalia. Just be together, laugh and breathe in the sweet air.

All the planning, packing, and preconceived expectations are for the birds!

Happy road-tripping.

Xx

Finding the ‘new normal’ with an infant

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Finding the ‘new normal’ with an infant 

Until the moment the baby arrives everything is completely normal.

You know your life is about to change dramatically, but it doesn’t change until the actual moment of the birth. You can hardly prepare and you can barely picture it. There is no easing into it slowly…

The arrival is inevitably accompanied by discomfort, be it the sunroof variety or the more natural kind. Neither comes without a certain amount of pain. But the pain does not end there.

It is followed by the feeding. Almost immediately. Your body takes one battering and exchanges it for another. And it’s on going. Every three hours. Tick tock. Tick tock. Every day. Every night.

Revered silence breaks into insatiable screaming, calling for immediate attention at any time. During the day or night, during a meal or a nap. There. Is. No. break.

The good news is that it is temporary. The shared moments of wakefulness become more interactive. The feeds become more conveniently spaced and the miracle of life is overwhelming.

Holding someone so small, so warm and so vulnerable is beyond description. That someone so perfect can develop from a mere seed is beyond comprehension.

SO bring it on. Infant bootcamp 101 is a small price to pay for a make-or-break-experience. It’s the end of life as you know it. You better strap on your in-the-mood-for-something-new attitude. Go with the flow, cancel all plans and delete all expectations.

And you will fly into the ‘new normal’.

Book reviews – A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle

This book was a life-changer for me.

A new earth pic

It takes a short time to read, but  a long time to master.

It’ll mill around in your mind, and that is oh-so-satisfying!

Basically it gently guides us to realise who we really are and not who we think we are. It  shows up the ego by making us aware of it. And frees us.

It says we cannot become good by trying to be good, you have to find goodness that is already within us. Do this by becoming conscious of it. Awareness is the greatest agent for change.

To be free of ego we simply need to be aware of it. Awareness and ego are incompatible.

Top 5 quotes from the book:

“The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it.”

“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.”

“Sometimes letting things go is an act of far greater power than defending or hanging on.”

“You can only lose something that you have, but you cannot lose something that you are.”

“Anything that you resent and strongly react to in another is also in you.”

 

 

At the beach

A week in Umngazi

I’m a firm believer in the saying “there is a time for everything”.

There is a time to go off-road. There is a time to go by plane. There is a time to embrace luxury. But with two toddlers in tow and another one baking at 34 weeks, none of the above are a serious options.

Today is the time for having meals taken care of, children entertained and putting feet UP.

Enter Umngazi 2013.

In the heart of the wild coast, this magical spot is 90kms from Umtata, where the Mgazi river and the Atlantic Ocean converge. The weather is mild and the water is warm enough for a dip (clothing optional). Except for cows, a deserted sandy beach makes for the perfect daily walk (or jog, if you’re not sporting an enormous baby bump).

Meals include hearty helpings of breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea & dinner. The buffet has fresh vegetables & salad (right down to healthy sprouts, olives, avos and home-made dressings, yum!). So eventhough you’re probably over indulging on the delicious desserts, you have the opportunity to off-set the nasties with some goodies. The kids have their own dining room and are very comfortable with their own mini-tables and chairs.

Your only worry is to emerge from your afternoon nap  int time to make to to the tea-time table!

Nannies and endless entertainment complete Paradise-for-mom. There is so much to do that my four-year old fell asleep in the sitting position during lunch! Between arts & crafts, jungle gym, swimming, crab races by torch-light, and bonfires on the beach there is little time to miss mom.

The wine list is fab – all our favourite Stellenbosch labels found their way to the Transkei – but the coffee isn’t exactly Legado quality. Eventhough we are big coffee lovers, we decided its a small compromise and would probably pack our Nespresso machine next time.

Soooo, if you’re entertaining young troops all day and find yourself in need of a rest, be sure to sign up, but do so well in advance, since Unmgazi runs at 95% occupancy and most people renew their bookings annually a year in advance! http://www.umngazi.co.za

 

Don’t take anything personally

Experts say mid-thirties is tumulous and traumatic.
It’s constant change. Children and chaos.

I am mid-thirty now. (Ooooh boy! Really?!)
Time to reflect…

I have found internal stability and calmness.
A rather nice contentment.
After a long search.

I mostly credit Don Miguel Ruiz and his book ‘The four agreements’.

And my friend, Michelle, for the recommendation. Its funny how you get to know whose recommendations to absolutely follow up on (another advantage of being mid-thirty, lots of time to get know good people). Chelle recommends absolute treasures!

THE FOUR AGREEMENTS (in a nutshell!)
Basically we have been conditioned from childhood and we’ve made all sorts of agreements with ourselves on how to behave in order to please society.

