Cape Town – with kids! A funpacked few days in South Africa.

I’ve mentioned before that we were holidaying in Africa this summer – well, that started in the city of Cape Town.  There were 6 of us – my husband and I, and our kids – who range in age from 15 down to 6.

Here’s a random selection of things we did during our stay:

  1. Our accomodationThe Cape Grace hotel – right on the V&A Waterfront was fabulous. All of us thoroughly enjoyed our stay there.  The location was perfect, the views stunning, the service exceptional – and the wifi strong (which is a pre-requisite when travelling with children!)

    We made use of the outside pool area – although admittedly were the only people in it due to it being midwinter! And I had a couple of excellent massages in the spa as I was struggling with a dodgy back.


    The taster menu in their restaurant was stunning – but equally, room service was also excellent – and very convenient in our 3 bedroomed suite, and we even ate on the balcony being hardy Brits!

    I had a slight work crisis whilst there – and the staff were great, printing out documents for me to work on.

    The suite was stunning – and perfect for our large family. We would definitely stay there again and highly recommend it for anyone visiting whether for work, as a couple, friends or families.

  2. Random dog charitySo this is a slightly weird one – and wasn’t in our planned itinerary – but was a highlight for the kids in particular! Close to the hotel, in Nobel Square, there was a pop up dog rescue run by a charity for re-homing dogs.  Whilst adopting a dog on holiday was clearly out of the question – you could also pay to take them for a walk for 10 minutes, or to play with the puppies and we did both!


    The children loved it! You could also pay to name a dog – but there weren’t any nameless ones when we were there – however, the 8 year old has told everyone how she walked ‘Tonya Harding’ #nottheiceskater
  3. The Big Red Bus TourWe did this on our first day – and it gave us a real feel for the layout of the city and close surrounding area.  The weather was kind so we could sit on the top deck of the bus and enjoy the sunshine and commentary. We’ve done bus tours in lots of cities and it really helps you understand the geography and history (I am such a geek!!)  Sadly the cable car to the top of Table Mountain was closed for maintenance, but the bus took us to the base station which still gave amazing views across the ocean to Robben Island and beyond.

    At one point we thought we’d spotted a whale – turned out it was a rock – but we’d somehow incited the whole bus into taking photos of it………

  4. Robben IslandTalking of Robben Island (or Robin Hood Island as my husband mistakenly called it – which is only amusing if you’re familiar with Hall Green in the South of Birmingham where a traffic roundabout is called that!) We were all really looking forward to this – especially the 6 year old who had learnt about Nelson Mandela at school last year.  But we were thwarted because the weather was bad and all ferries were cancelled. So it’s the on planned thing that we missed out on during our whole trip!
  5. The Cape WheelWe’d spotted this from our balcony and thought we should give it a go.  Like the London Eye – but smaller.  You had some great views from  the top – although it did make me feel a bit motion sick!  (It doesn’t take a lot, I feel sea sick on a swing or a lilo!!)

  6. Cape TourWe had been driven from the airport to the hotel by the wonderful Nazeem from Ilios Travel – and he was our driver for our Cape Tour – assisted by the fabulous guide Rian.  It was great to be driven around by such knowledgeable people – and they were both keen to answer any questions or queries we may have had.  We visited some great locations – explained more below – but it was definitely worth investing in a private tour as it gave us such flexibility with what we wanted to see -or not see.  We would definitely recommend Ilios to anyone visiting South Africa.

    We stopped at various points on the route to admire the views.  One was the beaches in Clifton which are numbered 1 down to 4.  1 is for the beautiful (or in some cases surgically enhanced) people – the husband is convinced that would be his?!?  Then it’s beach 2 for sports activities, beach 3 for the local LGBT scene, and beach 4 for families to chill out.  I feel we are far more beach 4 than 1 but didn’t want to burst his bubble!

    We also stopped at the Farm Village in Noordhoek for a coffee where our 15 year old managed to find a tack shop.  It sold the specific fly mask she’d been after for her horse that THE WHOLE OF THE UK had sold out of – so obviously we had to buy it and bring it back!!

  7. Cape Point LighthouseThis was great – although very windy!  We caught the funicular up and down – but there is still a lot of walking up and down steps to see both lighthouses and the amazing views.  Totally worth the effort though!

  8. Cape of Good HopeI had – mistakenly (although seemingly a common mistake) – thought this was the Southern most point of Africa – but in fact, it’s the most South Westerly.  But anyway – it was beautiful to see.  The sun was shining and it was REALLY windy – but great.  We had to queue to get photos taken – but apparently it was nothing compared to the queues at the height of the season!

