Visit the country more often

Note to self:

Visit the country more often.

Get in the car.

And go.


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.


Meandering through the Karoo

3. De Rust

With the holiday season looming, i thought i’d share this gem for those planning a road-trip through the Karoo, or for those who find themselves trapped somewhere along the coast between Mosselbay and Knysna in rainy weather.

After three days of solid rain, we packed the kids in the car and hit the road. The plan was to keep going until we found the sun. What we found enroute was a colonial-revamped cafe in the Queen’s Hotel, Oudtshoorn, called Cafe Brule. The Queen’s Hotel is the third oldest in South Africa and was built in 1880. Cafe Brule, with its checkered floor, serves freshly baked bread and a healthy buffet lunch, and possibly the best coffee in town (lets call it ‘good’ as opposed to ‘great’). But this is not what i’m writing about today. Lets continue.

From here, we followed the road to De Rust, a village of art and old-style quirk. And the sun was shining! De Rust is along the R29 from Oudtshoorn, or the N12 from Beaufort West and a slight detour from Route 62. You can park the car anywhere and pop your head into any one of many little eclectic shops or cafes, since there are only about 6 streets, you wont have far to walk.

We chose the Village Trading Post, admired the collectables on the walls, the art shop in the back and the child-friendly service. A safe place to tick the off-the-beaten-track box and inhale some fresh Karoo air.

If you’re still feeling perky, head for the scenic Meiringspoort as it cuts its way through the Swartberg along the path of the Groot Rivier and crosses over twelve streams (or drifts). Find a secret picnic spot and soak up the serenity.

Happy holidays.

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!