Time to renew these contracts in four small steps:
1. Be impeccable with your word.
Take responsibility for your actions, but do not judge or blame yourself. Through the word you express your creative power. It is through the word that you manifest everything.

2. Don’t take anything personally.
Taking things personally, is the maximum expression of selfishness because we make the assumption that everything is about “me”.

3. Don’t make assumptions.
We see things the way we want to see them, and not the way they are!
Ask questions until you understand.
State what you want.

4. Always do your best (no more and no less).
This agreement is about the action of the first three.
If you always do your best there is no way you can judge yourself

You are here to live, to be happy and to love.

Doing your best is taking the action because you love it, not because you are expected to do it or expecting a reward.

You have to be aware and learn from your mistakes.
This means practice, look honestly at the results and keep practicing.
This increases your awareness.

After this there is a whole lot more, but i’ll save that for another day.

Dr Eve visits Stellenbosch

Dr Eve came to our dorpie today. Her real name is Marlene Wasserman.
She is the sexologist whose columns we see in magazines and whose voice we hear on the radio. She visited us in Stellenbosch.

Instead of the usual student crowd at Gino’s, the room was filled with a hundred gals, mostly thirty-somethings (a few older, including a sixty-somethinger!).
10am coffee and a talk about sex.
An unusual start to a Monday morning.

The huge show of hands to the opening question “who got it or gave it this weekend” put Stellenbosch on the map for sexual activity.
Until someone mentioned it was father’s day on Sunday… a good gag.
Otherwise we’d be right where one would expect thirty-somethings to be.
Not so active.
Our problems? Apparently 30’s-40’s is all about Children, Careers and Cheating. Ouch

We’re tired. We don’t have time to ourselves. We become mothers.
Worst of all, we become “business partners” while running a household like a company. Discussions are about finances, children, parenting and logistics. Spontaneity flies out of the window with the stork that delivered the baby.

Woman searches for something other than the children but find comfort in them and they become her object of affection. Man wants to provide and protect. Meaning that he works all the time, even when he is home.

Our hormones fluctuate daily (!) while man’s stays constant. All the time. Constantly.

She suggests women take back their privacy by shutting the door to the children occasionally. Privacy is our right. It is also gives a message to our children that it is ok for them to have some privacy of their own when the time comes that they need it.

The top reasons from women for not getting it on with their men?
1. Household chores
2. Poor grooming and hygiene
3. Poor sexual technique
Really? Is that it? Hmmm…
In our 30’s we are mostly self-conscious about our bodies. (Apparently that’s not good for business – duh). Dr Eve suggests a motivation and reward system. We need to think what motivates us to get it on. Find one that works for you. Then use it. (Enjoyment obviously being the most important, but failing that, think, “helping hands around the house”, “a smile on his dial”, whatever works for you…)

If the action he is offered is offensive, he will search for alternatives. Which brings us to her third thing about the 30’s. Cheating.

The good news is that the tables turn.
The children grow older; we have more energy, and a new lease on life.
We are comfortable with our bodies and with who we are.
We try new tricks, we are free. We want monkey-sex.
By fifty our hormones are constant. We are in charge of our destiny.

So the trick is to survive the 30’s. With a relationship in tact.
Then enjoy the ride together.

Some ways to do this:
Mystery is important
Enchant & Evolve
Be interesting
Make the bedroom erotic
Be a lover, not a mother

Ok, so that’s the wrap
Don’t say you weren’t warned. Dr Eve has spoken.
She says you’re not a child anymore, take the lead.
Demand it when you want it.
Know what you want. Explore. Know yourself.

Oh and get your daughters the HPV vaccination before they are 9 to prevent cervical cancer.

Mobinomics book review on Amazon:

Three revolutions changed the face of South Africa, the economic powerhouse of the African continent, in 1994.

The first was democracy; the second was the Internet. But the real signal of change was the arrival of an electronic device that would put undreamed-of power into the hands of the people: the cellular phone.

In a country where less than 4 per cent of the population had access to a landline phone, mobile telephony opened the gateway to a brave new world of communication.
Today, more than 90 per cent of South Africans own a mobile phone, and they’re not just using them to talk to each other. Mobiles have become tools of education, entrepreneurship, trade, empowerment, activism, media and upliftment.
Mobiles have also become the hubs of the most powerful force in modern communication.
The social network – bringing people together in an interchange of ideas, opinions, chatter and commerce, which is changing the way we understand and define communities. This is the story of the biggest and fastest-growing social network in Africa.
A network that took shape in the townships of the Western Cape and has grown to be part of the lives of more than 50 million users in 120 countries, sending more than 23 billion messages a month.
This is the story of Mxit: a community of millions, a cultural force with its own economy, its own infrastructure, its own language and its own traditions.
This is the story of Mobinomics, a compelling and insightful journey into the new economy of mobile, and how it is connecting people and changing lives.
Read it and be moved by the power of mobile.