  9. Penguins at Boulders BeachThe penguins were fab!  You get to learn a bit about them – and see all different sizes of penguins on land – and swimming.  We’d been warned it was a bit smelly – but it wasn’t at all – perhaps because it was winter?  The kids now also know all the facts about why African penguins are different to penguins that live on snow and ice!

  10. Kirstenbosch Botanical GardensThis was our last stop on our day trip – and everyone was getting a bit tired!  But we still had a great time in the gardens.  There’s lots to see – and we probably only witnessed a fraction of it.  At least we could tick it off the list!!

  11. Two Oceans AquariumWe hadn’t planned to go to the Aquarium – but when our Robben Island trip was cancelled, we thought we’d try it (basically as we were up early and it was close to the hotel!)   We were really pleased we did as it was great.  There were lots of exhibits to look at – as well as some interactive quizzes for the kids to do.  (Oh – and free wifi – which is always a winner!)

  12. Scratch Patch – and Cave GolfWe are lucky enough to have a number of friends from – or who’ve been – to Cape Town.  A number recommended Scratch Patch – which we may not have found without the insider knowledge!  The original one was in Simon’s Town and opened in the 1970s.  This one, just behind the waterfront, was great.  Our little girls loved ‘scratching’ to find  beautiful gems to bring home from the millions of rocks covering the floor. We started off with little bags (thinking of the luggage allowance!) but ended up buying medium ones too, as there were just so many to chose from!  Whilst the girls enjoyed this – the boys played Cave Golf – an inside mini golf course (thankfully with only 2 of them playing this didn’t descend into the argumentative chaos that whole family games of crazy golf have!)

  13. The Ferryman’s TavernWe ate and drank at the Ferryman’s Tavern on the V&A waterfront 2 consecutive days – and the waiter remembered our order!  I’m not sure if this was because my husband massively over tipped him the first day due to a currency conversion issue, or because the husband was drinking gluten free beer – or just that he was a great waiter – but it made us feel like locals!!
  14. The V&A WaterfrontWe’ve already mentioned lots of places we visited on the waterfront during our stay – but it really was a great location.  Lots of places to eat and drink and watch the world go by – and great shopping.  The shopping mall was a mixture of familiar names from back home – and also familiar names from trips to the US that aren’t on the UK high street – all in all we had a great time.   Generally things in SA seem cheaper than at home – which is always a good justification to buy more!

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    Chatting to Nelson in Nobel Square

 

Having missed out on Robben Island – and the fact that as we had the kids in tow the husband and I didn’t do any wineries – we kind of feel that we have unfinished business with Cape Town – but are already looking forward to a return visit in the future.

 

 

Note:  This is not a sponsored post, we paid for everything we did.  All of it was organised by our wonderful Travel Counsellor Michelle.  We just wanted to share the amazing trip we had – and keep a record of it for us to look back on. 

 

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I bless the rains down in Africa

Everybody loves the 80s Toto classic – and the people of Cape Town are particularly loving any rains due to a drought!

The Price family are off on an African adventure later in the summer.  And we’re all really excited.

This blog was supposed to be remembering family life – as well as book reviews (which are keeping me in free books, so we can’t complain, even if my family members CBA to read any book reviews unless they are specifically tagged!) but my documentation of real family life has fallen by the wayside a bit.  Real life gets in the way of blogging about real life –  and the hum drum of everyday life is probably a bit dull.

Anyway – we’re escaping hum drum to a bespoke trip to Africa – all planned by our amazing Travel Counsellor Michelle.

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We’re starting with a few nights in Cape Town – the 6 year old is well excited about visiting Robben Island. Then we’re up to the Victoria Falls area for a few nights at a safari lodge (the closest I get to camping!!) and then an Elephant Camp (although the soon to be 15 year old is traumatised by the thought of a helicopter trip over the falls).  And we’re finishing off with a week in the Seychelles to chillax, ready for the direct flight home to the UK (it only started in the Spring – but we’re very glad it did!)

With our wide age range of kids, there aren’t that many years that the youngest 2 are old enough to appreciate such adventures, and the older 2 still want to come on holiday with us (although as friends have pointed out, if we’re doing holidays like that – they’ll probably want to come with us forever!!)

The husband is so excited he’s bought special aftershave and retrieved his leopard print thong from the back of his pants drawer #luckyAfrica

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We will keep you posted of our exploits – I am nothing but honest with my reviews on here and social media – but for now, altogether now:

“It’s gonna take a lot to drag me away from you
There’s nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do
I bless the rains down in Africa
I bless the rains down in Africa
(I bless the rain)
I bless the rains down in Africa
(I bless the rain)
I bless the rains down in Africa
I bless the rains down in Africa
(Ah, gonna take the time)
Gonna take some time to do the things we never had”

 

 

The Tooth Fairy – part 2

I’ve blogged before about how even after 15 years of parenting – and 4 kids – the tooth fairy can still be a bit rubbish in the Price household!

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Well, 2 days ago, child number 4 lost a tooth.  It was duly put under her pillow – and the next morning – was still there.

We had been having some electrical issues with the RCD in the house blowing every couple of hours  – so the husband and I had been up regularly in the night jiggling fuses about (this is not a euphemism!) and so we used that as an excuse – as clearly the tooth fairy couldn’t risk being seen by one of us.

Then yesterday the aforementioned child number 4 won a little pot at her big brother’s school fete.  I suggested that this would be perfect for the tooth to go in under her pillow – and so the tooth fairy could find it easily. This morning the pot was opened excitedly – to find the tooth and no coin inside. Whoops.  I suggested perhaps the tooth fairy couldn’t get the lid off the pretty pot, so maybe it should go under the pillow without the lid on this evening.

Half an hour ago child number 4 came downstairs as a 2nd tooth had come out!  To which I exclaimed ‘the tooth fairy must have known this was going to happen, and so that’s why she hasn’t been!  She can do two trips for the price of one tonight and leave double money.’

That tooth fairy is very clever (if a little forgetful!)

Skiing funtimes

I am renowned for many things – but my love of skiing is not one of them.

I blame this on not learning until I was nearly 26 – and I came to the French Alps for the Ski-llenium New Year (1999-2000, when everyone expected computers around the world to fail, and NOTHING HAPPENED……..)  Well – that holiday could generate a couple of blog post topics for sure  – but we’ll gloss over that for now – and just say, I’ve never really been bitten by the skiing bug!

However, my best friend from school has lived in the French Alps for almost 15 years – and we’ve visited regularly – so I have done the skiing thing a few times (although being pregnant and having a small baby were damn good excuses four times.  This is not the reason I had 4 kids though (that was because the oldest 2 got old enough to realise I was nicking their Easter eggs, so I needed to have some more!!))

This year, when arranging ski lessons, I shocked aforementioned BFF by saying I would have lessons.  There was an incredulous WhatsApp response – as if she didn’t believe me!!  Anyway – 4 weeks before the holiday I had to have surgery, and was advised not to do anything strenuous for 6 weeks – so skiing, for me at least, had to be cancelled!!! Obviously I was gutted (not!) and planned lazing in a deckchair with my Kindle and a vin chaud…………

Now it should be said that skiing holidays are not for the faint hearted!  A bit like Disney or Centerparcs you arrive home feeling like you really deserve a rest.

At this time of year EasyJet do a direct flight from BHX to GVA – so that makes life simpler.  The flight was straightforward, quick and arrived early!  Baggage reclaim was straightforward, and as it’s an airport we know quite well, we were quickly on our way to get our vehicle.  To house the 6 of us and our fabulous nanny who came too – we needed a large vehicle – and a Citroen Jumpy it was.  When we picked it up we saw it had German plates – but didn’t think much of that at the time.  Until we started driving through Geneva and the Haute Savoie in France.  People kept pulling out in front of us – and generally driving aggressively near us. Seems the Germans are not particularly well liked in this area.  I’m not sure if putting a Union Jack in the window would have made this better or worse?!?

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Mini bus selfie in Geneva traffic

We stopped at a huge Carrefour to stock up on essentials – milk, bread, yoghurt, tonic (had brought our own gin from home!) and prosecco!

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Essential shopping

We made it up the mountain in one piece (this is not always a given, 9 years ago we managed to drive an Avis rental into a ditch and write it off  on this same route – hence we always take out the additional insurance when hiring from Geneva airport!!) and to our fabulous apartment in St Jean d’Aulps.  We’d booked through Chalet des Fleurs – who had been great throughout the whole booking process – but randomly the apartment used to be a restaurant my BFF’s parents owned, so it was slightly surreal going back to it as an apartment!

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A sign in our chalet – it would appear they’ve met my husband before….

The apartment was walking distance to the telecabine (and on the first day to the ski shop to get kitted out).  We’d booked private lessons through the local ESF office – who were brilliant. The little 2 had an instructor called Fanny, which caused much amusement for my husband, asking if anyone had seen Fanny (honestly, you wouldn’t believe he was 46!!).  The big 2 had the instructor that I’d had back in 1999 – and they were much better behaved students than their mother, I don’t think at any point they cried, took their skis off and tried to walk back down the mountain……..

We had 3 days of skiing and lessons – the first day was GLORIOUS sunshine, with the other days not so great – but still a good time had by all.  We even got to ski with our friends kids – who are AWESOME – we are very proud of them (and my husband does try to pass them off as his kids when people are impressed by their skiing / bilingual-ness!!)

 

 

 

A local lady had stocked our chalet with food – a tartiflette (local potato / bacon / reblochon cheese deliciousness), a Thai green chicken curry and a spag bol for the kids – along with a selection of fantastic cakes.  This really helped in the evenings being able to feed everyone with minimal stress.  We also managed take away pizzas from a place in the village – and ate up the slopes at a couple of different places – La Licorne being the best by far!

We were only away Monday – Friday, and this worked perfectly!  3 days of skiing for everyone, so no one was completely broken and exhausted – which seems to be the order of the day when away for a week.  I would suggest that all 4 kids are probably better skiers than me now – but I’m pleased they all have this skill at a young age – before being lumbered with ‘the fear’!!

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All 4 kids and our fab nanny. All of them can now ski better than me………

 

This is in no way a sponsored post – we paid for the whole trip ourselves – just wanting to share the love!!

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21st Century Parenting – part 2!

I blogged the other month about how the Alexa had assisted in 21st Century parenting – well, last night we had another ‘benefit’ of technology.

The youngest shouted downstairs that she needed me to go and lie with her to go to sleep – but the husband and I had a few minutes left on a TV programme we were watching – so I hollered back up the stairs that I needed 5 minutes, and she should count 300 elephants (if she doesn’t count elephants she counts too quickly!)

Anyway – after about 5 minutes I headed upstairs to be told it wasn’t yet time.  I was confused how she was so adamant (or that she’d counted close to 300 to be honest) to be told she’d set the timer on her iPad for 5 minutes so she could check I wasn’t fibbing!!

Technology can be very useful – but also catch you out…..

 

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Nice necklace

This morning I put on a new necklace (I found it in my ‘holiday jewellery bag’ when we went away, and can’t remember when I actually bought it #whoops!)

On the way to the train station the 12 year old boy commented “Oh, is that a new necklace, Mum?”

I told him it was – thinking how he is pretty good for a pre-teen boy at noticing such things, and how it would serve him well in later life, until he followed up with

“It’s like something I’d make in DT……………………………

and I’m not very good at DT”

So, maybe not quite such a compliment.

(His sister then proceeded to help me take a selfie of the necklace with limited degrees of success!!)

21st Century Parenting

This morning the 6 and 7 year olds got their own breakfast.

“Me:  What have you had girls?

6 yr old:  We had plain yoghurt

7yr old: We tried those raspberries but they didn’t taste right but they were use by the 26th so we threw them away and had these other ones.  They were use by the 27th but they were ok even if that was yesterday.

Me:  How did you know what today’s date is?

7 yr old: (In a slightly ‘isn’t it obvious’ tone of voice) We asked Alexa….”

Alexa

 

Homing hamster?!?

Back in December I blogged about our escapee hamster – who managed to get out of its cage, through the entire downstairs of the house, up a full flight of stairs and hide in the spare room.

Well, this morning – it had done it again!  Escaped from it’s cage, roamed through our not insubstantial house, up the stairs and chewed at the landing carpet in an attempt to get back into the spare room.

Why – when we have 6 bedrooms – is that the one it wants to get into?  It’s never lived in that bedroom – and for a while did live in one of the other bedrooms, so you would think would have allegiances to that room if any.

It’s all very odd.  Like it’s a homing pigeon hamster……..

But at least we (I say we, I actually mean my husband!) knew where to look for it.  Oreo is now safely back in the cage – with a heavy weight on top of it!

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Cat stretch – or……..

This evening – as the courgette, cauliflower and chickpea tagine was simmering (I know, I am such a January cliche) – I decided my back would benefit from some movement, so I knelt on the kitchen floor and did a cat stretch – or as the kids call it, happy cat and angry cat.

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The 6 year old walked in and asked ‘Mummy, do you need to trump?’………………………………..

(The chickpeas will sort that out love – never mind the yoga!!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once a Scout……

Came home to find the 12 year old (who was home alone for a couple of hours as he’s not back at school until next week) had lit the log burner, wrapped himself up in a blanket and was watching a film involving fast cars on the big TV – all he needed was a beer and he would have totally been his father!
(Possibly he should also have only been wearing his pants to truly be channeling his Dad!!)
I suggested that maybe he shouldn’t have lit a fire with no on else at home, to which he replied ‘Mum, I used to be a Scout’…….
Good job he’s cute……………………….
The Boy